By now we all know that a professional web presence is an essential requirement for gaining new customers, establishing credibility and fostering client relationships. For most small and medium-sized enterprises the easiest and most cost-effective place to start on this particular journey is with a website builder service, a great shortcut to an established online presence, that can save you time and untold tech headaches. But what do you need to know and what should you look out for given the variety of companies offering these services at the moment?
1) Realise what you are buying into:
When signing up to a website builder service, the first thing you need to think about is how much input you want and how much is required of you? Is this service DIY (yes, Do It Yourself)? Or DIFM (Do-It-For-Me)? Do you need to be tech savvy to do it? Or can you hand over your content to your website builder and let them work their magic? Are you happy to put some creative decisions in their hands? For small businesses with a restricted budget, full-DIY can be a tempting option as this approach involves the lowest upfront costs and gives businesses full control over how much they spend and when. Conversely, DIFM is great for small businesses with little time or inclination to handle their web presence full-time and, while it is generally a more costly approach, it provides customers with a web solution that immediately performs well and provides greater confidence, as users know that their web presence is functional and can deliver the anticipated results.
2) Understand the market:
Understanding your market as well as your strengths and weaknesses regarding your website’s setup and maintenance can save a lot of headaches in the long run. With the selection of website building services out there at the moment, getting your business online needn’t be difficult or cost an arm and a leg. Whatever website builder you choose, focus your strategy on creating great content and a great user experience.
3) Build a rapport with the provider:
Ask questions and work with the provider you choose (where possible) regardless of whether you’ve gone down the DIY or DIFM route. The seller represents a treasure-trove of information that is crucial to the future success of your business. From optimising your content to working through any bugs, you’ll find that you need the seller to help with the setup transition, and also help you to run the website. Establishing your new home on the web requires full cooperation from both parties and the best way to get that co-operation is to build a solid rapport with them.
4) Know your limitations:
Be ambitious but don’t overstretch yourself – both financially and with your skillset. Plan and get recommendations for website builders and their services before going ahead or acting on impulse! Make sure the service and platform you choose for your site is the best fit for what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, it would probably be best to use a store builder if the purpose of your website is primarily e-commerce. If, on the other hand, your website has several purposes, perhaps you need a blog, photo galleries and also a store, then using a website builder makes more sense and will ultimately allow your site to continue to grow in the right direction once established.
5) Have a budget and stick to it:
These are all things to consider when looking at buying a website vs. building one and without a significant budget to cover a decent web designer and properly bankroll a bespoke project, building one from scratch is rarely a great idea. Website builders are designed to build conventional websites but don’t think of that as a bad thing. Most sites don’t need to be re-inventing the wheel and the quality of many website builders now means most include enough stylistic flexibility to ensure you can create a site and personalise it with a look and feel that is well suited to your company and business aims all while keeping to a manageable budget.
By David Marrone
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