Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Nothing is more frustrating than getting a developer to build you an amazing site, that you and your team can't use... That's why I want to clarify if you need a developer or not, what types of sites require more knowledge, and what you should consider regardless of if you're using a developer or web designer or not.
There are 3 types of websites I will cover here
Selling physical products
Selling services/blogging (and looking to make income from it)
Providing information on your company (for example: a store or service provider that only offers products or services in store)
Do you need a developer?
Depends on the complexity of your products. If you're selling prints or custom jewellery in smaller quantities, it's just as easy to set-up a site on your own with Wix, Shopify, or even use a WordPress site. Wix is likely the easiest to set-up, but offers a few complexities when it comes to mobile usage and overall performance. WordPress is great but is far more complex, and unless you have someone who knows a bit about it or you have loads of free-time, it's likely easier to get a web designer or developer to set you up. However, make sure you get a contract stating you own all the site contents, the site itself, and that you'll be given full access to the site including backups within a specified time frame from the request.
If your website is your key source of income, use a developer/web designer. Make sure they are reputable and try to go through their other sites before hiring them. Asking for references is incredibly important too, as many "designers" will provide a mediocre site that doesn't get you any closer to your goals, but costs you valuable time and loads of money. Ensure you reiterate that it's important you can access the site and update any user facing information or images, while still having access to the back-end or builder portion of the site. This ensures no crazy costs for updating a photo or fixing a typo.
If you plan on offering products
The most important thing to remember is that this is usually a site that is regularly updated and changed. If you're paying for a developer to do these update/changes, you're monthly costs are going to skyrocket. Alternatively, the site needs to be easy for inexperienced users to manage. This is why choosing a reputable developer/designer is so important if you're not building it yourself.
Before moving ahead with your site build, find out what customers want to know about the products and ensure you or your developer can add those options to the store pages and each product card. Some examples of the most common details
Cost (including quantity breaks, price variants, shipping options, etc.)
details (size, quantity, etc.)
filtering and search bar options (colour, size, brand, etc.)
Once you have the site needs figured out, make a list of those needs and start getting quotes and references from designers/developers. If you want to determine the max cost, consider your current sales, your market size, and how much of that market you can control. Allow for 3 months of minimal sales, and then take your net income from those expected sales and compare them to the cost of the site (the initial design costs, maintenance costs, hosting costs, etc.). This should give you a rough estimate of what you can afford to pay for a website.
If you plan on offering services or earning income from blogging
Find out what your target customer is looking for, and build it yourself. A free site won't allow you to add Google Ads which are a great way to monetize your site, but free will also limit your ability to customize as you go. Additionally there are a ton of apps ready to help you monetize a service based site, which means you really just need to learn a bit about how to manage your own site. For example, this site (bluetines.com)? It's built on Wix. I've also built prairielandhuntress.com on Wordpress. The costs are nearly identical (with Wordpress + Bluehost being marginally less expensive) but huge differences in the ease to build and manage the site.
If you're using your site as a means of sharing your contact info or info on your company
Unfortunately, many people have been swayed into thinking they need an expensive, complex site to serve this purpose. The truth is, most places you purchase your domain (from places like GoDaddy) offer site builders that do the job just fine. Even Google will give you a free site under your Google My Business account. If your site simply has some photos, contact info, and maybe a few documents, do it yourself, or find someone you trust to set it up for you. It's really no more complicated than setting up a Facebook profile. Alternatively, if you want a site like this done quickly, contact us and we'll get you set up in a few days (depending on your needs).
In the end, it really depends on what you need and how much time you have. If you need help figuring out your needs, contact us to get a consultation and figure out what the best option is for your business.
About the Author
Emily Gust | B.B.A.
I'm the brains behind Bluetines, a dream of mine since I was 11 years old. I'm passionate about efficiency, effectiveness, but most of all loving what you do!