Does is feel like it’s impossible to find inexpensive business website design or an agency that will work with you at an affordable price? One that actually does great website and logo design and knows how to drive leads? You’re not alone my friend.
Believe it or not, there are thousands of business owners just like you looking for the same thing. So, why in the world is it so hard to find?!
There’s no simple answer, but I do have some really great news. There is a way to test every affordable web design agency on the planet. You can check to see if what they are offering is any good.
In the paragraphs below, I’m going to go point by point through 15 questions. These are questions you should ask yourself before you even call your first agency. I’ve designed these questions to help you think through the website building process. I want you to be fully equipped to have a conversation with a digital agency.
So, let’s begin, and where do you start besides the beginning? The first question you should answer for yourself is…
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Any small business owner or sole proprietor will tell you that they MUST have a professional website, and that they want it made by professional website designers. When you ask them why they need a website, their answer sounds a little like this.
“I just know I have to.” or “So people can find me online.”
The challenge every small business owner runs into is that a website isn’t magic. Websites don’t automatically bring in leads once you get it online. They don’t work unless you intentionally create them with a personal plan and specific business goals in mind. You can find designs for cheap, custom websites all across the internet. How in the world do we know if will it actually work for our business?
Knowing why you want a website in the first place is half the battle. Many business owners shell out Tens of thousands of dollars for a website that isn’t much more than a glorified digital billboard. Don’t let that be you.
The question above should help you give an outline to answer this question. Almost every business owner hopes that a website does a few things for them. Here’s a sample of what we usually hear at Fusion Creative when we talk to new customers.
No matter what it is you want your website to do, you can achieve it. The only way it will help you accomplish those things is if you go into the design phase with the end in mind.
Knowing the audience of the website you’re creating is paramount to its success. Let’s say you are creating a website for stay at home moms, trying to sell them affordable cleaning services. This website is going to look drastically different than other sites. A website targeting men in their 20’s selling products for shaving should look dramatically different.
When it comes to getting inexpensive custom website design, you must know the target well ahead of time. It is one way to take a giant step toward a successful end.
Will the website enhance your company brand? If your company doesn’t have a brand yet, that’s a perfect thing to nail down first. If you haven’t worked out your company brand, stop searching for a website designer. Begin looking for a brand design specialist who can give your company and social media the right look. You don’t want to create a website that completely misses your target.
How do I want them to feel, are you serious? Serious as a heart attack I’m afraid. A really good website will bring out emotion in people that stop by. They’ll load up the homepage and it will cause them a case of the feels. What kind of feels exactly? That’s up to the target that you’re trying to hit.
Answer this question to get started.
“When my perfect customer stops by my website, I want them to look at my homepage and feel _____________________.” Answer that, and you’re well on your way to giving your inexpensive web designer the information they need.
Just like the feeling you want to elicit above, not everyone is a “feeling” type of person. Is your audience prone to having their feeling at the ready? If they’re not the feeling type, maybe they’re the thinking type. If that’s the case, here’s the same question to ask yourself to identify the thoughts you want your clientele to have.
“When my perfect customer stops by my website, I want them to think ________________________________.”
Whether we know it or not, we all have thoughts and feelings about every website that we take the time to visit. Knowing up front what you want those thoughts and feelings to be can set you up for success.
While you’re building your website, to what extent do you want to be involved? There is a lot of decision making that needs to happen for the site to come together. Do you want to be in the room, get daily reports? The level of your involvement usually affects the price of the website.
To make a gross generalization here, the less you want to be involved in the process the cheaper it will be. WHAT!?
Let me explain what I mean by that. If you’re hiring a cheap website design professional, they’re pricing your site by time. The usual question asked is:
“How much time will it take me to create the website that this person wants?”
Many website designers will ask you to fill out a content form to get your website information. Then they’ll take that content and plug it into a template that they buy online, using cheap website builders to keep profits high. This is inexpensive website design at its finest.
If you decide on a website builder for small business, most subscriptions take place on an annual plan. You’ll want to find what each plan costs and if there are any hidden fees, then decide what works best, as well as which are the cheapest plans.
If you’re looking to be more involved in the process, it usually means customization. A custom designed website is always more expensive than a site based on an online template.
Answering the questions posed above will help narrow down what type of site you ultimately want for your business.
The extent to which you would like to customize your website needs to be discussed up front. Don’t demand a complex design where you approve every line of code after the contract is signed. Great communication up front can save incredible headache through the process. Make sure you both have the same expectations going in.
This, my friends, is a big one. Most inexpensive website design firms aren’t expert content managers. They’re probably designers who know how to make something pretty that makes affordable small business website owners happy. If that’s the inexpensive website design company that you’re working with, they’re going to need you to write the copy/content for them.
If you’re not a content writer, this causes a bit of a hiccup to the process. Many web design companies will ask you to submit the content for each page and then design the page around that content. In this case, you’ll either need to have someone else write the content for you or you’ll need to write it yourself.
If you’re planning on having someone else write the content for you, know that it can cost as much or even more than the website creation itself. We’ve had clients pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for content and website creation and then numerous revisions to content throughout the creation of a website.
Be certain you know going in who’s going to write the words of your website.
Inexpensive website design (or expensive for that matter) takes a wheelbarrow full of pictures, photos and backgrounds to make it come to life. If your designer isn’t telling you how many stock photos are included, you should certainly ask.
If it’s up to you to provide the photos and backgrounds, where will you get them? How will you know if they’ll work with their designs? Will you buy a photo credit pack with a stock photo provider and let them choose what to buy?
If you’re responsible for providing the imagery for your website, you’ll need to add that to the total upfront cost. You can purchase images for website design packages from an online store like iStockPhoto.com and GettyImages.com. Getty Images charges a bundle for each photo. If you’re looking for inexpensive website design, they’re probably out. iStockPhoto charges $33 for 3 photo or background downloads, which works out to be right around $11 per photo credit. (at the time of this writing.)
The average webpage can take anywhere between 4 & 10 images quite easily. It’s a good question to ask ahead of time if images are included. It will allow you to see if the inexpensive website design is still a good deal when you add the fees back into the cost.
“Isn’t every website creator a designer?” That’s a great question. The answer isn’t quite as simple as the question sounds, but let’s walk through it.
A website designer is the person who takes care of the layout, look and “feel” of your website. They’re good at things like color matching, layout and choosing complementary fonts. A good website designer is essential to creating a website that people will enjoy.
Here’s a surefire way to tell the difference. Are the inexpensive web developers that you’re hiring a group of geeks who live in their mom’s basement? If so, you’re most likely hiring a website developer. These guys are a completely different animal from website designers.
Website developers are the ones who know how to assemble pages in HTML and build databases and the like. Developers with technical skills know the technical aspects of website design. They do all the complex work behind the scenes.
If you’re hiring a website designer, who is going to add the amazing visual, responsive design? Yet one more great question to ask going into a website design contract. (Especially with an inexpensive website design company.)
We’ve described the website developer above, but let’s recap. They’re the ones who do all the technical coding work on the back end of the website. If you’re hiring a website designer, who will take care of the development needed for your site?
Any business that creates websites should have both web designers and web developers on their staff. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask questions about how they’ll handle design and development.
Their answers should tell you what kind of company you’re hiring and what their capabilities are.
Contrary to popular belief, putting a website on the internet doesn’t mean instant traffic. There are two things that are working in tandem to tell the search engines if your website is worth showing.
The first criteria that you need to be aware of is domain authority. This is a scale of between 0-100, and it tells the search engines how “trusted” your website domain is against all others. If you’re registering brand new domain names, you’re starting with a domain authority of 0. In case you’re wondering, 0 is the absolute lowest you can get and lower does not mean better in this case.
It’s work to increase your domain authority and it takes time.
The second criteria is your page authority for each individual page on your website. Each page has a ranking between 0-100 as well, and the higher the better. You need domain authority and page authority to drive search engine traffic and become SEO, or search engine optimized.
So, a great question to ask your inexpensive web design company is..
“How will my website get found online after we launch?”
If they say that they’ll list it with the search engines and that should take care of it, they’re wrapping up bull poop and calling it fudge. It’s hard work to get your website found online, and there’s no overnight fix here.
The speed at which you would like your website designed and online can affect the price. Want to have your website online in less than a month? You’re most likely looking at a rush job for many inexpensive website design teams.
Here at Fusion Creative, we’ve had calls from business owners who were looking to have their website up in a few business days. These projects are very difficult to take on for inexpensive website design companies. It’s possible to get a homepage up in 24 hours, but given all the items above, give your agency a chance to help you.
48 hours is not nearly enough time to go through the process of understanding all your needs. Designing a website that will hit the mark for you is important, so plan ahead.
Plan to spend some time in the discovery phase with your web team. Let them get to know you and you get to know them. The more time and effort that goes into the discovery phase, the more on point the website they design for you will ultimately be.
Websites are much like a car. They need website maintenance every now and then or they’ll stop running. Like a car, a website functions with many different moving parts. The lubrication that keeps all website parts moving freely is what we call maintenance.
Weekly website maintenance is essential to keep your website at peak performance. Hackers on the internet are looking for ways to get into website just like yours. The easy way into your website for a hacker is through an old version of a plug-in. All it takes is a plug-in that doesn’t get updated, and they’ve got you. Once they’ve gotten through an outdated plug-in, they’ve created a back door into your site.
Most website design companies will maintain your website for a nominal monthly fee. The good ones will take an hour of their billable time and break it up into 15 minute segments to maintain your site for the month. 15 minutes each week is all it takes to make sure your website is always operating at peak efficiency.
If you’re just getting into your first website, you might be wondering what in the world hosting even is. Here are the basics.
To host your website means:
“What computer do you plan on holding your files that’s always powered on and always connected to the internet?”
Your website = hundreds of files that are all stored on a central computer server somewhere in the world. Your files can be stored in your basement on a desktop computer if you want. They can also be stored by an industry leading hosting company that has warehouses of computer servers that you can rent space from.Most small businesses go with the second option here.
While unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth are big draws for most businesses, it’s not necessarily that important. Rather than trying to find unlimited storage, find the highest file transfer rate available in the hosting company you choose. This will determine how effective the hosting plan is and the speed of your new website.
Why don’t people host their website from their basement as opposed to paying a company to provide their web host? It comes down to convenience, capability and effort. Many business owners are already stretched thin as it is, and putting together a website server computer takes time. Hosting is something they don’t have the time to do or don’t want to take the time to do. So, they pay a nominal monthly fee to have their website hosted elsewhere.
Thinking about hosting it yourself? Here’s a couple of questions to ask yourself. What do you do when a power outage occurs? if your power is out, your website is down. If your computer restarts from an automatic update that Windows decides to do in the middle of the night, what will you do? your website will be offline until you notice that the computer is down.
Most small business owners decide to host with one of two agencies.
1. the website design company they’re working with
2. with one of the major website hosting providers across the internet.
The question you want to ask is, “Is hosting included in my website design cost?” If not, make sure you add that to the cost of your website.
Back to the car analogy one more time here. A website is like a car in so many ways, and like a car there are always new models coming out every day of the year. The day you launch your new website you’re one of the new models driving around. Your site has a sparkling coat of paint, new tires and supple leather seats.
What happens a year later when it needs new tires, has chips in the paint and the leather isn’t so supple anymore? What are your options to refresh your website as it starts to look and feel stale?
Many business owners will completely redesign their website every year. They keep a brand new look to their site, and it always looks like they’ve spent $25,000 because often, they actually have.
So, the question remains. How long do you want this particular website to last for your business? Are there ways that your inexpensive website design company can help you refresh the look of your site? Will they do it each year without adding extra costs?
This answer will give you an idea of how inexpensive the website will be long term. How much your website will actually cost you in the long term matters, rather than just the upfront cost.
If you’re considering an ecommerce website, you’re going to need an ecommerce plan for your online business. There are multiple ways to customize site architecture to ensure that your ecommerce website fits your business needs.
Ecommerce websites aren’t that different from traditional websites, but there are a few key differences. The best online stores are built on a web development framework that feels natural to the end user. If your ecommerce website feels clunky to the person wanting to make a purchase from you, users tend to leave and find another option.
The cheapest ecommerce web design is rarely the best solution for any business. You can find people online claiming that they can build out a custom ecom website for $300. The problem with this claim is that there’s no way to invest so few hours into a fully functional website that this would be a sustainable offer.
In our experience, the cheapest ecommerce plan you’ll find from a reputable website builder will be in the area of $8,000-$10,000. If you see someone promising the world for a couple hundred dollars, be careful what you’re signing up for.
Looking for affordable website design for your small business? You want a company that you can trust. You’re selecting a team that will represent your company for what is likely years to come. You want working with them to be rewarding and fun.
The last thing you want is a company that won’t return your phone calls. They need to be available when you need them. All the questions that we’ve listed above are important, but here’s the last one that I think you should ask.
“Do I like the people I’m talking with, and will I enjoy working with them?”
If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, it’s probably time to move on.
Here at Fusion Creative, we use live chat, video meetings and in-person methods to work with small business owners just like you everyday. We help them create an online presence that works for their business. If you’re looking for a digital agency that is full of people who care about your business, we invite you to stop by and see what we're all about.
David works every day to help businesses turn clicks into customers. He's the CEO of Fusion Creative - a digital marketing agency located in Indianapolis, IN.