A website is a website….right?
Wrong. In today’s saturated web world, there are so many different ways to have a website that it can be very confusing. Like the windows in an office building…from a distance they all look the same. Up close, they are miles apart.
The options include:
Website Builder: This is a platform where anyone can use the platform (Wix, SquarSpace, etc…) and build their own website. For a nominal yearly fee, the owner can attach their own domain and make the site live.
You build it yourself and can take as long as you want. These builders are getting better and are, for the basic services, reasonably cheap.
These builders are usually limited in their ability. Also, they can take a very long time to get “right” and this is valuable time you could be using to build your business. Additions, like contact forms and such can cost additional and these costs can add up. Depending on the platform, these websites are not always “Google Friendly” and SEO is tough. Most do not create a very professional and polished end product and the few that do take allot of learning and practice.
The biggest “con” to these services is that you are on your own. It would be like giving a homeowner the wood and nails and then saying “build your house”. Sounds easy but there is a lot more to web design than something pretty. Also, for most of these services, you never truly own your website. You are usually stuck with hosting the site on the providers host and the files are never released to you if you decide to move to another platform.
Website Farms: These services offer templates that the user picks from and the host modifies with your images, text and photos. These are usually focused on a particular industry (i.e.: law firms, dentists, construction, etc…)
You end up with a website that thousands of other like businesses are using. These services can also be very pricey and cost you hundreds of dollars per month. After three or four years, you end up spending thousands of dollars for a cookie cutter website. Also, like the build-it-yourself services, the technical and customer service is usually not the best and you end up feeling “on your own”.
Hiring a Web Design and Branding Firm: Across the country there are high quality web design and branding firms that work with clients to not only build a website but help create an online image and brand.
You are working with professionals that are committed to helping you succeed. You are free to run your organization while experts work to design an image that sells your widget or service. You have a personal relationship with your designer and always have contact with them. The goal should be to not only build a website but develop a brand. This includes special touches, professional images, text copy that is written by experts and formatted to fare well in search results and a slew of personal and professional touches. Plus, you own your website!
In the end, you are working with a team that should be laser focused on your success.
Depending on the firm, these services can be expensive. A really good full blown web presence, custom built with hig-def imagery, professional text copy and search engine optimization can cost thousands. But, if done right, the pay-off will be massive and well worth the investment.
My Nephew or Friend is a Web Designer: You should do your best to avoid the “basement web designer”. The end results are usually very low quality and these type of “designers” are usually nowhere to be found in a year or two after you have wasted time and money. You end up having to start all over. That is not to say that every “basement web designer” is like this but make sure you do your homework. If you stumble on a really good one, you could end up with a pretty good website and save some money.
The bottom line is that there are many options when making your statement on the web. They all have the potential to work and should be explored. It all depends on how committed you are to your web presence and how much time and money you have to invest. If “I just need a website” is your mentality, then the “Do-It-Yourself” or “Website Farm” may be your perfect solution. Just keep in mind that you may not see much of a return.
If you are looking to make an impact on the web and build a brand that will help you leverage the power of the web to succeed, you should consider hiring a web design and branding firm. Shop around and make sure you feel comfortable with who you choose. Make sure they are really working for you and earning the right to help you make your mark. Be careful because these firms can be pricey. But, if you choose the right one, the returns will well pay for themselves.
If you want to work with an Award Winning web design and branding firm and do not want to break the bank, drop us a line at 856 Web. We talk for free and will give you industry leading advice, even if you are going to have your neighbor’s best friend’s nephew build your website.
Over 25 years ago George Chopek started in the media industry when, with money he earned from part-time jobs, he formed his first “information” sharing company, Target Telecomm, at the age of 19. Since then, he has spent his life working with people and solving problems. He is one of the founding fathers of Big Thimbe Media and the principle business director at 856 Web. He is an award winning web designer in his own right and has been recognized internationally for his innovative web designs. He now focuses his 25 plus years of experience on helping the 856 Web team and its clients find the perfect branding image and online presence to succeed.