For many first time small business owners, the start-up costs seem to always be higher than what you expected. Before you know it, you have spent everything that you planned and you still don't have a website yet.
No need to fear! There are dozens of options for you to get a professional looking website up and running in just a few hours. I don't need to list all of the different options that are available as a quick Google search will reveal more options than is feasible to even compare, however I will share a couple that we have heard good reviews on. The first would be Squarespace.com. They have many good templates to choose from and allow a fair amount of customization. Another one that has been good for a couple of our partners is Weebly.com. With both platforms you are able to host a blog and/or e-commerce storefront. They also have many great instructional videos to teach you how to set everything up.
One thing to keep in mind when selecting a platform is to read some online reviews before you choose. Some platforms are better suited to different business categories and reading reviews can sometimes bring those concerns to the surface. The last thing you want to do is invest time in building a site only to find that it does not provide everything that you need.
You will hear many web design firms talk badly about do-it-yourself platforms and all that they lack, but the truth is that not everyone needs a custom designed website by a professional. Because of the questions that I have been asked, I thought it would help to explain why these platforms get a bad rap from design firms.
The first issue is that with these platforms you are often limited in what can be customized. Everything is template based so you get what you get. Many times you will see something on one template that you wish were on a different template and it is just not possible. Web design firms don't like restrictions.
The other downside to templates is that the code that is generated for the web is not always as clean as it could be. What this can do is slow down your site and makes the performance suffer. This also can affect your SEO for the site. However, for many small businesses that are just starting out, that is not important to them. They are just looking to have an electronic business card to point people to in order to learn more about what they do. While they may be missing out on the big potential of their website, the timing may not be right for them to invest in online marketing.
Aside from the two issues above, it really comes down to the actual do-it-yourselfer. Most people have not had experience building websites, designing graphics, or even working with different color palettes for a design. Because of this fact, you see all kinds of bad designs, colors that don't go together, and information laid out in an incoherent manor. You also see many websites where the stock photos have not been changed. You have a field of hay as the background image to a restaurant website! Don't laugh, I've seen it!
If you decide to create your own website whether for financial reasons or some other reason, make sure you do at least the few key items below:
If you decide that this is just too much to handle, remember that you can do this in stages and some plans actual don't bill you until you are ready to make your site live. Don't rush this process! This website may be the first impression a customer has of your business. If you decide that you need help, just let us know!
I wish you the best of luck!