As a business, owner, you’re constantly looking for ways to reduce expenses. Doing a lot with a little is, after all, the key to running a profitable small business.
As a result, it can be tempting to forgo professional web design studios in favor of cheaper options, like outsourcing on a freelancer site, or a family member who’s taking a class. A website’s just a website, right?
Unfortunately, the reality is that when you cut corners on your website, you usually end up paying for it down the line. Poorly designed websites don’t deliver results, can leave you open to cyberattacks, and are such a headache to work with that you may end up losing money for your business. Here’s why.
Hidden Cost #1: Poor Website Security
Having your business’s website get hacked may sound like an improbable CSI fever dream, but it’s a very real threat that happens to thousands of small business owners. Hackers are always on the lookout for something to exploit, and once they’re in charge, the damage — whether being taken offline, losing sensitive information, or even having your website held for ransom — can be immeasurable.
In order to offer lower prices, some web developers may opt for cheap hosting on insecure servers, fail to keep software or plugins up to date, or even skip out on getting an SSL certificate and implementing HTTPS, which protects your customers from having their information hijacked.
This last probability is especially bad, because Google actively penalizes and warns visitors against using non-HTTPS sites. Make no mistake, without proper security in place, your traffic and online reputation will suffer.
Hidden Cost #2: Unreliable Website Performance
Cheap developers go for cheap solutions, and that can result in unstable plugins, designs that don’t reformat for mobile devices, or architecture that makes updating your site a headache. An unstable website can consume hours of your time -- and it’ll be your time, because a cheap developer probably isn’t interested in offering periodic maintenance.
When you work with an experienced web developer, though, everything will be designed for ease-of-use and adaptability, your software will always be up-to-date, and bugs will be zapped before they can wreck your users’ experience. You won’t have to constantly fret about your site, and that means it isn’t draining energy away from actually running your business.
Hidden Cost #3: Making a Bad First Impression
Looks make an important first impression. If a site is a little dated, or a little amateur-looking, it reflects badly on your business, and can bounce visitors back to a page of search results in a matter of seconds.
Fortunately, some website builders offer slick templates that’ll help you put your best face forward, but the tradeoff is they can feel generic, or might even be recognizable as a canned design.
A good web developer, however, will be able to create an awesome, customized look for your business and, if you ask, may even help develop your brand so you have a unique visual identity to bring into other marketing.
Hidden Cost #4: Missed Leads for Your Business
What’s the point of paying for a site if it doesn’t do anything, anyway?
The most important element of web design is implementing thoughtful construction and conversion strategies to drive traffic to your page and turn that traffic into customers. A good website, in fact, pays for itself by getting you business and opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise.
But for a web developer, getting to understand your business and fine-tuning the pipeline takes time, time a cheaper developer probably can’t afford. They’ll drop everything onto a stock home page without a second thought, and you’ll never see a single sale because of it. You might have well just burned that $500.
But even with good design, just having a website isn’t good enough. To really produce benefits for your business, you need a solid lead-generation strategy.
You probably know this, but as a recap -- a lead generation strategy (also known as a conversion strategy) is basically a marketing pipeline that “converts” web visitors to leads, customers, and finally word-of-mouth promoters. A solid conversion strategy can drive enormous growth, even doubling or tripling the size of your business.
A good web developer will spend a healthy amount of time designing a lead generation strategy for your site, and will set up analytics tools so you can troubleshoot problems. They may even track your website’s statistics for a bit so they can fine-tune the process themselves. And you simply may not have the time or expertise to do that yourself.
Hidden Cost #5: Lost Time
No matter how well-designed a website builder is, you’re going to have to spend significant time learning how to use it, even before you start creating your site. Not only will this get in the way of actually running your business, but -- let’s be honest -- will probably mean your site will take a lot longer to launch.
A common mistake, even among professionals, is to underestimate how much time a website will take. For a beginner, a good rule of thumb is to take your best guess and multiply by four. Do you really have that time to spare?
What you could do in 5 or 10 hours of your time, however, an experienced web developer can do in 1 of theirs -- and that’s a huge difference when it comes to getting momentum behind your business’ growth.
Investing in your website means that you are investing in your business.
A cheap developer has to cut corners, and that means leaving out the design and strategy elements we just talked about, basically rendering the site useless for your bottom line. Worse, they may have to skimp on website essentials like SSL security, leaving you vulnerable to hacking and garnering penalization from Google. And they certainly won’t be around to provide support if anything goes wrong.
Building a website is like buying a car: if you buy the cheapest you can find, you get junk. If you invest in a good-quality vehicle, however, you’ll be able to rely on that vehicle for years, and go places you could never have gotten on foot. Which do you think is the better deal?