Are you planning to spend too much money on your website?

By: Dale Cook

Date: 5 December 2011

If you own a business, you almost certainly need a website. Even if you aren’t selling products online, the web is where people go to search for businesses – it’s the new Yellow Pages and fingers are still doing the walking. So it was surprising that our national survey of small-business owners revealed that 41 per cent of them don’t have a website.

Your website is an investment, but how much should you spend on getting one? For a new small business, it’s a difficult decision. It will depend on your resources and how much value you place on your website. Our poll of 400 small businesses across the UK suggested that one-in-five self-employed professionals spent more than £1,000 on getting their website up and running. But what are the options?

Hire a professional designer

If you have a good turnover/profit, and a good portion of that can be attributed to your website, hiring a professional web designer could be a smart move. Generally, a designer will give you something better than what you thought you wanted. The only problem is the price tag. Good designers don’t often come cheap and can spend days perfecting your website. If you’re a small business owner and can’t afford a professional designer, you can minimise the risk of spending too much money by creating your own site.

Become a budding designer

Some of the most popular platforms for web developers at the moment are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal (there are lots of others). They’re great for business-owners who know, or want to learn, a bit about web design and, best of all, they’re free (although you still need a web address and hosting). Be prepared to devote a large chunk of time to getting a bespoke website though.

If you’ve bought your own domain name, know which web host is right for you and can set up an FTP, WordPress is worth looking at. If you didn’t understand half of the last sentence – and not many people would – there are other ways.

DIY web design for the rest of us 

Despite 36 per cent of respondents saying they don’t think they have the time or skills to create a website, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Easy-to-use web design software makes getting a website live online simple – and quick. You don’t need to know any programming language – they often have templates made by designers so if you can use a mouse and keyboard, you have all the skills you need to create a professional-looking website.

Being in charge of your own website makes updating quick, easy, and free. You don’t have to communicate changes with anyone, wait around for them to get it done, and then pay them for it. You’ll find that most of these types of programs sort you out with a domain name and hosting, and usually cost less than £100. It’s great value, however you look at it.

What to do?   

For the cash-strapped start-up, using a DIY website program provides excellent value for money and won’t eat up much of your time either. It’s a safe way to get online without a huge initial outlay. If you feel the need, you can always get a professional to redesign it for you when you have the money.

For more information on Serif visit www.serif.com/webplus.

Dale Cook is product marketing manager at Serif.