One of the things I try to do in my business is help educate people about website development, as well as other aspects of marketing a business. There are a lot of false claims, inflated pricing and downright cons in the website development industry and while our industry certainly isn’t on its own in this regard, it’s a good idea to highlight these areas of concern.
So here are my personal top four things to watch out for if you’re considering website development for your small business.
Website hosting and domain registration
While all websites require ongoing payments for domain registration and web hosting, be careful of web designers who charge fees well in excess of normal. These fees should be approximately $15 a year for domain registration and shouldn’t exceed $200 a year for web hosting (most small businesses can actually pay much less than this).
It’s worth noting that in some cases it can be wise to pay your website designer a little extra for web hosting. Then, if something goes wrong, you can pick up the phone and call your website designer rather than trying to get in contact with your web host yourself. Web hosting services can be notoriously difficult to contact on the phone and in many cases will be difficult to understand for most non-IT people.
Content management systems
Most websites these days are built on content management systems, which allow small business people to update their website without having knowledge about website coding. Make sure you know what content management system your website will be built on and be careful if it’s the website designer’s own system. My reasoning for this is that if your relationship with your website designer turns sour or they go out of business, you may need to develop another website. If you have your website built using freeware such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, for example, you can simply go to another website designer for support.
Search engine optimisation
There are too many search engine optimisation (SEO) cons to list here but, in general, be wary of web designers or search engine optimisation companies who make guarantees. A common one, for example, is a guarantee that a website designer or SEO firm can get your business to number one in Google. The obvious response to this is number one for what? If it’s for your business name, in most cases this isn’t too difficult to achieve but it serves little value. What you want is to be number one or top 10 for your services or products and to achieve this is something that nobody can guarantee.
I had a client who showed me his business website and mentioned that it cost him $6K to develop. It was less than 10 pages, had only basic features, no SEO and he had to provide the content himself. I had to put on my best diplomatic face and tell him it was great, knowing that I and many other website designers could have produced a similar website for $2K or much less. Worse still, the $6K website wasn’t bringing customers to his business.
The lesson here is to that if you’re in doubt about any aspect of a website design quote, get another quote or two. You may still go with the original quote but at least you’ll be satisfied that you’re not getting ripped off.