Building a Website: Should Your Business Go It Alone?

Creating a website is within the financial means of virtually any organization.

First, a company can reserve an available domain – the web address (www.examplecompany.com) – for less than $10 a year.

Second, the business can purchase a hosting plan from Verizon, Blue Host, Go Daddy, 1and1 Internet and countless other providers.  Plans are available for as little as $5 a month and typically include free use of existing web templates, ecommerce and blogging tools, contact forms, traffic analytics and the ability to set up hundreds of email addresses under a company’s domain (for example, john.doe@examplecompany.com).

There are also free blogging platforms such as WordPress, which now offer a diverse set of features and more flexibility than many of the templates offered under the hosting plans.  Many hosts such as Blue Host and 1and1 Internet allow for easy installation of WordPress software.

In short, for a small monetary investment, a business can plant its flag on the web without the assistance of a professional web designer.   WordPress and other platforms have Content Management Systems (CMS) that enable non-techies to update and edit text, images, video and audio at will, without having to rely on the availability of a webmaster.

But should your business go it alone? Here are some things to consider before making that decision:

  • Opportunity costs:   Are the low upfront fees worth the many additional in-house staff hours required to research and set up the site, as well as manage technical and design issues that will inevitably crop up with even the simplest plug-and-play hosting service?  Each hosting platform and template builder, although created for the non-developer/programmer, involves a learning curve.  How adeptly will you and your staff pick up on the technology?
  • What types of functionality should the site have – and will it cost extra?
  • How much bandwidth and storage capacity will the site require and are there additional fees involved?
  • How should the site be optimized so search engines will rank them high in search results (Search Engine Optimization)?
  • How is the site prepared to deal with malware and other security issues?

Before delving into these technical considerations, a business needs a marketing strategy for its site.  What purpose will the site serve?  Who is the target audience? What key messages should it convey?

Developing a website marketing strategy will be the topic of an upcoming post.

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