Is There a Perfect Website for Everyone?
It goes without saying that not all websites are the same. Especially if you think beyond just content or look and feel. Every website is built/maintained differently, may have different features/functionality and may provide different advantages/disadvantages.
You may or may not be allowed to do certain things on different websites. Most of those restrictions might not be important to other people, but what if they are important to you?
Bottom line: not all users value the same things in a website. You can do all kinds of research and talk to everyone you know, but until you really understand what you need from a website and what a website is technologically capable of doing, chances are, you are setting yourself (and your website provider) up for failure.
These questions are critical for you to know the answers to before you shop for a website. We ask these questions for our simple $7,000 websites all the way to our $100,000+ mulit-year projects. And these questions also apply to a $20/month website.
Save yourself a lot of heartache and headaches – please take a minute to review this list:
Why do you want a website?
No, really – why?
What is your goal when the customer leaves your site?
Signed up for mailing list, purchased what they need, read a blog post etc…
How regularly do YOU plan to update web content?
If you don't plan to make updates, you have to pay someone to do it for you or risk losing vistors' interest with old content. SEO is limited by the freshness and value of your content.
If you had to summarize your business niche in 3 sentences or less, how would you describe it?
You should know your audience and how you matter to them so you choose a site that will meet their needs.
Where do you expect your visitors to come from?
If you aren't actively driving traffic to your website, you will need to pay someone else to do it.
Do you plan to send out mass emails?
MLM marketing emails are currently banned by many US companies – do you have a backup plan?
Do plan to sell anything from your website?
Not all websites are capable of selling and this criteria can easily narrow your providers.
Here are some honest truths you should keep in mind when shopping for a website provider:
No replicated/duplicated website can magically create customers for you. Regardless of what a provider may tell you, a replicated site without intervention from you or the provider will not organically get you customers. A more realistic expectation is that when you send prospects to your site, they can easily get more information or sign up for something. A website is a powerful tool to help you grow your business. While a website can make your job much easier, it is not a replacement for doing the actual work needed to be successful.
Personal accountability is key. Educate yourself about your needs and what each provider can realistically provide. Be honest with yourself, if you aren't interested in doing what it takes to increase your SEO rankings, then don't be surprised when you aren't at the top of Google search results. If you want a personalized website but don't want to put in the time to learn how to do it, don't blame your provider or the product.
Your personal taste doesn't matter. Your website is for your customers, not you. Many replicated websites are designed by professional developers with clear call to actions and using content/styling that is easy for your users to navigate and understand. Web designs evolve constantly, so unless you are staying up-to-date on the latest trends, better to defer to the professionals.
You get what you pay for. If you are paying $20 – $100+/month for your website, it is not reasonable to expect free realtime or phone support. Web developers are professionals and have educated themselves to be able to provide you a very specialized service. Like other professionals, you won't get to talk to good ones for free on a regular basis.
Customer reviews are important but… As we started out the blog, it is important to remember that different people value different features in a website. I have seen extremely harsh reviews of competitor websites that were full of technical inaccuracies and unrealistic expectations that unfairly persuaded prospects from using that service. Do your own homework and spend the time to understand why you want a website.