Is it really that difficult to build a business website? With so many free and easy tools out there, it certainly seems like a task anyone can complete.
But here’s the rub: just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for your business. Here are seven questions that can help you decide whether to outsource the work or go it alone.
1. Where Does My Funding Coming From?
According to Ben Landers, president and CEO of the digital marketing company Blue Corona (@BlueCorona), a business that’s bootstrapping it probably has more available time than cash. If that’s the case, it may make sense to go lean and mean with a DIY site.
That said, he also points out that there’s no comparison between a pro’s work and the results you get when you go it alone.
“Professionally designed sites outperform DIY sites most of the time,” he notes.
The upshot: To spend or not to spend? That is always the question when you’re starting up. If you don’t have the cash, it may be better to invest time putting together a basic site.
2. How Important Is a Website to My Business?
Landers says that websites aren’t essential for every business, at least when first starting out.
“Let’s say you’re opening a boutique neighborhood coffee shop. A website isn't mission critical for this type of business,” he says. “Having a solid Facebook strategy is probably far more important initially.”
The upshot: Businesses that can bring in revenue with a strong social media presence may be able to put off building a website for a while. However, once you’re ready to build, check out “How to Create a Small Business Website that Pays for Itself” for tips.
3. Do I Know SEO?
- Research and discovery – getting information about competitors, keywords, and site analytics.
- Content and messaging – using the research to write and review content.
- Design – developing “wire frames” to build layouts for specific pages and designing comps.
- Development – coding the site and rolling it out.
According to deGeyeter, design and development can often be handled in-house, but those first two stages are “critical aspects of having a search-friendly site that can be optimized and marketed later.”
In a nutshell, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site's search engine rankings. You can start by using keywords in your site content that match your customers' search queries, but suffice it to say, it gets way more complicated.
“If a company has any interest in long-term marketing via search engines, it's a good idea to get an SEO expert involved in the early planning stages,” deGeyeter says.
The upshot: Optimizing your site once it’s live is harder than getting it right and building from there. If SEO isn’t your game, you may want to outsource that research, planning, and writing to a professional.
4. Do I Need Bells & Whistles?
You may also want to consider any special functions you need on your site.
“E-commerce and payment gateways can be a little bit tricky,” says Brandon Seymour, founder and CEO of the digital marketing agency Beymour Consulting (@beymourSEO). “If you've never managed or built a website before, it might be worth hiring a professional to help get the job done right the first time.”
The upshot: Any feature that makes your site more than just a brochure may mean you need to outsource production, especially if the feature is beyond your technical skills.
5. How Much Competition Is in My Industry?
Your competition may determine how much effort and expertise you need to differentiate your site.
“Saturated industries, like real estate and legal, have set the bar really high,” says Seymour. “If you want to compete in these crowded industries, you need to build a web presence that makes you stand out.”
The upshot: Check out your competition. You’ll get a sense of what the expectations are in terms of functionality, user experience, and the wow factor.
6. Can I Be Objective?
Christopher Fox (@CGFSyncresis), managing partner of the healthcare marketing consultancy Syncresis, notes that even though his company lists web development as one of its services, it outsourced its site design because it “believes in the value of an outside perspective.”
“A good web designer will see your company in a way that you don't," says Fox. “They will offer a look and feel and develop content that you won't think of because you look at the world from the inside of your company outward.”
The upshot: A fresh perspective can do wonders for your understanding of your business. That alone may make outsourcing your site design worth it.
7. Could My Time Be Better Spent Elsewhere?
Let’s face it – you’re already trying to do it all. That’s just the nature of running a small business. Do you really need to add “design and develop a website” to your to-do list?
Perhaps Fox explains it best when he said hiring a professional “will spare you days of fiddling around and learning that's just not necessary for your core business.”
“Make, market, and sell your products or services, and don't let a web project distract you from that strategy,” Fox suggests.
The upshot: One of the best ways to save time and stay sane is to delegate jobs to the people who can do them better. If your skillset doesn’t include building websites, consider passing the task on.
Delegation can free up your resources, but it can also reduce risk. Find out how in “Risky Business: 6 Small Business Practices that Increase Liability Exposure.”
About the Contributors
Author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period, speaker, teacher, husband, father, and web marketer Stoney deGeyter is the president of Pole Position Marketing, a results-driven, inbound marketing agency that has been helping businesses grow their web presence since 1998. DeGeyter is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the web marketing industry. You can view his work on Slideshare or contact him to discuss web-marketing strategy or to provide in-house training for your team.
Christopher G. Fox, PhD is managing partner of Syncresis, a consultancy focused on brand development, marketing, and communication strategy, and online marketing program management in the healthcare sector. His business mission is ensuring that practices and provider groups trigger the right behaviors in the right patients. He has a career-long history bringing together creative thinking from multiple disciplines to rally audience segments around his clients’ business goals.
Ben Landers is the president and CEO of Blue Corona, a five-time Inc. 5000 digital marketing company that helps business owners accurately track the performance of their advertising initiatives and more effectively utilize the web to increase leads, sales, and positive online reviews. If you’re looking for help with ad tracking, analytics, email marketing, Google AdWords, marketing automation, pay-per-click management, SEO, social media, or website design and development, visit www.bluecorona.com.
Brandon Seymour is an online marketing strategist and founder of Beymour Consulting, a South Florida-based digital marketing agency, specializing in SEO, reputation management, and website development.