There comes a time in every business owner's professional life when they realize that site they had put together back in 1996 is now worthless. Let's face it, by today's standards, it sucks. Maybe it's even worse, and you don't have one in the first place. What stopping you? I know, sometimes it feels like what isn't stopping you. Everything these days is driving your cost of doing business up.
Luckily, your website shouldn't be something that weighs your business down. As a matter of fact, with a minimal investment, you could turn that old site of yours from an eyesore into a revenue generator.
How? Well, I'm going to share some more tips and advice, so bookmark this page. You'll want it later!
First, let's kill one of the biggest myths I hear all the time: "I don't need a great site because I don't sell my products/services online. So what does it matter?"
Besides being flat out wrong, what's frustrating about that comment is the hint of laziness behind it. Most business owners know full well that they need to have a respectable website if they want to be taken seriously in the marketplace.
"It costs too much to have a good site." Wrong.
This is what derails most well intentioned business owners. Admittedly, they aren't that technically savvy, so they feel vulnerable to sleazy coders out there. To avoid that, they end up approaching huge site building firms for something that is fairly simple. Consequently, the price-tag ends up being prohibitively high. So, that "web idea" gets put back on the shelf again until next year.
The fact is, you can get great web development services, you just need to know where to look.
The first place I always recommend is people you know. Ask other business owners who made their sites, or if they know a developer they trust. Most will share the info with you as long as you aren't a competitor in the same space as them. They're often eager to tell you about their experience too.
In general, people love to tell their stories. It's likely the person was in the same boat as you before, and found their way through the fog. So they are eager to tell people how they figured it all out. Plus, if they teamed up with a good developer, they will usually want to pass that developer's information on.
Otherwise, a great place to look is a place like Rent-a-coder. RAC is a site where coders and clients meet up. In a nutshell, you create an account on RAC, and post some details on the "job" you want done. Be as detailed as you can about what you are ultimately trying to get done with your site. Set a budget or leave it open to the marketplace.
Then, just sit back and watch the bids start rolling in. You'll easily get 6 to 12 bids or more on your specific job. For each bidder, you can see their profile, job history, and satisfaction rating. You can then discuss the details of the job at hand.
Once you've settled on a coder, your payment goes into escrow. The RAC site holds onto your money until the job is done to your satisfaction. Once it is complete, RAC will pay the coder with the escrowed funds.
You're protected because all communication between you and the coder happens on the RAC website. So let's say that the coder fails to meet a discussed deadline or deliverable. There will be a record of said details on the website. From there, a RAC arbitrator will decide who is entitled to the escrowed funds. So your money is safe, and you don't have to worry about paying someone and never hearing from them again.
What's the advantage?
The advantages of using a service like this include huge cost savings, speed, and peace of mind. You'll be dealing with a coder one-on-one, many of which work for big developers and take on side projects like this. You'll also save big bucks compared to big development shops. And the service protects your money to help you from being taken for a ride.
What if I don't want to spend any money at all?
Believe it or not, there are things that you can do to make your site much better without spending any money at all. What are they? You'll have to say tuned for part two! (Read Part 2)