As an entrepreneur in the ramp up phase of your business, sometimes it’s necessary to trim expenses when possible. As a business owner, you may be very good at finding low-cost, highly effective ways to get things done.
However, one area that I do not recommend cutting corners on is your business website. I have learned a couple of painful, time consuming and sometimes expensive lessons that I’d like to share with you so that you can spend less time fixing your website and more time growing your business.
Choosing a Low Cost Website Developer
Choosing your website developer is definitely not a time to go bargain hunting. When I launched my first site, I chose a local company that seemed to have a good reputation with pricing that seemed too good to be true.
In reality, it was too good to be true. This developer had difficulty adding some very basic functionality to my website, provided very little guidance on how to maintain the site once it was launched and had essentially zero post-launch technical support.
Prior to hiring a web developer, talk to other business owners about the kind of website functionality that is important for your kind of business. Be sure that the developer that you can show you examples of sites they have developed with the functionality that you need, that they will teach you how to maintain the site and that they offer post launch technical support to answer any of your questions immediately after launch.
You don’t need to spend $5,000 on your first website, but you do need hire a qualified web developer with a track record of developing and launching great sites.
Trying to Be Your Own “Web Guy”
As an entrepreneur, it’s likely you have many different skills and areas of expertise. With enough training and continuing education, you could probably do a pretty good job at maintaining your website. However, the pace at which technology is changing in this area is so rapid, it simply doesn’t make sense for you to spend the time and effort to stay current with the information you’ll need to do everything you want to do with your site once it’s up and running.
Perhaps the most painful lesson I learned was when I accidentally deleted my website while switching to another hosting provider. Fortunately, I had a backup that I was able to restore after a number of hours on the phone with my new hosting provider, but it was a scary couple of days when my site was down and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it back after spending so long on the initial development.
Do yourself a big favor and identify a person or company who can help you maintain your site once it launches. My current favorite for WordPress-based sites is WP Curve, although there are many other great providers out there.
Taking a “Launch It & Forget It” Approach
The launch of your website is definitely not a box-check kind of activity – something that you permanently cross off your list once it’s done. Instead, you need to be prepared to continuously update it with new content for your visitors, regularly back it up, keep plug-ins and WordPress up to date and defend it against would-be hackers.
It’s this last point that resulted in my most embarrassing website moment. While at a meeting with my portfolio manager and another advisor, I wanted to show them something on my website up on the big wall-mounted monitor he has in his conference room. We typed in the URL and rather than pulling up my site we were instead redirected to a highly questionable site thanks to my site being hacked.
Not only was my site being directed to content that my mother would not be proud of, but when I was able to get it partially back up and running, the Nav bar had been blown away and users could no longer download my free report. With the help of Sucuri, WP Curve and my Virtual Assistant, we were able to scrub the site, update it to prevent future attacks and restore most of the previous functionality. I’m still working to get the site un-blacklisted on Facebook, but that’s only a minor annoyance.
Learn from my mistakes and experiences in this area and hire top notch talent whether you are designing your first website, conducting ongoing site maintenance or working to keep your site hacker- and malware-free. You’ll save yourself countless hours and headaches trying to fix your site that can be better spent working on growing your business!