As we discussed in a previous post, a website is pretty important to your business. Most consumers initial research is done on the web and if you are not there at all, you will likely be passed over as a prospective vendor, even if you are the best at what you do. Now that you have determined you need a website, its time to understand the different options that are available for you to make an informed decision about how much to spend. This is all based upon your goals for the website and what you hope to gain by having one.
There are 3 basic options for implementing a website:
1) “Free” do-it-yourself websites that come with an inexpensive hosting package
2) Professionally implemented “template design” websites
3) Custom designed and built websites that are purpose built for your business
I option #1, you can quickly and easily get your first website online. When you register your domain name at a service like 1 & 1 they will give you the option to build a website by picking a template look and using their wizard tools to build the site. This can get you going very quickly if you know something about the web and writing, and you have the ability to layout the site yourself and write the content. The cost of this option can be as low as $5/month which is the cost of hosting the site at the hosting provider. While this is simple and will get you a web presence quickly, depending upon the type of business you have and the types of clients you are trying to attract, it may not provide the upscale professional look and feel that you are hoping to portray.
Option #2 is a bit of a middle ground for your website presence. In this option, you can hire a professional web development firm to help you choose a template look for your new website which will cost a small amount as opposed to the free templates mentioned in option #1, but are still pretty inexpensive. This gives you many more options for template looks and most are designed professionally for scale-able sites that will be used in more professional looking websites. It is important to note here that unless you pay more for the template, they are not “exclusive” meaning that other businesses could choose the same template and have a site which looks the sames as yours. Once you have chosen the look, the web development firm will implement the website helping you decide what should be on the site for pages and content, designing the layout of each of the pages, and sometimes even building custom components to make your site reflect your businesses personality. This option can be great for companies who have a limited budget but believe that the web is an important component in their marketing plan. A website using this option will cost between $1000-$15,000 depending upon how much work need to be done by the development firm.
The last option is a completely custom designed and developed website. When the web is a critical component of your sales and marketing strategy, or is used by your clients to interact with your business on a regular basis, this option is the one for you. This process can get very involved and take quite a bit of your own time in working with the development firm but the end product is often exactly what you needed for your business. Here you will be assigned a design team who will create the graphical look and feel of your website from scratch so nobody in the world will have one that looks exactly like yours. They will work with you and your key business colleagues to determine the exact functionality the site needs to ensure a premium experience for your clients and build the site specifically to your needs. The cost of a site like this can range anywhere from $15,000 and up depending upon how detailed the site is and how much functionality you have built in.
Hopefully after reviewing these options, you can decide what is right for your business to help you leverage the web in exactly the way you need.
Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997. He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.