Website building

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
I'm going to launch my own small business shortly, and obviously I'll be needing a website (online shop, blog, feedback and testimonials, etc) Anyone built their own from scratch? Or would you recommend I have someone do it for me? :-|
 

Eric the Red

Well-Known Member
I would recommend buying a managed service from the likes of GoDaddy or 1and1. They are simple, templated - and they work. It means you have control of content - but you just type it in and the site does the rest - easy to do.
Bespoke websites can be expensive (while designers faddle around with colours, pictures and fonts, charging by the hour) - and take time and effort to maintain. This last point - you will need to maintain it, but you can grow your site as you need using a templated version - to start at least. You will have more than enough to do in the start up phase without worrying about web design.

Buying into the email service and things like O365 can also be very cost effective in the long run.
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
Cheers Eric. I've run a couple of forums in the past, but a live website is something new to me. Appreciate the advice :thumb:
 

jcampbellsmith

Well-Known Member
Eric has made some very good points.

I also see folk making effective use of Facebook for small businesses. It's worthwhile looking at what your competitors do. Don't underestimate the level of effort that will be required to keep your on-line presence current and secure. Do back up whatever you decide to do. Do give some thought to where you will appear on Google searches. Do give some thought to how quickly you will respond to queries.

Good luck.

JCS
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
Thanks JCS. I was intending to use FB as part of my approach. I know you can get a website to link to email addresses, Facebook, Twitter, etc (which reminds me, I don't currently use Twitter but I should probably start, hey?) I wouldn't have a clue as to how to start going about linking stuff like that though. The main reason I'd like to try it myself is to maintain complete control over both the site, and the length of time it takes to update and/or edit it. If someone else is building it I could potentially be waiting an age to have images uploaded or content edited.

Appreciate the input! Any and all advice gratefully-received
 

Tom_Ov

Well-Known Member
What Eric said.

I use Wix - easy to use editor, loads of templates and apps plus reasonable fees. Even quite advanced looking sites can be built pretty easily these days.

http://www.wix.com/
 

Richie092

Well-Known Member
All good advice here.

We made our own website 18 months ago (Design company so was relatively easy) but 6 months ago we upgraded it by getting a web designer to make it. For us we need to be found easily in Google searches and that is all about SEO. As much as we understand SEO and Meta Data you really need some help with the guys that do it for a living to make you stand out.

My advice would be to decide on a budget. If it is over a grand, get it done for you, allocate a monthly spend on FaceBook advertising (£30 should do) and include a blog on your website as Google turns its back on any website that isn't updated at least once a week one way or another.
 

N.F.W.M

Well-Known Member
Dependent on your business I would advise having your website designed and built for you. We have recently had 3 websites re built from the ground up, costly yes but in relation to other advertising mediums... not costly.
The right designer and builder will create what you want. I am not very I.T savvy and can upload and change images and text on the new sites.
If you decide to use a third party, give them a tight brief of what you do and don't want. To be fair, they will probably advise you of elements that you did not even know about that will enhance your website visitors experience.

Regards
 

Eric the Red

Well-Known Member
Dependent on your business I would advise having your website designed and built for you. We have recently had 3 websites re built from the ground up, costly yes but in relation to other advertising mediums... not costly.
The right designer and builder will create what you want. I am not very I.T savvy and can upload and change images and text on the new sites.
If you decide to use a third party, give them a tight brief of what you do and don't want. To be fair, they will probably advise you of elements that you did not even know about that will enhance your website visitors experience.

Regards
Ed is correct in as much as you will get a more focussed view and a more personal presence - but sometimes this takes time to come out in terms of what you want for your business. Times change - and once you go the designed route - more effective though it may be - you are on a path of no return. Better to start small and ensure that you are clear on what you want to be - and are definitely going to get the revenue from your site before you invest heavily in it in your start up. You can always move to something more bespoke when you are established. One other thing to mention is that you will still need to decide where and how your site is going to be managed if you go the bespoke route - so consider all costs. For me the benefit of the managed service is that while not completely original, it allows you to bring in new chunks of content/capability as and when you need them at known cost. A well designed site is a thing of beauty - but not for the faint hearted. As a minimum and regardless of end route, I would plan out the image you want to portray and how your site will do that better than your competitors. Also - try and avoid making it a jack of all trades thing. Focus it on one aspect. You can always take email orders and look just as efficient with a manual process. When something goes live on a site, all the processes have to just work. If the links aren't right for PayPal or Sage or whatever for payment, you will lose custom - whereas a promptly responded to email will deliver a more personal service. Lots to think about.
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
Lots indeed, Eric. My site doesn't need to be overly-complicated as I'm offering a limited range of produce and services. An online booking and payment facility would be essential though, as would a gallery, a blog and two-way links to FB and Twitter (i.e FB links to the business website and vice-versa) And a subscriber-only 'Downloads' section for various odds and sods. The facility for an online shop would be handy too, but that isn't essential from the outset. Plan is to run the business from both a fixed and mobile site too, so an online update-able calendar would be pretty useful to publicise upcoming events that we'll be attending.

The more I think of, the more I have to think of! :eek: :lol:
 
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Eric the Red

Well-Known Member
Lots indeed, Eric. My site doesn't need to be overly-complicated as I'm offering a limited range of produce and services. An online booking and payment facility would be essential though, as would a gallery, a blog and two-way links to FB and Twitter (i.e FB links to the business website and vice-versa) And a subscriber-only 'Downloads' section for various odds and sods. The facility for an online shop would be handy too, but that isn't essential from the outset. Plan is to run the business from both a fixed and mobile site too, so an online update-able calendar would be pretty useful to publicise upcoming events that we'll be attending.

The more I think of, the more I have to think of! :eek: :lol:
'Subscriber Only' = so you'll need some form of user authentication and login software add on.

Facebook and Twitter is just URL stuff (easy) and RSS

Online booking and payment = shop! (in terms of functionality) Beware bookings as this means you need to run a single, synchronised calendar for all things. I would counsel only offering bookings for set times for a small proportion of the day to start.
 

Rasputin

Well-Known Member
Here is my two cents I will try to make it come across without offending anyone but I won't make any promises....

2 years ago I set up my own firm ( I work in Banking Recruitment) so in all honesty doing it myself was just not an option. There is a certain level of professionalism that needs to be shown in my opinion, and home built websites unless you are of very tech savvy mind rarely show this. Certain industries like Fieldsports, PT's and "soft" industries thrive on social media and its lower level interaction so depending on your presence you may or may not want to target that area. Me personally I use Linkedin a lot but have no twitter, Facebook or IG. Facebook pages are easy to set up though and you can link to your proper website.

For your website if you want to look professional imo spend a few quid and get someone to do it. They range from £500/1k depending on what you want done and normally they can do it quickly than you plodding away on Wix.

Be careful what you pay for though and refuse anyone who wants payment up front or a non scheduled payment policy because my experience with web designers has been seriously poor in terms of them getting their act together and delivering on their promises. If you have friends with a business ask them if they were happy with the level of service they got and go from there. The old adage buy cheap buy twice is seriously true with a lot of these guys hence why I am now on my third one and still nowhere near the website.

So with that in mind if someone does have a good designer they used I would love some contacts.
 
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1967spud

Well-Known Member
they take a lot of time to feed a busy web site does

mine persoanlly we avarage at least 40 hours a week on it just updating prioces p[roducts etc
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
Thanks guys :thumb:

I want my site to look inviting and 'clean' but not clinical, if that makes sense? My business is pretty much a rural artisan concern and I want the website to reflect that, while still giving a professional impression. having said that, I haven't even started to look at designs, although I have a fuzzy idea in my head as to hoe I want it to look. I guess if I can nail the fundamentals of the functionality I actually need, and perhaps retain the potential to add to it in the future I'll have my bases covered. Advice like this is very welcome though, and it's much-appreciated
 

Eric the Red

Well-Known Member
Here is my two cents I will try to make it come across without offending anyone but I won't make any promises....

2 years ago I set up my own firm ( I work in Banking Recruitment) so in all honesty doing it myself was just not an option. There is a certain level of professionalism that needs to be shown in my opinion, and home built websites unless you are of very tech savvy mind rarely show this. Certain industries like Fieldsports, PT's and "soft" industries thrive on social media and its lower level interaction so depending on your presence you may or may not want to target that area. Me personally I use Linkedin a lot but have no twitter, Facebook or IG. Facebook pages are easy to set up though and you can link to your proper website.

For your website if you want to look professional imo spend a few quid and get someone to do it. They range from £500/1k depending on what you want done and normally they can do it quickly than you plodding away on Wix.

Be careful what you pay for though and refuse anyone who wants payment up front or a non scheduled payment policy because my experience with web designers has been seriously poor in terms of them getting their act together and delivering on their promises. If you have friends with a business ask them if they were happy with the level of service they got and go from there. The old adage buy cheap buy twice is seriously true with a lot of these guys hence why I am now on my third one and still nowhere near the website.

So with that in mind if someone does have a good designer they used I would love some contacts.

I'm really sorry to hear this, and not that it will make you feel any better - but you are not alone. One of the issues I see is one of the clear brief requirement - plus the ability of the buyer to 'see' the ideas in their heads. There are some unscrupulous designers out there who take advantage of this ambiguity and are very good at selling alternatives/options to keep the cponversation (cash) flowing.

All I am going to say is function over form every time. Customers may prefer pretty, but they will not continue to interact with a rubbish process. Get the functions right and the custom will flow, allowing you to spend on the form. No point spending on the pretty if it is not working - and by that I mean bringing the business in to fund it.

I accept that the templated sites may not be the most original - but they are easy to use and deliver nice results (over using basic wordpress or similar to construct - and I wholeheartedly agree that is not the way to go). In addition - if you use someone like Vistaprint, you can get all your headed paper/business cards/promo material branded in the same way - so effectively doing all your design work just the once. It's simply another headache not to deal with in your busy start up time. Keep it simple and get it right and you'll then have the time to tinker round the edges and add the frills - when you know you need them. The first objective is having a working presence - and then responding personally and promptly to each contact so they know there is someone real behind the façade.
 

nicowilson

Well-Known Member
Go for a templated site. Have a look at 1and1 or Heart Internet. Both are fairly priced and good value. You can save the custom design etc for the future.

But make sure that it is you that owns the domain, not the web hosting company. The reason for suggesting this is simple - if you decide to move your website to a different webhosting company then you can just tweak the settings and move it. You also get the flexibility that you control the email too, and again you can move it around.

So, for example, I own nicowilson.co.uk. I can check Nominet (registrar for all domains ending in .uk) and see that it's registered to me:

Here's the link to Nominet

http://www.nominet.uk/whois/
 

Rasputin

Well-Known Member
I'm really sorry to hear this, and not that it will make you feel any better - but you are not alone. One of the issues I see is one of the clear brief requirement - plus the ability of the buyer to 'see' the ideas in their heads. There are some unscrupulous designers out there who take advantage of this ambiguity and are very good at selling alternatives/options to keep the cponversation (cash) flowing.

All I am going to say is function over form every time. Customers may prefer pretty, but they will not continue to interact with a rubbish process. Get the functions right and the custom will flow, allowing you to spend on the form. No point spending on the pretty if it is not working - and by that I mean bringing the business in to fund it.

I accept that the templated sites may not be the most original - but they are easy to use and deliver nice results (over using basic wordpress or similar to construct - and I wholeheartedly agree that is not the way to go). In addition - if you use someone like Vistaprint, you can get all your headed paper/business cards/promo material branded in the same way - so effectively doing all your design work just the once. It's simply another headache not to deal with in your busy start up time. Keep it simple and get it right and you'll then have the time to tinker round the edges and add the frills - when you know you need them. The first objective is having a working presence - and then responding personally and promptly to each contact so they know there is someone real behind the façade.
Oh I know the amount of times I speak with people and they are tearing their hair out over Web designers is just untrue. Some of my clients had MASSIVE budgets as well because they needed legal stuff for them to trade and have access to confidential stuff. So I know its a very much polarising industry.

Anyways back to on topic I have just called my current web designer/manager and threatened to sue him as the website is now in absolute bits and wholly ineffectual haha
 

Hereford

Well-Known Member
Mr Site is good - we have two sites for our businesses and they are very intuitive and quick to get looking good - shopping carts, blogs, widgets all there plus 12 individual email addresses
 

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