Hiring someone to build or promote your website costs considerably more than building it yourself, but it can be a good way to quickly get your site online and start doing business, especially if the site you intend to build is relatively complex or you need to implement an e-commerce solution. Obviously, if you decide to hire a custom website designer, then you will want to make sure the website designer specializes in the skills you require. That means learning to ask the right kinds of questions – both of yourself and your candidates.
There are three primary types of small business website designers and developers:
Custom Website Designer – These are typically individuals with a great deal of creative talent who specialize in the look and feel of your website. Custom Website Designers will typically focus on user interface issues, but will not venture much past the HTML of the site. Most designers will not do heavy programming or get involved in business processes or e-commerce. You can typically find good website designers for small business in the $25 - $40 per hour range. A typical small business website may cost somewhere between $2500 and $5000 to design, and you will be responsible for writing the site’s content.
Web Developer – These folks are typically more expensive than website designers and may or may not be able to assist you in the user interface design or “look and feel” of your website. They focus primarily on the programming and development of more complex websites and web-based applications. You will want to bring in a developer if your site requires building a custom database, you plan to have some sort of specialized functionality that you can’t purchase off the shelf from your web hosting company, or you need to implement an e-commerce solution, and you don’t feel comfortable with doing it yourself. Custom Web Developers will charge between $35 and $100 per hour depending on the type of service you require and how large the project is. A very basic e-commerce site will cost at least $10,000, with more complex sites running much higher..
Search Engine Optimization Specialist – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing are both hot markets right now with lots of snake oil salesmen who would love to take your money. A good Search Engine Optimization specialist will be able to show you examples of sites that he or she has optimized, and demonstrate how that optimization has led to increased traffic and sales for their clients. You can expect to pay monthly retainers between $500 and $2500 for a competent SEO. Those that charge less are probably not giving your business enough attention. With SEO the true test of ability is results. You should start to see improvements in your site’s positioning within 90 days of bringing on a Search Engine Optimization expert. It isn’t good enough to be “ranked” on some particular term, you are hiring these people to bring in qualified traffic.
So, depending on the type of website you are putting together, and what sort of help you think you’ll need, you may work with several different types of consultants. The most important thing is to try to identify your needs up front and plan the site as thoroughly as possible. Believe me, web developers and designers make a lot of money off of entrepreneurs who do not plan out their sites well enough in advance. The changes and redesigns can quickly add up to quite a bit more than what the sites would have cost if they had been planned out correctly from the beginning.
If you feel that hiring a custom website designer is not your cup of tea, and you want to try to do it yourself for less money, take a look at our section on “How To Build A Website”. You can do it yourself; you just have to take it one step at a time.
If you don’t know any “techies” to help you build your website, you can find one at www.elanceonline.com. This site allows you to post a job and have qualified professionals “bid” on it. You can also browse through service providers that have posted portfolios online and select a vendor based on their past work. Either way, this site provides an efficient way to put you in touch with qualified technical resources without undue effort on your part.
In any case, you will want to make sure you have a detailed scope of work agreement and contract in place before you start working with a developer. There is nothing more frustrating for either you or your designer than to have a miscommunication about what exactly you expect to receive and how much your developer expects to get paid. Make sure you get it all in writing!
In conclusion, you should hire a Custom Web Designer or Developer if you feel that you are too busy or not capable of creating a quality site yourself. There are three types of site developers: Custom Website Designers, Web Developers, and Search Engine Optimization/Marketing Experts. If you do not have technical contacts to do the work, you can find qualified professionals here: www.elanceonline.com. You should make sure you have your ideas organized about your website, and you should make sure you get a contract with a detailed scope of work signed by your consultant before work begins on your site.
Mr. Coers specializes in helping entrepreneurs build effective web businesses. His website, www.profitchoice.com contains useful articles and "how-to" guides to help organizations build their brands and sell more effectively.