What Kind of Site Do You Need?
In order to decide which option is best for you, you’ll need to determine what kind of site best matches your business.
A brochure site is the simplest site, and as the name implies, it’s a showcase of what your business does. The primary purpose of a brochure site is to give a company a credible web presence and provide some basic information to prospective customers with text, images, and maybe a video. It’s a good way to show your mission, pricing, examples of what you sell, and basic contact information.
If, on the other hand, you’ll be handling financial transactions, you’ll need an e-commerce site. An e-commerce site is a little more complicated since it will have to be able to handle payment processing and allow you to easily add, remove, or edit products and services.
For some businesses, the site itself actually is the business. Web applications like project management tools, online fax services, or price comparison engines are all examples of web applications. While brochure sites and even e-commerce sites are possible to build with a CMS or website builder, an application is something you should only entrust to a professional website developer. If this is something you’re exploring, be prepared to spend at least $10,000 for a custom app that will stand out and function smoothly.
Some websites combine both e-commerce and an application function (think Amazon). Unless you really know your way around website design, a hybrid site that will process a lot of requests and information should also be built by a pro.
Another way to look at what kind of site you’ll need is to ask yourself how important it will be to your business. If you’re a consultant, for instance, whose business is primarily based on existing relationships, you probably won’t be relying on a website to generate a large percentage of your business. If your website is generating less than 20 percent of your business, a simple brochure site should fill your needs.
If your site will generate a more significant bit of business, perhaps more than 60 percent, it’s likely to be a site that will have more user demands and will have to perform multiple functions. Even if your website is simple, if it’s going to be responsible for the majority of your business generation, it’s best to hire a professional.
Why Build Your Own?
The main reason that most people choose to build their own website is very simple: it might be cheaper. Building the site yourself means you’re not paying someone else and can invest the money elsewhere. Hiring a reputable agency is not often cheap and if you, like most business owners, are cost-conscious then cutting costs is an attractive prospect, especially if you are in the earliest stages of your business and working alone.
However, just because building your own site doesn’t have a financial outlay it doesn’t mean it isn’t costing you in some way. Building a site yourself will incur a large time outlay which could often be better spent expanding your business in other areas. This is especially true for small businesses in crowded markets who often need to expend all of their energy on gaining a foothold in it.
Often people build their own sites in order to learn about the process of site building and gain enough skill to maintain or modify the site. WordPress has a lot of themes available which means that it is possible to build a very basic site yourself with much less training than with other options.
So What’s The Verdict?
In the end, whether you should build your own website or not mostly comes down to time and money. If you have a lot of spare time then building yourself a very basic site could be fun. I remember completing my first site, and the feeling was great…! On the other hand, if you are in need of something professional then you’ll probably find very quickly that building and running a site for your business is generally a bigger task than most people have the time and desire to get involved in. Before you undertake the task yourself or appoint the task to one of your employees, you should determine if the time you spend on the project could better be used to manage and grow your business. The time you might spend designing, creating and implementing could wind up costing you more in lost business revenue than what you pay to an outside contractor.
It’s never a bad idea to get to know how sites work and what to look out for.
Try Yourself Before Hiring Someone Else to Do It
I’m a big believer that you should try designing your website before you hire someone else to do it.
Trying to do it yourself will open you up to some of the realities of web design and will give you a sense of the constraints and challenges of web design. This will make you so much better when you try to actually hire a web designer.
Plus, you may surprise yourself and realize you can do it yourself.