Having an online presence is vital to ensure that businesses stay relevant in the digital age. For most companies, a simple social media page just doesn’t cut it and a ‘proper’ website is needed. Luckily, as the world embraces the digital age, it’s easier to create a website than ever before.
With a huge range of options available, it can be hard to figure out how to create a website for your business that fits both your needs and budget.
Thankfully, there are an assortment of tools available to get a basic site up and running, be they off-the-peg template sites or even programs to help you write the code yourself. But if the task at hand is more complex, or you’re extremely lacking in tech skills and confidence, it may be best to hire a digital professional to build something that meets your individual specifications and offers a little more ‘wow’.
Just like businesses, websites come in all shapes, sizes and functionalities. Working out what kind of website you need is the first step in deciding what will work best for your company.
If you’re going the DIY route, creating a simple website from a company like Wix, Squarespace or WordPress is the easiest and most cost-effective option.
Thankfully, these templates are quick, cheap, and relatively easy for the non tech-savvy to get up and running. By simply adding relevant information, choosing from a range of colours, uploading your company logos and adding your content, your website is then generated from a set menu of styles.
Templates may be the cheapest option, it’s also important to remember that these template sites have minimal customisation ability, and if you want to stand out from your competitor or add additional functions that are specific to your business, a competent web designer will be a good investment.
For companies who do require more than an information hub; e-commerce, booking, multimedia and forum sites are a step up and require a little more experience when it comes to functionality.
While there are platforms which allow these types of sites to be built off templates, such as Shopify or Webflow, many businesses find that integrating websites with their existing business functions can become a little tricky. And that’s when a designer may be required.
Choosing a Designer
Knowing whether you can create a website yourself or whether you need a designer comes down to having a good understanding of your needs and a realistic appreciation of what can be achieved with your budget.
Website designers and digital agencies bring a wealth of experience to the table, and whilst their services don’t always have to break the bank, they are obviously more expensive than doing it yourself.
Building a customised website is a complex and highly involved process and it’s essential that your designer understands exactly what you need. The process may require a lot of meetings and emails back and forth to establish exactly what it is that you want, but just remember, your website is the shop window for your business, so it is crucial to choose someone with whom you feel you can communicate clearly and have a productive working relationship.
Consider what your website is for and who will be visiting it. If you’re selling a product or service, it’s important to feature these front and centre.
It’s estimated that over 50 percent of web traffic is from a mobile device rather than a laptop or desktop, and that number’s predicted to continue rising. Ensuring your site is optimised for use on mobile and tablets is absolutely essential to avoid losing customers who are increasingly impatient when it comes to such limited functionality. While many template sites do offer this function, it can be a tricky process and one that must not be overlooked.
Keep in mind the many structural features of an online experience that aren’t necessarily included in the basic design. E-commerce businesses will need a shopping cart with a robust payment gateway, for example. Be sure to consider the features you will need from every angle to make sure nothing is missed.
With the world of UX (user experience) advancing at a rapid rate, there are as many opinions about what constitutes good web design as there are websites.
To help you decide, again, focus on what you are selling and who is most likely to visit your site. Don’t focus on simply the visual aspects of a site, but make sure to design your site with your user’s experience in mind.
Whether you decide to create your website, or get some help from a professional, a good watchword to keep in mind is ‘simplicity’.
Creating a website that presents information in a simple, effective way is a true sign of good design and one that is guaranteed to set your business ahead of the competitive noise.