Yip, believe it or not, there are many businesses out there that still do not have a website. In fact, it's more common than you think. Not having a website can range from a lack of budget to bad experiences in the past or just the sheer overwhelmingness of where to begin. However, creating a new website doesn't have to be difficult or complicated.
Here are some tips for businesses looking to start building a new website:
1. How much does a website cost?
I get asked all the time. Well... it depends. "Anything can be done with time and money." I guess there is no real answer here. The price of a website can vary tremendously from a few thousand Rand to hundreds of thousands of Rands. It all depends on what you want and how difficult it is to build or create. A web designer will ask you a few questions to get an idea of what you want and then send you an estimate of what it would cost to build the website.
3. It's more hands-on than you think
This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions I think first-time website owners make. There are a lot more client-web-designer involvement and input needed than what I think is generally assumed. It is difficult for most to run their business and be involved in creating a new website. So consider this when starting a new website that web designers will need regular feedback.
3. Too many decisions to make?
I get it, making big decisions such as where to put things on a website, the budget you have for a website, and the complexity of the project; all this can be extremely daunting and stressful for most people, especially if you are the only decision-maker. This can have a huge effect on the development and project handover of a website if the client is not open upfront on all ideas they have. This can lead to frustration with the web design/developers constantly making changes and feeling like there is no end in sight, aka scope creep.
My advice is to take the time to write down all your ideas and do your research. Ask lots of questions. Get second opinions. There are tons of online material out there to help you as well. With the help of a website agency or software company, make sure that you identify weekly or monthly goals and stick to them. One can also think of building the website in phases if it is a large project with set weekly or monthly goals.
4. Content, content, content
This is probably got to be the number one problem I face with first-time clients looking to build a website. Before you get to a design agency or software development company, make sure that you have all the necessary content available upfront to avoid delays. This can include anything like text, copy, images, videos, links to certain things, social media links, etc.). A web designer will usually tell you what is needed or recommended to have on a website.
If you do not have content, I would suggest that you hire a content writer to do that for you.
I always say: "I would rather have too much content and take out what I don't need, than trying to come up with something that has very little or no content."
5. Project feedback
I get it, people are busy, people need to work, some have companies to run, but when there's a deadline to be made, feedback with a quick turn-around time is crucial. Communication is key here. Delayed feedback can also hamper the process or completion of building the website.
6. Choosing the right web host
If you are in the process of setting up a new website, you will need to host your website so that the rest of the world can see it. Websites can be hosted anywhere of your choosing and budget. Hosting your website is usually inexpensive and easy to set up. Most hosting companies can assist you in setting this up.
Choosing a web host usually boils down to personal preference in the end. Most of the well-known companies provide similar packages and pricing options. I would advise going with any of the following companies: 1-Grid, Xneelo, Web Africa, Afrihost if you are in South Africa. Make sure to look for a web hosting company that provides great customer support and keep note of the hours their support staff operates. I found that support operating hours to be one of the make or break factors when choosing a good web host especially when it comes to your website being hacked or down at odd hours of the day or night.
7. A website is never done
Personally, I think there are many people out there that assume a website is like a one-time thing that you upload to cyberspace and then forget about it. This couldn't be further from the truth. I hate to break it to you, but websites are never done. They are constantly changing, adapting, improving, and upgrading. Think of a website as a living, breathing entity that keeps growing.
8. Website maintenance
This is probably the one that saddens me the most as I find people do not understand the importance of website maintenance. If your website was built with a CMS, unfortunately, this requires that themes and plugins be updated on a weekly to monthly basis. If this is not done, your website could be prone to hacking or attacks. I've seen this far too often, where clients beg us to fix their broken or hacked website. This could all be avoided if they were on a simple and affordable maintenance plan.
Read more about the importance of maintenance.
To conclude, with anything in life, make sure you do your research before diving into something for the first time. Ask advice from as many people as you can. Building a new website can feel like a mountain in front of you, but it doesn't have to be if you have the right software company and or design agency guiding you through this process.