Starting out as a small business, every penny counts. For a new start, a website crafted by a web agency can be one of your most expensive purchases. With the continued rise and development of frameworks like WordPress that allow you to maintain your website on the go, is there really a need for a web designer? Do they justify the cost, which can be over a £1000?
Call me biased, but my answer is absolutely.
Know What You’re Using
There’s a wide range of systems out there that allow you to edit and maintain your own website, dependent on your requirements. From WordPress and Drupal to Shopify, PrestaShop or Lemon Stand. Don’t just be influenced by anonymous reviews online.
Your web design team should be a safe pair of hands – they’ll guide you through each available option and help you to make a decision on which is most suitable for your type of business. Otherwise, you may find yourself opting for the first system you try, only to find that as your business grows, your website is no longer suitable to scale with your company. Some systems aren’t easily maintainable with thousands of products, others aren’t as suitable for Search Engine Optimisation. At that point, you’re back to square one and in need of advice.
We always recommend you do your own research to help make a decision on which system is right for you, but your web design team are experts. They’ll have used most, if not all, of the systems highlighted above and will be able to provide a recommendation for you based upon experience.
Showcasing Your Business
For many people, your website serves as the first point of contact and your first opportunity to make a lasting impression on potential customers, regardless of if you’re selling online or not. If your website design isn’t up to scratch, you’re losing customers.
Websites like ThemeForest are a directory of thousands of free and premium themes/skins/designs that you can use as a template for your own website. If you’re wanting to keep costs to a minimum, it can be tempting to download a free template or purchase the cheapest one. By doing so, your website has became one of X number of websites using an identical template. Whilst you can add your logo, change the colours and perhaps even parts of the layout, a visitor to your website may not know about Content Management Systems and Themes and instead presume that your business, Joe’s Coffee Shop, has plagiarised Bob’s Tea House’s website design. Inadvertently, you’ve potentially advertised one of your competitors.
You’ll have started your business to offer a unique service/product or one that goes above and beyond your competitors’ – your website should reflect that with a quality, unique design. The way in which to achieve that is through hiring professionals.
You might have already paid for a graphic designer to craft your branding through a logo, product packaging, letterheads and so forth. Your website is a key part of your brand and each part should appear consistent.
Perhaps you’ve handed out hundreds of business cards in the last few weeks, building your connections and driving your business forward. Chances are, your website link will be on your business cards. Your business cards may look great, they may be fantastic, but if your website isn’t to the same standard, which do you think your potential customer will remember – a nice, glossy business card, or your website that didn’t load well when they visited on their mobile phone and maybe even had advertisements for the website builder you used?
Focus On The Future, Not The Past
Your web agency will have worked with many businesses over the years to help them look great online. They’ll know the latest trends and how to help you optimise your website so that it’s working hard to win you customers.
Much like fashion, web design has it’s own trends. Much like computer hardware, there’s new and old technology. The themes you see online could have been available for some time and use old design trends that are no longer attractive, or use old technology, such as legacy versions of code which are no longer supported (in some cases, this is for security reasons).
Like hiring any expert in their field, your web agency will be able to craft your website to last in terms of design, and will always be security conscious. With privacy laws such as GDPR coming into force in May 2017, it’s key that you plan with your web agency how your business will need to comply with regulations online.
The future in terms of web, is mobile. More than half of all searches are now carried out from mobile phones so it’s pivotal that your website not only looks great and works great on a computer, but also on a mobile device. Have you checked how your website looks on a mobile recently?
We’ve already mentioned GDPR and legacy code, but what if your website was hacked and defaced. What if a vulnerability was found in the theme you use and you were at risk of being hacked – would you even know about it? Your web agency would.
Support When You Need It
Even when your website is finished, launched and advertising your business, the support from your web agency doesn’t always end there.
There’s tonnes of information online on how to use Content Management Systems and quite often it’s easy to get lost in the jargon – your web agency are your first point of contact to demystify that jargon. I can only speak for Tad Web Solutions, but as a client, your business website makes up a part of our portfolio, and it’s in our best interest as well as yours to ensure that your website looks great, works great and wins you business.
Cost vs. Time Investment
Building and maintaining a website can be done to a low cost if you adopt a DIY approach, but also comes with an added time investment. How long will each of these points take you?
- Deciding which CMS to use for your website. 2 hours.
- Find a suitable theme for your new website. 2 hours.
- Deciding which pages to go on your website. 1 hour.
- Drafting the content for each page in a way in which visitors will understand. 5 hours (this could be more or less, depending on how many pages – lets say one hour per page).
- Learning how to use the Content Management System to actually add your content to your website. 3 hours (this could be a whole lot more time if you’re adding products online).
- Search online forums to learn how to make changes to the template of your website. 3 hours.
- Test your website on your computer, tablet and mobile and make any required changes that the template will let you make. 3 hours.
- Send the link to family and friends, get their feedback and make more changes. 2 hours.
- Launch your website. 5 minutes.
- Get feedback from customers, make even more changes. 2 hours.
The time above, which could of course vary based on your website and attention to detail for your website and is only used as an example, works our at little over 23 hours. If you were to value your time at £50 per hour, that equates to £1150 spent on your website. Now factor in how this 23 hours could have been spent driving sales, completing orders, doing admin and you’ll have lost more money through lower efficiency.
Your investing time (and therefore money) in all of the above, which can soon amount up to a considerable amount of time and effort, all whilst using a design that isn’t unique for your business and possibly a CMS that isn’t the most suitable for you to use.
Hosting, Mailboxes and Domain Management
In many cases, your web agency will also manage your website domain name and your website hosting on your behalf. Each month, or each year, you’ll be charged a ‘Hosting bill’ which is the cost of keeping your website online. You’ll also have a ‘Domain renewal’ which can vary in frequency and instead of dealing with various suppliers, you’ll just deal with your web agency.
With that said, just because your web agency ‘manages’ your hosting, does not make them your website host. Many agencies offer hosting to clients whilst using a separate company to deliver the service – this is common and largely makes no difference to you, but you should be made aware of this. The benefit of having your web agency manage your website hosting is that should your website go down, they’ll manage the process of restoring it for you, or chasing the hosting provider to fix the issue as soon as possible on your behalf.
As your business grows, you might need more staff email addresses. Your web agency can quickly create these for you and send over relevant information to help you get your email accounts setup on your computer, tablet and mobile phone. This is often provided free of charge and saves you the time of doing so yourself.
Hosting through your web agency doesn’t always come as more expensive than sourcing hosting yourself – at Tad Web Solutions, we charge £50 per annum for standard websites.
Does the cost for a web agency seem a little more justifiable now?