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The High Cost Of Cheap Websites

  • By Brad Poirier
  • 20 Feb, 2017
the high cost of cheap websites
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“You can build a website for free”, they say. “Custom website design, only $300”, they say. These are two common sales pitches that I hear going around. The first is from big companies like Wix and Weebly or Squarespace who will sell you a DIY website builder for either FREE or a few dollars per month. The latter is from various local companies who will claim to custom design you a website for a very low price. Now to a start up SMB or one that is struggling for cash flow but needs a new website, both of these options sound very appealing. There’s another statement I hear though, and it’s tried, true & tested and makes a lot of sense in these cases: “You Get What You Pay For.” Period. There is a very high cost to getting one of these cheap website, as they are both cheap in startup price and cheap in quality. Most of my clients aren’t coming from a DIY build, for the most part I’ve found that if they’re going that route they are comfortable enough with building and maintaining their own website and that’s fine for me. I’ll focus on the latter here though, the small local guys that claim to custom design a website for cheap money.

The word “custom design” is very loosely used in this business. It’s about as loosely used as someone who calls themselves an IT person. These are the people who are “good with computers” so therefore that qualifies them as a computer software and hardware expert. Here’s what I typically see from web designers who build ‘custom’ sites. They are usually from a graphic design background or very often they are a computer technician themselves or in some cases they are doing this as a side business. I’ve looked at portfolio’s of these web designers and find out that they’re using Wix as the website software to build it with, and charging money for this. Worse, they’re not even paying to remove the Wix branding. So get this: You, as a hard-working small business owner, pay good money to someone to custom design a website for you. Your finished product? A run-of-the-mill website built on the same platform that advertises you can build it for free and it’s co-branded with the companies logo all over it. At this point though, hey who cares right? I only paid $300 or $500 bucks or whatever it was. Well, let’s look at some not so obvious costs associated with that.

Cost #1 - Perception

Let’s say someone walked into your place of business and all over the place on every wall and everywhere they looked, the construction company that made that building had their logo and contact info all over it. It would be a little confusing right? I mean, what place did I just walk into. Is it for Company A or Company B.

It also makes you look like you’re a startup business. It gives your competition some good fodder to disparage you with and your potential clients may not take you seriously. Your website is often the client's first introduction to your brand. You have one chance to make a good first impression. Seeing a co-branded website makes for a bad first impression.

Cost #2 - SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

As you can tell, most of these custom design sales pitches or just hooks. They’re bait to get you interested. If that’s really your budget, then so be it. Hear me out though. I’m amazed to discover that there are web designers who are still building desktop only websites. That’s right. Today, you can call someone up for a website that will cost you next to nothing, but it won’t be mobile friendly. Your customers will have to pinch-and-zoom their way around… actually scratch that. They won’t. They’ll just leave your website. So says Google anyway, 80% of people who land on a non-mobile friendly website from their smartphone will bounce back. Plus, Google has done an incredible amount of work to literally punish websites that are not mobile friendly. We have written at length about these topics. Read about How Google's Mobile-First Indexing Will KILL Your SEO , or here with The 4 Screens Your Website Needs To Appear Correctly On . So, can your business really afford to not show up in Google search results because your ‘custom’ web designer built you a website that was intended for the 90’s? Can your business afford to get traffic to it only to have people leave because it’s not formatted for their smartphone, which is about all that people use today for the internet.

Cost #3 - Updating

Most of these designers build their websites so they have the keys to the digital kingdom. That means whenever your website needs to be changed in anyway, call them up and pay a nice fee. Even something small as changing out a menu or changing pricing or adding a new photo etc can cost quite a bit of money. Now in all fairness, websites like Wix or Weebly are designed so that you as the end user can make updates, but that’s if you’re going that DIY route, then this isn’t even a worry for you. Out of all of my current web clients, only 4 of them are on a maintenance plan where we make updates for them each month. The other 95% or so of my customers, use our super easy to use CMS to make their own edits. A CMS is a Content Management System, or as I like to call it - The keys to the kingdom. We do however work on many clients marketing to increase their SEO, manage their social media, etc. So they get a truly custom website built from scratch and they can make basic updates themselves.

These are just a few areas of the real cost to a cheap website. Perhaps you’re thinking about getting your business online for the first time or trying to get someone to re-do your current website. Just stop for a brief moment, breathe, think about what you are doing… then… RUN! Call us today or use the form below to get in touch. When we are able to have a discussion, we’ll have a complimentary marketing report ready for you. A multipage report showing how visible your business is online, anywhere not just your website and steps to improve that visibility. We can also chat about your biggest marketing challenges and how we can help you solve them. Whether it’s from a lead driving & smart website or another area of marketing that you’re struggling with - we have you covered. We have several satisfied clients, who have gone on the record to rate our service. Just watch one below and give us a shout when you’re ready to really transform your business into the digital world.
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By Brad Poirier 07 Mar, 2017
Did you know that the average consumer checks your website at least two times from two different devices before they journey into your location? Over 60% of searches start  from a smartphone device , but there is still a great amount of desktop and tablet traffic coming in. Why is that? Some of that desktop traffic is the original, organic traffic yes. However, a lot of it is a returning customer. Perhaps you're a kitchen remodeler , someone searches for "kitchen remodeling" and they find your website from their smartphone. They're not ready to buy yet though. So they bookmark or they email their significant other the web address. When they get home, they venture to their desktop or start using their tablet to continue the research.

Most (amateur) web designers only pay attention to the desktop view. Sad face: many web designers still build websites that are desktop only, they're not building responsive websites that are mobile-optimized. The worst part is they're often designing this on a 20" or larger monitor. Of course it's easy to design a great site when you have 20" of a digital canvas to work with. The real Picasso comes out when you can take that same great experience and display that on a 4" screen, AND to optimize it for as slow as a 3G connection. There's a big difference between your site being mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized. Mobile-friendly usually just means making sure the content is formatted to scroll up and down and no content stretches beyond the width of the smartphone screen. Mobile-optimized is taking the same content from your desktop and optimizing it for a mobile experience. This is important now more than ever, as Google has started to ONLY SEO Index your mobile site and not your desktop site.

So that's the why I design websites using four screens. You might interested in knowing what are the screens I design with, and how I use each one of them to turn your website from blah to Yahhh! I only build websites that are responsive. I check how the content looks and how the content interacts along the way. Below are the screens that I use to check this with and more importantly, the order in which I do this.

Screen #1 - Smartphone
You might be shocked to think that the first screen I check my work on is a mobile device. If you were a bakery and 60% of your revenue came from donuts, would you start your morning by prepping the cookies and pastries? You start with your money maker! Well, since over 60% of all Google searches start from a mobile device, why would you start with the device that people aren't using as much? I'll tell you why, it's because you're working with an amateur designer. Or perhaps you're working with a legacy designer who won't budge. When I design in a mobile-first environment, I can truly focus on that experience and maximizing it's potential. We focus on getting the most important information right away. For most businesses this means placing a "TAP-TO-CALL" style button at the top of the page. Nothing is more frustrating than having to remember the number in your head and quickly double-tap-your-home-button to get to the phone dialer and attempt to get every number in there correctly. If location visits are important we also make sure there are easy-to-find buttons for loading your bulit-in GPS navigation.

What do you think the next screen is going to be?

Screen #2 - Tablet
Did you guess that correctly? It's only natural to work my way up the screen size. Now that I've mastered the experience for mobile, I can open up canvas a little here and work on the tablet view. Tablets today range from about 7"-10" and yes there are those two outliers that are around 13" , but they're still a tablet, at least according to the internet browser being used. A growing trend for the tablet view is using what we call the "hamburger" menu. That's the 3-line menu button you might see in the upper right or left hand corner of the screen. We layout the navigation in both the hamburger format and the traditional horizontal navigation. It all depends on the business and the goal of your website. That's why we custom design all of our sites starting with a 1-on-1 consultation . Since a tablet is still inherently a mobile device where the user interacts using only a touchscreen, we still are focusing on easy, tappable buttons. Consumers are used to tapping on items with their tablets, we make it super easy for that to happen. Gone are the days of only making links available from within the text. Consumers need clear call-to-action buttons to guide them along their buying journey.

Screens #3 & #4 - Laptop & Large Monitor
Technically I'm designing and coding everything on my large monitor, but the testing is being done on multiple screens. However, when I start to design for the desktop, I'm using my laptop which dual outputs to a 21" cinema display. This allows me to have the freedom of design but to see how it will interact on a 13" monitor (which is about the average monitor size for a small laptop). The most important content is "above the fold". So if it's not designed right, some of the content that looks good on 21" would normally get cut off on a smaller screen. We make sure that doesn't happen. The desktop design is where it does get a lot more fun, and more roomy. It's like trying to pack a bunch of moving boxes into a cargo van when you've been using your 1988 Corolla earlier that day. Ahh, you can breathe a little. However, use this space carefully. Remember, with great space comes great responsibility. I've seen many web designers who came from a graphic design background. It is honestly a natural progression, but it's an entirely different approach. Use a white space or negative space is critical here. So if you're used to working with that graphic designer who loves using tons of colors and turning text into metal like beveled art and everything else that came with cheap Photoshop work from 10 years ago, they're in the wrong arena. You have about 5 seconds to capture someone's attention before they'll decide to leave the website. Now, a lot of that comes from excellent copywriting and headline writing , but bad design choices will confuse the consumer and cause them to leave and go to the next result in line.

So there you have it. The method to my madness. Some people look at website design and say why not , I look at website design and say why ? Rule of thumb: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I'm on the web all day long. I can easily spot a badly performing website, in terms of conversion. Today, you're website is all about conversion . Your business can't afford to run a wiki-pedia website. It needs to be a lean, mean, lead-generating machine. This applies to all business websites.

What are some examples of good and bad website design that you have seen?
By Brad Poirier 20 Feb, 2017
BONUS: See how your website stacks up with your competition. Get a free website audit .
By Brad Poirier 13 Feb, 2017
The great Don Draper once said "If you don't like what is being said, then change the conversation." So while it may be super frustrating to see one of those pesky millennials leaving you a bad review because their Valentine's dinner didn't go as planned, this presents a great opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Negative reviews are just as important as positive reviews. How could that be?

Google loves reviews. The more Google loves you, the better chance you have of another Taco.. or three.. four. A bad review isn't always a bad reflection on your business, it's just consumers way of giving you feedback or reaching out for a listening ear to make a wrong, right. In all the years I've been on Yelp and Facebook, what I've seen that most people want when leaving a review, is just to have a voice. When I go out to a restaurant or to any retail business these days, if there's a problem and I muster up the courage to speak to a manager, I have no idea how that manager is going to take that feedback. They might be too busy to pay attention or just lack the customer service skills required to actually care.

That's where online reviews come in. Some may think that it's a case of anonymous bravery behind a computer screen, but when someone is leaving a negative review, they might just want to get in touch - on their own terms. You have to be prepared to communicate with them on those terms.

Below are some general do's and dont's on how to respond to negative reviews. By the way, this could apply to positive reviews in many ways. You should respond to every online review, both positive and negative. Yes, it require a little bit of time, but you would never ignore a customer that's right in front of you. It can be a daunting task, however, to scour the internet for every review out there. That's why there is Online Reputation Management available. Reputation Management involves software that automatically finds any mention of your business on the internet and provides an alert and a tool to respond to them, regardless of which social media directory they left the review on. Learn more about Online Reputation Management here .
By Brad Poirier 28 Dec, 2016
Quick Question: What's the first thing you did this morning when you woke up. I'm willing to bet it involved picking up your smartphone and performing some sort of mobile action, wether it's checking email or scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. We are in a mobile-first world. If you're still trying to figure out how to get ahead in this "digital world", this article is well beyond that. The world is (rapidly) shifting to a mobile world. You need to provide an incredible experience on a 4" display as you would on a large display. That's the trick and the problem SMB's have faced. You're not paying attention to your mobile experience.

You might be immediately saying: "Well my website is already mobile." Great, you're (slightly) ahead of the game. It is very likely though, that your website only uses a "mobile site" and not a responsive website design. Mobile-sites are simply optimized for viewing on a phone, they're not optimized for the user experience. Starting pretty soon, you're website's traffic will get killed for it. Listen up.
By Brad Poirier 20 Dec, 2016
Let’s face it. Personal New Year’s resolutions are made for one thing: to be broken. Only 8% of people are successful at achieving their resolution. The #1 resolution each year is to lose weight . The struggle is real when you are faced with eating a 3,500 calorie pizza for lunch and a wedge salad. Pizza. Always. Wins. Your business resolution, however, has a much better chance at success. In fact, this article will show you how to have a guaranteed 100% success rate in your business resolution for 2017.
By Brad Poirier 12 Dec, 2016
Hearthside is an award-winning historic house museum presenting historically themed exhibits and original programs. Costumed docents guide visitors on tours, furnished throughout in period style. Hearthside is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and operates under the stewardship of the all-volunteer nonprofit Friends of Hearthside, Inc.

The website for utilized old web standards and was not mobile optimized. The website could not be edited by the museum stewards and thus was a tedious process to get new content.

Breeze Digital Media created a responsive website for Hearthside House and implemented an easy to use Content Management System so the stewards can make regular calendar and event updates on their own.
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