As a start up business you may be considering creating your website for the 1st time or perhaps you're really doing a website for new branding and products. We've run into many situations that we've watched entrepreneurs be taken advantage of on their websites and we wanted to share some tips and things to consider before you say "yes" to that web designer or salesperson.
One of the biggest things we've seen is web designers that hold a website hostage, what does that mean? That means you do not own your template and in most cases you cannot make major changes to your website. The reason web designers create sites is an old thought pattern where they build a website and put what we call "monkeys" in the background so that you had to hire them, and pay $100 to $150 an hour to make any changes. What that means is they built the website in a way that you have no control on the back panel or if we call it technically the cPanel the only thing you have access to would be making minor changes on the site and posting your blog.
When you're building your website a couple things you need to consider and pay attention to or ask the questions below. If the web designer refuses to answer the questions or skirts around them my suggestion to you is to run away.
Here are the following areas that you want to make sure are set up to be in your favor:
1. Who is hosting the website?
2. Do I own my template and my website?
3. Do I have full access to my cPanel to make any edits to my site I want to?
The answer to each of these items should be as follows:
1. Your hosting is being done at...HostGator, GoDaddy, etc.
2. Yes, you own the template and the website
3. Yes, you have full access to your cPanel and can make any changes on the website
If your web designer tells you it's a good idea not to make changes on your cPanel or to have access to it what they're telling you in plain English is they will have to stay on board and they have control of your website. If someone tells you they will be hosting the website, buyer beware, if they are hosting the website personally there is a strong chance you will have issues with your site and if they do not pay their bill with the same hosting companies mentioned above your site will go down.
The most common website today is done through WordPress, it is one of the easiest to use and edit for you the end-user. The WordPress website once it is built this not require the knowledge of HTML coding if it is built properly. If your web designer tells you, "it is better if I make changes to your website since you're not aware of HTML coding", again run away. This means they put too many "monkeys" in the background and you do not have control of your site.
We talk about control of your site it does not mean that you will be doing edits to it, in most cases you will hire a support team to help you do edits and additions to your website. The key is as an entrepreneur you should know how to use every tool in your business even if you're not the one doing it.
The other thing to be sure of with the word press website, your SEO is built-in to word press it just needs to be activated. Recently a client came to us whose website had the SEO on the site however, it was just not activated therefore their site was not searchable on Google. If someone tries to sell you a $10,000 SEO package buyer beware, because the nice part about word press again the SEO is built into the program.
You also want to be careful how many plug-ins you use on a WordPress website, if a plug-in goes down because it's no longer sponsored or supported by the creator it will cause issues on your website. Keep in mind although a WordPress website seems or appears to be a website it is actually a blog pretending to be a website. This is not a bad thing, it actually helps the function very well and make changes to the website and enhancements fairly simple to do. The key to understanding WordPress is knowing some of the things you see on other websites may not be doable on a WordPress site without extensive coding done via web designer. This is not to discourage you from using WordPress, I personally have 3 websites built on WordPress it is just about making you aware of things that you need to know.
Keep in mind as well free templates for WordPress are known to have issues, cheaper is not always better. My suggestion to you is to find a template you like on sites like Theme Forest or Envato. Also keep in mind they are "templates" and there are some restrictions to what can be done.
Overall, creating a WordPress website is one of the best ways to market your business online and even take it international if that is on your business plan. Just be sure you are aware of the issues, ask the questions and be involved in every step of the website. Have fun creating it and enjoy the process.