Top Ways a Custom Designed Website Will Help Your Small Business
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It’s pretty well accepted that a website for your small business is an essential tool in your marketing plan. Below are some of the top ways working with a professional and going custom will help your business.
Professional is the key.
Remember, the internet has a global reach. Some of your new potential customers may be learning of your business for the first time by visiting your website and the old cliché, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”, still rings true. When a business makes the decision to gain an internet presence, whether they are the largest corporation or the smallest home business, they may be tempted to take what appears to be the “easy way” to get the company website up and running fast.
Most “do it yourself” capabilities and pre-made templates. Let me ask you this question, do you really feel you’ll have the ability to stand out among your competition if your website looks like thousands of others? While you can get up and running quickly and the monetary investment is either free or low, you run the risk of other businesses using that SAME design.
“Custom Website For $100!”
This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have actually seen advertisements for custom websites for very low prices. First, be very cautious of something like this. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. By custom, it may only mean that your company logo and your text is inserted into a pre-designed template (so you’re no better off than some of the DIY solutions).
You must remember that you are investing in your business when you decide to have a custom website developed, and you really do get what you pay for. A professional designer creates original designs, from scratch, tailor-made for each individual client and that client’s goals. If you’re interested in learning what goes into pricing a custom website, check out, “Custom Website Pricing – What You Need To Know”.
Potential pitfalls aside, the process of getting your business onto the World Wide Web does not have to be a confusing, time-consuming, and costly affair.
Tips to Get Started
First, you need to decide on your domain name for your website. Avoid names with “-” in them and very long names. Try to be as succinct as possible. It is easiest for your visitors to remember a URL that is your company name, or at the very least, keywords that describe your company. For instance, if your business is ABC Accounting, you could consider abcaccounting.com or something such as abcaccountingservice.com. You may find that your first (and second!) choice for a domain name may already be taken, so you may have to get creative.
Just remember that a domain name that reflects your business is key.
Getting Your Ducks in a Row
A major difference when working with a professional designer is the website will be handcrafted to your goals and your target audience(s). While many designers can go through a research process with you to help determine what these actual goals are and who your audience is, it’s good to have some ideas to start with. At the very least, it’s very helpful if you already know who your ideal customer is and what they would be looking for on your site. You might want to check out, “How to Determine Goals for an Effective Website Project”.
Choosing the Designer
There is no shortage of individuals and companies who can handle the design and development of your website. Do not be afraid to shop around. Ask your peers for referrals. Review each company’s website and the work they’ve done. Create a list of potential designers you feel have the skills to create your website. When you’ve narrowed down the prospects, do not be afraid to ask for personal or telephone interviews. Find out what their design process and work flow is like. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for references. Contact references and ask how it was working with the company, if they felt their project was a success, and any other information you feel might be helpful to your decision on whether to hire the designer.
Once You’ve Made a Choice
A professional will ALWAYS require a contract before work begins. If they don’t, run, don’t walk, away! A contract is meant to protect both the client and the designer. Make sure to read it thoroughly and ask any questions if something is unclear. Pay close attention to whether or not the work performed will be a, “work for hire” or whether the designer will retain any rights. Also, make sure scheduling and what happens if there are delays is clearly outlined.
A professional should not be opposed to answering any questions you have during the design process. They should also be able to explain every step in the process and every decision they make with your design. There shouldn’t be a time when you are wondering what they’re doing or are confused by what they’ve presented. Some designers are better than others at this, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t produce great work for you. If you ever feel like you’re in the dark, speak up and ask questions.
Think of your target market, always. While your input and your expertise about your business is very important to the project, it’s just an important to not let your personal preferences take precedence. Your website is a piece of marketing. It should reflect your business is the best way possible, but it should also appeal to your target audience. If you happen to be your exact target audience as well as the business owner, that’s great! You can give even more insight to what your customers might want to see. If you aren’t, don’t take it personally if the designer tries to steer you away from some of your personal preferences. Remember that the process is very back and forth. You need to be present. Don’t decide to take a vacation in the middle of the process or otherwise make yourself unavailable. If your unavailability can’t be avoided, make sure to appoint someone you trust to make decisions in your absence so the project doesn’t stall.
Typically during the design process the designer will also want to review your content. The content of your site includes all the text as well as any images. Some designers prefer to have finalized content before they design as knowing the amount and type, can dictate parts of the design. Although you do not want to overwhelm your visitors with nothing but pages and pages of text, you do want to offer clear, concise, professionally composed and edited information. Proof read, proof read, proof read! If you are in doubt, it is best to consider hiring a professional copy writer in addition to the designer. Remember that grammatical errors shout “unprofessional” to the viewer. The text for your site is also a major part of the marketing, so working with a professional can really help ensure that this content connects with your audience and helps you reach your goals.
Once the design and content is finalized, the coding process will begin. Depending on the exact specifications, this could include content management systems, shopping carts, or simple, responsive website pages. During this process the designer should have review points with you where you can check to make sure the functionality is what it is supposed to be. This is often also the longest part of the process (especially if you have a lot of functionality). You will be able to review the final site before it goes live.
Are you in need of a custom designed website for your business? We can help! Contact us for a free estimate.
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