What exactly does having a website created to represent your business entail? Many companies try to streamline the process to make it as simple as possible, but that doesn’t mean you should go in blind. There are things to know and questions to ask before, during and after the purchase and completion of a website – a website should never be complete. With this article we hope to bring to light the fundamental concerns of website design as well as what expectations are appropriate to have of a design company.
The 5 parts of this article will be published weekly to exemplify a particular internet marketing strategy which will be discussed in the section 5.
Before moving onto section 1, here is a short list of the overarching ideas contained within this article. Some of the ideas will be clearly defined in a particular section, yet others will only become clear through the amalgamation of the knowledge in different sections. A website is not a static piece of code but an organism which combines many different facets to reach its full potential; remember this and you will be starting on the right foot.
- There are three different elements you will need to spend money on to have a successful website: the design or creation of the website, hosting the website, and search engine optimization (SEO) of the website.
- Writing for the internet is not the same as everyday writing.
- It takes time for a website to be indexed by search engines.
- You should seriously consider having a website that is smartphone compatible.
- You should update your website regularly.
1) Why do websites vary in cost?
Website companies charge drastically different prices for different website packages. The reason for this is not only that there are more features with the more expensive websites but that they are custom built as opposed to being template based. A template website means that the largest part of the design process has been taken care of – the structure, look and layout of a website. The benefit of these websites is that you can get the site up and running quickly The drawback to a template site is that you do not have as much creative input in terms of the look of the site.
However, there are still many aspects that can be changed on a template site:
- Integrate a logo
- Change the color palette
- Add a photo gallery
- Change the pictures on service pages
- Integrate a video
- Change the written content
- Photo modification
Depending on what is included in your website package, you may have all of these or some of these options at your disposal. Remember, these features take time and knowledge to integrate into your website; expect to pay for these features if they are not already included. It may seem pedantic to mention that point, but people outside the industry believe that making changes is a simple copy and paste procedure. It is not. It is also worth noting that most custom websites will start from a template structure to give the client a platform for their ideas and creativity – becoming fully customized as the development process takes place.
Depending on the company you are with, there may be some written content on the site already or a blank slate waiting to be filled in. We will discuss content in-depth in part 2 but for now let’s just point to a few common features. If the website comes with generic text then you should be able to edit it yourself or replace it with a page you have written free of charge. Having the company write pages for you will come at a cost (either as part of your package or as an independent fee). The written content holds great influence over the visibility of a website. Make sure to be 100% clear on what a company is offering you in terms of content.
The Bottom Line: Before making a decision, talk with your company to figure out what kind of website you absolutely need, what would be good but not necessary to have and how much personal time you can spend on the project. Make a budget and discuss your needs and ideas with a website designer or website development company representative.