How can a website add value to my business? Is saving money on a cheap website a good idea? Why are some websites cheaper than others? Do you need a web designer who understands your business?
A cheap website might not be the answer
It’s common knowledge these days that a basic website can be built quite cheaply. But is saving money on something which is crucial to business success always a good thing? If a cheap and cheerful
off the shelf website is all you need, then you’ll be pleased with the savings you can make. But for most business there is more to it... much more.
To begin with, I don’t see myself as building websites for my clients. That might sound strange, but the
users of these websites are my client’s clients. Therefore understanding who that my client's target audience is should be the focus.
- Who are their customers?
- Where are they?
- How can we reach them?
- What will their customer want from their website if we can manage to get them to visit it?
Different websites, different needs, different approaches
Of course the purpose of two websites could be very different. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
A website for a racing driver
A racing driver's website is likely to be very visual, stylish, and include a biography, a gallery, news about race results or upcoming race meetings, a list of sponsors with logos and links to their respective websites, and maybe feeds from Twitter or Instagram to keep fans informed.
Whether the driver lives in England, Scotland, Wales or overseas is not relevant, and so competition amongst other websites in search engine results is not really an issue. For example a search for
Jake Hill racing driver will find his website with very little effort.
A website for a plumber
By contrast a website for a plumber will need to provide information about services offered, and where the plumber operates. Information about experience, qualifications, insurances, membership of professional bodies, etc., would provide reassurance that the plumber is reputable, and a portfolio of work would help show the quality that a potential customer could expect.
In addition, the competition in search engine results can be pretty high for a plumber, and so quite a bit of effort will be need to get their website in front of potential customers. By using phrases within the website’s content such as
plumber in Bedford or
boiler installation in Derby would be taking steps in right direction, but that’s just the start, and besides the actual website itself, additional effort to register their business, services and website with Google my Business would be worthwhile too.
Listen, Understand, Build and Deliver
Let's look at a real example...
I have a client, Ian, who gets in his van each morning and goes to repair cars.
His line of work includes bodywork repairs, bumper scuffs, alloy wheel refurbishments, and car upholstery repairs. He doesn’t change clutches, fuel pumps, brakes or fix suspension problems.
Many of his clients are in and around the Spalding area of south Lincolnshire. Ian would also like to reach out to potential clients in Moulton, Holbeach, Deeping, Crowland, Whaplode, Bourne and Boston (that’s Boston in Lincolnshire, not Massachusetts!)
True, these places fall into the
Spalding area of south Lincolnshire but it doesn’t help his marketing efforts to rely on one page do it all. A bit more effort is needed.
So let’s understand how Ian can attract as many relevant customers as possible.
A one page website fits all - wrong!
Many websites these days, especially those produced on the cheap, consist of just one page. The page may be quite long and provide information about the business, what they do, where they operate, and how to get in touch. But this
catch all approach is unlikely to make the website stand out significantly enough to feature high enough in search engine results to make it worthwhile.
So it could be argued that the money spent on that website, however much or however little that is, has not been put to good use. Worse still, if attracting new customers via a website is critical to business success, the problem is going to be greater than spending or saving a few £100 on an ineffective website.
Anyway, back to Ian.
If I was to publish his website as a single page as a
car repairer in Spalding that would be correct because Ian does repair cars, but it wouldn’t be targeting anyone specifically. It wouldn’t be relevant enough to compete in search engine results against other web pages promoting
gearbox replacement in Spalding or
suspension repairs in south Lincolnshire
But although these searches are for car repairs in the right area, they’re not Ian’s target customers anyway. Therefore we need to look at communicating specific services in specific locations.
Let’s looks at his business again. The services he provides include fixing bodywork damage, bumper scuff repairs, stone chips repairs, alloy wheel refurbishments, and car upholstery repairs. In fact he has recently added plastic welding for dashboard repairs to his portfolio.
Ian is also mobile... he travels to the customer instead of them coming to him.
The towns and villages he typically works in include Spalding, Moulton, Holbeach, Deeping, Crowland, Whaplode, Bourne and Boston.
So instead of a single catch-all page which is unlikely to attract much business, Ian’s website needs to aim to be as effective as possible for searches such as
alloy wheel refurbishments in Holbeach
bumper scuff repairs in Crowland and
mobile car body repairer in Spalding
But hold on a minute. I have listed 8 towns or villages, and 6 different services. Am I suggesting that a separate page for each service and town combination should be produced? 48 pages?
Why not if the time and budget is there, but it would be more sensible to prioritise those combinations which stand a chance of bringing in the most return for any investment in cost and effort.
By the way, having a lot of landing pages besides those pages which are typically visited during the customer journey is not unusual. They can often run into the 1000's.
By working with a web designer who is prepared to listen to you to get a better understanding of your business, offer advice to help you target to the right customers, and who is prepared to put in the effort to make it happen without being excessively costly, you’ll be taking the right approach.
This is where
adding value comes in, and why there will always be reasons for professional web designers and web agencies to remain professional and avoid a price race to the bottom, where there is an unhealthy and unsustainable spiral of everyone trying to be cheaper than everyone else.
As a web designer, adding value is the objective. Producing cheap, slow and ineffective websites is not adding value, but you have plenty of choices out there.
Good luck, and if you feel I can help, mail me or give me a call.
About the author: Daron Harvey started building websites and working on SEO back in 1996. From 2000 spent 20 years in eCommerce, project managing and maintaining global multi-lingual websites. Subsequently founded Targa Web Design, specialising in website design, UX and SEO.