5 years ago, 60% of small business owners didn’t have a website. The conversation was about getting a presence online. Then the conversation shifted to mobile websites and mobile search. Along the way something was missed. The concept of quality.
Vistaprint Digital recently published results from a survey that were eye opening. The main takeaway that I found staggering is that 60% of the customers surveyed were less likely to purchase because the website gave a bad impression. Most of this “bad impression” came from 3 areas:
- Outdated content – 68.4%
- Professional appearance – 28.7%
- A mobile-friendly experience – 21.5%
In today’s digital age consumers/customers expect small businesses to run no different than large chains and multi-national websites. These perceived expectations seem unfair to the small business owner, as their resources are not the same as Amazon, Apple, IBM, or GM. But, that doesn’t have to stop the small business owner from having an amazing website that makes them look great.
So, what are your options to leverage the current digital landscape to put your best foot forward, and what does it cost? For simplicity, we’ll summarize website development in 4 categories:
DIY Website Builders: WIX, Square Space etc. These DIY builders are great if you are tech savvy, have time on your hands, quick to learn a new platform, no budget and can find a great template. Not recommended for most business owners, as it’s unlikely you can do web development better than your business /service.
Cheap freelancers: Websites like Fiverr and Thumbtack offer the promise of cheap websites. If you have no alternative due to no budget and no technical skills, these services will suffice, but you get what you pay for. Understand that a $300 website only goes so far.
Semi-Custom Websites (Agencies, Professional Freelancers): The majority of websites that Think Bright Marketing creates falls into the Semi-custom category. We leverage the WordPress platform with customizable and flexible templates developed by some of the best developers in the world. We find that this allows us to focus on the marketing, branding and user experience with your site, rather than the underlying code. In addition, as technology changes so fast, and security is important, leveraging these tools allows us to stay up-to-date on security issues in real time.
With a semi-custom website there may be some restrictions to the design and functionality. This all depends on the base theme/template chosen. In addition, the quality of the developers is critical, so choosing a partner that only works with the best and established companies is a smart choice.
With a semi-custom site, you can give your business a website that is on par with the design and function of the big-box stores (mobile friendly design, designed for SEO performance, the features your customers expect and a cost a fraction of what custom development is. Depending on your specific needs a semi-custom site can run between $2500 – $10,000 (with hosting and light maintenance between $100-$250/month depending on your needs).
Fully Custom Websites (Agencies, Professional Freelancers): Designed for you, and only you. While not always necessary for a large business, if you are looking to integrate into an existing database, CMS or other features custom is the only way to go.
These sites often include great processes that include wireframes, user journeys, user testing and custom code and maintenance agreements. These sites often start with your user, their preferences and mobile first design (not just mobile friendly), meaning they design the site on a mobile screen first, then build out to a desktop – where as mobile friendly makes sure that the desktop version looks good on a mobile screen.
The main drawback for fully custom is the cost. Starting at $15,000, these sites can exceed 1 million dollars for development. If you can afford it and need custom development, Think Bright Marketing can help you here as well. For large projects, we can add resources (we run pretty lean) to accommodate your needs. And if you are thinking really big (i.e. ready to build the next Facebook), then we can refer you to some of the best large-scale project teams in the market today.
There is no excuse for not having a website. And a bad site can actually hurt your business more than no site at all. Many business owners have no idea that with just a little help, they can have a website that rivals what most Fortune 500 companies put on display.
Of the four paths we’ve outlined above, I’m confident that you can chose the best option for representing your business online. With our help, your website can become your great equalizer, no longer a liability. Together, let’s make your online presence something you can be proud of!