When being asked to recommend a company to design and develop a website one of the questions we are often asked to explain is how the likes of godaddy.com and 1&1 IONOS can offer websites from as little as £1 a month.
There is of course, some merit in the old adage that you get what you pay for, but this also depends on what you want from your website.
In this article we try to explain the pro’s and cons of options that entice you in from as little as £1 a month versus using a local website specialist and bespoke development.
The DIY WEB BUILDER
The £1 website has its place if all you want is a simple brochure website and are happy with the library of templates they offer. Whilst you will be able to personalise your website with your own colour scheme, logo and photography, you will be limited by what is provided to bespoke features and functionality. Some will offer SEO advice to help you rank in Google, but this won’t make a difference if you are optimising and adding content for the wrong phrases in the first place.
Examples of some of the bespoke features you may want include:
- Customised enquiry forms and calls to action
- Alternative picture galleries
- Social media integration etc
- Location maps
- Bespoke team pages
- Integration with accounting systems
- Email newsletter sign up
- Downloads section
Any future changes that you may want to make, or any new content and pages you may want to add may also result in ongoing charges.
Also bear in mind that it is highly likely that your website will be on a huge server with all the other websites. This means that if another website has a surge of traffic your website may also slow down as the server processes requests to visit this website. It may even go off-line completely if this surge causes the server to fail. Of course, reputable providers will have contingencies that aim to avoid this, but none the less, it is still a risk.
Therefore, if it is important to your business that your website is never off-line, you want any bespoke features, need the ability to regularly update and add new content to rank highly in Google searches, the £1 option is probably not right for your business.
WORDPRESS, MAGENTO, SHOPIFY
If you want a bespoke design and some bespoke functionality, the next option is to use a reputable website developer who has the skills to develop your website on a content managed platform. Platforms such as “WordPress’ are ideal if you need an updateable website or, if you wish to sell products online, Magento and Shopify are common alternatives.
WordPress is the content management system we recommend to our clients who need brochure style websites because it is so easy to use and update. It is used by more than 60 million websites, including 30.6% of the top 10 million websites as of April 2018.
Again, if you are WordPress ‘wiz’, you could potentially build the website yourself, however, if it is important that your website ranks well on Google, we buy in the expertise of a specialist designer and developer.
Choosing a website developer.
Be very wary of a developer who says they have built their own platform as this could mean only they know how to code and change it. This potentially means paying them everytime you want a change doing. It may also mean that the user interface you have access to may not be very user friendly. Always ask to be given a demonstation of the process you will need to follow to change or add content and be clear on the business case for going down a bespoke development route.
Design & Development
The next consideration is design versus development.
We often come across companies or individuals who are excellent website designers (i.e. good at designing the look but not good on technical aspects) and companies who are excellent website developers (know how to do the the teccy) bits but the design is flawed or uninspiring.
You need a company that has the expertise to both design and develop in a way that will make it easy for Google to crawl and index your content, with design and imagery that is visually attractive and leads visitors to take the required actions.
A ‘pretty’ website is no good if it doesn’t rank or convert visitors into enquiries. Design can be very subjective and open to opnion – so listen to their advice as they will have tried and tested the design formats that deliver results.
If good design, being able to upload content easily and being found on Google are factors that are important to you, then in our experience, it pays to have your website developed by a company that has the best reputation and can provide tangible evidence of delivering a return on investment.
Once your website is launched, you may then also be asked to pay a retainer. Part of this will be to ensure its technical integrity is maintained and faults fixed can be quickly fixed, but another element should be gaining access to advice and expertise to continoulsy improve performance.
We highly recommend this as Google is constantly altering it algoriyhms and so it is important your website keeps pace with change. It is very common for most companies to routinely upgrade their website, and many have a totally new website designed and developed every 2-3 years – such is the pace of change!