Website Development for Career Service Entrepreneurs
By CPC Mastermind, Skye Berry-Burke.
Your website is your brand; it is usually the first impression you will have with your potential clients. They want to learn about you, see samples of your work, and reassure themselves that you are the right fit for them and their needs.
Research shows that prospects are more likely to convert to clients if your site is responsive, looks professional, is easy to navigate, and is authentic to your brand. But, is website development and brand development something you should tackle on your own, or would outsourcing this part of your business be a cost effective form of delegation?
Let’s examine the different options available to you as a career service entrepreneur.
Developing Your Own Website
WordPress is an online software technology you can use to create your career service website. WordPress.org is absolutely free.
The advantage to developing your own website is that there are no set-up or design fees and if you use WordPress, the updates are usually performed automatically. You also have complete control over your options for plugins and widgets.
The main disadvantage is that the process of developing your site yourself can take valuable time away from your business and clients. Also, your theme and visual design will usually not be unique (unless you are secretly a web designer on the side!) Also, you’ll want to build and test your site for responsive design on different devices like cellphones and tablets. In the long-term, you’ll need additional advice on hosting issues, setting up emails, and other things like SEO (search engine optimization).
If you have a friend or family member that is skilled in WordPress website design and development, this could be a great alternative that can sometimes be free or at least more cost effective. The disadvantage with seeking the help of friends and family is that it could potentially put a strain on your relationship if your vision for the development and design are not consistent.
Using Small Website Companies or Individual Freelance Developers
Most small website developers who have been working for a while have a wealth of experience creating websites, so their experience can benefit you. Furthermore, all designs are (or should be) original and branded to your business and target audience.
Once your basic site is set up, they should be able to train you to use your site and can offer assistance with social media and marketing your site – optimizing it for search engines. They should be able to advise you on technical questions as you learn to manage the site. If the developer suggests sub-contracting for either the graphic design or the programming, make sure these outside developers are available for future updates.
Depending on your needs, a general rule of thumb is to anticipate investing $1,000 to $5,000 or more for an experienced website developer.
Be cautious that the company or individual does not misrepresent their skills and experience. It can be time-consuming for you, as an entrepreneur, to find a developer who can do things like information architecture, design, editing, and graphics; as well as use the latest web technologies, optimize your site properly for SEO, and do it all in-house.
Using a Large Website Development Company with 10+ Employees
Usually, when outsourcing to these larger firms you will be assigned a project manager, art director or client liaison to guide your project. The advantage to this is that all designs should be completely original, branded to your business and targeted to your visiting audience.
This can be a very expensive alternative to the small freelance developer and you should expect to invest upwards of $5,000 to $10,000+ for your design and development. This route can sometimes come with a longer development and completion time, simply because of the approval stages that will occur with different departments in the organization.
Dos and Don’ts of Outsourcing Your Website Development
Whether you decide to outsource to a small or a large company, there are some best practices to consider:
- Do monitor costs associated with outsourcing.
- Don’t be tempted to pay for services based on price alone. Often the cheapest things in life are cheap for a reason. And in the case of website development it could signal a lack of experience, customer service issues, etc.
- Do your due diligence to locate a reputable, experienced and reasonably priced service provider based on your needs.
- Don’t assume that all providers have your best intentions at heart. Analyze whether the services they suggest are really required for your needs and goals.
Recommendations by CPC’s Very Own Website Designer and Content Marketing Specialist
Career Professionals of Canada’s web designer and content marketing specialist, Janet Barclay has the following three recommendations for all career service entrepreneurs considering a website for their business.
- Make sure that your domain name and hosting accounts are in your name and that you have access to the account(s), even if you leave it up to your website designer to set everything up for you. Ultimately, it’s up to you to ensure that your services are renewed prior to the due date to make sure your site doesn’t go down.
- A website is always a work-in-progress, so think long-term. Will you be comfortable – and have the time – to do your own updates? If not, who will do them on your behalf? Can your web designer provide the service at a reasonable price and with an acceptable turnaround time?
- Communication is key to all relationships, and your relationship with your web developer is no exception. Make sure you understand exactly what your contract includes (and what it doesn’t include) and be prepared for delays and additional fees if you request changes or new features while your project is underway.
Your business is your responsibility. Outsourcing can save you a lot of time; but you still need to have access and control of your biggest marketing asset. If you consider your website development options carefully before you go “all in” you will be thrilled at the results!