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How long does it take to build a small business website?

Every small business web design company is different, so when business owners ask web designers, “how long does it take to build a small business website?”, they’ll get some wildly varying responses. There are many stages and tasks involved in web design, and the way these processes are scheduled and handled can be quite different between web designers.

For us, a standard “informational” website — one which is primarily just providing information and doesn’t have any additional features — is turned around within a few weeks at most. This of course varies depending on our schedule at the time, how quickly our clients get back to us, and so on. Anything more complex generally adds to the timeline, and some projects can therefore take several months.

So while there’s no definitive answer to the question, we can give you a little insight onto what goes into a typical small business website here at GO Creative.

Consultation

We usually prefer to meet face to face, to go through everything with the client before finalising a quote. It’s amazing how much more we can learn from a 30 minute chat than if we do everything purely online. Sometimes we’ll find out little details which affect the budget or the way we approach the project. Sometimes we find out things about the client’s business which doesn’t gel with ours, or we may even suggest they tackle some other business matters before going ahead with the project. Honesty is critical to ensure both parties are going to have a positive outcome.

Project kick off

Once a business has agreed to move forward, we’ll send them a project kick-off email which includes everything they need to know about the process, payment milestones, and support. We also provide links to an online questionnaire so that the client can simply click the link, answer some questions about their business and project, and submit. We then keep this information to use as a checklist when we’re putting the website together.

Development

We’re now ready to start on the website. We’re a little different here to many designers, in that, for most projects, we don’t prepare any mock-ups or wireframes up front. For larger and more complex projects, this is an important step. But for smaller websites, we’ve found over the years that spending time designing and revising image samples with clients in advance only wastes everyone’s time. With the speed at which we can change a website’s design on the fly, we simply design and develop the entire website, and add the client’s content, all in one hit.

Feedback

Once we’ve completed the entire website, we send it to the client for review. They can leave their feedback directly on the website itself, so we can track each individual change request, and let the client know once it’s resolved. When all changes are completed, the client approves the master design and we can move on to the next stage.

Training

Depending on the selected website package, we may provide face to face training at this point of the process. This allows the client to make any final adjustments to the website directly. This has two benefits: 1) They get a chance to learn the website software before the site is published; and 2) it’s faster for the client to tweak a few words here and there rather than have to write lengthy emails or phone to go through those tiny adjustments.

Approval

Now it’s over to the client to provide their final approval on the whole website. Once approved, we advise on the date we will publish the site, then run through a number of steps. This can include moving the website files and database to its “live” location, setting up Google accounts for statistics and monitoring, internal clean up tasks, and so on. We may also be engaged to provide search engine optimisation services as a separate project, in which case there are some additional steps we need to take throughout the website development process.

As you can imagine, with so many stages and tasks, there’s a lot of room for timeframes to vary with the project. We also rely on the client to provide feedback, choose a training date, make their adjustments, and provide approvals.

Even with multiple follow-ups to keep things on track, business owners are busy and these are areas where the project timeline can really blow out. So it’s important that a website build isn’t seen as something that can be passed to the web designer to handle the whole thing. The business owner will need to prioritise the project to ensure it’s completed quickly.

So, how long does it take to build a small business website? Anything from a couple of weeks… through to several months, depending on the project.

Does your business need a new or revamped website? Get an instant quote or book a consultation today!

How do I compare website packages from multiple website developers?

For many business owners trying to choose between website developers in Brisbane is too overwhelming and far too complicated, so they take the easy way out and just focus on price. At first glance, this might seem like a workable solution, however if you only focus on the costs, you can end up with a poor quality website that doesn’t suit your needs in the long term.

As we can all appreciate, sometimes in life we have to pay more for a quality product and this has never been truer than when you are selecting a website developer in Brisbane. For the vast majority of business owners however, cost will always be a serious consideration, but you should also consider and compare other factors as well. This helps you to make not only an informed decision, but a decision that is cost effective over the long term.

Comparing website developers in Brisbane

There are a number of factors you need to consider when you want a website that is value for money in Brisbane. Website developers will tell you all sorts of things, hoping to get your business, but savvy business owners know that there are three key questions they need answered.

  1. What are the key limitations of the package? For example, limitations can include the number of pages included in the package (many developers only include 5 pages), the number of revision rounds, whether training is included in the package, whether features for speed and security are included, and they may not offer suitable management and support options.
  2. What is their approach to content? Do they offer the services of a professional copywriter and can they provide stock images for your content? These are very valuable services and will pay for themselves time and time again in both return on investment and in saving you a serious amount of time. Many website developers in Brisbane present their clients with a website that is empty of content or has ‘place holding’ generic content – requiring the business owner to write and upload all of their own content.
  3. What is their experience? How long have they been a web developer in Brisbane? How much experience do they have? Do they have client testimonials and examples of their work? What is their turnaround time? Do they create high quality websites?

Another tactic is to ask the website developer to tell you how their packages compare to others that you are considering in Brisbane. Website developers should have no problem making these comparisons, in fact good developers will be more than willing to show you their work and discuss your options.

Should you include live chat with your ecommerce or corporate website design?

Many of our clients ask us about specific features they need in their websites, and increasingly we’re asked about online chat.

There are many factors that change over time in corporate website design, and over the past year or two there has a huge increase in live chat — not just the number of websites using it, but the number of different chat platforms available.

What is live chat?

For the uninitiated, live chat is where a visitor lands on a website and within a second or so, a live chat box opens in the right or left bottom corner of the screen, asking if you want to chat with a company representative or a support person.

What types of businesses look at using live chat?

In Brisbane, our website developers are finding that this type of feature isn’t always necessary and can in fact just end up a waste of time and money for many businesses. In particular, we find this question coming up quite frequently with business owners who are talking to us about ecommerce website design. Brisbane small businesses can be busy enough as it is, though, without having to manage yet another business tool.

So while they may see live chat as one of their priorities for a new online store, they later come to realise what’s involved in providing this service to their customers, and decide that it might not be as suitable for their business as they first thought. While there are always exceptions to the rule, including live chat in corporate or ecommerce website design isn’t necessarily suitable for all industries.

As an example, live chat is generally a good fit for:

  • helpdesk/support (where support is needed quickly and via multiple channels)
  • sales enquiries on expensive items (where it’s a big decision and the customer needs to know the details).

On the other hand, it’s generally not as suitable for:

  • small websites with less traffic (where the number of chat sessions will be so low as to not warrant the time or financial investment of setting it up and managing it)
  • websites with lower cost items (where buying decisions are fairly easy).

The pros and cons of live chat

If you’re considering including live chat in your ecommerce or corporate website design, the following pros and cons should help you make an informed decision.

Pros of live chat

  • With live chat you can answer a customer’s queries immediately, and when customers are happy with their interactions they may tell their friends, creating a positive impression of your business.
  • Live chat can also increase purchases, sales and add-ons, and can be a very cost-effective strategy.
  • Moreover, when one employee can deal with more than one customer at one time, including live chat in your corporate or ecommerce website design is a win-win situation.

Cons of live chat

  • On the negative side of the equation, unless you have someone manning live chat all the time during business hours, customers can be left waiting, and may quickly become frustrated.
  • As an example, if you have a small number of employees or you run your business from home, then including live chat in your new ecommerce website design, might not be the best strategy for growth. These people may not have the capacity to operate a live chat line all day long, so it’s best if they simply fall back to using email support.

As you can appreciate, its best to first discuss your options with local website developers. In Brisbane or Logan areas, we go out to see our clients at their offices for a free consultation. Before going ahead with live chat, it’s important to know all of the facts, as the wrong decision can have significant repercussions for your business.

Why do business owners choose website developers based solely on price?

When businesses are looking for a new website, they’ll of course source quotes from multiple website developers. In Brisbane, and right across the country, there are countless web development companies who offer standardised website packages. But these packages can be difficult to compare, and often the way the information is presented is vastly different, so businesses will fall back on looking mainly at the costs.

Normally a website developer will offer a few tiers of packages, too, so even selecting the right package once you’ve decided on the company can be hard.

On top of that, the language used by each developer will often vary. While one company might refer to a feature as “SEO tools”, another might say “Manage your Google presence” or “Search engine configuration options”. For the layperson, this just adds an extra layer of complexity to the decision over which website developer to choose.

Is price the best way to compare website developers in Brisbane?

So at this point, the business has to consider:

  • The developer’s folio of work, industries served, and clients
  • Other project factors such as timeframes, or payment options available from the developer
  • The website package that best suits their needs, including all of the features and benefits, across potentially 10 or 12 website packages
  • The total and ongoing costs

While it’s fairly easily to work through the first couple of items above, if you can’t make sense of the website packages then ultimately the buck stops at the price.

Price is definitely a serious consideration for most business owners and it is understandable that comparing prices seems to simplify the decision. The problem is that the cheapest website developer in Brisbane isn’t always the best option (in fact, that’s very rarely the case), so it’s important that you have a solid understanding of what you are comparing, so you can make an informed decision.

While keeping one eye on the costs, gut instinct is often used by many business owners to select the best person for the job, based on whether they feel comfortable with them, which can be important too. There is nothing wrong with using your gut instinct and being aware of prices, but to make the best decision for your business, you need to compare the different packages offered by each website developer. In Brisbane there are literally thousands of developers who could be the right fit.

So how do you compare the options?

Don’t get caught up looking at the features presented. Think about the benefits to your business. For example, do you actually care if the website package includes “speed optimisations”, or are you more interested in hearing that the website will load faster for your visitors, increasing your conversion rates?

Websites aren’t just something to tick off your To Do list. They should offer a return on your investment, so it’s important to find out more from each developer about any relevant case studies they can show you, and the expected results from the new website. While no one has a crystal ball, if the developer has done their homework they’ll usually be able to give you some guidelines around that. You want to be confident that the website will actually improve your business in some way.

If you have trouble comparing the packages from different website developers, in Brisbane or anywhere else for that matter, it’s not unreasonable to ask a developer to compare their packages with a competitor of your choice. Apart from helping you to make clear comparisons between two or more developers, asking a developer to make these comparisons for you will give you some idea of their character, which will feed back into your gut feeling about them.

In the end, there are many factors here. Focusing only on costs might be the easy solution, but it’s likely not the best solution.

What do web developers do that business owners don’t?

Are you looking at making changes to your website, and are unsure whether to do it yourself or ask local Brisbane website developers?

When it comes to managing a website, there should be a balance whereby the owner of the website can be involved to a point, and where their web developer can handle everything else.

For example, if a website is built correctly and training has been provided, the business owner (or their staff) should be able to update content on pages and blog posts, add users, view statistics, and so on. Essentially, all of the content-related tasks.

But when it comes to adding more features, changing the theme or design, or any custom coding work, this is where the web developer should be the one to handle it.

Where things can go wrong for website owners

If you want to handle everything yourself, there are many somewhat hidden risks which need to be taken into account. The list below isn’t exhaustive, but risks can include:

  • website software becoming outdated, leading to unresolved bugs and security holes
  • website software being kept up to date, but causing compatibility issues with other installed software
  • plugins or themes slowing down the website
  • plugins, themes or custom code causing pages to not load/display properly
  • the dreaded “white screen of death” when the wrong button is pressed.

Some websites won’t have too many issues over time, but it only takes one stray line or code, one out of date or insecure plugin, one failed software upgrade, and the website is offline. Sometimes, the issue is irreversible. Sometimes websites are hacked and there are sudden, hefty fees to clean the sites and restore them to working order. It can go pear shaped very easily.

Obviously, none of this is ideal. But the good news is, most of the above issues can easily be avoided if you use a web development company to manage your website changes for you.

Lean on your website maintenance company

We regularly have clients ask us for a quote on making changes to their website. Once we know what their objectives are, we’ll look into the best options. Sometimes that means installing extra software or writing custom code, other times it’s some simple settings changes. It’s important to consider all of the options, because it’s not always the most obvious (or cheapest) one.

However, as one of the leading web development companies in Brisbane, website developers in our team have a wealth of experience in these matters. We know what pitfalls to look out for, including making sure the solution is:

  • going to achieve the business goals
  • suitable for the long term (where possible)
  • scalable/flexible (in case needs change)
  • cost effective (including offering a return on investment)
  • handled according to best practice.

The layperson simply can’t make the same informed decision. And it’s important to remember that a website isn’t a hobby project or something to mess around with; it’s a vital component in the marketing toolbox for your business. It’s paramount that the website does its job in helping to grow the business, in one way or another.

Your time estimate versus a web developer’s time estimate

In many cases, a website change which may take a business owner an hour to do, would only take their developer five minutes. And that’s great, because it not only saves the business owner time, but also gets the job done sooner, at a low cost.

But there are also many cases where the opposite is true: a task may seem quick and easy in theory, but in reality, there are many considerations and steps in the process which the layperson would be unaware of. A good web development company will factor everything in for you.

Think of it like taking your car to the mechanic because it’s leaking oil. In your mind, this probably means there’s a hole somewhere that need to be plugged, and the job is done. But what if half of the engine needs to be removed to get to the hole? What if the oil needs to be cleaned from various components? What if there’s an underlying issue which caused the hole in the first place? The job could be much more extensive than you expected.

Part of the reason the time estimates vary so greatly, from the business owner to the web developer, is that nowadays, website software such as WordPress has reached a level of maturity whereby virtually anyone can build a website.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good website, or that it will be done efficiently or correctly, or that the business owner saved money doing that instead of working on their business, but nevertheless, it can be done. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, sometimes.

Steps a web development company may take

In the situation where a job seems simple but it really isn’t, your website development company may need to do some or all of the following tasks (above and beyond simply “doing the work”):

  • gathering project details, login details, goals, ideas (etc) up front
  • communication and advice based on the above
  • research into the best options/software
  • research into potential speed, security and compatibility issues
  • presenting the options, with pros and cons for each
  • writing custom code to make it easier to re-use the same code in multiple places on the website
  • implementation of the solution
  • design customisations for seamless integration
  • updating the website menu and links within pages
  • providing training and documentation
  • taking backups before and after implementation
  • testing/feedback
  • answering follow up questions.

As you can see, even an apparently “small” job can actually take quite some time, and therefore, money. And just because there’s a free plugin out there, it doesn’t mean that’s the way to go.

What are the options if you don’t have the funds?

If you don’t have the budget for the job, you have lots of options. You can:

  • get a loan
  • arrange a payment plan
  • postpone until funds are available
  • break the job into smaller stages
  • ask if there are any cheaper options
  • simply not do it at all.

Remember, you’re perfectly entitled to ask for a web development company to break down their quote or explain the charges. However, keep in mind that you’re working with a specialist, so they should be treated as such. Questioning everything or squabbling over fees will only lead to an erosion of trust, and ultimately, the end of the relationship.

Sometimes things cost more than you may expect. You have to look at the return on investment from handling website maintenance with your Brisbane web development company, instead of doing it yourself, but ultimately it’s up to you whether you proceed.

But one thing is for sure: if you focus on running your business, and leave the rest to your trusted partners, your business will flourish.

How do quality website developers in Brisbane justify their hourly rates?

A quick Google search will turn up the minimum rates for website developers in Brisbane, ranging from $20/hr to $200+ per hour. Overseas freelancers can charge as little as $10/hr or even less, so how do you know if the price you have been quoted is going to get you the results you’re looking for?

The problem is that there are many ways to use custom coding to achieve the same results on websites, but essentially, you will pay more for an experienced website developer in Brisbane, than for a young junior who is wet behind the ears. Without a doubt, not all Brisbane website developers are equal, and you need to spend some time comparing their prices and their experience.

Experienced vs inexperienced web developers

Experienced web developers know how to achieve the best results quickly and efficiently. A young and inexperienced web developer in Brisbane is more likely to make mistakes that you may not ever notice, and overlook important considerations that are not picked up until it’s too late. They also have a habit of not planning ahead which can cause long delays, not knowing what questions to ask to ensure that all of your features are included in your website, writing inefficient code causing your site to run slowly, and so on. Some of this is purely due to inexperience, but that doesn’t help you if you are on the receiving end.

Comparing apples to apples

When you receive website quotes, and some web developers seem high compared to other quotes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re paying more for the same thing. There are so many factors involved in developing high quality websites, so the packages offered will vary considerably. It’s not as straightforward as comparing quotes from, say, a concreter. With websites, there are many different software packages and configurations available, and many ways to achieve the same thing. There are also considerations about training, support, warranties, location, and other factors outside of simply providing you with a website.

Always do your research and investigate who will be working on your website, and whether they are experienced or not. After all, there is little point in paying $10/hr for a poorly constructed and inefficient website, even if it looks great, because in the end, your website needs to convert visitors into paying customers. And first, they need to find the website!

How is website pricing structured?

The majority of quality website developers in Brisbane charge by the project, which can be much more cost-effective if the project overruns its deadline. Websites with higher price tags are generally built by more experienced website developers, because they need to be reimbursed for their time, skills and experience. There may also be overheads associated with larger web design agencies, compared to freelancers. But you’re essentially paying for reliability too. It’s incredible how often we hear about web developers who have simply dropped off the face of the earth.

Checking that your chosen website developer is indeed experienced and warrants the higher costs is something that comes down to opening a dialogue and asking some pointed questions. In the end, you need to match your budget with the best web developer you can find, so don’t opt for the cheapest, as you might regret this decision sooner rather than later.

What does a $500 website look like?

Some business owners believe they can save money by buying a cheap $500 website from an overseas company, instead of hiring Australian website developers. In Brisbane however, corporate website design is proving to be vital to the success of many businesses, particularly in the current financial climate when every little edge can make a huge difference to sales.

The problem is that spending $500 on a website might seem like a lot of money to some small business owners, but if you want a website that reflects your brand and stands the test of time, you need to invest in professional, corporate web design services. If you are in the market for a new corporate website design, here are six reasons why you need to avoid the cheap $500 websites.

  1. Cookie cutter websites: The only way that these overseas designers (and some local designers as well) can afford to sell their websites for $500 is by using just a few simple templates with very limited customisations. This means that your new website will look like thousands of others on the internet, something that experienced website developers in Brisbane avoid at all costs.
  2. Slow speeds: These cheap websites are rarely optimised for speed, because when you pay $500 for a website, the designer wants to take your money and run, and they aren’t bothered about finessing your website. Without a doubt, if you want a fast loading website, your best strategy is to hire website developers who specialise in corporate website design in Brisbane.
  3. No security: Cheap websites are far more likely to be hacked than websites designed by experienced and professional developers who know how to make your website secure for your customers.
  4. No training: If your staff need training to keep your websites updated, you have no hope with website developers who charge $500 for a website. This is not part of their deal, leaving you high and dry right from the starting gate.
  5. Technical issues: With no-one to turn to when technical issues cause your Google rankings to drop, you will spend even more money finding a real developer to fix your ailing and poorly designed website.
  6. No tools: Professional developers who offer corporate web design services in Brisbane always ensure that you have the tools to update and manage the content on your new website. With a cheap website, you will be given just the basics and will have to turn to a real developer to find these tools.

In the long run, a cheap $500 website will cost you more money, because you won’t be happy and will eventually need to hire real website developers in Brisbane to redesign the site or fix ongoing problems. When all’s said and done, it’s always better to invest in a high-end corporate website design than a cheap imitation, particularly if you want to grow and expand your business.

Is a ‘friend of a friend’ really your best choice for designing your website?

If you’re thinking about asking your friend, cousin or nephew to design your website, the first thing to ask yourself is: do they work for a web design company? In Brisbane, we see far too many business owners who have used a friend or relative to design their website, either to help out their friend, or to save themselves some money.

Eventually, most of these businesses will turn to a professional web development team in Brisbane to help fix the problems with their website, or start over. You wouldn’t ask your friend for medical advice or to help you fill out your tax return unless they’re qualified in those fields, would you? So why go to someone who isn’t a professional developer to design your website or help you with online marketing?

If we’re all honest about it, anyone who is really good at what they do will run a business full time and charge industry rates for their work, not just work as a side project in a field completely unrelated to their normal employment. But if you’re not still convinced that experienced, professional website developers in Brisbane will do a better job than someone who is not in the industry, here are three reasons that might change your mind.

1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

It’s very unlikely that someone who “tinkers with websites” will know how to optimise your new website for search engines, or write content appropriately. Even more importantly, the theme and design you select can impact heavily on your SEO, and a non-professional might not know which themes are better for SEO than others. This can result in your website not ranking very well in search engines, and ultimately, you’ll spend more money to have your website redesigned by a professional web development team in Brisbane.

2. Branding

Your website needs to be designed around your branding, with the right layout, colours, fonts, and logo. Getting this right is vital to the success of your business and it’s unlikely that a non-professional will have the skills and the experience to ensure that your branding is a priority and that your website reflects your brand. If your branding is done correctly, and applied consistently across all of your materials, it will go a long way towards building brand recognition.

3. Lost time

At the moment you realise that your new website isn’t working for your business, that’s the time you look back and see all of the time you’ve wasted. At GO Creative, just because we are website developers, we still can’t create a perfect website overnight, but we can create very high quality websites in a reasonable amount of time.

For assistance with web development in Brisbane, why not get an instant quote online?

Why are search engine results different from one person to the next?

Brisbane website developers are well aware that two people can have different search results using the same keywords. This can also happen when you perform the same search on a PC and a smart phone and whilst it can be annoying to some people, if your website is on page 1 on a PC and on page 3 on a smartphone, suddenly it becomes much more than simply annoying.

As a web design company in Brisbane, it’s this incongruity between search results that often concerns our clients, as they don’t understand why their website can show up on different pages of the serps (search result pages), between different devices and searchers.

Understanding how search engines search for information

The problem is that Google wants to deliver the most relevant search results to users, and as fast as possible. So it has developed deep neural networks that are designed to think like a human brain (or at least to try and think like a human brain), and these are used all over the internet to improve the user experience; this approach is called ‘deep learning’.

So when you search for ‘Brisbane web development’, your results are based not only on your keywords, but also on your search history, as well as what other people are searching for online and which sites have content that closely resembles what the search engine ‘thinks’ you want.

Google can also change the order of the results it shows you, depending on the device you are using. So for example, if you are using a smartphone and one of the websites that matches your keyword query for ‘Brisbane web development’ isn’t mobile friendly, it will downgrade that result with a lower ranking and show you more mobile friendly results. On your PC, this won’t be a problem, so this is one reason why you might see different results on different devices.

Another reason that you might see different results in the serps is due to your location and whether or not you are logged into your Google accounts. Google preferentially presents search results based on your location and also uses data from your various Google accounts to refine the results it presents to you.

A trick that website developers often use in Brisbane to overcome these problems is to use a browser’s ‘private’ searching mode, use a different browser, clear the browsing history and cookies from your cache, log out of your Google account and turn off your location data.

If you need help from a web development company in Brisbane, why not get an instant quote online?