Website Design for Business; FAQs and Misconceptions:
Website building you don’t need to be an expert in all things digital in order to have a great designed website for your business. The only requisites are that you know what you want to achieve with the website and that you’re confident talking to website designers about your business needs. The following frequently asked questions and common misconceptions should help you define what it is exactly you want from your website and give you the basic knowledge you need to approach web designers confidently.
How quickly can I get a website designed for my business:
You could get a website up and running in a single day but it probably wouldn’t meet all your needs. A realistic time frame from a professional web design company is at least a couple of weeks. Obviously, the more sophisticated you want the website to be, the longer it will take to build.
What is hosting:
Apart from paying someone to build the website you also need to purchase the domain name and hosting. Hosting is space on a server somewhere for your website to live and always be available to users. You could host your own website with the right equipment but it’s usually more convenient (and cheaper) to get an external company to do it for you. Hosting costs can start from around £5 per month for small sites.
What will the website designers need from me:
Ideally you’ll be able to provide your chosen website designer with a document (or, a brief) which sets out exactly what you need the website to do. The brief will ensure that the designer fully understands your requirements; but, by also providing the same brief to all the companies quoting for your work, you will be able to compare them properly. Don’t be daunted by this task – you can write a brief in plain English, using sketches or even screenshots from other websites to improve the clarity. If you can provide the web design company with images and text for the website then this will help reduce your costs (otherwise they might need to commission copywriters and photographers).
How much does website design cost?
The eventual cost of your website will depend upon the size and complexity of the design, the talent and experience of the website designers and any additional services taken up. Most often you’ll be charged a fee based on the number of hours required to complete the work. More experienced/highly rated designers charge more per hour. Some companies offer an attractive flat rate for business website design but this is likely to leave you with a site that is based on a pre-designed template structure. These templates won’t be unique to your business and their one-size-fits-all approach will make it hard for other designers to improve your site in the future.
Will I be able to edit the content on my website?
If your website is built using a content management system (CMS) then you’ll be able to change and add pages on your site at will. The most common CMS platforms are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Using a common CMS platform will ensure that when you need work done on the site in future you’ll be able to choose from a variety of companies besides the original web designers.
How can I sell products via my business website?
In order to sell products your website design will need to include ecommerce software such as osCommerce, Magento or Zen Cart. Again, choosing a commonly used ecommerce platform will improve your options when it comes to further improving the website in future. You’ll also need a mechanism for taking credit/debit card payments – a PayPal, WorldPay or merchant account.
- Will the website designers also be able to design a logo/branding for my company?
Frequently webs design companies also offer graphic design services so logo and branding design will also be available. You’ll want to make sure that as well as the website itself you’re also provided with high quality images that you can use for printing etc.
- I’ve already got a website/template I like. Can I get the website designer to use this?
There may be copyright issues with using a pre-existing design, particularly if you’re a competitor. You’ll need to make sure you have the right to use it. Also, most professional website designers prefer to have a fresh project to work on, allowing them to create a truly bespoke site. Trying to work with another designer’s template can be awkward and time consuming, particularly in swapping out certain functions which may “break” other areas of a site. Therefore, contrary to expectations, you may end up paying more for bringing pre-existing material with you.
- How can I get my website to appear high up in Google search results?
The process of developing your website to appear high up in search results is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Most website designers offer SEO services at an additional cost. However, because Google and the other search engines keep their rules for ranking websites a secret you won’t get a guarantee of ranking highly – so be very suspicious of those who do: there aren’t many tactics that can get you appearing high on search engines quickly, but those that can won’t be of much value to your business and will damage your online reputation in the long run, actually making it harder to appear higher up.
It’s probably better to get a website designed that is search engine friendly and that has a fully customisable CMS so that SEO can be carried out over time after you’ve gauged your site’s initial performance in search results.
Every website designer should be able to set up Google Analytics tracking and Google Webmaster Tools for you, both of which will help with analysing long term SEO efforts. If they can’t you need a different designer.
- Common Misconceptions about Website Design for Business
You can get a website for free – I’ve seen them advertised
Unfortunately that’ll probably be a basic, restrictive template you’ll have to fill in yourself. These sites are offered by hosting companies as an incentive but don’t really deliver many benefits. There’s no way around it, if you want a website designed specifically for your business, you’re going to have to design it yourself or pay a professional to do it for you.
• I want a website designed using Flash
Flash isn’t supported by iPads, can’t be read by Google and can cause a host of other problems for users. If you want a dynamic website thane you’re better off using HTML5 – look for website designers who can work with this standard.
- My new website will work perfectly on mobile devices
This isn’t necessarily true. In order to ensure that your website is readable and user-friendly from mobile devices like phones and tablets you’ll need to select a website designer capable of such work. The two options are currently: developing a separate version of your site for mobile devices; or, using responsive website design that causes the site to display differently according to which device is being used. Both will push up the cost of designing your website significantly.
I want to build something really complicated that’s essentially a copy of another website. Can I just get a designer to duplicate the code for a fraction of the price? No.