Every business should have an online presence by now. Most people have the internet in the palm of their hands and will use this to search for companies, services and products. If you haven’t got a website, then it’s realistic to assume that you’re not looking for new customers. If you think you can rely on a telephone directory or a newspaper advert – think again!
At the very least you’ll need a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn page, or some other form of online presence if you want to compete.
If you haven’t got a website and you’re considering getting one, there are a couple of ways to do it. The main choice comes down to whether you’re going to use an online site builder and create it yourself from a template, or employ the services of a web designer.
Each method has its own merits, but it really comes down to what you want/need your website to do.
Using website templates
There are many companies advertising ‘free’ websites that you can build online using set templates. And for some businesses, this can be enough. If you only need a basic design, with conventional pages, such as services, contact details, location and so on, then you might find that a site builder meets your requirements. This could be suitable for small businesses, start-ups or sole traders who just need a simple brochure style presence, should anyone be searching for them online.
However, there is a lot more to consider – irrelevant of how small your business is or if you’re just starting out.
Bespoke website design
Although we are in the business of designing websites and you might expect us to say a bespoke website is better, there’s no denying that a custom-made site is usually a wiser investment for businesses in the long term. (If this wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be so many of us!).
Let’s have a look at some of the key considerations.
As we said above, a site builder can be fine if you’re just looking for a conventional website with minimum functionality. If you need it to do anything extra, or specific, or even just something as simple as a shop or a booking facility, then you’ll need to have a website built by a professional.
The internet is a competitive place and people are impatient. If your website doesn’t perform or function well, you’ll lose your potential customers within seconds. People are not prepared to wait for pages to load, or to navigate huge desktop sites from their mobile phone. If your website doesn’t meet standards and expectations straight away, your potential customer will find another company that does – and it’ll only take them a few clicks.
Websites you can build yourself online are cheap for a reason. They are often outdated and clunky, yet as we’ve discussed before, Google is looking for websites that are fast and optimised for mobiles.
Web designers have access to the latest technologies to ensure your website is as quick and easy to use as possible. Expand Digital Media websites, for example, are hosted on our superfast HTTP2 server – so you’ll never lose customers because a web page won’t load.
Branding and design
A website built using a template, looks just like a website built using a template, often with a poor domain name to match. Anyone looking will spot it’s a template a mile off. It might be all you need, but if you’re looking for a unique website that reflects your company branding and design, you’re not going to get this from a site builder.
Investing in something a bit more bespoke and slick, could be just the thing that sets you apart from all the other carpet fitters, dog walkers, electricians, virtual assistants or whatever, in your area. If your site looks professional, then the assumption will be that you are professional.
Getting good SEO
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a key part of website design. There’s really little point in having a website if no-one can find it. Yet expert SEO is something you just won’t get with an off-the-shelf solution.
If you’re paying for a website to be custom-built, you’re also paying for the expertise of the web developers who will engage their arsenal of algorithms and processes to get your website ranking high. This involves factors such as website speed, mobile responsiveness, title tags, SSL, quality content and more – all things that a template can’t buy.
When you choose Expand Digital Media, you’re not just getting website designers, you’re also getting digital marketing expertise and professional content writers, to ensure your website investment translates into actual business.
You might be asking yourself whether you can afford to employ the services of a web design agency, but the real question is can you afford not to? Honestly? Although you can get a template with relatively little outlay, it will cost you over time in respect of the various monthly fees and charges.
You also can’t compare the return on investment you’ll get from having a professional, searchable, well-performing website.
If anything goes wrong with your website, it may be difficult to get the help you need. We are always at the end of the phone for our customers if they need help – and we can also manage and maintain your site for you the rest of the time.
Time is also money. Building a site on a template that you’re constantly having to fiddle with can be time consuming, especially if technical stuff doesn’t come naturally to you. Getting a web designer to take care of this leaves you to get on with the job of running your business – and making more money.
An investment in your business
The bottom line to all of this is that you get what you pay for. First impressions count and if you’re not willing to invest in your business, then why should your customers? That’s how a poor website could be viewed by the outside world. A good website that works well, looks great and is easy to use is a sound investment in your business – especially in the early days. Yes, you can opt for a cheaper template to begin with, but ultimately, you’ll just end up paying twice.