So, you need a website or maybe you just need to upgrade your current website. There are millions of websites out there so getting one started should not be hard, but it is easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed with the options that exist.
Limited money? Or wanting a new challenge? You can go the DIY route. Many hosting providers like HostGator, GoDaddy, Squarespace and 1&1, offer templates and hosting for your website – making it a one-stop shop to get a site up and running. If it is a blog you need, WordPress. Tumblr, Blogger are just a few of the blogging platforms that are easy to setup and use.
If you don’t want to DIY, you can hire someone to help you with your website. In doing so, make sure you do some homework.
Figure Out What You Like
If you do not want a cookie-cutter template, spend some time looking at different websites. Look at websites in your industry and outside your industry, big companies and small companies. Save the pages you like, and the pages you really, really do not like. It does not matter if you are selling dog food but you really like the website of a florist. Save what you like and talk it through with your website creator. A good designer will be able to get a feel for your tastes and know how to apply it to your project. The more information you can give your designer about what you need, want, and wish to have, the better the outcome will be.
Know What You Want and When and How Much
Do not be afraid to ask questions about the price quote. If you get multiple quotes that are hugely different, find out why. Do the designers understand what you want? Did they make the correct assumptions?
Understand what you are agreeing to. If the designer gives you three revisions within a set price, know that you will pay for revision number four. All those little tweaks you want take time, and the person/people building your website probably do not work for free.
Be thorough in your revisions and be ultra-clear in your communication. Write things down! It will be a short conversation if you can show your documented requests for changes that your designer did not finish and now wants to bill you for. Likewise, if you ask for something beyond the original scope of work, make sure you know what it is going to cost before it is done.
Just because your brother’s best friend has a dog-walker who knows of a guy to do your website, doesn’t mean it is the right person for you. Like any business arrangement, you have to know what you are buying and whom you are hiring. Ask for examples. Check references. Make sure you talk to previous clients. Even a newbie designer should have something to show and someone who will vouch for them.
Living with Your Site
One of the worst things I have seen is a business owner who got their site created and had no idea how to make simple changes. Your business is going to change – maybe it is a new phone number, a new service, or you want to list an award you received. Make sure you know how to manage your site once it is done. If that means you have to hire someone to make changes; it is better to know that up-front. If it means you pay for a few hours of training; do it before there is an urgent situation.
Last but Not Least
Make sure you secure your site.
- Know where it is hosted.
- Get a list of all the logins and passwords.
- Change the passwords so they are secure.
- Limit administrative access.
- Run up-to-date anti-virus software on any machines that access your site at the administrative level.
- And, backup of your site!