Like it or not, today’s average consumer expects a business to have a website.
Even if you don’t actually do business online, consumers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and like to research companies, products or contact details on the internet, before they contemplate a purchase.
For this reason, getting your business online is a crucial investment to give your business the maximum exposure possible. However, with the extreme price range of online solutions available, it’s easy for small businesses to get stung.So what are the key points you should consider?
Types of websites
If you’ve had a look yourself, you’ll know that the cost of getting your business online ranges dramatically. This can be affected by the type of website you’re looking for – whether it’s a do-it-yourself free website creator, a site that uses a standard template design, or typically the most expensive – a totally customised site.
Other factors affecting price include the complexity of the functionality you require, the level of service provided, and the time spent on the project.
What you get for your money when paying for a website
The services included in the price of getting online will vary from company to company – and therefore it is important to understand the services you will require in order to accurately judge website pricing, and avoid never-ending hidden costs.
The first two key services you’ll need to get are design and development – i.e. someone to create the look of your website, and someone to build the way it works. If a web company only offers development, bear in mind you’ll be expected to provide the design of your site – great if you’re a graphic designer, but not if you’re a business owner who needs a complete solution.
In addition to design and development, you will require hosting, maintenance, and you’ll need to buy a domain.
In order to get your website live on the internet it must sit on a special server that is known in the business as a hosting solution, of which there are many to choose from. Hosting is typically priced per calendar month, or year, and on average will cost £20-£30 per month, but you can pick it up from as little as £2.50 a month. It can vary hugely and really depends on the size of your site and what is included. For example, the hosting companies often include your domain (your website address e.g. www.yourcompany.co.uk) and will offer some time in online support, should your site stop working.
Understanding who will maintain your site if something goes wrong, for example if your site is hacked or your site speed slows to a halt, is something you should be sure to discuss with your web developer as part of what you pay for a website as it could be an extra monthly cost. We’d recommend looking for a ’managed’ service, whereby as an extension of your developer or hosting company you receive an account manager who will be your first port of call to report, manage and fix any of the above website maintenance issues. No company can provide limitless hours of support, so make sure you check how many hours of maintenance service are included for your monthly cost, and investigate your options should you need additional time. It doesn’t really matter who does it as long as someone does.
Buying a domain name
Lastly, you could buy your domain separately. Again there are lots of providers and you will typically pay between £5-£10 for a .co.uk domain a year and £15-£25 or more for a .com, .net or .org domain. It’s probably easier to see if your developer or your hosting provider includes your domain in what you pay for a website. Just make sure that it’s registered to your business if they buy it for you, and that you know when it needs renewing – which is typically one or two years later.
Though there are cheap solutions available that promise all of the above, primarily you need to ensure your hosting provider is offering quality for money, as this is what will protect your site from crashing. Check your provider’s servers are backed up regularly and protected by a firewall, to protect against viruses. Also ensure that your hosting provider’s servers are based in the UK, as this will help your website to load faster for your UK customers – which may encourage them to make a sale. Plus, picking a company with managed support will guarantee that if something does go wrong, you have quality customer service to focus on putting it right for you.
Overall, if you’re not comfortable with the technical side of website building, you’re better off looking for a company that include development, maintenance and hosting in the cost of a website.If this has given you some ideas for a website, why not get your business online today at SmallBusinessWebsites.co.uk.