I am starting a business and need a new website, where do I start? (answered)

 
Shopify Experts Acacia Digital

In the following blog post I will share some unbiased insights into the different ways you can get started, with enough detail on each to be able to get to work.

Oliver Du Rieu - Founder Acacia Digital.


Here are the most common ways people get started: Full disclosure; I have experienced each of these in the flesh for better or worse so I am not just talking out of my ass. I also own Acacia Digital so I do have a horse in the race, but everything I have written is not intended to be one sided at all.
  1. Google/youtube search for long enough and build their own site.
  2. Hire a freelancer on a budget or the kid from around the corner to build it.
  3. Google search ‘Cheap website setups’ and choose the top ranked site.
  4. After starting to build the site, it becomes to hard and hire a software specialist.
  5. Get recommended by someone you trust an established agency.

Google/youtube search for long enough and build your own site (Option 1).

With a ‘can do’ attitude and some spare time on your hands you can smash through google searches to eventually understand how to put together a site. For me this experience was a little different than what is can be today with the advent of newer and easier to use technologies such as Shopify & Squarespace.

Building a website for my new business

My experience creating my first websites was similar to that of the experience one would have teaching themselves how to cut their own hair. I would read a certain amount of what to do on google, watch some videos on youtube, then pull the scissors out and start hacking away at what started out as a wordpress theme looking pretty good in the original template.

I don’t regret learning how to build websites including setting up web hosting, managing files in file systems, utilising different databases, up loading code edits and manipulating different services to get 3rd party programs to work together. Although this was the very beginning of my learnings, it has served well when going on to build an agency that does it all the time.

In 2017 you don’t really need to know all of that, using platforms such as ‘Shopify or Squarespace’ will enable someone who knows how to use Microsoft Word, Email and Facebook a reasonably good chance to get something off the ground. I would expect it should take a month part time ‘a couple hours’ after work each day to get everything set up and ready for selling. I wouldn’t expect a perfect website, but you should expect something to at least talk about to go along with your business cards.

Difficulty (8.5/10)
Stress Level “1 being not at all stressful” (7/10)
Time Frame (6.5/10)
Cost (1/10)
Outcome satisfaction (4/10)

Hire a budget freelancer or the kid from around the corner to build it (Option 2).

How to build your first website

This is the challenge and it is the risk of doing business with an untested self (As you have never done this before), then working with someone who also has never done this before the aka 'budget freelancer'.

When engaging the budget freelancer you will get the joy of having a very cheap ‘per hour’ basis to work with, or in they will quote a very low fixed rate cost. 

This type of engagement will work fine if you fall into the following circumstances: 

  • You have a very detailed set of requirements and a thorough understanding of what your end product should looks like and how it should be built (Something that is rare from a first timer)
  • You arrange a circumstance where you only pay the freelancer upon delivery of these requirements
  • You are not running to a fixed deadline or launch date

Working on this level is much the same at times as discovering how to do it yourself via google and youtube, the only difference is that you are not doing the work yourself and you are not technically learning the ropes of how to put it all together.
 

Difficulty (6/10)
Stress Level “1 being not at all stressful” (9/10)
Time Frame (6.5/10)
Cost (4/10)
Outcome satisfaction (4/10)

Google search ‘Cheap website setups’ and choose the top ranked site (Option 3).

Cheap website setups

I have done this in my early days of building websites, now on the flip side we (Acacia) are advertising on google with similar keywords to gain new customers who perceive this as their ideal solution. I am coming from both sides of the spectrum.

As a customer; (someone looking for a website) by searching this term I am expecting something on a budget, but I also am aware that I am probably not going to get the best quality work because cost goes hand in hand with quality right …..??

As an Agency; why and how we advertise this message is because we know that people looking for a ‘Cheap Website’ are most likely starting out with their business and nine times out of ten will not be looking for a super custom solution, they simply need something that will work from day one and can grow with their needs as the business grows. We also know that they are expecting to have a touch of security with working with someone that can help them in the future, building a relationship is important to this initial stage.

What we offer and what most other agencies offer under these search terms are templated/fixed priced solutions with a set of deliverables bound by a predetermined, but scalable scope. This is how we as agency can be profitable delivering a $690 website. "submit the form on that page and It will send you a brief for more information of what is involved."

Why do you want the agency you work with to be profitable? When you are working with a business, person or any other 3rd party it is a two way street. If you set expectations high they you have to be aware that the person on the other side of the fence are going to meet those expectations with a high expectation of budget. 
I.E is you want someone to build you facebook.com you are going to have to expect a price tag to match it.

When you are starting out getting a website built by a credible agency under the search term ‘Cheap Websites’ is a good idea if you can be sure on the following:

  • You understand the brief/deliverables
  • You understand what the future working relationship looks like with this team. “You will want to change the site in the future.”
Difficulty (2.5/10)
Stress Level “1 being not at all stressful” (4/10)
Time Frame (3/10)
Cost (4/10)
Outcome satisfaction (9/10)

After starting to build the site, it becomes to hard and you hire a software specialist (Option 4).

This normally comes after firstly (Option 1 & 2) have been attempted, but it has taken 3 - 6 months or more and you have gotten no where of value. The reason for this is because after getting frustrated with “Option 1” you get promised the world by “Option 2” and pay zero attention to the details of what was going on when engaging “Option 2” but remember that option has a high attention demand working relationship.

Hire a shopify specialist

In this case it is common to have a sceptical view on "option 3” because you simply don’t want to waste any time so you will look for a local development agency that maybe you can go into their office and speak with someone in person, you might of found what kind of software you are going to use and look for the recommended specialists in that field ‘such as how we are experts at both Shopify and Opencart for ecommerce’ or you will ask your friends and other people you may of met along the journey so far for a recommendation. All are the right answer in this situation but you need to follow the same rules as "option 3”.

  • You understand the brief/deliverables
  • You understand what the future working relationship looks like with this team. “You will want to change the site in the future.”

Finding someone who specialising in the software you wish to use is a great option because generally the software company such as ‘Shopify’ have vetted the people that they recommend.

Shopify Experts Help
Difficulty (2/10)
Stress Level “1 being not at all stressful” (3/10)
Time Frame (2/10)
Cost (6/10)
Outcome satisfaction (9/10)

Get recommended by someone you trust an established agency.

This one is subjective to the specifics of cause but why I want to mention it is because the way agencies work have changed and there are a lot still stuck in the dark ages of this hyper quickly moving industry. 

In 2017 the current top tier consumer software in the market is build for ease of use and it tested and used by millions of businesses around the world. The things to look out for when starting your business and working with an established agency is that they don’t propose something that is custom built is simply unnecessary and will cause you pain in the future in the case you wish to get someone else to work on your project.

If you are working with a more established agency you can expect a much clearer understanding of what will be delivered and a lot more confidence that it will be delivered, so it is good for these circumstances when you have a launch date and really good for the business cases where you have an already established brand or bricks and mortar business. If you are coming from an established brand which hasn’t been online yet but does have that community you do not want to let them down with a poor performance online.

You can obviously expect to pay more than the other options and you in some cases can expect a product which is not so dissimilar to what the other options will produce, but you should also be able to expect the outcome detailed to come true as well as an above and beyond set of added benefits of working with an established agency. It will be typical of an agency to offer marketing, strategy advice, industry best practice advice, ongoing support with the technical side of things and much more. If you have the money to spend then it is great peice of mind that you will be able to go forth and grow your business with the backing of a scalable set of resources.
 

working with an website development agency

Things to check before dealing with agency when starting up:

  • They are not going to build you anything fully custom (Locking you into their team)
  • You understand the brief/deliverables
  • You understand what the future working relationship looks like with this team. “You will want to change the site in the future.”
  • You hold them accountable
  • Start small and test the relationship out, then off load more work to them.
Difficulty (1/10)
Stress Level “1 being not at all stressful” (2/10)
Time Frame (2/10)
Cost (8/10)
Outcome satisfaction (10/10)

As a synopsis there is no perfect one fix answer for you and your business, as it depends on budget, time frames and what you wish to learn from the experience.

I am always willing to have a phone call with anyone who is contemplating the decision, as someone who has been there done that on both sides of the scale I am more than happy to offer advice on the best fit for what your business specifically would benefit most from.

If you wish book a 15 minute session with me for free.

Oliver Du Rieu

62, King Street, Melbourne, VIC,

Entrepreneur, leader and life live'er