Choosing a website vendor is a crucial decision when you decide to start a website or take your business online. This is crucial because with wrong vendor selection, you most likely end up with a website that you did not intend to acquire and will turn out to be a waste of time, effort and money.
How to choose when there are so many website experts in the market
Talk to people on the street and everyone would lend you some piece and advice, references and recommendations. People giving you some piece meal advice are not experts.
Prepare your RFP (Request for proposal)
First step does not start with vendor. It starts with you and your expectations from your website. To keep it simple, pen down the main objectives of your website and a design template that is workable with your website. This exercise will make you clear on what you want from your vendor. While browsing your niche to choose a design template for your website, you will be able to figure out how your competitors are doing. It will also help you understand what is doable and achievable with your website.
RFP helps your vendor in understanding your requirements. It help you outlining deliverables by your vendor.
Find the best technology platform suitable for your site
As long as the website serves the purpose you originally intended in RFP, the technology or platform used for building your website is no barrier. Although, building your website on popular platforms give you some freedom and control to future adaptations.
You can test your competitor’s website platform using https://builtwith.com
If most of your competitors are using same platform, it is likely that the platform have some advantages related to the sector you are in.
For example, if you are making a blog site, Wordpress is a good choice. It will also be evident that most of the popular bloggers use wordpress for their blogging platform. The reason is that it is simple to setup and optimized for blogging requirements. It has millions of plug-ins available for free under GPL licence.
I am giving you an example of ShoutMeLoud.com built on Wordpress.
It is a blog owned and maintained by Harsh Agrawal, an Indian blogger. If you test its web worth on https://worthofweb.com, it is worth $15 million / year, $900-$1000 everyday earning. This is a huge earning potential but you must acknowledge that this earning does not come due to platform itself, but the fact is that the platform is suited to such applications.
How to deal with random design and development cost?
For the same website (in terms of design and functionality) different website vendors offer different price quotes and timelines.
When you have acquired the quotation for your fully functional website with a specified design, compare the costs.
Now, do checkout the performances of your competitor’s website on google page insights. Ask your vendors to get the same level of performance in terms of responsive design, loading speed, time to interactive, compression and caching.
Good developers will add up some cost but will deliver and non-competent will get away.
There are many website builders / vendors that can build websites for you. You have many online organized players in the area of website building. They share the highest market percentage globally. They have satisfied customers, 24 X 7 customer support, standard pricing, 99% guaranteed uptime, performance guarantee and CMS support.
My budget is small and fixed!
There is good news. These online website builders come up with plans for starters, professional and enterprise entities. All these plans have their limitations and advantages. The prices differ accordingly. You can choose a plan that suits you the most.
Point to note when you buy from Website builders:
- You can build your sites within an hour or two and take it online. Their CMS are very user friendly and fun to use. But you are limited with the components they provide. You are not allowed to change or modify in the codes. You can play with content but not with codes. This limits your ability to manipulate your website too much.
- You can manage your site yourself as no coding knowledge is required. You can save a lot of money on hiring a developer on the chosen CMS.
- They are mostly pre-paid services.
- Your site would be bound by their servers and you will not get the software backup.
Can I use free Content Management System to build my website?
In case, you want to use a free CMS with full control, then most popular and stable versions are Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento etc. These are open source CMS for building websites. You can use Magento for building e-commerce websites. You can install these on your own web server and enjoy full control. This type of installation is called self hosted website. The flip side is that you will need some qualified developers for that platform to do any effective change. Hiring such person will cost you dearly.
Do you know 52% of the websites are built with Wordpress.
Some of the popular online website vendors are:
This is the most widely used CMS built over PHP and MySQL. This CMS is available in GPL license and free to download and use. The installation is extremely easy and can be self hosted. 52% of the internet websites are built with Wordpress. It has started as a blog and most successful bloggers used Wordpress now. The successes of the WordPress lies in the SEO compatibility.
This platform is a very convenient and easy to use platform for building your website. You can open your account with Wix and start building your website for free. To start with choose a template of your choice and start making updates using its drag and drop functionality. You will have to pay only when you take it online by attaching a domain name with it. At that time you will be asked to subscribe to a plan. So, effectively, you pay before you take your website live.
This is a website builder most suited for photographers. They have 200+ design templates to choose from and they are mostly professional. The negatives are the cost. This is one of the most expensive website builders starting from $12-$18 /month for the basic plan. The e-commerce or business plans starts from $40 /mo. The plan does not include email support. You will need to purchase it separately.
This is another pre-paid online website builder. This is a drag and drop website builder. It has four plans.
- Free (basic use) - $0.00 / mo
- Connect (connect a domain) - $5.00 /mo
- Pro (Groups and Organizations) - $12.00 /mo
- Business (Small business and stores) - $25 /mo
The free options is only worth training before you upgrade to other expensive options. The price offered is valid only when paid in advance for an year.
This is an e-commerce platform to build your online store. This has an easy setup procedure. This is the most affordable in pre-paid versions of e-commerce platforms. Follow these simple steps:
- Create your account
- Subscribe to an appropriate plan
- Upload your products with images and details
- Choose your template for the store
- Attach a domain and go live.
With the selected plan you will be bound with a payment transaction plan as well.
GoDaddy website builder
GoDaddy website builder is a little confusing website builder. It is a drag and drop website builder and fully supports e-commerce. This is one of the website builders which have 1500+ templates and offer free one month trial. This makes it good to try first for a shorter plan and get refund without locking yourself for the longer period.
WEX instant site
This is a framework built over ASP.NET using C# and MSSQL databases. The CMS is not directly available but the instant versions of the sites are available. The sites are available on themeorbit.com. The sites are really compact and fast. On Google Page Insight, most of the sites score 90+. This is amazing performance. The security is also good as the login information is not sent in plain text. The security system protect from DDOS attack, Brute force attack and phishing.
The templates are sold on themeorbit
. The framework is accessible only to the buyers of the templates. The CMS is WYSIWYG but not have drag and drop feature. This is highly customizable and delivers an excellent high performance websites.
Can I build any type of website with online website vendors with my fixed budget?
No. Generally if your website is simple these choices are great. They create professional and responsive sites with available templates. These are good choice for content oriented websites but not suitable for e-commerce websites.
When I need a completely customized website?
Once you have a custom set of requirement in terms of behavior of your website, complete integration of your business, strict completion timelines, benchmark testing and rollout parameters, these online vendors is not a choice. You need either customization of CMS or you will need developing the website from scratch with the help of developers, freelancers or CMS development agencies / web Development Company.
Can I take service of a freelance web developer for my work?
All freelance developers are not good. Delivery of your website is not everything. Performance, responsiveness and compact output are what matters most is the age when millions of articles and web pages are created every day.
Google has already indicated that performance, responsiveness and user engagement metric are most valuable parameters as SEO signals.
Generally, a freelance developer focuses on quickly finishing the website and get away. This usually results in the code bloat and inefficient system. The website will perform well in the beginning as there will be no traffic on the website. As the traffic grows and load increases, the site starts to slow down dramatically.
Most of the successful blogs, websites and e-commerce sites are custom built with dedicated developers or agencies. The reason is obvious that they expect their website to perform better with increasing load. To build such website, you need a true professional and you also need to be patient.
How to hire a freelance developer?
If you decide to hire a freelancer for the development of your website you will face another set of tasks. The most important among them are the finding freelance developer and negotiating with them.
To hire a freelance developers you can use the following hiring website platforms:
Freelance developers and designer hang out on these sites and offer their expertise for hiring. They show you their previous projects in order to prove their expertise. These platforms provide rating and consumer satisfaction index to help the person seeking their services.
I would again advise you to prepare RFP (request for proposal) before you hire a freelance developer or a CMS development agency / company. The RFP shall contain the detailed requirement of your website, expected functional behavior, deliverables, timelines and payment terms. It shall also include the dispute handling mechanism if possible.
Shall I hire web development agency to build my website?
If you are building a website with underlying complex and extremely customized functionality, then you shall hire a web development company rather than a developer. They have the more skilled people and a bigger team. They can allocate dedicated resources to handle your project and will be able to complete in a timely fashion. You will own the code and host it on a server owned by you to gain total control. You shall also discuss the AMC (annual maintenance cost) and the regular maintenance cost of your website after the work is finished and delivered.
If you are not opting for AMC, then ask them to provide user manual and training schedule to train your internal staffs or yourself. Inquire on the SEO compatibility and benchmark performance parameters. Never pay the final payment until the benchmark performance criteria is fulfilled.