You’ve decided you need a new website, but maybe funds are tight. Even if your cash flow will allow for a professional web developer, you want to get a good deal – the most bang for your buck.
Chances are there is someone – a friend, relative, or friend of a friend – who can build a website for you. It’s tempting because all websites are created equal, right? (ha ha) Bad jokes aside, you may be intrigued by the opportunity to get an online presence for nothing or next to nothing.
Before you can make an informed decision on who should build your website, you need to know what kind of website is the best fit for your business. To help you figure that out, we’ve written this blog: What kind of website do I need for my small business?
Once you have figured out what kind of website you need, here are a few things for you to consider before deciding whether or not to have a friend build a website for you…
Regardless of the simplicity of a website, every website requires a bit of technical ability. Even the simplest do-it-yourself web builder is likely going to use terminology and basic steps that can be confusing to a first-time or amateur web developer. Also, the components used to build a website are constantly updating. Over time, some of those components can begin to conflict with one another, which can cause technical issues.
A prime example of this is Google’s upcoming algorithm update, Core Web Values. This rollout, which is slated for May 2021, places an emphasis on site speed. Site speed has always been an important ranking factor, and it seems that is not only going to remain, but become a heavily weighed SEO staple. If someone who builds a website doesn’t know anything about site speed, or how to improve it, that will definitely affect your website’s ability to rank.
Search Engine Optimization is vital when building a new website. SEO has both technical and content elements to it. If you need your website to rank on search engines, be sure that the person who is building your website is familiar with SEO and how to implement it. To gauge someone’s SEO knowledge, read up on basic ranking factors.
This seems like a great place to whip out a very tired cliché: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” If an acquaintance is willing to build a website for you for free, or for little cost, be aware there will still be incremental costs that will add up. You will have to pay for domain registration, a monthly fee for web hosting, and there may be additional costs for themes and plugins. These costs are incurred when you hire a professional as well, but they are covered in the overall project costs. These costs are typically reasonable but can come as a surprise to someone who is trying to get the most bang for their buck on a new website.
A few important questions to ask the person who’s going to build your website are, “When are you going to work on my website, when will the website be complete, and will you provide status updates?” Now, if someone is building a website for free, don’t expect to get exact answers to these questions. But if you are being charged to have a website built, you can and should ask these questions, and feel good about the answers you get before proceeding. You need to know if the person building your website will only have a couple of hours a week to work on it, and won’t finish it for six months. Status updates are crucial because a lack of communication between you and your web builder is one of the biggest risks to your project.
Before having someone build a website for you, you want to be sure you have a clear answer about who is going to maintain the website. Are there going to be ongoing optimization efforts for search engine ranking purposes and if so, who will complete that work? If the expectation is that you will be the one maintaining and optimizing your website, you will want to make certain you get some training on how to do this from the person who’s building your website before the project is complete.
What’s the right choice?
If you simply need a digital business card, or a very simple one-page site, having an amateur build the website for you may work, given all the above considerations. This can be a great place to start for a small business that is just starting out.
If, however, you have an existing business, or you rely heavily on your website to create and convert leads, dig deeper on your options. If the success of your marketing and your business leans heavily on your website, it may be worth it to get bids from professionals. Think of it this way – you wouldn’t expect a volunteer to make your business successful. The volunteer is working for free, and you have to set expectations to match that reality. Your website is no different. If you are getting the equivalent of a “volunteer” website, you’ll have to set your expectations accordingly, and not expect that website to drive the success of your marketing and your business.