Apple iPhone 5C

Apple iPhone 5C, which started at $590

Posh. You can afford a telephone line, right? A cell phone? A vacation once or maybe several times a year? It’s a matter of priorities.

You can install a web site very economically. Most web designers won’t tell you this, but if you’re at all computerish, you can have a simple web site up within a few hours.

Now it may not be fancy, but it can be tasteful and appropriate for your business. And the process of setting one up might help you prepare answers to marketing questions from web designers later down the line.

Mind you, your homemade web site will not be effective. I mean, I don’t know anything about plumbing. How could you know anything about web sites other than you look at them in the evening?

If you’re in business, you DO need a web site. Just like once we all HAD to be in the Yellow Pages if we wanted to be found.

Whether you’re a plumber or a landscaper, a web site often reassures potential customers that you’re “for real.” A web site can also explain how you do business, and it certainly can earn you customers if it’s well designed.

What about Mc-web sites? The web sites that cater to specific businesses — you know the ones. They do all of the plumbing web sites, or all of the homebuilder web sites. These web sites all look the same.

I can’t afford web site design

If you want to look like everyone else, then go for it. And I don’t mean that derogatorily. You might well want to conform to a certain look and feel.

Otherwise, here’s what I recommend if you have a few hundred dollars or less and you need a web site designed:

1. Get your own URL. Don’t go with plumbing.com/williamsburg_va/your_business. For one thing, if you’re on someone else’s web site, you won’t be able to show up well in search engine results. You might not be able to control your own file names, and that can be important.

You can get a one-year license for a URL for 8 to 12 dollars a year. It’s well worth it. Also, I advise against otherwise great services such as Wix.com for the same reason. Your site, SEO-wise, can’t compete. Plus, Wix, although it has changed in 2014 and 2015 to include responsive web sites) is Flash-based or at the very least formulaic. Flash-based means that your site will struggle (read: fail) to compete in search engine results. (And I’ve read plenty of accounts of frustrated users who expected more of SEO, but I do think that Wix is perfect for many users.)

Plus, you’re not allowed to design your site on Wix and take it to another server. I should also say that Wix is brilliant! One day all web design will be this easy. I’m just saying that if you’re a company that might depend on search engine results for business, this is definitely not the place to go.

2. Find a good host. I use bluehost.com. They’re reasonable and super-responsive. If hosting your own site frightens you, consider asking a web design company (ahem) to set it up or manage it for you.

3. Create your web site with blogging software such as WordPress.com. Wordpress is a CMS (content management system) that’s fairly easy for most users to master.

You install it (or gave it installed) on your web site, and then make it look the way you want. I recommend WordPress for ease of use and flexibility, but don’t overlook security issues. WordPress requires some pretty high security because of its popularity.

You can make a very clean and elegant presentation using WordPress, and you can do it with absolutely no HTML skills. You can even start out hosting your WordPress site for free on WordPress, and it won’t hurt your search engine marketability. But doing so will limit some control you might like over your web site (such as adding forms, and other web doodads).

If you do decide to go with WordPress for your first website attempt, try one of these:

There are other trustworthy web vendors. Just know that if you buy from a factory web vendor such as Template Monster, the designs and capabilities are all over the place. You will be frustrated.

By all means, I don’t intend for you to STAY with this little site you’ve started. I expect you to grow it, tend it, and make it work.

And then, when you realize that your web site isn’t doing as much for you as you thought it could, call me. My number is all over the place on this web site.

Otherwise … keep in mind that there’s one truism that really is true: Stagnant web sites will not be found.

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"But I can't afford web site design"

by susan time to read: 3 min
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