Like Me? Follow Me.
Small businesses looking for their first professionally designed and developed website do not usually have a internet marketing expert on staff - or a web developer - and very often don't really know what things should cost.
They may have a rough idea based on what friends or business associates have paid for their sites or they may have a friend or relative who works in web design. When they start looking at web designers and web developers, the recommendations and the cost can vary massively depending on who they call.
It's easy enough to find a web developer who will build a site for £500 with a CMS included. It's also pretty easy to find a web designer who will tell you that you need to spend £20,000. If it's your first website, and you only need a few pages and a basic content management system in case you want to add anything new to the site, £20,000 on a website may be a little high. But, at the other end, £500 may be a little low - and if you're being offered a website this cheap, there's one BIG question you should ask in order to avoid headaches later on:
"Will I own the code to my website and the copyright or will you?"
One of the ways that companies cut costs in order to design and build websites on the cheap is to sell small sites built on a proprietary CMS that is owned and maintained by the developer. you pay them to customise a design for you and build the initial pages and you pay them for the right to use their CMS and host your website on their server.
While this is a cheap option, and many of these packages are search friendly and easy to use, it also means that if the relationship goes sour, or you decide to redesign or upgrade your site using a different company you won't be able to take anything with you - you'll have to start from scratch and rebuild everything. You may not even have access to your own data including customer lists and your database of products in order to easily move everything from the old platform to the new one.
When you sign a contract for a new website, always make sure that you own the copyright and you own the code - even if it costs you a little more money.
Paying £1,500 for a site now instead of £500 will save you a lot of time and money later.
Imagine that over the first few years you've built your small shop into a thriving e-commerce business selling hundreds of products. If your developer owns the content of your site then you may have to re-enter every product, image and detail back into your new site by hand - not to mention finding a way of reclaiming your customer database and order history!
Is it really worth your time and money later to spend less now?
"I still don't have much to spend on a website, what should I do?"
In an ideal situation, you should be willing to spend enough on your website to get a bespoke system designed for you that can be upgraded and improved as your business changes and as technology develops.
If you don't have the budget for that, however, there's plenty of open source software on the market these days that is easily customisable, easy to use, fairly search engine friendly and will do the job you need it to do. Open source software is free, you can modify it however you like, and you don't have to worry about who owns the copyright.
Because of the nature of open source software, your developer should be able to work with these systems - or another similar system - without claiming that it's their software so you can't take it away with you elsewhere.