You know you need a website, but you have no idea where to start. Do you build it yourself? Do you hire a professional? Do you use code or drag and drop? Who is the best hosting provider?
There are lots of questions surrounding the, "Which platform is the best?" question. And to be honest there really is no "best" or perfect platform for that matter. While I work on the Wix platform (and love it) it may not be right for your business. I'm also going to be honest at let you know that I have not researched every platform to know all the ins and outs. But what I can offer you are some very specific and time saving (and money) saving questions you should ask yourself before choosing a platform.
1. Why do you need a website in the first place?
This might seem a silly question. But I need you to know this answer without hesitation. Are you selling products, scheduling appointments, collecting emails, blogging, etc.? Not all platforms are created equal. This will be the majority determining factor in which platform you go with. If your overall goal is to sell stuff online, then find the best (to you) eCommerce platform that has a user interface you understand.
2. How much am I willing to spend?
Now this one can be tough, especially if you don't know the market. And honestly the market is all over the board. The range can most literally be anywhere from $500-$100,000 plus. For the "average" consumer I would say the cost is between $500-$10,000 but even still this cannot be taken as fact. The market fluctuates a lot, and it also depends on the platform your site is on. Some require more time and coding, where others do not. But just like any paid service, if you are going for the absolute cheapest, you may not get a very good quality website. This isn't always the case, but if it's within your budget spend a little more to get quality, reliable, and proven work from a professional designer, do it.
The next part of this is also keep in mind add-ons and extras. Is hosting included or separate? Does this include and SEO work or is it just a website? Getting your website built is the first step, but just because you're online doesn't mean people will find you. You may want to consider some professional assistance with SEO as well.
Depending on the platform you choose, the money question factors in because some platforms are DIY, and some require a designer, and some are both. Some help with SEO, some don't. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Will I build it myself or pay someone else to do it?
There are two big factors to this question, time and money. If you have a comfortable budget to pay someone to design your site, and not enough time to do it yourself, then pay someone to build it for you. If you try doing it yourself, you are now causing yourself to lose both time and money. Because you are taking time away from your business that makes you money. The flip side of that is if you don't have the budget to pay someone, but you do have the time, definitely look into building it yourself. Now this one comes with a caveat, just because you have the time and you "can" build it yourself, doesn't mean you should. There is a lot that goes into a functional and converting website besides putting a few pages, content, and pictures together.
So now what if you're the person that neither has time nor money? Well, you're going to have to do the best with what you have. If you can find a great designer on the cheap then go you! But don't count on that. If you can carve out some time to learn proper design and functionality then do that! At the same time, depending on where you are at with your business and what your trade is, you could always try to barter some or all of the cost for your website.
4. How easy is it to manage?
After the site is built, will you be able to take the reins for any updates, or will you need to rehire a designer? This also ties back into the time and money piece. For instance, if you own an E-commerce business and need to constantly add and remove products, you're either going to want to know how to do that, or you'll need to hire someone to do those frequent changes.
Another question to go along with this is does the designer offer training? And what will that cost? As well as a very important question, does the platform offer support? If your designer disappears (which happens WAY more than it should) are you going to be up sh*t creek without a paddle or can you get by on your own and call support?
This list may seem terrifying after you get through it, but just take a breath. The reason I put all of this out here in black and white is that I want you to be prepared. There are lots of factors that go into your business website and a lot of these are probably things you hadn't thought of, so you're already going in more educated than you were before, yay!
Overall the initial research will definitely take time, but it will be time well spent. Make sure you know exactly what you're getting into, you know what you're comfortable spending, and when you find your designer you trust them. One last great tip is ask your friends. Referrals can be a great resource to find a kickass designer as well.
If you'd like to learn more about the services I offer please feel free to drop me a line, my consultations are always free!