You can’t run a business in the 21st Century without a website. Well, you can, but, honestly, why would you want to. Navigating the world wide web is easy, but navigating the world of procuring a website is a little more involved. Not to mention, social media, which many purport as being a must for any business.
That’s a good a place as any to start. The value of Social Media on your business success is often over-inflated. Read that again. Yep, outspoken some will say, but it’s true. It’s in the interest of consultants and service providers to over-play the role of social media in your business as they can justify more costs. And it’s more than that, website practisioners have invested many hours in learning the social media platforms. They have to believe that has been worth it.
So how much social media engagement do you need? It totally depends on your business. If all your customers are on facebook you may want a facebook page. If they’re on reddit, you may want a subreddit. Different demographics generally coalesce on different platforms. Typically one social media platform is enough and occasionally you’ll want a stake in more than one platform.
But whatever you do, don’t view it as advertising. Yes, it is, and you can try that approach, but it’s likely to fail. People don’t like being advertised to. Instead, view it as engaging in a community. Offer advice and blog about things related to your business that will interest the community and you’ll gain followers and brand awareness. That’s what you want out of social media, because when the time comes to buy a type of product, those followers will think of you first.
Yes, this approach is time-consuming, which is why I recommend only doing it for one or two platforms. Try facebook advertising and Google Adwords if you want, that’s more expensive and less time-consuming. It’s the right fit for certain businesses and can be tested for just a few hundred dollars. But in most cases, you’ll get better results with authentic involvement in social media.
So where you might get away with none or one social media page/place, you should have a website. There’s sometimes a good excuse to do this, a business could be launching a new product, or it could be a time to freshen up their website, to pull it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century with responsive design and links to social media and SEO friendly, and all that good stuff.
The scope of web design is so large, and not always but often, a client will come to us thinking they want one thing, only to find, after we show them all the options, they really want something else.
So, you have a need for a website. How can you find a designer to help you?
Start from ground up
Dig deep and find out what the purpose is for this website. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Who is the audience for this site?
- What kind of visitor do you want to attract?
- How much interaction does it need with social media?
- How dynamic does the content need to be?
- What is the core message you need to get across?
- What are the must-haves for the website
- How often will you want to update pages?
- How many people will be uploading content?
Hopefully, the answers to these questions will naturally lead to a specification for what the website should do.
Now you can start to flesh out copy – the content of your website – and gather high-quality images such as photography and graphic design. Some web-designers can cover this whole process, and this is the preferred approach for software guru. We will figure out what your specification is via one-to-one sessions and we’ll work with you to write the copy and source the images (typically a combination of stock photography and a custom photoshoot). Other web designers will simply add content you’ve provided on to a set of static html pages.
This is an important step. Many factors will come into play. Your budget, how many pages you need, how much spare time you can invest in photography? What equipment and technical knowledge do you have? You can’t try to fit a round peg in a square hole, so find out about the designers modus operandi and narrow down your choice to ones who will work the way you need.
So, how do you evaluate a web-designer? Typically, a client might start with a google search. Maybe they’ll also search in their location. It’s often desirable to have a designer near you. Especially if you intend to engage them for photography or video production work also. But it’s not mandatory. Nowadays you can work with a company remotely. You can manage meetings successfully over Skype or Zoom, and you can handle remote computing sessions with tools such as TeamViewer.
So, you review the top four or five in your google search. It’s important to not just look at the first one or two. Oftentimes, they will be the ones that have paid for SEO and advertising and they will have to recoup their costs through higher prices. As with appointing anyone to provide a service – from hiring a carpenter to a lawyer, you’re going to want to look at several to get an idea of what’s a fair price.
Always check their work. The first example is of course their own website. If that’s poorly designed, it’s difficult to imagine how they will do a better job on your project. Often there will be links to other work they have done, so check their portfolio of work and testimonials if they have any. In some cases, it might not be the quality of work that deters you. It might be a case of their style doesn’t suit. The examples of their work might all be from the book publishing industry, but you want a farming website. software guru has been lucky enough to work on a lot of varying projects and can take on small and big tasks alike, but some web designers are narrowly focussed on a industry or style, and that may not be what you’re looking for.