Building a website is easy, right? Most people know someone who knows someone who knows something about technology. If they can fix your email, they must be able to cobble together a decent website… right?
Occasionally, we lose a client who gets a little gun-shy about the cost of using a professional to build their website. We know it’s not cheap, and those “Build it yourself in just 10 minutes!” commercials make it seem so simple.
Feel free to make your own decision, but here are a few things you should consider. If your web volunteer doesn’t focus on these areas, your website may end up doing more harm than good.
Usability: Is the website’s end user top of mind?
Will your website volunteer have a discussion with you about your target market? When your volunteer chooses a design, will it be based on how that visitor will use the site?
Navigation planning is paramount. A real professional will help you lay out a simple sitemap with the most important pages in the top menu. If you have 15 pages in the main navigation bar, your average visitor is pretty likely to leave—fast.
These usability elements are “musts”:
- An organized, intuitive sitemap
- Clear, concise navigation labels
- A simple path to contact information
- Font size and spacing that make content easy to read
- Text contrast that is sufficient for every user to see
Good planning can make for a significantly better visitor experience. If visitors struggle to find the information they need, they won’t stick around to figure it out themselves. This means lost opportunities and lost customers for you.
Results: Will your website encourage users to take action?
This is the #1 problem I see with amateur and DIY websites.
Someone put the website together with tons of information. They made it look decent. Then they assumed words and a decent design would magically bring in leads.
News flash: that website is a brochure, not a marketing tool. And it will cost you money.
A website needs a real call to action. You need to tell your website visitor what action you’d like them to take.
Don’t be shy. People like when things are laid out for them, so tell them exactly how to get to your solution.
Call to Action (CTA) examples:
- Call today
- Contact us now
- Download our e-book
- Sign up for our webinar
- Schedule a tour
- Schedule a free consultation
- Register now
- Book us now
Your website’s clear call to action should be planned in advance with your designer. It should be based on your sales process and how you best convert leads to customers. It should be designed thoughtfully to encourage clicks or calls.
If your designer doesn’t include a call to action, don’t bother having a website.
Security: Does your website invite hackers and spam?
Your website volunteer is probably more focused on making your site look pretty than protecting it from evildoers. Unfortunately, this can lead to huge problems down the line.
Specifically, I’ve taken over far too many WordPress sites for clients whose designer allowed the site to use the default ‘admin’ username. This is a huge security risk, and web pros know it.
Outdated WordPress installs, plugins, and themes are also security risks. Will your volunteer keep everything up to date after launch? If not, will they show you how to do it?
Finally, spam can be a huge problem if not controlled in advance. You will need a spam blocker installed and properly configured from day one.
Quick tips for security:
- If your WordPress username is ‘admin’, change it
- Keep your WordPress install up to date, or use a managed WordPress host who will do it for you
- Make sure someone updates plugins and themes at least once a month
- Install and configure a spam blocker. I like AntiSpam Bee as a free option
Future updates: When will your web volunteer disappear?
Want to know the top reason 11Web gets to be the superhero and save the day? Small businesses get abandoned. Their website hobbyist disappears, and the clients don’t know how to access their own websites.
Let’s assume your volunteer does a great job creating you a website. They build it, you like it, they launch it.
Then they go on their merry way. When you need updates or have questions, they don’t answer. You have to send 5 emails and make 4 phone calls. Web design isn’t their job, and they thought they were done when the site was “done.”
Don’t let your website become a maintenance nightmare.
Empower yourself with these quick maintenance tips
- Learn how to make changes to the site yourself
- Have access to your domain registration account, and make sure it’s in your name
- Have the login and password for your hosting account
- Have the login and password for your WordPress dashboard
We provide ongoing service packages so past clients are never alone. And we work on websites every day, so we’re happy to chat website anytime.
The choice is yours
What is the real cost of having your uncle’s friend’s neighbor kid build you a cheap website? It may be free, but it may also result in frustrated customers, lack of response, attacks by hackers, and no support.
A thoughtfully-designed website will bring you more inquiries and more business. Consider it an investment, not just an expense. Contact us today for a free quote.