If you’re looking to create a new small business website but have no previous experience, the many methods available to you can seem rather daunting. This post is to guide beginners through the choices available and will help you make well-informed decisions that are right for your small business. We will compare DIY Website Builders, Pre-built Website Templates and Bespoke Built Websites based on the 5 key factors we consider are vital for a successful small business website.
5 Key Factors to a Small Business Website
The 5 key factors we will assess against are:
Your business website may be the first point of contact with your brand, therefore a positive brand perception is vital for your online presence. The website design, ease of use and content will all contribute to building a positive brand perception.
If you have not heard of this term SEO stands for search engine optimisation, this is the process of optimising your website to help it rank higher on search engines like google. Without going into too much detail there are several factors which search engines use to rate the content and build of your website, this includes; the use of keywords, quality of the content, the coding of the site, the speed of the site and the structure of the site.
Functionality and Performance
When building a new website it’s very important to consider the functionality and performance. Does your chosen platform provide support for all the functionality that your site requires? How fast will a page load for a visitor and will your site have a lot of traffic and require a higher spec server?
Your budget will ultimately determine the choices you can make. If your website is vital to the success of your business it is important to invest in a well-performing website rather than cutting corners which could damage or hinder your business.
When embarking on the creation of a new website it’s important that you know who will own the final website and the content; and if the platform you have created the website on allows you to freely or easily migrate across to another provider or server?
DIY Website Builders
Website builders are a good solution for startups who have little or no budget. A DIY website builder tends to be an online platform which allows you create a simple website and add/managed all content and design yourself some of these companies include Wix, Squarespace and Weebly. You start with a base template choosing one of the many designs available, then you can adjust colours and fonts to match your brand identity and insert your own content. A drawback of The DIY approach is the level of expertise available. You need to be confident in your ability to create a professional-looking website and that you have the experience and expertise to make the right decisions.
Website Builders – Great for start-ups who have no budget but want to create a simple website to establish themselves online.
Website builders will allow you to change the colours and make some design changes but it can be difficult to modify the design to create a unique look for your business. Without full control over the design, it can be harder for your brand to differentiate itself from competitors, it will also make it easier for other businesses to mimic your brand. The other consideration is you won’t be working alongside an experienced agency and a DIY approach can lack the finished professional look you would achieve when working with a good agency.
Website Builders generally do not organise the outputted code well for Search engines to crawl. Making it harder for search engines to crawl your website can impact your rankings.
Functionality and Performance
If you have specific requirements or you are a large business requiring a robust service, template builders are limited in terms of the functionality and performance they can provide.
Online website builders are a cheap option, mainly because you’re using your own time and not paying for someone to design and build the website. Website builders usually charge an ongoing monthly fee, with any additional services you may require being added on top.
With most website builders you will create and host the website on their server. If you wish to migrate the site to another server or provider this can prove impossible or very difficult. It is also harder transfer your content onto another website platform if you need to upgrade your website in the future.
Website templates are pre-built websites and framework which are coded to work on specific platforms such as WordPress, Magneto, Shopify and Drupal. The templates can be modified however to what extent will depend on your design and coding ability. Simple changes like adding content, changing the themes colours should be easy to do but more advance modifications will require the services of the agencies or developer.
Website Templates – Are a cost-effective way of working with an agency to achieve a well-designed website.
If your planning to create the website yourself as a beginner you will be limited by the level of your design and coding ability. If you work with an agency they will work through an initial research and design process, once the design is agreed the template will be customised to achieve a look unique for your business.
Well built themes can be crawled easily by search engines, however, badly built themes may have a determinantal effect to your SEO.
Functionality and Performance
Template websites can accommodate additional functionality to support the needs of your business. Platforms like WordPress allow you to easily add plugins and additional functionality. Specific functionality can be bespoke built depending to your requirements. The drawback to a pre-built website template is that they are built to serve a wide variety of needs. This means that there is additional code which your site is not using, resulting in larger code files which can slow the performance of your site.
Website templates offer a cost-effective solution if you have a smaller budget but still want to utilise the expertise of a digital agency. As a proportion of the code has been pre-built, an agency will only charge for the design, code modifications and insertion of content (if required).
If you have a reasonable level of design and coding experience then to create the site yourself is relatively low cost. There is just a fee to purchase the theme and the cost of a suitable hosting provider.
If you’re creating the website yourself then you can transfer your website freely to your choice of hosting provider. If you work with agency check their terms. Most agencies, once the site is built will give your full ownership to the site. Though some agencies may have their own pre-built themes, where you are locked into to their hosting, not allowing you to migrate the website to another hosting provider.
Bespoke Website Build
A bespoke website build is created specifically to the requirements of your business, much like a tailored suit. The design and coding is created specifically for your business. Bespoke coding also creates a much leaner well-performing site compared to website builders or pre-built website templates. A bespoke website also gives the designer scope to create a unique site as they will not be limited by a template framework.
Bespoke Website is the best method to create a website which is specifically designed, coded and optimised to your business needs
A bespoke site will be built solely around the needs of your business and allows for a more unique design and experience. The site will be coded and built to your businesses specific needs.
Bespoke sites mostly have a higher standard of code which allows search engines to crawl your website. There is no bloated or unused code which comes with a pre-built template, resulting in quicker page loading times a factor which search engines use to rank your website and pages.
Functionality and Performance
As mentioned before, bespoke websites are built with much leaner, specific code resulting in quicker page load times. Bespoke websites also can be fully integrated with systems such as stock management etc.
An agency will invest a great deal more time in a bespoke build as the design and coding must be created from scratch. The cost of a bespoke website will depend on the requirements and functionality needed.
Most design agencies will allow you to migrate to your choice of hosting provider. If the site is built on an open source platform it will also allow for future modifications by 3rd parties if required.
If your looking to create a new website and want professional help to create an engaging and effective website for your small business, get in contact and would be happy to discuss how we can help you.