Does My Small Business Need a Website?

We’ve given a lot of suggestions for where to find a web developer and how to hire one, but what if you’re not sure whether you need one? Should your small business even have a website? Maybe the cost is too high and the benefit too low for a small business. If you’re curious, keep reading and we’ll dig into the specific benefits as well as the costs.

What Age Group are your Customers in?

This may be the biggest question you have to ask yourself when deciding whether a website will help your small business. Websites are extremely relevant for people age 40 and younger. If your average customer fits this bill, then you should absolutely have a website.

If your average customer is over 40, you may still want to consider a website but it’s no longer imperative that you have one.

If your average customer is over 50, a website may be a waste of capital.

If your average customer is 65+, then a website would almost certainly be a total waste.

Over time, we’ll see these demographics change. In 20 years, I’ll be suggesting that every single small business have a website without exception. For now, the smart choice may be to forego all the costs associated with building and upkeep on a website if you’re working strictly with older demographics.

Is Your Business Growing?

Another big question you’ll want to ask yourself is whether your business is in a growth phase. If you’ve got a set group of clients that never changes and you aren’t looking for new work – you may not need a website.

Similarly if you’re finding yourself inundated with work, maybe a website would bring more customers than you can handle.

Finally, If you’re in the last years of a business and whittling down your customer-base as you approach retirement or a new venture – you may also be in the position where a website won’t match your downsizing goals.

Deciding whether or not your current business goals include growth should give you a good idea if you’ll want a website or not

Benefits

So you’ve decided that you might want a website, based on your customer demographic or your growth goals. But what else can a website do for your business?

  • Lend legitimacy to your business
    • Let’s face it, if a company doesn’t have a website nobody under 40 years old will take you seriously. It will be as if you don’t exist at all until you get your company online.
  • Help people find you
    • If people can’t find your business when they search for you, you don’t exist. A website is the expected result, along with Google Maps results if you’re local.
  • Show off!
    • You probably spent a long time making sure your business feels welcoming, inviting, and has a certain flair and style all its own. But if people can’t see photos and great reviews online beforehand, then coming to visit you in person is a gamble. Make sure you show off your interior, customer service, products, and helpful team online – so people feel good about your company before their first visit!

How Much Does a Web Designer Cost?

So you’re considering hiring a web designer, but need to know how much it will cost? Setting your design or development budget is an important consideration, so keep reading to learn more before you pull the trigger on a new hire.

Design or Development?

The first thing to do is identify whether “Web Design” is what you actually need, or whether you might actually need “Web Development” instead. What’s the difference? When you visit a website, all the images, icons, buttons, and layout all contribute the site design. Designers put thought into the look and feel of the site, and their main focus is on the user’s visual and interactive experience.

Okay, so what’s “web development”, then? Development refers to programming – the logic that dictates how your website responds. User logins, passwords, online ordering, shopping carts – all this functionality is built and managed by web developers.

To give an analogy – If the web developer builds the house, the designer adds the carpets, drapes, lighting and accents. The structure, doors, windows, electricity, plumbing – all the functional stuff is coded by a developer – then a designer makes it feel warm, inviting, and homely, and ensures a great interaction with the user.

Now that you know the difference between web design and web development, you can more accurately narrow down your hiring needs. New logo? Designer. Website says it has an error? Developer. Editing product photos? Designer. Tweaking shipping calculations? Developer.

It’s worth mentioning here that there can be some overlap, and some designers can develop code, while some developers are also skilled with design. It may be a good idea to look for someone who can fill both roles if you foresee both needs. We call these unicorns, but they do exist and if you find one you should never let them go.

You can also consider digital agencies, who will be able to pull in the necessary talent to match your project.

Full-time, or Contract Work?

Now that you’ve narrowed down whether you need a designer, a developer, or someone who can fill both roles let’s look at your time needs. Do you have 8+ hours worth of work for a designer or developer, every day, year-round? If so, It may be a good idea to hire a full-time developer. Someone who will always be available during business hours and will work solely on your project. Web developer salaries can range from $60k – $300k+ depending on experience and skill. Keep in mind that the lower end of that price range is a junior developer salary – fine for simple tasks and features. Not fine for site-wide security audits, complex functionality, or planning big website additions.

If you’ve got less than 8 hours worth of work each day or your workload is more seasonal, it will make more sense to contract the work. You’ll want to find someone you can pay by the hour or by the project, rather than the year. Contract developers generally range from $100 – $300/hr. Some choose to give quotes for each project or feature, rather than work by the hour. Either is fine. While you can find developers for less than $100/hr, you’ll find they are both junior level, and often have issues with communication, language, or delivering on time. I always remind clients that they generally get what they pay for.

Per-Project

Some developers are ok with giving you quotes per-project. This ensures a guarantee on the budget you’ll need. The downside to the increased certainty is decreased flexibility. Once a budget is agreed on, you won’t be able to make a lot of changes to your specifications. Changes would alter the budget, so either a new budget agreed upon after each and every change, or you simply won’t be allowed to make changes at all.

This can work for some people, especially for those who aren’t picky about every detail. If, on the other hand, you’re the type to change your mind frequently – stay far away from per-project fees. You won’t be able to make all the last-minute changes you’ll want to, and you’ll strain your relationship with your developer if you change your mind frequently. If you need this level of precise control and the ability to make last-minute changes where necessary I always suggest you work hourly with your developer. Developers working hourly won’t mind undoing, redoing, and doing work over and over until you’re happy. Per-project developers won’t find that style of work acceptable.

Make sure your developer billing style matches your planning style.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential web developers, be sure to check out our post on How to Know if a Web Developer is Any Good

How to Hire a Web Developer – Definitive Guide

how to hire a web developer

So you’ve decided that you need to hire a freelance web developer, but aren’t sure where to start. Lots of people find themselves in this position. If this is the first time you’ve ever looked for a web contractor to work with, you may feel overwhelmed. But don’t worry, this guide will shed light on the process! Keep reading to find out more

Do You Already Have a Website?

The first thing to consider is whether you already have an existing website, or whether you’re starting from scratch.

If you don’t have a website yet, you’re free to hire from a wide range of developers and have them suggest what technology to use for the site. On the other hand if you’re already got a site, you’ll have to hire a developer familiar with your tech.

If you have a WordPress site, you’ll need to hire a developer familiar with WordPress. If your site runs on Joomla or Shopify or Rails or Flask or Laravel, again you’ll need a developer who matches. This is the first step in narrowing down the list of available developers. If you’re not sure what technology your site is built on you’ll need to find out.

One way to do this is to briefly hire a web developer to audit your website and find out what “tech stack” you’re running on. That info points you towards the subset of programmers with the skills to match your needs.

So What Makes a Good Web Developer?

Whether you’ve got an existing website and have now identified what tech your developer needs to be familiar with, or you’re starting from scratch, you can now turn your focus towards the developer. What exactly makes a good web developer? How do you know who to hire?

Communication – this is arguably the most important quality a contractor can have, no matter what the field. If your developer disappears for weeks at a time, you’re not going to be able to rely on them. This may seem obvious, but I feel it needs to be stated that communication is extremely important. While a lot of developers may be difficult to get on the phone, they should always be reachable via email within 48 hours on weekdays. Bonus points if your developer is ever available on weekends!

Price Range

Expect to pay anywhere from $100 – $300 per hour for good web development work from a contractor.

If you’re working with an agency instead, you’ll pay $300+ per hour.

While you can outsource internationally for less than this, You absolutely get what they pay for.

What to Watch Out For

Part-timers and moonlighters: these are folks who do web development on the side. This may be great for building out new features, but not so great for responding to bugs or issues during business hours. You’ll want to make sure you can actually reach your developer during the day. If your contractor is at a full-time job all day, you may not be able to get the attention your website needs.

Low rates: if someone offers you a website for $200, you’d better think twice. Someone willing to work for $10 or $20/hr in the US will not be an experienced programmer. Maybe the rate looks great and is cheaper than every other offer you’ve gotten. The problem is that the contractor charging the discounted rate is still very early in their career. Perhaps they have no portfolio or little experience. They may be a great value option for simple tasks, but when shit hits the fan they won’t have the skill or expertise required to calmly correct the issue. When your website gets hacked and every public photo you have is replaced with vulgar images, there’s no way a noobie programmer fresh out of college will have any idea how to identify the security hole, patch it, recover data, and harden your system to prevent future issues. Remember that your piece-of-mind relies on how many years of experience your developer has to adapt to any issues you’ll face along your website ownership journey. If you rely on your website, make sure you can rely on your developer.

 

Does My Business Need a Website?

Not sure whether your business needs a website? Fear not! Today we go into detail on the reasons your business may or may not benefit a website.

Why Does My Business NOT Need a Website?

Let’s start with the reasons why you might NOT need a website! There aren’t many, but we’ll list these first so you can rule out a website right away if this isn’t the right option for you at this time.

#1) You just started your business and don’t have the budget for it.

You should plan to spend anywhere from $2,000 – $5,000 for a very basic website with a few elegant pages, a contact form, a photo gallery, social media links, etc. This does not include any purchase/order/shopping cart functionality, which will drastically increase that price range. If you don’t have this in your budget yet, you’ll want to wait until you do so you can get it done right.

 

#2) You have too many customers, and don’t want anyone else to find you.

Maybe you’re closing down business in a couple years and are whittling down your customer base. If you’re in a shrinking phase with your company it might not make sense to build a new website. Consider whether you’ve completely turned your focus away from marketing, sales, and advertising – if you have then it’s probably not time to build a new website.

 

#3) Your business doesn’t rely on new customers.

If you’re in the unique position of never needing to find new customers, you may not need a website. This includes cases where you retain clients for a very long-term and have a full workloads, or where your business only has one customer – such as a government contract. You may still want to branch out, but a website isn’t necessarily the best use of funds when you aren’t actively seeking new customers.

Why Does My Business Need a Website?

Still with me? Now that we’ve ruled out the reasons you may NOT need a website, let’s delve into all the reasons you might.

#1) You’re looking for new customers.

A website is a great place to bring prospective customers who might be interested in learning more about your business and working with you. Use this as a hub where you direct your social media followers, where your business cards point, where your Google Maps local business contact info points – everything should converge on your website. Then you can focus on a unified approach for engaging, informing, and eventually selling and onboarding those new customers. While your new customers may have come through disparate channels, they all eventually hit your website. From there, you can direct them into a funnel, show them the same onboarding copy, etc.

#2) You want to get the word out.

A website is also the place you’ll point your paid ads to. Whether you’re running advertising campaigns to find new customers or spread brand awareness, you’ll want your ads to get the word out and bring users to your website. Once there, you’ll already be set up to give them any information they may need, overcome any customer objections, and make the sale.

#3) You want people to be able to find you.

A website gives you a place to publish your contact info. A local map with your store. A beautiful photo gallery. News and announcements. Make sure all the info needed to find you is present on your website and easy to find.

#4) You want your brand to feel unified.

Your website is the glue that binds together all the separate pieces of your business. It also unifies your brand as a complete experience. Users should be able to flow from your social media accounts, to your website, to your Maps page, to your contact form. Use your website as a portal that connects all the public-facing pieces of your business. Your brand will feel more unified and grounded as a result.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the reasons why YOU need a website. It is, however, a big consideration and I urge people not to rush into the process. If you’re looking to find a web developer, take a look at Where to Find a Web Developer and don’t forget to let me know in the comments whether you found this info helpful.

 

How Does Having a Website Help a Business

This is a great question from one of my readers, who was curious just exactly how having a website helps a business – and if it even does at all. So how does having a website help a business?

First, let’s talk about what NOT having a website does:

When someone searches for your company and no site comes up, it’s as if you simply don’t exist.

When someone wants to see your menu before visiting your restaurant, but it’s nowhere to be found online – they don’t visit.

When someone is curious to see how beautiful and inviting your store is, but the photos aren’t available – they have to assume it’s not worth showing off.

You see, having a website is no longer optional for a business. Keep reading for more info on why this is so important.

So What Ways Does a Website Help a Business?

Let’s jump right in: there are a TON of great benefits for your business to having a website. To understand why, we’ll look at the role a website plays for a company.

Your website is THE central hub for your company. A place to fully express your brand with content, products, interaction, galleries, resources, contact information, forms and newsletter signups, etc. It should be there place where disparate streams of social media, paid advertising, and organic all unify.

  • Your business Instagram links to your website.
  • Your LinkedIn goes to your website.
  • Your targeted Facebook ads go to your website.
  • Your paid mailers or local flyers list your website.
  • Your business cards list your website.
  • Your email is @ yourwebsite.com.
  • Your email signature points to your website.
  • Your invoices list your website.
  • Your Google Maps local business listing points to your website.
  • Your organic Google search results pages are from your website.

Everything points towards one unified point – your website.

Not only does your website act as your flyer, your storefront, your calling card, your product, signup for your service, for your newsletter, and a way to contact your customer service – but it also helps you pipe prospective buyers into a funnel. As a result, you’ll gain conversions.

Will Anyone Under the Age of 40 Respect my Business if I Don’t Have a Website?

No.

 

 

That’s all, folks! If you’re ready to begin your search for a great web developer to work with, check out my tips for how to find a web developer. Thanks for reading.

 

Web Developer In USA

Is a web developer in the USA is right for you? With the proliferation of inexpensive web developers in some countries, we’ve seen more and more jobs inside the country undercut. Quality US development generally ranges from $100 to $350 per hour, but overseas teams often offer prices as low as $10 per hour or less. On the surface, this can be very attractive! Intricate development work for minimum wage – what could go wrong? While not always the case, sadly these deals often have a tendency to go South. Communication can be a big issue. Timezone difference is another. Some job boards have responded by adding filters that switch between domestic and international talent marketplaces to allow a specific focus.

I often find clients tend come to me after having been burned on extremely cheap international workers, who disappear or cannot complete jobs to satisfaction. You do indeed pay for being cheap when hiring. Worse still, are some of the codebases I’ve inherited from unskilled developers – these can be quite atrocious despite the fact that they are literally the bricks and mortar of your business. Poor-quality code may not be seen from the outside, but can erode the structure and cause further damage over time. Dirty code makes working with it, repairing it, or building on top of it take much much longer than it otherwise would – costing you more in the future.

I always remind people with web development questions that they really do get what they pay for.

At the end of the day it all comes down to preference. I’ve heard people have great experiences and terrible experiences (and everything in between) both domestically and internationally. If you decide that you’d rather pay more for workmanship from the USA, I always recommend looking for great talent within your timezone.

Take a look at Where to Find a Web Developer for some ideas to help get you started in your search. Remember, your web developer is responsible for maintaining your website and keeping it running smooth. Communication and reliability are paramount.

I hope this helped decide if a web developer in USA is right for you! Let me know in the comments below.

How to Find a Web Developer – 3 Tips

I get asked this question all the time: How do I find a web developer? Where should I look? Who should I ask?

I also see far too many people wait too long to fix issues with their websites because they didn’t know who to ask. No more! Today, we’ll highlight a number of ways to find the perfect web developer.

Go Local

When in doubt, often your own city is a great place to start. This helps narrow down the possibilities to an amount you can assess, understand, and make an educated choice from. I suggest Craigslist as the place to scour your local market for experts. Local web contractors and developers-for-hire will often list their skills on your local Craigslist job board, so check and see if someone close is a good match.

Ask Around

Chances are you know someone who already has their own website. You probably even know a few people with websites, and can ask the one with the nicest site where they got it. In-person recommendations are great, because they give you a chance to find out a little bit about what it’s like working with that developer or web design team. Do they return emails and calls promptly? Any chance of getting something fixed on a Sunday? Are they reliable over the long term, or disappear after one project?

All great questions you can ask anyone with a nice website.

Find out Who Developed Your Favorite Website

This one’s great, because it gets you in touch with the developer who built your absolute favorite website. First, look around online at websites that you really like. Pinterest is a great place to start, as are websites in your own niche/industry.

Once you locate the site that resonates the most with you – you need to get in contact with the site owner. Look for a contact page, and shoot them a friendly email, social media message or give a ring. This may take a little persistence as we all know business owners are busy! It will be worth it, though, when you’re able to ask them who built their lovely website and if they’d be so kind as to refer you.

Referrals can be a great win-win-win situation, so be sure to mention who sent you when you do get in contact with your dream web developer – and tell them what you really liked about their work. This will form a great basis for a working relationship with them moving forward.

How to Know if a Web Developer is Any Good

Maybe you’re looking to hire a web developer, but you’re not quite sure how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Or you may already have a web developer but aren’t sure how good they are. I’ve got you covered. Keep reading for my proven tips on how to know if a web developer is any good.

Experience

Let’s face it – programming is hard, and keeping websites running smoothly over long periods of time requires the wisdom of experience. While you may be able to find a developer with 3-5 years experience who can solve one or two of your problems, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to solve all of them and manage your website/server for you. 10 years is better, 15-20 is great. Make sure your developer has a life-long commitment to programming. It’s not a casual career choice. Ideally, they’ll be self-taught from an early age.

Remember, the longer your developer has been in the game, the more situations and techniques they’ll be familiar with. The further they’ll have branched out into related roles. If you can find a developer with graphic design experience who can also configure and manage your web server, run your ad campaigns, manage your projects, SEO, and who focuses on user experience, hang onto them! A programmer is great, but a jack-of-all-trades who can wear all the hats and manage every digital aspect of your business is worth their weight in gold.

Adaptability

A great developer can solve any problem, or find someone who can. They thrive in the unknown and unexpected, and the chance to adapt to any situation is crucial. If your developer or agency’s answer to “can we do this?” is ever “no”, find a new developer. The right answer is always “yes”. This means that they’re ready to adapt to any of your needs, learn new skills, and problem-solve.

Communication

As with any relationship, communication has the power to make or break it – so it’s a facet to pay close attention to.

When working with an agency, you can often be assured that your calls will go answered during business hours, 9-5, M-F. You can also be relatively sure that nobody will answer or help on nights, weekends, or holidays.

Working with a freelancer, they’ll have more flexibility to respond outside of business hours. This comes with the trade-off that they won’t have a backup team to jump in when they’re away. Some people appreciate this flexibility, while others prefer the rigid schedule and reliability of an agency.

Whichever you choose, it’s important that your develop or team is responsive in a timely manner. This is especially important with your urgent issues. Ask your developer if they have a rush delivery charge, and how quickly they can respond, on average, when you send them an URGENT email.Get some assurance they can address these within 24 hours, and other issues within 48-72 hours in general.

Friendliness

Another way to know if a web developer is any good is if they’re friendly! Don’t forget that people skills and a good attitude can be just as important as technical chops. You’ll want to find someone who gets excited about your ideas. Someone who can take your goal and run with it, passionately coming up with creative solutions and rising to challenges. A can-do attitude is crucial here as it can be the difference between almost any idea being possible, and any idea being shot down quickly. Find a friendly, cheerful, optimistic developer with vision and passion. This is a great basis for an amazing long-term relationship.

Where to Find a Web Developer – Secrets Revealed!

Every good website needs a web developer to keep it running smoothly. But where do you find one, and how do you know if they’re any good? Keep reading to learn where to find a web developer and more!

Word of Mouth

This is a fantastic way to find a web developer, because you can ask more about what it’s like working with the prospective developer ahead of time. Find out from your referrer whether the developer is: competent, timely, pleasurable to work with, friendly, and responsive. These are all important qualities that will set them apart from the competition.

You probably already know someone who works with a web developer or an agency team. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues – especially those who own businesses. If their website, logo, or branding are great, find out who they worked with.

One thing to keep in mind here is that you’re going to want a referral from someone with similar business needs to yours.  If you need a simple website and have a modest budget, a referral from someone with 100 locations and a huge eCommerce website is probably not going to put you in touch with a developer who fits the bill for your task. Conversely, if you want someone to maintain your large corporate intranet, a referral from your buddy with a 3-page static website probably isn’t what you need.

When discussing the specifics you’re looking for with a prospective developer, be sure to mention the size and complexity of any existing website you have, as well as your anticipated hourly need per month, and your budget. These will help the prospective developer to determine if you’re the right fit for their skillset and availability.

Find a Site You Like, Trace it to the Developer

This one is often overlooked, but is one of the best ways to connect with a developer whose work you already know you’ll resonate with. As you’re browsing websites you like for motivation, check the footer bar on the sites you like most. Sometimes, a clue as to the developer will be there just waiting to be found. If not, don’t worry! You can always find an email address or phone number on a contact page, and kindly ask the site owners if they’ll refer you to their web developer.

With this approach you can be confident that you’ll love the way your site turns out. It doesn’t guarantee that the developer or team will be easy to work with, however, but you may be able to get this info out of the website owner when they refer you. At a minimum, just ask if they’re easy to work with and responsive. Given more time, have the website owner elaborate on what it’s like to work with their developer.

Good Ol’ Google

Google will always be a great source for finding everything. That said, you’ll want to consider a few things when using Google to search for a web developer to hire.

Generally, the first search results on Google will be larger companies. There’s much more of a chance that a big corporation will show up first in the search results, than your local freelancer. That doesn’t necessarily mean the corporation will provide the better experience, so remember to keep your goals in mind as you browse the results.

Gig Marketplaces (Last Resort!)

Ah, the gig economy. Where to begin…

This includes sites such as Upwork (formerly ODesk / Elance), Guru, TrueLancer.

On these ‘talent boards’ you’ll have to filter through generic replies to your job posts which have been copied and pasted hundreds of times before. There are certainly diamonds to be found, but also a fair share of scams and talentless workers.

Freelancers aren’t really vetted, and can mark ‘expert’ on their profile without any verification. Some freelancers on these marketplaces are known to cut corners at every opportunity possible, so be wary. Know what to look for, and you can still find a good one.

Finally, workers are often undercut by those from countries with a lower cost of living.

I designate these as ‘boards of last resort’, and generally recommend you only hire from them if you’re skilled at discerning various degrees of programmer competency. Stay cautious so  you don’t fall prey to scams on these talent marketplaces, and you can use them to grow temporary teams very quickly.

 

WordPress Too Many Redirects

This can be a frustrating error when your WordPress site never resolves – without even a proper error message, the WordPress too many redirects error is an infinite loop that web browsers can’t handle properly.

Not to worry, though! Below we describe a few common solutions to the infinite redirect issue.

Apache / WordPress URL Mismatch:

The most common cause of the WordPress too many redirects is a mismatch between the URL set in your Apache or .htaccess file, and what’s configured in WordPress as your Site URL.

Example:

  1. .htaccess is set to redirect all site traffic to www.yoursite.com
  2. The browser honors the .htaccess redirect, redirects, and it hits WordPress
  3. WordPress in configured with a site url of yoursite.com (without the www)
  4. User is redirected to yoursite.com by WordPress
  5. Back to Step 1 and repeat.

the cycle is now complete, and continues to infinity (and beyond!) An infinite redirect loop at its finest.

The solution here is simple – make sure that your .htaccess and your WordPress site config URLs both match. If they didn’t, this should resolve the issue.

If it didn’t solve your issue, proceed to the Disable All Plugins solution below.

Let me know in the comment section if this worked for you!

Disable All Plugins: