Websites and Online Marketing for South Australian Businesses
Frequently Asked Questions
Fiona is the digital marketing advisor with several local councils in South Australia. From these sessions she has met over 300 businesses and looked at their websites. In addition to our own clients and direct enquiries from businesses seeking quotes, these advisory sessions have given us insight into hundreds of websites currently on the market. This is our bread and butter. This is what we do every day.
We’ve met business owners who have:
- Built their own website using Wix or a similar platform
- Built their own website using WordPress
- Had a friend develop a website for them
- Had their website developed by a freelancer
- Had a website developed by a local professional website developer
The answers below are a true and accurate picture of what we see in our everyday work life as website developers. We’re not making them up in hope to convince you to have your site built with us (although we’d love that to be your choice), but to give you an honest appraisal of the likely outcome from the choice you make.
Do I need a website?
- Your activity is a hobby, not a business
- Your business is a side-hustle
- You don’t need to be seen as a professional operator in your industry
- Your activity doesn’t need to be seen as a serious contender
- You don’t need to attract any more clients
But why are you here?
Chances are you’re reading this because you’ve recognised your business or organisation needs a website. And most likely it does.
I have a Facebook page, so therefore I don’t need a website, do I?
Facebook and other social media channels are great promotional channels for many businesses. People get to hear about your business as you share posts about the services you provide and products you sell.
How-ever posts get buried as time passes. If a customer visits your Facebook page they will probably only see a snapshot of who you are and what you offer. If they are seeking specific or detailed information they may not find it.
With a website your customers learn about your business as they pro-actively browse your products and services. They’re at your website to find information and can expect to see this in an easy to navigate format. They’re more in control of what they choose to read. They get to see the whole picture, not just a part of it.
Why have a GOOD website?
Many start-ups and sole traders have a limited budget, low computer literacy or are inexperienced website designers. During advisory sessions Fiona has met many such business owners who over-estimate the empathy clients will have for their lack of money, computer know-how or design skills. They often feel that customers will feel sorry for them as they are a small start-up business, and this empathy will translate to them forgiving them for having an unfinished or unprofessional website, or no website at all.
Potential clients don’t care about the back story as to why a website looks bad. They just see it as an unprofessional looking website and therefore it has every potential of having the effect of making you, and your business, look like you don’t care and/or you’re not very good at what you do.
People want to be confident their purchase, or decision, is in safe hands. People want to be able to trust you and your business.
A website is one of the easiest, and cheapest ways of making your business look professional. You’ll want a great looking website if you:
- want to land a big deal with a key stakeholder
- generate business through referral or word-of-mouth
- have a long lead time between a client thinking about making a purchase to actually making that purchase
- provide an urgent service
- provide an impulse or discretionary buy
- sell products
People research the businesses they want to do business with online. That’s how it works.
Your website is your storefront window is.
Your website is the painted sign on your building.
How good do you look online to attract new customers and confirm to those customers who were thinking about you that you are the right choice?
I can build my own website and it would be a lot cheaper. Why shouldn’t I do this?
Tools are available for you to build your own website. Wix is a popular do-it-yourself platform. There are others.
Here’s the stats based on the many DIY websites we have seen and worked on:
1 in 10 are great websites
2 in 10 are ok websites with a few strange quirks
5 in 10 have poor design and poor navigation
2 in 10 are really bad websites
Where your website will rank, if you do-it-yourself?
It usually depends on your:
- Computer and technical skills
- Ability to identify and implement good design
- Willingness to stick with it and work through problems
- Understanding of how customers read and scan websites
You shouldn’t build your own website if you can’t build one that looks good, has good navigation and provides information in a way that customers expect and need.
I’ve got a friend who can build my website for me. Why shouldn’t I do this?
If the friend is a professional website developer – go for it – you’re on a good wicket.
If your friend is a do-it-yourself website builder, i.e. this is their first website, or they are at the experimental stage, the same issues apply as the do-it-yourself builder with the additional sensitivities that apply to friendships.
If website building is your friend’s side hustle, and they’ve developed more than 10 websites, that you can view and you like the look of, you’re likely to be in good hands, with the additional sensitivities that apply to friendships.
Will your friendship survive in-tact if the website is not good? Are you able to work through the sensitive communication, if it comes to it, that you don’t like what they’ve done?
Are they going to be your friend in 2 and 5 years time? Websites require ongoing maintenance and updates. You’ll want to update text and images. Depending on the platform and hosting you are working with, websites require back-ups and software updates. Is your friend providing this?
Will you out-run your favours with your friend? How much, and for how long, will they be willing to work on your website? Will they want to take your calls once a week, once a month or once a quarter as you change your mind or want to update information on the site? Will they teach you how to update it yourself and what happens when something goes wrong?
People can often get frustrated with technical stuff. Will your website and business needs put undue pressure on this friendship, if there are frustrating moments?
You shouldn’t have a friend build you a website if they are inexperienced and your friendship is not strong enough to withstand the ups and downs of the process.
I can get a freelancer to build my website. Why shouldn’t I do this?
There are many online sites that have freelancers who can build a website for you. Fiverr is a popular freelancer platform. There are others.
Most websites that are built by freelancers look good. If they are simple, uncomplicated sites with no functionality beyond information and pictures, they usually work well.
There are several considerations for working with freelancers, including:
- Communication method
- What you want is what you get
- Homepage coding
- Ongoing servicing
Communication with a freelancer is via the online sites messaging system – very much like email. Some sites may allow for video calls or online chats. The process of building a website frequently benefits from you, as the client, being able to ask questions and get answers in real-time. The stilted use of messaging and online chats can take the comments out of context and richness out of the conversation. Some people thrive within this communication environment, but many of our clients don’t like it.
What you want is what you get
Sounds great doesn’t it? What’s the downside? Yep, there is one. We’ve seen this happen many times.
If you ask your freelancer to add in:
- an online shop
- an online booking form
- calendar integration
- an events set-up
- a membership only area
- an email sales funnel
Or other types of functionality they’ll do it.
Adding in functionality, that is, adding stuff beyond text, images, buttons and links, almost always requires a conversation about the pros and cons of how that functionality works. Why would you choose one piece of software to deliver that functionality over another? What’s the experience on the ground with using this over that?
Your freelancer may give you this feedback, but in our experience, they rarely do.
Most freelancers will give you what you want without further conversation as to the pros and con’s of different options.
When we say we provide personal service and articulated responses to your emails and phone calls, this is what we mean. As a client we talk to you about the different options you have and why you would choose one option over another.
Many sites we see built by freelancers have a homepage that is coded from the ground up. They’re smart cookies and this is often why you get a website that looks great – because they’ve coded every piece of it to be just perfect.
If, in 3 months or 3 years, you want to move on from the freelancer to another website developer, for updates and changes, you’ll need to find, and pay for, an equally smart cookie who has advanced coding skills. They’re a bit hard to find, and they’ll come with a top notch hourly rate.
A website is rarely a set and forget proposition.
Most business owners at some point, will want to update their website with new information or new images. Many businesses change their service offering or product lines, and the website needs to be updated to reflect this.
The freelancer is likely to still be available, should you wish to continue with them, for these updates.
Very few of them will train you how to update the site. Even if they claim they will do this, the training is almost always insufficient.
Very few local website developers will take on a site that has been developed by someone else.
Consider how you wish to proceed with ongoing management of your site and who will be your go-to person, should you need professional assistance.
What questions should I ask a website developer?
Can I see 3-4 examples of websites you’ve previously developed?
Is there anything NOT included in the quote that I could require for this site?
How many revisions on the design do I get?
Have you developed a site with this functionality before?
Is website hosting included?
Is email hosting included?
What annual fees can I expect?
Can you explain what this item in the quote means?
What website building platform do you use and why?
Will I get full access to my site once it is live?
Do you provide training upon handover? If not, do you have any recommendations for training providers. If so, how do you provide the training?
I can’t understand the website quote I’ve been given. What should I do?
The quote is instrumental in defining the requirements of your site. It sets out what is in scope and out of scope.
Ask the website developer who gave you the quote to explain what the items mean.
Questions that will elicit informative answers are:
- What happens if I don’t have this item?
- Are there other options for achieving the same thing?
- Do I need this item from the very beginning or can I add it later?
Sometimes its hard to avoid using jargon in a quote as it is both a guide for you and the website developer when they build the site.
Over time it is beneficial to understand some the words being used, if you can. A google search will be able to tell you what some of the stuff means.
SEO is included in my quote - that's good isn't it?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is often included in the quote. There are various activities a website developer can do, as they build the site, to optimise it for search engines. Here’s a few of those activities:
- index the site in Google Search Console
- optimise the images for file size
- undertake keyword research
- optimise the text for keywords
- optimise the images for keywords
- add in meta-descriptions
- ensure there are no errors (eg. broken links)
- ensure the site has good page load speed
The above are a few things that can be done for SEO. If your quote includes SEO it may include 1 or 2, or more, of these things. It may not include them all. The cheaper the site, the more likelihood it includes less, or no, SEO items.
Yes, it’s good when SEO is included in the quote, but this is unlikely to mean that your site has the full suite of optimisation techniques being applied to it, unless of course you are paying for this.
What is hosting?
Web hosting is the computer your website is located on.
Email hosting is the platform that connects your email inbox to the cloud.
The computer your website is located on is often called a server. The server is usually located in a big data centre.
You want your website to be hosted on a computer, or server, that is:
- on 24/7
- on 365 days a year
- has high cyber security
- located in the country where most of your customers are
Theoretically you could host your website on your personal computer or your friend’s computer in their garage – but generally speaking that’s not recommended.
Hosting costs from $120 – $350/year depending on the various options you choose.
If you have a Wix or SquareSpace website you may not even be aware that your website is being hosted – but it is – it’s just that its all done-for-you.
If you have a WordPress website you’ll hear about hosting as you’ll need to make some decisions about where your site is hosted.
A business email address (that is, not a free gmail or yahoo email) will make your business look professional.
There are two major players for email hosting
- Office 365
What is a domain name?
The domain name is that part of the website address that appears after the www or https.
It typically is followed by .com
In Australia, it is typically followed by .com.au
You need to purchase a domain name through a registered, authorised provider.
The domain name, once purchased, is unique to you. No-one else is allowed to use it.
The domain name should match your business name.
Domain names typically cost $20 – $30/year.
You must continue to keep paying for your domain name in order for your website and your business emails to work.
Why is there such a large difference in prices for websites?
Websites can cost as little as $500 and may cost $10,000.
Small websites cost less than large websites. The more pages (or tabs) your website has, the more it will cost.
Websites with no dynamic functionality will cost less than websites which are doing stuff. In other words, websites that only have text, images, buttons and links will cost less than websites which:
- take payment
- have a shop
- have an online booking form
- have a password protected membership area
A website will cost more, or less, depending on what the agency supplies. Options like:
- writing the text
- supplying photographs
- including SEO
- giving you considered and articulate responses to your phone and email questions
- meeting you face-to-face to discuss your site
- presenting designs (or wire-frames) prior to developing the site
- allowing for multiple revisions
- training you to update the site
Some agencies do the above, some don’t. The costs will vary according to the service you are being provided.
Do you take on clients with pre-existing websites?
We don’t take on Wix or SquareSpace sites.
We take on some WordPress websites. We investigate the site first to see if it is a good fit for us. Contact during business hours to find out more.
Do you build websites on Wix?
We develop websites using WordPress. We use a pagebuilder called Divi.
What do I (the customer) need to provide if getting a website built with you?
You need to provide us with:
- words you want on the site
- images, logo and photos (the more good, high resolution images we have the better the site we can design for you)
We like it when you:
- let us know about 2-3 other websites you like