Handy hints to keep you from getting ripped off!
Do I really need a website?
We all know that how important it is to have a website for your business regardless of the industry we work in. With the introduction of mobile web browsing devices like smart phones and tablets, businesses rely on search engines to bring the right customers to them. If you own a business and don't have a website you are missing out on a large portion of potential customers searching for your services online.
How much should a website cost?
This will vary depending on features you are wanting. I'd suggest if you don't yet have a site that a simple 5 pager with basic information about who you are what you do is a great start. This kind of site can be launched fairly quickly especially if you go with an off the shelf theme option which will be a lot more budget friendly. For this kind of site you can expect to pay $800 - $1800 if you're quoted more than this I'd be questioning what exactly you are getting. If the response is that your website is custom developed then you can expect to pay $1800 + so make sure to discuss pricing and expectations in advance.
Can I add content to my site?
Make sure to ask if your site comes with an easy to use admin panel that allows you to add content, pages and images. This can save you bucket loads of cash. Being able to access the site yourself means you won't have to pay a developer an hourly rate to update your site in future. This is called a CMS (content management system) and the most popular of these are Wordpress and Joomla, also the best for small business in my opinion.
How can my website get found online?
It's true that simply having a website is not enough. The world wide web is full of websites all jostling to be ranked first on search engines like Google. Having a website developed for your business is a great start but it won't necessarily get you found unless you do some extra work like SEO (search engine optimization), create social media channels, email advertising/newsletters or even online advertising campaigns.
What are my ongoing costs?
You will need to continue paying for two things - your domain name renewal and website hosting. I had a client come to me recently who was being charged $160 for domain name renewal – this is a blatant rip off. Don't pay anymore than $30 - $60 for a 2 year renewal of your domain name and if your developer / designer purchased it themselves you are well within your rights to have it transferred into your own name, otherwise technically you don't own it yourself. Costs for website hosting can vary greatly, around $8.00 a month is average including email as well so you can create a professional looking email addresses using your domain name.