Affordable Small Business Web Page Design & Hosting
Finding affordable small business web page design options for getting your small business website up and running, can be a challenge. Speaking from experience from working with numerous small business owners, you first need to understand the fundamental difference between small business web design, and small business web development services. I tend to go against the grain with many website designers when I say this, but I’m confident my theory on getting results is 100% accurate. Follow along with me for a moment to explain the difference between a designer, and a web development service company, and I think you’ll be convinced on which direction you want to take your small business online.
Small Business Web Development Services vs Website Designers – Custom Website Design is DYING
Most website designers are extremely territorial of their work, and pride themselves in “custom website design”. Furthermore, many web designers in the field are “arteests” not business minded individuals. While they may have some working knowledge of Search Engine Optimization, their underlying approach is centered around making something unique that is pretty to look at for their clients, and to place in their portfolio. We see this everyday when working with clients that have gorgeous websites, yet no one can find them online.
My point is this…Does it really matter how custom or pretty your website is if no one ever sees it?
Small Business Web Development Services, and creating fundamentally sound web presences online is the approach we adhere to for small business owners for a variety of reasons. I could write a book on this subject, though for now I’ll stick to the basics of our position on web development combined with strong local SEO services to get great results for any business.
Custom Websites vs Premium WordPress Templates – A custom web designer will tell you the only way to go is to build a custom website. Buying a WordPress template only makes you like a million other businesses using the same one right? Wrong! (Ask them to give you an example of an identical website using WordPress where you can readily identify what theme they are using. They can’t) Though there is a place for custom websites, it’s typically not needed for 99% of small business owners. This can save thousands of dollars on the cost of building a quality website for most small business owners. They can then invest those savings into video marketing or search engine optimization, two critical components a small business website needs to be successful online.
We recommend a small business owner chooses a WordPress template they like first, and then we work towards customizing it with their color scheme, logo, images, forms, etc. Notice I did NOT say to build your own website. For a personal blogger that wants to learn over time, possibly, but there’s no possible way to learn internet marketing or design concepts in a matter of weeks what a professional small business web developer already knows and understands. You’ll end up wasting time trying to learn something that is extremely complex, and it won’t get the results it would have if you hired someone that has a solid track record building effective websites. However, your input on the design, and direction of the site is extremely valuable.
A True Web Development Professional Knows the Value of Time vs Reinventing the Wheel
Most web development companies should help you with some good options on WordPress themes that would fit your business well as a starting point. There are literally thousands of beautiful themes to choose from that are already created by teams of amazing small business web designers,
with good reputations for creating solid code. Why pay an individual to recreate what already exists that looks great, has reviews that the code works properly by hundreds of other users, and you get 50-100 different style choices to choose from versus the creativity from one individual? If you don’t believe my stance on custom web design, take a look at what Moz.com, the leading authority on internet marketing, says about the eroding custom web design sector.
Custom Design Lock vs WordPress Open Source – Another problem with custom website designs is you are limited to the developer that created it long term. If you ever decide to change if you’re disappointed with your results, another developer may not want to use the existing website or may not understand the code well enough to make acceptable changes to your website. A custom developer doesn’t always use a simple interface that is easy for you to make changes if you would like to, nor is their support forums online for custom designs. Your stuck with one option, from one provider. Truth
Conversely, if you choose to have a “custom” site created, make sure it’s on a widely used platform that another small business web designer can utilize to make changes. I highly recommend choosing the WordPress platform, for most small business websites, and Shopify or Big Commerce for most E-Commerce solutions. Working with these proven platforms will keep all the previous work intact to where you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars in the future to completely redo your website. Trust me, we see this all the time, and there’s no good reason for it to happen.
WordPress is an open source web development platform, or content management system, that almost any web designer can use. A custom designer may talk about security concerns, or being original, but I doubt that Ebay, General Motors, Forbes, Jay-Z, CNN, Sony, UPS or many of the top brands in the world would use it if it didn’t work incredibly well. This infographic from 2011 shows that there are over 70 million sites in the world using WordPress, so please don’t buy the custom design hype from a local developer. It’s complete bogus 99% of the time. (Keep in Mind I’m Referring to a Local Restaurant, Retail Shop, or Plumbing Service Company, not a Bank, University, or Government Entity) There are times custom sites are necessary, but those instances are few and far between when it comes to the average small business operation.
Real World Analogy of Custom Website Design vs Choosing a Premium WordPress Theme Base Foundation & Small Business Web Designer to Customize It
Imagine that a team of highly skilled web designers create an amazing looking template. They spent potentially 20-100 hours to ensure that all the code works properly, the images line up correctly, the forms are in the right place, licensed images for your niche is already included, the SEO functionality is already set, and the interface is universally recognizable by WordPress users worldwide. They market this theme, or multiple designs they’ve created, through a company like TemplateMonster that offers 24/7 support via phone, chat or email. They are supporting millions of users throughout the world that are looking for effective, attractive themes also, and because of the volume in sales of their WordPress themes, they can sell it at a discount as well as support their customers. A simple phone call or chat session can repair a broken site, or minor technical issue in this scenario. This Premium WordPress theme costs $49-149 as a base platform to start with for all the labor they put in to build it.
On the other hand, you could be 100% dependent on one developer, or one small agency that created your own site custom for you. They had to spend 20-100 hours potentially designing your site from scratch. Next they’ll send you a mock up site to see if you like the layout (you can already see this from a premade template), and you suggest changes etc. At $50-200 an hour of design time or consulting hours, you can see where the money starts to add up.
So now you’re at 3-5K (or much, much more) on web design services, with no budget for SEO or marketing to support the most critical piece of your business today…
The Better Alternative for Small Business Web Development Services
There are literally thousands of themes for WordPress to choose from, and thousands of plugins that can be added for functionality. As a small business owner, this is where you need an experienced small business web designer to navigate through the vast choices available to you.
Choosing the Best WordPress Themes & the Best WordPress Plugins for Functionality
Just because a WordPress theme looks perfect to you, it doesn’t make it the best choice. Just because a plugin (these are software add-ons that increase functionality) says it will do what you need it to, doesn’t make it the right fit.
Being “pigeon holed” with a custom designer, can also happen with poorly written or unsupported WordPress themes and plugins. If you choose a WordPress theme with bad code, it can be heavy (slow to load), complex & buggy with constant updates needed, or be written by a small developer unable to support your small business web designer in the event you have a technical issue. Plugins are similar in that you might choose one premium plugin that will accomplish what three or four different plugins can do, or the developer no longer supports them.
There are many great web developers in the WordPress community that make themes, and plugins, so look for review rankings as well as the time of support for their customers.
Recommendations on Great Looking, High Functional E-Commerce & WordPress Themes with Excellent Support
ThemeForest is arguably the largest theme provider online, with thousands of themes to choose from. However, I absolutely don’t recommend buying your themes here due to poor support, risks from one hit wonder developers, and poorly designed themes are everywhere here. They’ll take on any developer if that makes sense. Not all are bad, but there’s too much risk here in my opinion. My choices for cleanly coded themes with good support are as follows:
- Elegant Themes – I really like the value Elegant Themes offers, and the new Divi Page Builder they have makes it easy to design attractive looking websites. Elegant Themes is also known for having very clean code with fast page loading times, and the support is very solid from a committed theme developer. They also allow custom CSS if you really need to get creative.
- AIT Themes – AIT Themes is another designer that has clean code, and good support for their WordPress themes. Their themes look great too, and for small business web developers they offer a themes club where I can offer any new web development client their choice of theme to choose from. You select the theme you want, we make the necessary changes to get it discovered and looking great.
- Themefuse – Themefuse makes some of the most attractive WordPress themes out there, and the page builder is nice to use if you ever need to make changes. The code is minimized, and they offer pre-built plugins to increase functionality of your site. Beautiful, modern themes here for a variety of niche businesses.
- TemplateMonster (Monstroid in Particular) – I’m a huge, huge fan of TemplateMonster for purchasing 90% of my themes now. They support all of them 24/7 by Phone, (yes phone) email, or chat within seconds. For me as a developer, I know how valuable that is (I’m not sure anyone else does this). For you as a business owner, you’ll appreciate this kind of service if there is ever a problem with your site. Furthermore, I’ve fallen in love with the quality of designs from Monstroid. I made a review using the Cherry Framework platform. The page builder is a little more complex to use, but the code is super clean, lite on page loading, and the designs are ridiculously awesome. You purchase the Monstroid theme, and you have over 35 great looking themes to choose from, load them up, and start the customization process. Check them out using my TemplateMonster link or image above. Then search for “Monstroid” under themes, and be prepared to be impressed. They are pretty incredible, and built for adaptation down the road with 15 new interchangeable themes added monthly, for $79!
- E-Commerce Platforms – Now…if a custom designer says they’ll build you a custom E-Commerce site, don’t dare do it before comparing it to Shopify. I like Big Commerce, but Shopify has THE best experience and support for their customers when it comes to building E-commerce sites. Again, TemplateMonster supports many Shopify themes, as does the main Shopify site, and there’s absolutely no comparison on functionality, speed, and customer experience you can get using the Shopify platform.
Conclusion on Next Steps for Small Business Web Page Design
Your goal should be to build a profitable business. Learning website design concepts on the front end is more complicated than you might think, and optimizing it for the search engines is an entirely different world that takes even longer to master. I would suggest interviewing a couple of small business web development companies, and get references on their success rate with clients. Then get a quote for services building a theme you like from the themes I recommended above, along with a base foundation for local SEO services to help you get ranked well for your niche. Make SURE you web designer has a track record of getting results for traffic, leads, and sales for their clients, not just pretty websites.
You’ll need an attractive, customized design that matches your vision and brand, reliable hosting and domain registration. We offer small business web page design and development services with one of the best values in the industry. Here’s what we offer for only $1499
Customized website up to 10 pages. Assist with crafting content (we’ll need your input)
Responsive Design (Mobile/tablet friendly format)
12 months website hosting and uptime monitoring, enhanced security hardening and weekly software patches and updates
12 months of content updates. You tell us what to update and we’ll take care of it!
On-page SEO (upgraded options available)
10 high quality stock images (in addition to images provided by client)
5 field email contact forms with anti-spam scripting (upgraded options available)
Links to social media accounts (includes account creation for accounts you don’t have, and linking to existing acccount. Social Media Management services extra)