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A Review of the Web Market as it Stands Today
It wasn’t that long ago that businesses looking to establish their own website only had one decision to make: Which company will they hire to build it for them?
Fast forward to today and the options are limitless. This leaves business owners, especially new small operators at a loss on where to start.
It’s never been easier to have an online presence and the number of people building websites either as DIY or offering it as a service have exploded in popularity. This is thanks to the number of available rapidly advancing web technologies, which have frog-leaped in recent years, with no signs of slowing down.
As web experts ourselves, who have been professionally developing websites for the last 15+ years, here’s our assessment of the market and our advice to anyone looking to get a website developed today.
Firstly, we can say with certainty that DIY platforms have come a long way since their conception. But it’ll be another 10 years before they can produce websites to the same quality as a web professional can; by today’s standards.
Building websites is one of those tasks where it’s easy to get started but requires study, training and years of experience to master. Just like any trade profession, there are tasks that anyone can do but for the majority and for a job reliably well done, it takes a professional.
That probably sounds quite biased coming from someone who builds websites for a living, however, it’s the daily challenges that we face as web developers that make me confident in my claim. Never has a website been built that didn’t, at some stage, require an expert touch. Whether it be coding a few CSS media queries to make the website work perfectly on mobile, writing a PHP function to get the desired outcome, or even just knowing how compression, caching and content delivery networks can be used to speed up your website.
As for whether you need a professional or not, is what we’ll discuss in detail below.
Advice for New Small Businesses
This section is dedicated to businesses who don’t have deep pockets to invest into their business straight away, but who are hoping to leverage their website in order to start seeing a cash flow.
I first want to share with you, an infographic that we use internally with clients to describe our development process:
We’ve worked with countless small businesses over the years and I can’t stress enough, the importance of starting small and growing in response to experience and feedback.
I can tell you with all certainty, that a professionally developed website is not the answer for you as a brand new business. When compared to a DIY site, a website investment of any amount is almost guaranteed to not outperform the DIY site in sales or leads when you’re fresh on the block.
As far as smart business decisions go, unless you’re confident and backed by a wealth of experience with some degree of funding, dropping say $5k on a website, with the hopes that it pays off, is a massive risk and the odds are immediately against you.
As a new business, your efforts need to be going into your business plan and by extension, your marketing plan. So long as your website accomplishes its core function of allowing users to contact you or purchase your products, all of that extra stuff is useless to you right now.
No business in history has launched a website that’s immediately successful or final.
The only thing that’s going to drive your business’s success is your product and/or service offering. No amount of extra website bling or marketing resources is going to fake that success for you at the beginning.
Don’t forget, we’re also talking from experience here. As a creative agency that primarily produces websites, we didn’t have our own website for years, until now. We grew from strength to strength, purely by reputation alone. So, take it from us and focus on your business. Your website is just a tool for now.
You will face a number of hurdles when starting your business journey. If you manage to successfully navigate them, and you are both growing your brand and meeting your revenue targets, you can then reassess investing in upgrading your website in order to help you meet your long-term targets.
Regardless of whether you are a service provider or an ecommerce store, we recommend starting with a DIY subscription website. There are pros and cons to every DIY platform and a lot of it comes down to preference. If you want in-depth comparison charts for all of the major DIY platforms available, look no further than this article by Website Builder Expert:
If you ask us, the choice is pretty simple:
Advice for Established Businesses
In our beginners guide to SEO article, there’s a quote that is applicable here:
“I needed to put up a new shelf in my wardrobe. I went to the local DIY Store and purchased the tools and materials I needed and spent a few hours on the weekend installing it. After a few bashed fingers (and a few bashed walls), I realised it would have been quicker and cheaper for me to have just hired a local handyman to do it for me.”
Here’s another way of looking at it:
“As a business owner, my time is best spent:”
You can brush your own teeth but wouldn’t do your own dental work (unless you’re Bob Mortimer). So, I say to you, yes you can and should maintain your own website but, should you distract yourself from working on your business by trying to match the success of websites built by people with decades of experience? Probably not.
I’m normally met with a healthy level of resistance at this stage of my talk by those who say they’d like to fund a proper website but simply can’t afford it. Unfortunately, in most cases, the mindset of the individual explaining they can’t afford a website has been conditioned to being adverse to risk.
If you’re serious about your business, then at some stage, you need to start taking some degree of risk. We all know the sayings like “you need to spend money to make money” and yet the latest generation of business owners are treating their business like a nest egg with money only going in, not out.
A good website is a good investment. Good investments pay themselves and more in the long run.
How to Pick Your New Website
As we’ve covered already, there are a large number of platforms out there today, as well as a large number of agencies providing their services. It’s not as complicated as it looks, when making a decision, once you know where to look.
First of all, DIY builders are out of the window. You’re running a professional business, not a hobby site. Not only do they not have the same level of flexibility and functionality that most businesses end up requiring. They also have very deceptive pricing models. They start off cheap as an effective means to entice new businesses in. You’ll quickly see how your monthly costs begin to stack up as you upgrade your plans and purchase additional monthly subscriptions in order to accomplish all of the functionality you want your website to have.
It’s not uncommon to see a modest sized online store with a $300NZD per month bill. The problem is, by the time they reach that point, they are now part of the Sunken Fallacy effect.
“The sunk cost fallacy is a logical fallacy that entails sticking with a losing or failed venture because you’ve already invested a significant amount of time, money, or other resources that you can’t get back.”
The same can also unfortunately be said for those who have been burned in their first attempt at hiring a web development company.
Our guide to a successful website only has one answer in it. We’ve done 15 years of experience and research to spare you the pain of coming to the same conclusion.
Just use WordPress. Honestly that’s all you need to do in order to solve any problem you are facing.
We have only ever needed to use a different programming language, CMS or framework when unique circumstances call for it. When we built a mobile app for iOS and Android that communicated with its parent website, we used a combination of .NET Core and AWS because the situation called for it. Small business sites do not require any such level of functionality.
43.2% of all websites on the internet use WordPress. Why is that a good thing? Look at it from a community perspective.
Firstly, the code written for WordPress is all open-source. This means it’s free to use and a community made up from millions of developers and users around the world all have access to the same code. This means if there is a problem, it gets fixed for free, almost immediately. It also means if you come across an issue whilst using the platform, you are virtually guaranteed that someone else has come across the same issue and the answer is waiting for you as the top result. There is no other platform that can compete against WordPress due to the size of the community using it.
Using lesser-known platforms or paid-platforms is simple maths on how it will affect you. There are less people to support you. If the code isn’t open-source, you’re at the mercy of waiting for the owners of that platform to identify the issue, patch it, then release the update.
The other major reason for WordPress being the universal skeleton key to any solution is its modular nature. A better way of approaching this subject is to think of WordPress as a car.
A car by default is a non-descriptive way of saying it probably has 4 wheels and a steering wheel. There are an infinite number of ways someone could modify their car to make it unique, whilst leveraging the same fundamental concepts as everyone else to keep it a car.
We at Nimbl have our own unique relationship with WordPress in this manner. We effectively take the default installation of WordPress, then strip it down for speed. Anything that’s not required for the essential operation of the particular car we are building at the time is removed.
We then add in features that are requested by our clients, before finishing with a beautiful custom body finish that ends up being one of a kind, with no compromises.
Picking The Right Development Company For You
Obviously we want you to pick us as your new creative partner. However, we also acknowledge we can’t be for everyone. But, we can still help guide you into making the right decision for your business.
With this in mind, Nimbl offers a non-biased proposal service. Like a silver-tongued car mechanic, it’s easy to overwhelm a car owner with lingo they don’t understand and fear them into making a purchase that’s not right for them. This is an issue that is plaguing our industry right now and we want to help put an end to this practice and stop.
Our commitment to you:
Whether you have received a proposal or are looking for help finding a suitable company, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a free report that is 100% without bias. You’re even welcome to remove their name from the quote for extra anonymity.
We will review any company or proposal in question and provide a short report into the quality of the service you are enquiring into. Our reports provide a technical breakdown to provide proof of our findings. As a final step to ensure there is no conflict of interest, we also do not advertise or recommend our services in the report, allowing you to make a clear judgement.