One of the core questions most small to medium-sized businesses need to consider, especially when they’re just getting started, is how much of their limited budget they should allocate for web design. Investing in your online presence is an important consideration. No modern business should be without a website.

Many businesses opt for one of two extremes. They spend nothing and attempt to design and build out the website themselves, get a friend or family member to do it, or opt for one of the free website-and-hosting packages. Or, they pull out all the stops and invest thousands in a unique, professional web design with every fancy functionality imaginable. In most cases, neither of these extremes is satisfactory.

In the first case, the result is usually an amateurish web design that’s off-putting for visitors. A free web package can also undermine your professional image and marketing messages, because most carry their own advertising. Not to mention, that if you run any sort of business online you need to be discovered through search engines, and a unique, privately owned domain name is a must. In the second case, your small to medium-sized enterprise probably doesn’t need the level of customization the multiple thousands you spend on a sleek, tailor made design gives you, and won’t translate into more site visits or sales.

How much of your start-up budget you allocate to your web design and hosting depends on your overall financing, your target market, your competitors, and your business plan. But more important than how much you have to spend may be how you spend it.

What’s the target audience for your website? Do you need it to attract traffic via search engines, or do you have a mainly offline marketing program which will direct clients and customers to your site for information or to sign up to a service? If the former, you’ll need a responsive web design to make it mobile-friendly and dynamic pages so you can run a blog for your content marketing strategy. If the latter, a static “brochure” style design may be all you need.

Will you trade directly on the website or is it just for informational purposes? In the first instance, you’ll need a web design that’s capable of internal search and cataloging inventory, and you’ll need a secure payment and order tracking system built in. Otherwise, a much simpler design with information pages and a simple menus bar should be enough.

If you’re running a business, your online presence should be as professional as possible. So, it’s worth investing in a domain name and hosting. Setting up with a platform like WordPress and then adding a premium theme may be a good compromise between a self-build and a custom build. If your aim is pure e-commerce, using Shopify or Magneto could be the solution. Each business is different, but a good rule of thumb is to plan ahead, analyze what you want your website to do, and tailor your spend accordingly.


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