Just another brick in the web

Website design for local businesses is a delicate thing. A design firm needs to know everything relevant about their client company before building them a website, from locations to services to shipping policies and the owner’s preferred color scheme. Good web design is deliberate.

But there’s a trend we’re noticing locally, with businesses tied to websites from providers like YP.com and AT&T, who charge tons of money for websites that aren’t up to the standards we know local business owners expect.

If you’re interested in working with a website farm, be sure you know what you’re getting into before you sign up for service.

No Personalization

Proper SEO is important, but it’s not going to build a winning website by itself. Many of these sites read like a book report written by a kid who skipped the required reading, providing just enough factual truth to get by without saying anything that couldn’t be pasted into the website of another company in the same field.

Local businesses need personalization because it’s how we set them apart from their competition. If an HVAC repairman makes service calls while moonwalking and singing the chorus to “Thriller,” you better believe we’re going to mention it. The other guys get your AC running just as cold as anyone else, so distinction makes the difference.

A Lack of Communication

Sometimes our web design customers aren’t sure what they’d like on their website during the initial consultation. For many clients, it’s the first time they’ve been asked, “What would you like customers to see when they visit you online?” After the first draft is presented, we usually see excitement and a flood of ideas  from our clients, and that’s when we get to the real shaping of the site’s content.

Website farms don’t have the time for that kind of approach. You’ll receive an initial consultation, they’ll design the site and then you can give feedback. Sounds familiar, right? Except you can come to our office, sit down with us and tell us what you want, draw us a picture or explain through song (we would love for you to explain your needs in song!). You’ll meet your web designer and get exactly what you want.

We don’t doubt that with website farms, somewhere behind the phone automation and the lightless void of customer service there’s a person who would happily update your site, but good luck actually speaking to them.

It’s Controlling

Some business owners never want to get behind the scenes of their website and perform their own updates, but every client who has decided to leave their login credentials unused has still been happy to hear that if need be, they could update the site we built for them.

Web farm services depend on you not being able to make your own updates to justify their high monthly fees, and generally provide about an hour a month of consultation/updating, which is plenty of time when nothing much needs changing. It’s considerably less useful if you’re rebranding, adding a new line of products to your store or making any other big overhaul.

It’s Expensive

We’re not saying you can’t spend $1,000 or more every year on a website. A big site for a big company with plenty of custom options, secure forms, inventory database integration is worth that much and more to the right company. But $1,000 a year for a five-page website? It can be done cheaper and more effectively. And, amazingly, $1,000 a year is the low-end option at some services, like YP.com. An online store with AT&T’s services is $1,440 per year and they’ll only create the first 25 product pages for you, meaning a store with anything over 25 items is largely a self-serve operation.

Comparatively, BizBuzz sites are priced around the specific needs of a client, with monthly hosting fees at $10 for regular sites and $30 per month for online stores. If you want us to update your site, we can, but will only charge you for the time we spend doing it, with no additional monthly fees.

If you want to build a new website or bail out of an existing, overpriced plan with another company, give us a call at 256-235-9232 today to save money and get a better website.