Although most affordable ways of getting new customers may be establishing your online presence, entrepreneurs at the start of their business often have limited budgets. How can you, as a small business owner, get a professional website that delivers results without overpaying?
A startup encountering the task of creating a website to promote their business for the first time is puzzled – who should I choose to develop the site, and most importantly, what criteria should I use? There is not a lot of money, the service is complex and unclear, there are a fantastical number of website developers, prices for the same request can range from four to six digits, terms from a few days to a couple of months, lots of different offers. This can make many people’s heads spin. I suggest clarifying the choice of a website developer and I hope that after reading this, ordering will become easier for you.
If you are an entrepreneur who needs a website for a small business, who do you turn to? Or maybe do it yourself? If the budget allocated for the site is less than $1,000, then the only option is to do just that – do everything yourself using DIY tools and builders. What other options do you have?
First, let’s draw an analogy between creating a website and building a house. Depending on the available budget and time, what solutions can there be:
- build it yourself
- find a builder on announcement boards
- choose a company that builds decent houses based on their standard projects
- contact an architectural boutique firm with an individual and creative approach
Choosing each direction implies different time and financial costs, as well as the end result. But let’s get back to websites.
And what options are there in general? Let’s determine who can develop and launch a website?
Do It Yourself
Due to lack of money, some go this route. You can definitely create a site on your own. For this there are online builders like Tilda, Wix and several others. They have also become fashionably called no-code solutions. This method has several advantages, the main ones being cost and simplicity. Development will cost you almost nothing since you are doing everything yourself. Tempting, isn’t it? But let’s take a closer look at whether everything is as rosy as it seems.
Most of the time a startup entrepreneur doesn’t only have a limited budget, but also time. There are so many things that need to be done by yourself. You need to streamline your work process, find employees, customers, process orders and fulfill them. How can you also fit in website development? After all, this is not drawing with chalk on asphalt. You need to understand what you want, then understand how to implement it with the builder’s tools, how to make it beautiful and effective. Even if you decide to copy the structure of a competitor’s site for your own, it will still take a lot of time to create your own design and content. And it may be beyond your abilities to repeat many of the functional features that attract customers to your competitor’s site using the builder. And the cost savings also turn out to be imaginary. Not only will you pay a plan fee exceeding the cost of hosting by two or even three times over the course of a year of owning a simple site. But the site will not really belong to you. It’s like renting a country cottage for a year with the option to renew. You can even build a bathhouse next to it, counting on many years of use. But as long as you pay – you can use it. And when money runs out – goodbye. Although, I have not heard of anyone building something for themselves from the owner’s building materials on a rented plot next to a rented cottage. But some build one of their most important business tools on a site rented in a cloud builder and are not worried about it at all. And yet, if money runs out, you will not be able to take the site from the builder for better times, like rented housing. They will keep it for six months and then delete it permanently. Though they will act a little differently with the cottage, but that doesn’t make you feel any better, it will already be occupied by someone else during that time.
In summary, you waste a lot of time and a little money. Due to lack of experience, you will make a bunch of mistakes, you will like the result, but it will most likely be ineffective. And the mistakes will soon make themselves known. And once you stop paying, you will completely lose the site.
Hire a Freelancer
The Web is full of horror stories of companies not having smooth experience working with freelancers. Projects don’t get finished and the customers keep coming back to freelance exchanges looking for another cheap freelancer to finish the project, which is “90% done”. An experienced freelancer is certainly capable of creating a decent site, but the cost will hardly be less than some web studios. And the likelihood of finding such a freelancer is low, while the risk of finding another unreliable contractor is very high.
This is like a builder found on a popular services website. They will undertake to build you a house, but may abandon this work for any reason during the process, or may even finish it, but not completely. And the further fate of your house will not concern them. The quality of construction will not be guaranteed and if the roof starts leaking during the very first rain, you will have to look for a new builder.
In summary, you take the risk of losing both money and time. The result will be either cheap and ineffective, or effective and expensive for you. Or none at all. Well, unless it’s educational after all.
Contract a Web Studio
The third path is to contract a Web studio or a digital agency. First, let’s consider your Web project scope size. The website development projects are often grouped like this:
- Small – up to $2,000
- Medium – $2,000 – $5,000
- Large – $5,000 – $20,000
- Premium – over $20,000
The market for the “Small” scope projects is dominated by freelancers. However, there are also Web studios that chose to target small businesses that have either negative experience or want to avoid having negative experience working with freelancers. If you think about it – it makes total sense. Choosing to use freelancers, you must be prepared to manage them. You are forced to become a project manager, define tasks, break them down into parts, track progress, and pivot as needed. And customers with a “Small” scope projects often do not have capacity or expertise to do this. They need to set a task and accept it. But this does not happen. And in the process of mutual misunderstanding, a lot of edits arise on the go, first frustrating the freelancer, and then the customer. In case of a Web studio, however, all these processes are orchestrated by a project manager. By analogy with our builders, this is like the production of prefabricated houses or small frame-panel houses – fast, convenient and inexpensive by market standards. Because if you cannot afford a log, brick, exclusive, elite house, but still need one, then a small ready-made, quickly erected one will do. And you will have to choose from the proposed projects, and agree to preset dimensions. The layout can be tweaked, if necessary, but the sizes are strictly within budget. It is most beneficial for the customer to buy a house that meets current needs at an affordable price, and then make an extension to it later if expansion is needed. This analogy can be expanded to websites.
In summary, with a website budget of under $2,000 it is quite possible to contact a web studio that does this work professionally. This means you will be provided with accumulated experience, skills and development technologies, guarantees. This is probably the most reliable option. And most importantly, it will free up your time allowing you to work on your business.
Choosing a Contractor
How do you choose a reliable Web studio for your small business. Consider these ideas:
- Search engine. This is the most obvious option, don’t underestimate it. Also, consider performing a local search to see if there any good matches in your area – sometimes it helps to meet with candidates face-to-face to make sure you “click” before spending your money.
- Ask fellow entrepreneurs. If people in your circle have experience contracting a Web site contractor, ask them for recommendations.
- Look for copyright statement on your competitors’ sites. The developer’s link is usually placed at the very bottom of the site. Check them out, their expertise in your industry may also be beneficial.
Some developers publish prices online, others may want to understand your project before giving you project estimates. Evaluate their site, completed work, feedback, and contact them. Pay attention to the manner of communication, and finally request a commercial offer.
We will be happy to learn more about your Web project and see if we can help you. Please, don’t hesitate to contact us.