Each and every week a large number of new businesses are registered in Ireland. While many will operate from premises, a large number of these new businesses will operate either solely online or through multiple channels such as retail, social media, ebay or amazon shops, mobile devices and a website.
If you’re having a website built for you it can be difficult to appreciate the jargon or compare the prices, so here’s our guide to ten things you should consider before you buy a website or ecommerce solution.
1. Your Brand – company name, logo, brand colours, tag lines, personality, domain name. Just some of the elements of your company’s brand. Ideally you want a memorable brand name with company and domain name representing what your business is about, but have you considered how it will look as well as sound? Do you have a vision of what it should look like? If you don’t, we strongly advise you start looking around and putting your thoughts together now. Many web companies may offer you this service too but you are not obliged to buy your logo and website from the same place, so you can shop around.
2. Your Business – will you be selling through your website, or if you’re offering a service maybe you plan only to offer information? Sites with full ecommerce functionality should cost more than sites offering information only, but if you plan to sell via other web channels such as ebay or amazon, or direct from a warehouse or through a retail premises consider the complete package now as you can purchase an all-inclusive option that integrates with your stock control and back office or accounting package too. If you plan on providing company or service information only, remember that you’ll need to manage this data too as it should be updated on a regular basis for the purpose of customers and search engines.
3. Your Resources – can you manage it in-house? You won’t need the skills of a developer to manage most small business websites, but you will need to have the human resources or time to update it, particularly if you include a blog (we recommend WordPress). An effective website will never remain static, those that are created and remain untouched after the final payment has been made are not good for business.
4. Your Supplier – have they created a website before? Yes, this might seem a little odd but we have recently come across a situation where a customer was offered a site by a company who said they’d have a go if the customer could find out where to get a domain name and hosting themselves!! Your potential supplier may not have an extensive range of their own sites to review – particularly as there are a large number of start-ups in Ireland with great experience gained in previous roles as an employee. Your supplier should however be able to display what they can do and that they understand that a website is more than just a pretty shop window on the web.
5. Your Content – whether you as a business write the content, or your web company provides a copywriting service to you it is ultimately your content and you should have a big involvement in its creation. Experienced copywriters will write for both the customer and the search engines such as google, yahoo or bing, but your input is crucial as nobody knows your business like you do – or your style of communication. If you aren’t asked to provide or contribute to the words for your site, do you really think you’ll have the desired end result?
6. Your Imagery – it’s all very well to have fantastic images for your website, but do you have permission to use them? Copyright can be a tricky area, particularly online, but as a guide you can’t select images you like from other websites or from google without permission. Permission from the photographer or designer who created the image in the first place, or indeed the brand that paid them to do so. Infringing on somebody’s copyright can be a costly affair with fines and legal charges potentially running into the thousands but you can avoid this by purchasing high quality images from a reputable stock photo supplier from less than €1 per image.
7. Your Budget – rates for websites vary dramatically making comparisons between suppliers tricky. We don’t advise booking a website by appointment online, or agreeing on a good price without seeing the detail. You’re building a website, an investment in your business and ideally you shouldn’t need to replace it before the company really takes off. We recommend that you ask for the detail – what you will get, the process, delivery time, training, whether you will be able to manage it in the future – in advance of paying a deposit. You should also take into account whether there is a future maintenance charge, or whether your supplier is providing the hosting – hosting varies enormously with reputable companies selling quality services from as little as €50 per year which is more than adequate for most small business websites and others charging over €500!
8. Your Future – you may not plan to run a facebook page or an emarketing campaign from day one, but what about in a couple of months or a years time once you’re up and running and have generated a customer base? Does your website offer the option to integrate social media or email sign-up forms at a future date or will there be a significant cost if you need to make a change? Once the site is completed all login details or access codes should be made available. Where a domain has been purchased on behalf of a client it should be registered in the name of the business owner and never the web company.
9. Your Requirements – bells and whistles are all very good, but if you’ve thought properly about what you want you’ll be in a much clearer position to buy what you want and need only. Added extras are nice, so a custom designed email template or facebook page are great if they form part of your strategy, but a waste of money if they’re not – at this point in time anyway. You want a site that sells your business, is manageable, looks professional and is good for google too.
10. The Jargon – SEO, PPC, Adwords, Search Engines, Analytics, Social Media, Platforms, Blogs, WordPress… All familiar terms to your web designer but just as you’re an expert in your field, they’re the expert in theirs. Don’t be blinded by terminology, ask for an explanation if you don’t understand and if you’re promised a quick trip to number one on google that seems to good to be true, it most probably is!
At The Marketing Shop we offer a range of WordPress sites, our preferred choice of software for building the perfect small business website that can be customised to suit and managed effectively to deliver long term results for your company.
We also work with a partner company who provide an all-inclusive retail solution which caters for multiple channels such as websites, ebay and amazon shops, retail outlets, multiple locations and warehouses with integrated real-time stock control, back office functions and even a loyalty programme. And, they’ve supplied a top quality service across the UK and Ireland since 1995, so as a team we know a thing or two about retail and the web.
We offer a free no obligations consultation to all clients, so if you’d like to have a chat, make sure to contact us to arrange an appointment now.