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I love trying new things, baking a cake was the latest must try – I think I’d watched one too many “Great British Bake Off’s” – so on a sunny Sunday afternoon I gathered all the yummy necessary ingredients and worked my way through the recipe with meticulous care, exuding a confident air that I was on my way to a taste sensation that would rival the great Mr Kipling himself. When I opened the oven and gazed inside at my marvellous creation my dreams were shattered. I’d missed an important step that meant my wondrous light and tasty cake was a limp and lifeless mess. I took myself off to my local bakers and admitted defeat that I wasn’t the Mary Berry I thought I was.

In many ways the DIY website builders (Wix, GoDaddy, MoonFruit, SquareSpace et al) are the same as trying to bake your first cake. For many people they offer a great balance of ease of use, cost and the flexibility to have a go at it themselves. They give those without any web development experience a route to create their own professional looking website, and some of them aren’t actually that bad at giving a small company a quick and easy way to publish information on the internet.

So with these relatively inexpensive avenues onto the world wide web why would a client ever choose to pay a design agency hundreds or thousands of pounds for a bespoke professionally designed website? At a time when anyone can make a surprisingly high quality website, does a website development company offer anything that you can’t do yourself?

What can your website achieve?

As a business owner ask yourself – “What does my website do for me….. and what can it do?”

  • Its your virtual shop window
  • Its your online business card
  • Its the first impression of your business to a prospective client
  • Its a contact channel for your customers
  • Its a sales person for your services
  • Its a landing page for a campaign
  • Its a information page for an event

What Kind of Site Do You Need?

In order to decide which option is best for you, you’ll need to determine what kind of site best matches your business.

A brochure site is the simplest site, and as the name implies, it’s a showcase of what your business does. The primary purpose of a brochure site is to give a company a credible web presence and provide some basic information to prospective customers with text, images, and maybe a video. It’s a good way to show your mission, pricing, examples of what you sell, and basic contact information.

If, on the other hand, you’ll be handling financial transactions, you’ll need an e-commerce site. An e-commerce site is a little more complicated, since it will have to be able to handle payment processing and allow you to easily add, remove, or edit products and services.

Another way to look at what kind of site you’ll need is to ask yourself how important it will be to your business. If you’re a consultant, for instance, whose business is primarily based on existing relationships, you probably won’t be relying on a website to generate a large percentage of your business. If your website is generating less than 20 percent of your business, a simple brochure site should fill your needs.

If your site will generate a more significant bit of business, perhaps more than 60 percent, it’s likely to be a site that will have more user demands and will have to perform multiple functions. Even if your website is simple, if it’s going to be responsible for the majority of your business generation, it’s best to hire a professional developer.

Your Skill Level.

If you’re a programmer who can build a website from scratch, the sky’s the limit. For the rest of us, there are options available for almost every skill level.

Website builders are the most basic tool, and as discussed above, also the most limited. However, they are extremely easy to use, and you don’t need to know anything about coding to jump right in and build a clean-looking site. If you can use PowerPoint, you can use a website builder.

WordPress requires a higher comfort level with basic web hosting and HTML, but is still a relatively easy system to use. It is more flexible and customizable than a website builder, but you should feel comfortable exploring the WordPress community to find the best design templates and plugins for your needs.

Keep in mind that whether you choose a website builder or WordPress, you’ll be in charge of the content and creative elements that make it stand out.

Your Budget.

Depending on whether you build your own site or hire a professional developer, a brochure site can cost anywhere from £50 a year to more than £50,000. A professionally developed site can start at  £199 to build a nicely designed, mobile-friendly website.

If you’re building an e-commerce site, expect to spend a little more, since they’re more complicated. A website builder package that includes quality e-commerce features will typically cost about £300 per year, while a site developed for you could cost at least £1,000, but the cost could be substantially more if you have even slightly more complicated functions on the website, like product categories or real-time inventory management.

Next steps.

If you need any help or advice then please get in touch. We will happily steer you through the pitfalls of websites.