How To Build A Website - Easily! Website-building platform or a professional designer?

Now you have considered the website and your needs in my previous article, you’ll want to get started. Most websites are built in one of three ways and the path you choose will be influenced by budget, knowledge, and your available time.

The higher budget option is to go to a professional – it’s always wise to talk to a pro. If you’ve answered the questions from the previous article, you’ll have a good idea of what you want. A pro can turn these thoughts into a brief and nurture and distil them into a beautiful website that works for you!

Of course, you’ll need to check their credentials and review their work from a design perspective.  You’ll also need ask yourself if you need support beyond this? Find out if they are going to help you with the technical ‘bits’, the domain management, SSL certificates, the web hosting, and possibly even the email set-up. Alternatively, are they just going to develop and design. Either way, getting the input of a professional can be very helpful. If you go down this route, you will have some small additional costs, primarily web-hosting which is usually low cost and possibly some server management time.

A final note to consider, you’ll probably want to ensure that making changes down the line is a possibility. If you are not going to do it, it’s far more efficient for the people who built your website to edit your website, they know what’s under the hood and how to get to it quickly, so using your website designer or developer to edit your site should be more cost effective than finding someone new.

So, what should you pay? An agency is going to be more expensive than a freelancer and rates really do vary. Expect to pay anywhere between £30-£100/hour. The volume of hours required is going to vary according to your needs and what you provide. Are you writing the content? Do you have the images you want to use on your site in the right format, with the right aspect ratios? Typically, a brochure website from a pro is going to cost somewhere between £1,500-£6,000+.

As the costs for using a pro can be prohibitive, many of you will be tempted to look for cheaper alternatives. That is perfectly fair, right? As we’ve already said, a website is fundamentally just text and images, why does it need to cost this much?  Most of us know someone, who knows someone who has built a website. You may well think ‘let’s get a friend to do it on the side, my costs will be lower’. This is a perfectly reasonable proposition and for many of you this could well be a perfect solution. However, ensure you go into this with your eyes open.

The same questions regarding ongoing support and knowledge around the ‘techy’ bits apply to amateur website builds in the same way as they do to professional agencies.

However, here’s a few more pitfalls you should be aware of if you are using an amateur designer.

Absolutely ensure you have access and ownership of both website and your domain name. My advice is that you pay the bills on your card. Ensure you are the verified contact and owner of the website and that notifications from your domain registrar, hosting company and website building platform come to you.

How long will the amateur be able to support you? Are they a student starting work soon and suddenly about to become time poor? You know you’ll need edits down the line, can they support you with this?

Lastly, please do consider if you are using a friend that people do fall out. How long will your friend be your friend if you don’t like what they’ve created and you turn around and tell, them, or unintentionally insult them by getting someone else to do it when you are not happy with the result? It happens, often.

Cost wise this is likely to be at the lower end of the professional designer’s price range, maybe even lower, depending upon how much of the copy and images you are going to provide.

The third option is do it yourself, costs are very low, but the initial investment will be in your time. All ‘no-code knowledge’ website building platforms will make the claim that if you can drag, drop, and click then you can build a website! It’s true. However, let’s be honest, if you’ve never seen a website building platform, like any new piece of software it will take a little time to learn. You’ll need to orientate yourself to get familiar with the control panel and understand how the features work. How do you add text, how do you edit? It should all be intuitive, but it will take a little bit of time to get used to.

Going through the build process yourself using a free website building tool can help you consolidate your thoughts about what you need online, whether you end up building yourself or using a designer.

Use the support that is available. Nearly every website building platform provides support in one form or another, whether that chat functions, support materials and videos and even the opportunity to talk to a pro. Ultimately, they want you as a long-term customer, so contact them if you have a problem or if you need advice. There’s no shame in it. They will help.

Costs for website building platforms vary from £100-£600 per annum, usually depending upon the number of pages and functions you need.

Whoever you use or however you build your website, you should start by answering the five questions and you’ll be well on your way to having the website your business needs.

Good luck and enjoy.

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