So, you started your business and need a website but have no idea how to begin. You just know that you have to get it done soon so your customers can find your products and you can make lots of money! Let’s start by guiding you with the following steps to building a user friendly website.
Cost and Expectations
The costs associated with website building include domain registration, email account set-up, the design of the website and search engine optimization. Most business owners, especially in this economy, expect to have a website built for a relatively cheap cost or no cost at all. What many fail to realize is how complex website development is and how time consuming it is for the web designer. Once flat fees are paid for annual domain and email account registrations the costs associated thereafter are for the time put into the website being built.
The first rule of thumb is to understand that the internet is fluid. It is constantly changing and with technology any type of glitch can happen at any time regardless of deadlines, as turn around times can vary. So you must approach this important project with patience and preparedness.
The average basic website (without domain and email registration) will range from $1,500 to $5,000 if you want something sharp and functional. When you factor in product shops, forums, membership profiles and multi-media your price will go up. Expect the base price to double or even triple. You may even find web designers who will charge you well above $10,000 for a multi-functional website.
If you cannot afford the basic price you can build a “place holder site” to accommodate your budget until you can afford something more extensive.
Design and Content Management
When working with a web designer always make sure you have done your own research on the website look and you have your content ready or you are working on it. Many clients, from a web designers perspective, will expect the website to be built overnight but do not realize that you must have content ready ahead of time.
Choose templates for your design that are smooth and easy to navigate through so your clients can easily find the information they need. Most web designers will build your website in a content manager (i.e. Joomla or Wordpress). Content managers are easy to use once instructed. If a web designer builds your website in Dreamweaver or cold html they have no intention of giving you control over the website unless you know these programs very well. Always ask before hiring your go to website person.
Relevance and Original Content
When building your website do not try to be everything to everyone. Know who your clients are and what your niche is. (This can be researched while developing your business plan). A client can be easily confused if you have too many different topics on your website.
Remember: you are building the website for the common Joe on the street. Just because you know where and what everything on your website is doesn’t mean the average consumer will. Use the general rule of thumb in advertising: “Don’t make me think!”
As your create the content for your website keep in mind that duplicate content on the web or sourced material is now frowned upon. Your website will not have the search engine ranking you desire if you have someone else’s information. You can use researched material in your own words but work on your own content.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the gospel of good website building. It is the process used to increase a website’s or webpage’s visibility in search engines (i.e. Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.). The rules for SEO constantly change and vary according to the search engine’s algorithms or ranking factors. Google has the most extensive and strict system governing website optimization.
A good website designer will be up to date with these rules….and so should you. Make it a point to include SEO rules in your website research. SEO can make or break your website and the success of it. A good optimized site will bring lots of traffic and generate revenue for you.
Update 12-24-2011: Keep it Fresh
Stale stuff gets ignored or thrown out the door. Recently Google launched the Freshness Update. It basically require you to keep your content fresh and updated depending on the subjects, product, or services you create information for. Frequent updated, and current content now count toward your website visibility so keep it fresh..
Also expect to pay a lot (between $5,000 to $15,000) for a long term SEO campaign. It is very time consuming for a web designer.