If you’re reading this, you already know how important it is to have a good website. It provides information about your business, helps customers find you on Google, and differentiates you from your competitors.
We know it’s tempting to go for the best website money can buy. Sites built by an agency (like ours) are typically bespoke, hand-coded and tailored for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). But just because we can build you a top-spec business website, it may not be right for you today. And here’s why…
You don’t know your target market
Many people who start a new business, ourselves included, begin by leveraging personal contacts. You might go to networking groups, get referrals and work with former colleagues.
This approach often succeeds, but it’s essentially an experiment. At the start, you make a lot of assumptions about your customers, and the best market for your products or services.
It’s not uncommon for life to work out differently to what you had in mind. Perhaps your customers are a different demographic, or maybe there’s greater demand in a different market to the one you initially targeted.
So you do the smart thing. You listen to your customers. You make adjustments, change your business model. Gradually, you move away from what you were doing a year or two previously.
Now imagine that you’d already spent a few thousand pounds on that bespoke website. Your business has changed so it’s now out of date, or maybe even plain wrong. You can fix it, but only by spending even more money.
So if most of your leads are likely to come from networking and referrals, there’s no point spending too much on your first business website. That way, if you need to change it later, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Fortunately, creating a simple website is cheap, quick and easy. You can do it yourself without any coding knowledge using a drag-and-drop builder like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly.
Weebly and Wix both offer free plans, although your site will include their branding. For a site free of branding, you’ll pay from £7.76 per month for Wix and £5 per month for Weebly.
Squarespace is slightly more expensive. It charges £10 per month for a personal site, and £15 per month for a business site with extras like e-commerce features.
The drawback to using Wix, Squarespace or Weebly is that you’re limited to fairly basic templates. If you need to change your site’s appearance or functions, your options are limited to what these tools can do.
An alternative is WordPress. It’s a platform that’s often associated with blogs but in fact it’s a very flexible tool for building good-looking websites you can easily customise.
The underlying WordPress software is free, because it’s open source, but you’re not limited to the templates (called ‘themes’) supplied with it.
A third-party marketplace called ThemeForest offers over 41,000 professionally designed themes, giving you a wide selection to choose from. Good themes typically cost between $50 and $70.
To install a theme and get your site up and running, you can either do it yourself or hand it over to a freelance web developer or WordPress designer. It shouldn’t cost much or take very long.
Many people also consider WordPress to be better for SEO purposes than the simple website-builder tools.
SEO and Plugins
In making things simple to edit and design, you inevitably make compromises in how the site is built which have a knock on effect in what is possible and realistic in respect of SEO.
WordPress is certainly a good platform for publishing content, and plugins like Yoast help you optimise every page for SEO.
Plugins, however, add weight to a website and could slow the time it takes to load. Loading time is one of many technical factors Google takes into account when it decides how highly your site should rank in search results.
Bespoke is the way forward
Which is why a bespoke business website, tailored to your exact requirements, and technically optimised for Google, is the way to go if you really care about SEO – and the time to care about SEO is when you’re confident in the direction your business is taking. By then you could be playing on a bigger stage, with national and maybe international growth ambitions.
At this point, you’ll need a website that’s finely tuned for beating your competitors in search results, and that’s where we come in.