Every small business has a home on the web now, and if you want your business in Jacksonville to be competitive, you need to make sure yours stands out over your competitors.
To ensure a web presence, you have to consider many things. Web development, web design services, search engine optimization (SEO), and whether you need an e-commerce website.
So, how can you get affordable web design and development that takes your site to the next level?
How Important Is a Well Designed Website?
In a word, very!
Research has been done showing that design is more important than content when it comes to some things. For example, users are more likely to trust a website that has a good design.
Think about it: if you go to a website and there are a lot of annoying pop-ups, hard-to-read print, dull colors, and uninspired design, it is not going to look like a legitimate website. Plus, it is going to be difficult for visitors to navigate.
So, they probably won’t stick around.
If people come to your website and don’t even bother to read it because of the way it is designed, you have a problem. People are finding you on the web. They just don’t like what they see. That is why web design is so important.
If you are looking for affordable ways to improve your web design, there are two ways to go about it. One is to find someone to do it for you. The other is to do it for yourself.
WEB DESIGNERS…HOW CAN I FIND AN AFFORDABLE ONE?
There are many things to consider when looking for a web designer. One of the things you can do is hire online.
If you are looking to hire a freelancer, there are two types of portals you can go to—free and paid.
Craigslist is a good example of a free portal. It is the modern version of the want ads. Whether you post your job directly or hire a freelancer you find, there are some definite downsides to hiring a freelancer this way.
You cannot assess the candidates properly because you don’t know who they are or what their qualifications are. Plus, there are no management tools, secure payment platforms or backup if you find that the person isn’t who they say they are.
The other option is hiring a freelancer from a paid portal, like UpWork or Fiverr.
So, what’s the downside? Sites like these usually take a commission. Sometimes, the employer will pay per job listing, other times it will come from the freelancer’s earnings. It is not much—usually somewhere between 5%—but it can be as high as 20%.
Are the tradeoffs worth it? That is something you will have to decide.
WHAT ABOUT A WEB DESIGN COMPANY?
If your main goal is to do this on the cheap, a web design company is probably not your best bet. That said, they do offer many services that can help your website grow.
Should you decide to take the plunge, a good way to find a web design company is to find a website you like and then figure out who made it. A lot of the time, this information will be located in the links and fine print at the bottom of the webpage.
One way you might be able to save a bit of money if you go down this road is to work with a local company. Small web design companies might be a little less expensive, especially if they are still in the development phase.
Why is that? Because they are still looking for projects, they can use as examples of the work they can do. If a small company builds you a site you love that performs well and increases your business, they can point to it and say “we did that.”
How much will you save? That depends on the company you use but keep in mind that it is still not going to be as affordable as hiring a freelancer or tackling the job yourself.
When it comes to affordable web design, there are so many ways to approach it. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. It is all about what works best for you and what gives you the result that you want.
Having a comprehensive, professional website is essential. However, the site for every small business is different. The tips below will help with an affordable website design that won’t cost a fortune.
BE CLEAR ABOUT THE GOAL OF THE WEBSITE
A typing hands on a display laptop with a goal text on the screen place on the table and books beside the it.
Whether the site is an e-commerce website to purchase products, provide information about your small business, or entice new clients, build the website around the goal. A website having no apparent purpose is a waste of time and money.
PLAN THE PAGES OF THE WEBSITE
Nearly all business sites have a minimum of several pages. Without going into custom website design, the most straightforward format includes a home page, about us page, and a contact page.
If more than one service is provided, a page for each service and a primary service page that gives a general overview are appropriate. Before hiring someone or building a site on your own, have the pages you want to be included on a things-to-do list.
FINE TUNE THE CONTENT
Even website owners who plan to hire someone as a website builder to polish or edit a site need to have basic terms that they want to say. Whether you are going to create a website yourself or you will hire the services of a professional web design company, start building content on your own that expresses the message you want to get across.
Just because you are opting for affordable website design does not mean that it does not have to look good. State the purpose clearly and succinctly. The content should not be long-winded. Visitors are looking for necessary information and will not spend a lot of time looking for it. Make sure essential points of the company are clear and easy to find.
Let customers know the benefits offered. Too often, the content tells visitors what a company does rather than the benefits it provides to clients and customers. Use calls to action. Tell visitors to shop through your product collection if that is the goal. If signing up for a newsletter is what you want visitors to do, provide a form on the main page.
Make it real. A common element of favorite business websites is a photo of the team or founder. Trying to make a business look big is not as important as letting customers or clients know real people are working for them.
Include a story about why the business was created to make people feel a connection to your business. People love stories about specific things that happened that lead to a business idea. Include a contact form.
Sometimes, it is difficult for people to access their email program or click on an email link. A contact form makes sending a message easy no matter what device is used or where a visitor is.
GET INSPIRATION FROM OTHER SITES
If you are uncertain about how you want your content to read or how you want the website to look, browse through websites that you like.
While you do not want to copy the design or content, you can get ideas for your site. Look who is responsible for the website designing you like. If you choose to hire someone to design your website, the designer of a website you find appealing is a good reference.
PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT VS. PROFESSIONAL WEBSITE
New businesses might want to try the do-it-yourself route to save money instead of going through a professional web design company. Many who build websites of their own feel a sense of accomplishment after successfully launching it, though customers are not impressed by personal achievement.
A website that does not look professional is detrimental to the business. Some websites owners are successful, and this is primarily due to an easy-to-use and navigate site that has also benefitted from search engine optimization.
To make sure you are on the right track, you must ask yourself these questions:
Is the website easy to keep fresh and maintain?
Are you getting feedback about services or products you offer?
Have you defined several phrases or keywords you think visitors will use to find your site?
Has your site undergone search engine optimization for those phrases and keywords?
Does your website appear on the first page of web searches for the phrases and keywords?
Do you know if your phrases or keywords are being used?
Does your home page describe what your site is about clearly and prominently?
Does your site have fast-loading and visually appealing photos?
Do you have testimonials from clients or customers on your site?
Is your website mobile for devices such as tablets, iPads, or Smartphones? Does it present well on those devices?
If there are more ‘no’ answers than ‘yes,’ hiring a professional is likely a wise investment.
PURCHASE A DOMAIN
A group of people who has an arrow stick that points to domain text
A free domain that is offered by some providers comes with extensions.
The domain you purchase will be in a format similar to ‘yourbusiness.com’ instead of something like ‘yourbusiness.wordpress.com.’ The purchased domain is more professional and easier to remember than a free one.
CHOOSE A RELIABLE HOSTING PLATFORM
There are many website hosts available, with WordPress being a popular host chosen by many professional website designers. They like the customizable and scalable option. There are others to look into based on the needs of a particular website.
If your hopes and plans are to grow, think carefully about opting for a low-cost platform aimed at small websites. Squarespace and Wix work great for businesses that will remain relatively small and use only a few features. If the platforms are outgrown, transferring content to a new platform is a pain.
Not all new businesses have the resources to hire a professional. The host you choose may have a selection of pre-made themes. Select a theme that fits your brand and makes edits later on. A free theme, separate from a premade theme offered by a host, is not as secure as one your purchase. A small investment in a quality theme helps keep a business website secure.
KEEP THE DESIGN SIMPLE
Whether working with a template or a designer, don’t overdo the design elements. Use only a few textures and colors and don’t add too many different type sizes or fonts. The text must be easy to read.
The text provides the most relevant content to visitors. It is essential that it be easy to read. The theme or designer will likely suggest primary typefaces for the best readability. Add valuable visuals. They add interest to the website.
Examples of work or products or relevant stock images can be used.
Too much stock photography should be avoided. It is better to skip visuals than overwhelm a site with stock images because you cannot or don’t want to invest in quality images.