Design / functionality
It’s not enough for your website to have a catchy domain name and some interesting content. People need to be instantly engaged when they land on a page, and much of that will stem from design, layout and how easy it is to navigate between, and find, different content. Depending on the size and scope of your business you may find you don’t need to hire expensive web designers when you first get started. Bear in mind that your domain name is just an address, and you can change the look and feel of your site as many times as you want.
“I built our first site myself. I had a basic understanding of what I was doing because my job involved working with IT systems,” says Pat from Truffleshuffle. “I’d never been a programmer but I taught myself the bare essentials of how to put the site together.
“I’ve met a number of people in the industry who’ve been fleeced by web developers because they don’t understand the technology. We didn’t want to pay someone £500 to do it. When you’re a start-up that’s £500 you could be spending on advertising or renting an office.”
The Truffleshuffle duo successfully grew their business from a basic site they built themselves, but admit it only ever started as a hobby. As their business scaled up, they brought developers in to build subsequent versions of the site.
Mitesh brought the developers in pre-launch for Chemist Direct, but still made sure he had a big hand in every aspect of the design. He says:
“I worked closely with the designers to create a specific look and feel to the site. I wanted the navigation to be as good as possible with clear separation of categories, security information and our phone number prominently displayed. When it comes to setting up a website you can get one designed for a few hundred pounds but the difficulty is making sure it’s scalable.”
Sophie from Notonthehighstreet.com says there was a huge learning curve involved when they built their site.
“We’d both worked on sites before and although we weren’t highly accomplished we knew what a CMS was and a bit about how e-commerce worked. I probably could have written the code for a basic HTML page if you’d held a gun to my head, but it was nothing like what we learned over the next six months.”
Basically you’ll want to strike a balance between a site that looks good, gets users to return and doesn’t cost the earth to build. Shop around for the best deal, perhaps even get companies to tender for the job based on a list of your requirements.
For more information on web design and functionality, read our article on What makes a good website