If you’re a small business, you might now feel as though you need a website to reach out to more customers. Websites are a great way to make your website more ‘real’ and ‘authentic’, more so than a social media profile.
Choosing a web designer can be difficult as there are so many different factors. It’s a big investment and you want to invest your trust, time and money. I want to help you through all the different things to consider. I will cover all the most important things, and the best advice I can offer when starting out on this journey:
- Web Design
- What Platform to Use
- Where they work
- Website cost
- Choosing a domain
- Website hosting
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Website security
1. The actual web design itself:
Web Design, or User Experience Design, is about website usability as well as look and feel. These are valuable for the credibility of the website and your audience.
I design a website for people first, and Google’s appreciation will soon follow. When you browse a website, you don’t want it to be confusing, keep bumping into dead links. I want to make websites smooth to use, with a trustworthy user experience for every visitor.
I have a degree in Graphic Design, which gives me a good understanding of design. As a result, I try to keep my knowledge of the latest trends up-to-date for today’s websites.
2. Different Types of Platforms:
WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace etc … Which one to choose?
Most web designers on Google use a content management system called WordPress. This is a popular platform that’s free, easy to update, secure and affordable to run. As you can imagine, this is a popular platform for most small businesses.
There are other platforms out there that have other benefits. Often these are more expensive or difficult to use. For a business looking for a more premium online shop, I would also recommend using Shopify. They provide an out-of-the-box, self-hosted platform design for creating an online shop. I use Shopify for my online travel website, and they provide loads of great support to help you make sales.
3. Using a Local Web Designer:
Often customers come to me after having had a website done on the cheap with a company halfway around the world. It’s clear to me and the customer that this might not have been the best option for them.
It’s important to build a good rapport and relationship to bring out the best results. I like to be in the same country and time zone as my clients so that we can always call to discuss the website. It helps not having a language barrier and having that clear line of communication.
I work from Bournemouth in Dorset and have clients up and down the country. Some customers want to have a web designer in the same town, often because they want to meet me. For the vast majority of the time, I can get to understand their needs very well over the phone and by email. This helps me to spend the time working on client projects, rather than on the road to have client meetings.
4. Website cost:
This is very often one of the first questions I’m asked. It is also something I would want to arrange with you before starting a project. It might be the most important factor for you when deciding on a website. Or you might care most about how well you get on and trust the developer, or what other work they have done in the past.
A website should be an investment for your business to help you make more customers and sales in the long run. Whereas if you scrimp on a website at the start, you might find it has to be re-designed, costing you more. I am able to charge a competitive rate for my websites for most small businesses by keeping my living costs low.
I’m looking to design a professional website for my customers. I expect the customer to think about more than ‘what’s the cheapest’, or ‘when can you get me to page one in Google?’ – which will follow when you invest in a good quality website that your visitors will like using.
5. Choosing a domain name:
This is a very important choice to make as it’s not something you can change later on without difficulty. If you do, it will result in impacting your visibility online. You might have one already, which is great – you can still use it! You might be deciding on one yourself, or if not, a web designer should be able to help you out.
There’s a range of factors which can make up how good a domain name is. The most important ones being how long it is and how easy it is to spell and remember. If it’s a poor domain name and your website is brand new, a web designer should help you change it to something better.
Most domain names are cheap, usually under £10, where some of the good ones you think of are expensive. The reason they are expensive is that they are short and memorable. There is more flexibility with domain names now. It’s advisable to go with .com or .co.uk domains, but you don’t have to – if you’re feeling brave enough. There are now a whole host of domain name extensions to choose from. If you have a coffee shop in Scotland for example, you could choose – ‘glasgowcoffee.scot’. This has as much potential to be a successful website as ‘glasgowcoffee.co.uk’ if that one is already taken.
6. Website Hosting:
How fast your website loads on desktop, and as a website on mobile devices, has a big role in website conversion. A website should load in 1-3 seconds to be really efficient. This is important for your website’s user experience and your search engine optimisation. If Google sees that your website is slower than your competitors, it will continue to be a setback for you. Your site will not rank well if your visitors are more likely to leave your website while waiting for it to load.
I run most of my websites on a 123-reg premium server. This offers faster load times than your basic shared hosting. I also use an advanced caching tool called WP Rocket; this helps my websites to load fast.
7. How well your website will rank in Google
This follows onto the topic of search engine optimisation. This is about how well your website performs in search results such as Google (others are available).
There is no point in spending time and money on building a website if nobody is going to find it. You don’t want to spend too much on advertising it either.
I understand the benefits of designing a website that Google will want to rank well. This will help your site be where people are looking for your services or products – for free! This is a great long-term investment I endeavour to work on for my clients.
I do my best to understand the fundamental principles of SEO to improve my knowledge. I want to help you rank in search results. It’s important to optimise your website for what people are searching for.
It’s important though that I let you know that this is not something that I can make happen for you overnight. This is something that you will also need to work on as a business. Even with all the best practices, ranking the first page could take at least a year.
8. Will your site be secure?
You’ll want to make sure your website has an extra copy and is secure from hackers. I made a website for someone in my early days that was hacked, and it’s not something I want to see happen again.
The website designer needs to make sure that you use a strong password that hackers cannot guess, your software tools are up-to-date, and that you use an SSL certificate on your website as standard. You might know this best as the padlock you see in the address bar on most well-known websites. This has become ever more expected now.
Even if your website will not manage sensitive details it’s still good practice to have one. These are often included for free for the first year as part of the web project. You can get an SSL Certificates for free from CloudFlare for most websites. Charges for these from host providers will change and vary based on the security level.
I want to maintain a good understanding of how hackers break into websites. They often research the people in the company and use password generators. So, for example, if you are a big fan of Manchester United on Facebook, they might use those details against you.
There are of course some other factors that are important that I have not mentioned. These include how fast they make the website and how good the support is throughout. These are all things I would expect any good designer to do their best at all times to keep their customers happy.
Please give me a call on 07752444377 or drop me an email at – firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and to discuss your next business idea and turn it into reality.