“When it comes to affordable web design for small businesses, it’s important to remember that you’re paying for your designer’s skill and years of experience above all else.”
“As a small business owner you have unique needs and problems that often require creative solutions.” – CalTech Web
In today’s world, a professional and user-friendly website is more important than ever but not everyone has the design or technology skills, nor the time, to create a functional site. Hiring an experienced web designer is a significant expense and not a one-and-done deal; every website takes time to maintain and service and it’s generally not something that can be done without the know-how.
What’s a business owner to do?
The truth is, finding an affordable web designer for a small businesses is not always an easy task, but there are some things you can keep in mind to make the process easier. Read on to learn what options you have when building and maintaining a website and some tips to make the process easier and less expensive.
Of course, the cheapest way to build a website is to D.I.Y. If you’re tech-savvy, building a simple usable site can be possible if time consuming, but for many of us that is simply not an option. We’ve all seen the businesses that do it themselves even though they probably should have hired out; the subdomain websites with red text on a gray background that consist of little more than a Contact page. If we’re describing your website right now, don’t be ashamed! There’s nothing inherently wrong with an amateur website, and it can even be charming for a Mom n’ Pop type business, but this isn’t going to make a professional first impression on any customers who find you online. Customers who shop online are looking for sleek, efficient websites where they can easily find what they need. A clunky site that looks a decade old won’t impress anyone.
If you choose to do it yourself, you’ll need to do your research and know what you need in a site builder and host. For example, do you know basic web coding or will you need a drag and drop feature to design your site? Do you need web hosting with unlimited storage? A do-it-yourself website will get the job done in a pinch but building anything more than the very basics will take a significant time investment. Here are some other things to keep in mind when building and maintaining your own site:
Taking on all this work can quickly become overwhelming and you may begin to think it’s worth hiring an entire tech department just to avoid the headache. But not so fast! There are ways to have the best of both worlds in affordable web design for your business without putting yourself into the red.
“The best way to afford a beautiful, professionally designed website on a tight budget? Outsource!” – CalTech Web
An in-house designer and I.T. person is a potential budget-buster but you have other options. Take a cue from businesses small and large alike who have been doing it for decades and hire a freelance contractor or outside company to do the work for you. An independent contractor will cost you far less than hiring an employee because they will likely have other contracts besides yours, will bill you only for the exact hours they’ve worked on your project, and are be responsible for paying their own insurance and taxes.
However, there are some legal issues to keep in mind when paying an individual as an independent contractor. An independent contractor can only be considered such if they are free to make their own hours and receive their pay for hours billed or services performed rather than working regular shifts for a paycheck. Here are a few things you should consider before choosing to work with a contractor. It’s worth noting that many of these concerns will not be present if you choose to contract with a web service company versus an individual, as the company will contract with you as a whole and will be responsible for ensuring their own employees are fairly and legally compensated.
“When it comes to affordable web design for small businesses, it’s important to remember that you’re paying for your designer’s skill and years of experience above all else.” – CalTech Web
You’ll always be able to find someone who will work for pennies but a website that cost you pennies is only going to generate a penny’s worth of sales. Should you compare prices and any services designers might offer before you sign on the dotted line? Of course you should! Remember, however, that you often get what you pay for and it’s true that cheaper does not always mean better.
The most important thing you can ask any web designer you’re thinking of working with, whether an individual contractor or a full service company, is to see a portfolio. Ask for examples of sites the designer has built in your industry. Pay attention to how easy the design are to navigate, whether the sites feel cluttered or too minimalist, how easily you can find the name of the business and what they do, and how pleasing the aesthetics are as a whole. It also may be worth asking how many years experience they have, although one doesn’t need decades of work history to be an expert.
Most importantly you should know that a basic, functioning website built by a competent web designer is far more valuable to a small business than a trendy, eye catching site that’s confusing, cumbersome, or worse, incomplete.
Something that’s often overlooked by small businesses when building a website is how quickly the costs for stock photo and video licenses can add up. Ten basic images on istockphoto.com cost $29/month. For a website that only requires a few photos that rarely change or need updating this cost is minimal, but if you’re looking to feature slide shows, change your photos regularly, or need professional videos, these costs can quickly rise out of most small business owners’ price range.
What can you do about it? Take your own photos and videos instead. Do you have dedicated employees who’ve grown with your company? They would likely be thrilled to allow you to take some photos of them hard at work or film a quick video explaining why they love working for you. Or maybe your business is just you. Take an artsy photo of your office, candid shots of you working, a smiling, posed photo with a favorite client. Not only are these photos cheaper and more personable but with most current smart phone models it’s possible to take professional quality photos without a professional camera.
If your site requires a cleaner looking video than you can personally create, it may be cost effective to consider outsourcing this step as well. Consider whether you can shoot the footage yourself and hire a freelance video editor to clean it up. Or think out of the box and call a local college to see if there are any film student willing to make a short company video for their portfolio.
“The truth is, the average consumer doesn’t care about the expensive animation or avant garde design elements you’ve added to your site.” – CalTech Web
We touched on this earlier: a basic, functioning website is a hundred times better for business than a pretty but confusing one. Unless your business happens to be in certain tech, high fashion, or one of a few other industries whose clients may prefer design over functionality, it is very likely people are visiting your site to learn something about your company or find a way to contact you. Those people will be frustrated if they type in your web address only to find a blank screen with some pulsating symbols in the corner, or a welcome video that auto-loads and cannot be skipped. Those people will also probably not continue to try to figure out how to navigate your website and may not think highly of your brand after that experience.
Overwhelmingly, consumers want to visit a clear, easy to navigate site. Click on that hyperlink in the previous sentence and you’ll notice nowhere in the linked Entrepreneur.com article was there any mention of design or appearance at all. Consumers don’t care about expensive website design. Your customers, especially those who find you online, want to visit your website and find the information they’re looking for quickly and efficiently.
No two businesses are the same which means no two business websites are the same but unfortunately the “big box” design and site hosting companies usually only offer two or three package options. These options tend to have a huge jump in the number of services offered as the cost increases which leaves businesses who fall between price tiers in the dust. What happens if the second price tier doesn’t meet your needs but you can’t afford to pay double the price for the third tier?
Smaller web servicing companies and freelancers are able to offer custom packages to meet your specific needs and ensure you’re not paying for anything you aren’t using. Your web designer will likely speak to you personally to determine your budget and the services needed to make your website a reality, then they’ll provide you with a custom quote for your project. Others may have basic packages that you can customize with add-ons in any way you see fit. Importantly, a freelancer or full service company, whether they offer pre-made packages or not, has the freedom to tailor everything for your project while a hosting company you find on the first page of a Google search is probably not going to work with you so closely.
CalTech Web is a full service company and has everything you need to build and maintain your business’ ideal website. We offer web design as well as hosting and maintenance to keep your site running smoothly. Not only will our expert staff walk you through the entire process and pricing options, we have dedicated customer service to answer any questions that may come up.
CalTech believes businesses of every size should have access to the resources to build and maintain a well functioning website which is why we’ve dedicated our skills and expertise to doing exactly that in an industry that was previously vastly under served. We understand web browsing preferences of consumers today which is why we prioritize mobile-friendliness, security, and functionality. Check out our portfolio under the “Industries We Serve” tab to view just some of the many beautiful sites we’ve designed for our clients.
It has never been easier to create websites with CalTech Web.