How do I get a website built?

 

Website design is big business.  There are around 5.2 million small businesses in the UK and 20 million in the EU, most of who need a website.

Early in the life of most small businesses, someone is going to ask the question ‘How do I get a website built?’  Some small businesses will build their own website (and there are lots of website design software packages available to facilitate this), but the majority will need to employ a website design company (probably another small business) to do this for them.

And it’s often not quite as simple as just building a website.  Many fledgling businesses will also be looking for a digital marketing strategy, linking their website to social media and e-mail campaigns and will want to be as close to the top of the Google search listings as possible.

So how do I get a website built?  Here are some ideas that should help:

What sort of website do you want?

 

This is the most important question.  You need to decide your website strategy before you start looking for a website designer. So ask yourself:

  • Do you want your website to sell your business?
    • Is an on-line brochure with contact details enough for what you need?
      This will be cheap, get you a presence and tell people what you do, but you will probably be advertising elsewhere to attract customers
    • Alternatively, do you want a site that really sells you and what you do? Something that stands out from the crowd and draws customers in?
  • Do you want to sell products and take payments on-line? Inevitably, this is going to be more expensive and you’re going to want to try much harder to attract potential customers to your site
  • Do you want the site to be interactive? e.g. include questionnaires, calculators, animations etc.
  • How dynamic do you want the site to be? Are you launching new products all of the time or changing what you offer or is most of the content going to be static?
  • Does your site need to fulfil a support function too?

 

What do you want your website to do?

 

Now you need to write down exactly what you want.  This feels like a really difficult question to start with, ‘I want a website for my business, what more do these guys need to know?’  but once you get started it will get easier.

 

Start with designing your home page

 

Have a look at your competitors websites, to give you some ideas. Here are some ideas to get your thoughts moving:

How do you want your home page to look? g. mainly text or lots of white space, striking images, moving images etc.

  • What do you want to tell customers about your business or about you on your home page?
  • This page says a lot about the image of your company. Do you want to look young and dynamic, stable and secure, serious and businesslike, humorous, different from everyone else?
  • What parts of your business do you want to hit your customers between the eyes with, on the home page?
  • Do you want to feature ‘this week’s message’ or ‘special offers’ on the home page, with click-throughs to product pages
  • What about your contact details? Telephone number(s), e-mail address, postal address, links to social media Twitter, Facebook, Google + etc.
  • Do you want a call to action or an invitation to sign up to your e-mail list or blog?
  • What images do you want, do you want videos?

If you have an image in your head of how you’d like your home page to look, then get a mock up together using a tool like Word, PowerPoint or Visio, otherwise try to describe what you want in a series of one line statements.

 

Now try to sketch out a site map

 

What other content do you want on your website?  You don’t have to split this into pages, just topics.  You can sort out the page layout later with your website designer.  Try to also express these as a series of one line statements, for example:

  • I want to show all of my 12 products and their features
  • I want to show that I do both sales and support
  • I want to be able to sell my 12 products on-line and take payments
  • I want to show my trading terms and conditions
  • I want to show testimonials from customers
  • I want to have a newsletter or blog on my site
  • I want links to my other businesses
  • I want to be able to sign customers up to my mailing list
  • I want to have images and mini-CVs of the team on the website

 

Ask about hygiene factors

 

Having got this far, you’re probably starting to feel more confident that you know what you want, but there are a quite a few other things that will affect how your website will function, for example:

  • How fast will the website respond?
  • Is the website mobile friendly and will it be regarded so by Google – depending on whose report you read, we traffic from mobile devices now accounts for 50-60% of all web traffic – so this is important.
  • What back-up and disaster recovery facility will the website design company provide?
  • What will they be doing for you on SEO ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ i.e. how are they going to get you as high as possible on search engine results
  • Will the site be capable of growing as you grow

 

How much does it cost to build a website?

 

Website design costs could be anything from £500 for a brochure site, built off a template, which will look a lot like all of the other sites built off that template, to several thousand pounds for a fast, slick looking and unique website.

It also depends how many pages you need on the site and what you want to use the site for.  If you just want an unspectacular presence on the web, with only a few pages that show what you can do, but without it being any real focus of your marketing then you should be able to achieve this for less than £500.  If you want to use the site to really sell your business, then you’re going to need to spend an absolute minimum of £2,000.

 

Now find someone to do the work

 

I strongly advise that you document your requirements before asking for quotes.   Without this how are your web designers going to know what you want?  Getting a quote from a verbal briefing is really quite dangerous.  Once you actually start working with your Web Designer and spending money, you may well find out that there is no common understanding of what was in the price they quoted you and as a result costs will start to escalate.

If you’re in the market to spend less than £2,000 then you should document your requirements in word or excel and then start contacting website designers ( just google ‘website designer’)  and ask them to quote against your requirements.  If you can spend more than that, then I would recommend that you get a more formal Request for Quotation together and ask suppliers to quote against that.

You need to qualify the numbers of potential suppliers down, but I have found in this market, because there is so much easy work out there for Web Designers, many can’t be bothered to reply to a tender or even a requirements document, so you may need to send your document out to quite a few.

There are a growing number of portals around the web, where you can post your requirement and sit back and wait for the bids to come in and this may be a better way for you to go.

 

Deciding who to employ

 

This tendering process should give you an idea of how easy it’s going to be to deal with each supplier.  If they can’t be bothered to read and respond to your document when they want your business, just think what they’ll be like when they’ve won it.  Talk to everyone who you are considering employing.  Don’t take someone on, on the basis of an e-mail interchange.

Some of the things that you should be looking for are:

  • The ability to do what you want and to prove that they’ve done similar before
  • A good customer base
  • A decent financial track record – these people will not only be building your website, but also supporting it, so you don’t want someone who goes out of business and leaves you high and dry
  • A portfolio. Go to the websites that they have built and check them to see how fast they load and how much they appeal to you visually
  • A project manager who is going to manage the build of your site and be your point of contact
  • A good price, but make sure you look at ongoing support costs as well as the initial build cost
  • Once the site has been built, how easy is it going to be to make changes , without having to call the supplier in

 

What you’ll need to do

 

If you believe that outsourcing your website build means you can sit back and wait for a shiny new website to appear a few weeks later, then think again!  You are going to have to spend time on this too.

You are likely to have to agree a number of proofs.  Most Website Designers will produce your website in a number of iterations, until they get it to what you want.

You’re also going to need to produce copy and probably images too.  Some website designers will proof read the copy for you, but you’re the expert in your business, so you will need to produce it.

You’re also going to need to test what is delivered before you agree that the build is complete.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can probably ascertain from this post, getting a website that really promotes your business and is what you want at a price you want isn’t quite as simple as finding a few names in the Yellow Pages and hoping for the best.  It would probably take a book to cover everything that could be involved in having a website designed and built, but hopefully there is enough here to set you on the right path.

 

Gren Gale is a Project Management and Procurement Consultant who has helped organisations select and implement their website.  He is the author of Project Management for SMEs and owner of PM Results.

More tips of Procurement and Project Management can be found at Gren Gale’s Blog

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