Nail Down Your Small Business Digital Marketing Strategy
As a small business owner in 2018, you have many website design options. Learn the technical questions you can sort through in advance to beginning a new site. This resource is here to help you be organized from the start of a new website project or work through common problems that will occur when replacing an existing website with a new website.
This resource is going to be awesome for:
Marketers are Often the First to Suggest a New Website
Before deciding YES on a new website, you may be able to work with and refresh the content and look of what you have in place on your existing website. A completely new website is not always the end all be all best solution. If your existing website, however, is not in a content management system, accessible to update, modern in appearance or mobile/all devices friendly, it's a better and more affordable time than ever to design a new website.
Professionals in marketing, IT, agency or design fields will often contract me to do the website design work for their company, or do the work that they sold to another company as part of rebranding or a new strategy implementation. These projects come in either from the very start and beginning, or halfway through when something went wrong with the website and previous vendor.
Even though I prefer to work directly with the end client, executive or business owner and provide my own agreement and recommendations, it's not always where the collaboration or buck will start and stop. One of my favorite Cincinnati girl boss clients that runs a marketing agency and I are going through a big website overhaul that's taken many turns and had many problems on the technical end, but overall, we're amazed at what we've both accomplished and how much we've done and learned as small business owners working together!
The Time and Place for Cheap Websites and Shortcuts
What if I told you, you could buy a website design today, in the United States, and have it tomorrow, for as low as $100? It's true and you can! You will not get the level of website development support you need to launch, replace or update an existing website with a $100 design package. Ever. Not even from your lil' sis.
Regardless if your price point is at the Walmart or Wall Street end of the spectrum for a new website, you need to get the details of what exactly you are buying. From there you need to review the existing technical solutions in place at your company tied to your .com or .org. Especially when you are going to be replacing an existing website with a new website.
With these steps out of the way and the questions I'll provide later in this post answered in advance to beginning a website, it's going to be easier to assess if the service being offered is a complete solution. After all, you want to buy something that will result in a launched website that helps your business complete objectives and reach milestones.
If you're a new company in 2018 with no existing website, and you happen to have some creativity coupled with previous skills in a tool like PowerPoint, don't read beyond this paragraph. You can buy a domain (i.e. yourcompany.com), create your website, and setup business email (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) all in one place with Weebly, painlessly, easy and cheap starting at around $10 a month in total cost. Weebly's onboarding makes a brand new or first website a breeze.
It Takes More than a Website Designer to Replace a Website
In 2018, becoming a website designer can be as easy as knowing Photoshop (and how modify templates, or create and export your original Photoshop website design files to HTML5). Or, you can become a website designer by being able to use a drag and drop or click and edit content management system interface.
As a small business owner in 2018, you have many options on how to handle website design. You can hire a freelance website designer online, you can hire a local or remote contractor, you can hire a new employee, you can hire an agency or you can buy a website package online. You might have a friend or family member that’s in the website field. A large variety of website design services or platforms for businesses to choose from, and different levels of experience, aptitude or knowledge from one design offering to the next don't have to become your problem.
There's one thing we know for sure. The new website designer you are going to hire does not have any history with your company and the existing technology in place. Their quote or price presented was also for a website design, not necessarily development. The novice and cheaply priced website designer, although creative and with a great eye and know-how to design, has a lack of access to affordable technical resources with thorough domain and web server knowledge.
The cheap design offering may be coming from an agency with a package, preference or business plan that is certified, incentivized and paid commission to use specific platforms your business may not need. The hundreds and thousands of places you can register a website domain and host a website are going to vary drastically.
Some platforms are going to be more difficult and cost much more for developers to navigate than others. Some platforms can do everything you need in one place. Your .com or .org can be released and transferred from one platform to a different and better platform, while other prior solutions in place may not be moveable.
Some companies use the default settings and host their websites, email and everything else in a clean and organized way, right within their DNS (Domain Name System, i.e. GoDaddy), while others may have had a prior resource set up custom servers outside of the system that are not accessible or will conflict with a new website. In this case, these servers would have been setup when your previous website was made and launched, a shared file drive or business email was setup or came with any custom technology service or solutions you have in place.
Why do so many companies pay for multiple solutions that do the same thing?
Most designers, some agencies and definitely not marketers will be able to make and launch a new website alone, or know how to assess your existing solutions and meet technical business needs. They will sell you the platform that they are comfortable and familiar working on (or get paid commissions for when signing you up), and move things around, even if you pay for something already that can handle your new website, for instance, wherever you registered your .com or .org.
Creating separate environments due to someone's process, preferences, payment structure or general comfort level does your business no good in the long term. You don't have to settle for what's in front of you. The best in the website design and development trade will be willing to work with what you have already or recommend an affordable all-in-one solution for your website.
If you've ever made and launched a website, you'll know a website is about more than design, the system it's built on and registering a .com or .org. If the website project you're beginning entails replacing an old website with a new website, or you have a middle to large sized company with many solutions in place tied to your .com, it can get very complicated.
The overall price and budget for your website will need to become much larger to make the website work with legacy technology and other systems your company has in place, which a new or cheap designer may not even know to ask or think it's anything they should be concerned about to design a website. In this case, whatever you're quoted, be prepared for it to be much more when additional website objectives begin to surface as the project is in progress.
If You Don't Have Technical Support, the Cheapest Website Design You Find is Not an Option
As a quick recap of what we've covered so far, this assessment and free resource is to help you find out if the website design solution you're going to buy will work for your company and with any of your existing technical solutions in place. Like email, shared file drives, customer databases, email marketing tools, social media, into your branding preferences and beyond.
Small businesses work hard and passionately around the clock, but most (in my experiences) do not have a designer, marketer, project manager (besides what service or product the business specializes in) or technical contact in house. In this case, going for the least expensive website design solution is a mistake.
Handling website projects piece by piece with multiple contractors from different companies and not as a whole is expensive, labor intensive and communication or scheduling problems between each party are going to be a given. You may find your new website design project completely stuck and nobody you hired knows how they can move forward to launch it due to previous solutions in place that were not communicated (and they need to collect for the labor they've put in regardless).
The 5 Questions to Answer Before You Begin a New Website
Before you talk to any website designer or agency, get these five questions answered and be ready for a smooth website project that is in fact able to launch and in your ownership.
Below is the exact language I use in my website on-boarding discussions and as a "needed in order to complete your website" section on proposals to provide the most accurate quote or bring up things that may surface and cost extra.
****Weebly, Wix, Shopify and Squarespace sites will not require an answer to #3 for website hosting as hosting is built in to their content management system and paid packages.
Without this complete information being a discussion topic in advance to a new website design project beginning, odds are, you're not getting a new site up on your existing domain with the party or website solution you've selected.
A Website Design Quote is for Website Design Only
The small business owner or marketer wants a new website, or updates to an existing website and does not get why it's become so complicated or technical. After all, websites are supposed to be done fast, cheap and easy when you search for solutions on Google. You may find out the hard way that the investment you made was not enough, and the work will remain incomplete or with significant errors.
I can't tell you how many designers have launched new websites on a .com that were ready to go and looked great (including myself) while taking down a company's email or file sharing and going into pure panic mode. In this case, clients may not end up with a new site for months and thousands of dollars later (if there is no technical resource or traceability into servers at the company). Hence why I am proactive today and required to ask the technical questions above for the best interest of your company before I begin ANY website.
A website design quote is for website design only. That website design may be delivered to you as a photoshop file, a PDF, or as a temporary website link that is designed and living inside of a website content management system. How the website design is being delivered is via the agency or person's preference and experience in website design.
The cheapest website design quote will not include free recovery of your website domain if you don't have access to it. The lowest price quote is not including the time for troubleshooting your web and email servers or company's technical systems tied to your .com. The quote is not including the need to sign up for new accounts and training your team on new platforms. Last, the cheapest website design quote does not include changing design layouts or making intensive revisions multiple times either.
Is Anxious Creations the right choice for making your website?
If you know creativity, website design or technology is not your arena, have a smaller budget, and don't have the baggage of existing systems in place, we're a perfect match! Anxious Creations can walk any new business through setting up account(s), acquiring a website domain, setting up business email and create a striking, modern website.
That being said, Anxious Creations can also help teams at mid to large sized companies with website and creative projects. With 15+ years of website and digital marketing experiences, 59 websites launched (as of April 2018), and the painful transition from old school to new school website design practices, you will always learn and keep projects moving forward while working with me.
I'm hoping this next year will bring an expansion to a larger company customer base and give Anxious Creations more financial means to expand our resources and provide more digital education. I'd also like to pursue bringing in more of our region's anxious, smart and hard skilled talent to get involved while continuing to complete and keep projects affordable for small businesses.
Anxious Creations' specialty in serving startups, small companies or short term, small budget website projects is not going to limit us from using our experience to do more good things for good people at companies of all sizes. Book a free phone consultation (anywhere in the USA) or a free on site consultation (Cincinnati companies only).
P.S. Anxious Creations and #dailywebsitetips are on Instagram @anxiouscreations513
Anxious Creations takes responsibility to maintain today's marketing, design and creative skills needed to help our customers succeed.
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