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The Right Time to Hire a Web Designer

by Arianne Foulks

October 15, 2013

Having a great website and starting up a small business is a chicken-and-egg problem. You need a professional-looking and user-friendly web presence to get publicity and make sales, but it’s hard to pay for the website without having some financial success with your business.

We used to do more quick and simple projects, but have adjusted our services so that now our goal is to provide a well-planned website that is intended to attract customers/visitors and bloggers (and other press), be easily shared on social media, and provide a thoroughly user-friendly experience.

This attention to detail comes at a cost, of course, which is why we are a good choice for small businesses that have already gotten their feet wet and are ready to move on to the next step. If you are still in the beginning stages, it may be a better idea to invest your budget elsewhere – though if you’re ready to jump in with both feet, we have launched some very successful brand-new businesses!

These are the kinds of questions I hear a lot:

  • Should I hire someone to design a site for me?
  • When can I afford to hire a web designer?
  • Can a tiny business justify splurging on a professional website?
  • Why is pro web design better than a template?
  • Will the new website itself lead to more sales?
  • Will a new website give me more traffic?

While the answer to these will depend on your circumstances, I do have some insight to share.

When to invest in a professionally-designed, custom website. What a website will and won't do for you, and how to prepare.

Is an Aeolidia website a good investment right now?

People are sometimes surprised when I turn their project down, not based on their business type, timeline, or budget, but based on where their business is at in its progress. Our aim is to create a website that will propel you forward, and if I don’t feel that your money would be well-spent hiring us, I’ll make alternate recommendations – how to get started with less commitment as you learn what works for your business.

It feels good to steer someone in the right direction, even if it may be disappointing at the time. Sara Tams of Sarah & Abraham has a story up on her blog about the time I turned her down:

I sent an email to owner Arianne Foulks asking what a complete website would cost, and she replied saying that if you’re just starting selling your products online, it can be good to test the waters by selling on a third party site first. She provided several suggestions, and one of them was Etsy.

At the time I was really disappointed with her response (I so badly wanted to have a beautiful website, and felt like her company was the only one I would want to use), but it turned out to be the best advice I’ve received since starting up my company.

As I’ve mentioned before, Etsy has been a very supportive and helpful community, and it’s an extremely low cost way to start putting your product out there. I’ve learned so much over the past couple of months, continually changing my mind about what to offer, how to price it, etc.

I still hope to get to a point someday where I’m ready for my own website (and sure hope to have it designed by Aeolidia), but now I’m realizing that that day is still pretty far off. I still have lots of work to do on my product line and need a lot more sales before I’m ready for my own professionally designed site.

This was in 2008. We have since designed and redesigned Sara’s website, and it is looking (and working) really great nowadays.

Working with Aeolidia is the right step to take when you have some momentum, or when you feel held back from taking the next step for your business.

You’re almost there, and you feel success waiting on the horizon, but need a boost:

  • You have interested potential wholesale clients, but you feel that your clunky old website will lower their opinion of your products.
  • You know some magazines/blogs that would go nuts for your product, but you feel awkward about getting in touch, because of your embarrassing website.
  • Your products have been selling like hotcakes at craft shows, but you want to target an audience that’s willing to spend more.
  • Your business has grown so much that your current setup is stealing your valuable time with administrative tasks.
  • It’s a brand-new business, but you have experience from another endeavor that is guiding you.

What a brand-new website won’t do for you

The website itself is not likely to substantially increase sales all on its lonesome (unless you have lots of great visitors that are having a very hard time using your current website). If you have a lot of interest and visitors, and not many sales, then a change in perception can be very valuable.

This is why we include photography, copywriting, and marketing consultations with our website plans. A pretty website wrapped around poor content is not going to do you much good.

The new website will not bring in new traffic automatically. All it can do on that front is sell better and work more easily for your existing visitors. Targeted, consistent, and effective marketing and PR can be paired with a smart and user-friendly website to get more customers and convince them to make purchases.

The new website probably won’t result in press for you… unless you go and get it.

What a professionally-designed website can do for you

The website won’t be a magic wand for traffic or sales, but you can use the new website as the subject of press releases and promote it through your blog as well as ask for publicity from other websites/blogs that are of interest to your customers to share it as well.
Indie Untangled learns how to pitch her new site to bloggers

With confidence that the site is looking and working its best, you can reach out to press, retailers, etc. that you may have been afraid to contact before (or who may have been uninterested) and expand your reach that way.
Little Hip Squeaks triples her wholesale orders right after launching her new site

Along with goals of increasing sales and improving perception of a business, we work to make your website easier: easier for you to update and maintain, easier when you’re packing orders and helping customers, and easier for customers to use to find what they’re looking for and make a purchase.
The new Queen Bee Creations site saves Rebecca tons of time and work

When your business has grown enough, we can provide special features that you can’t get out of the box: syncing inventory with a brick and mortar shop or setting up special product types, such as customizable stationery. Perhaps we can set up an easy to use wholesale shop, to save time and encourage wholesalers to make orders.
Tickled Teal’s new site allows them to sell customizable products easily

The bottom line

I wish I could tell you how much money a new website could make for you, but it’s ultimately reliant on how, where, and how much you are able to promote and sell your business to people who can help spread the word. We provide support and a kick-off in this effort, but it will be work!

The last thing I want to do is convince you to invest in something that’s not going to pay for itself, so if you don’t feel confident that you could use the website to push your business to where you want it to be, it would be best to focus on other efforts until you feel that the site will serve you well. When your business is at that “tipping point” where our work can move you forward, that’s the sweet spot that we aim to meet you in.

Next steps

What can you do to get yourself to where you want to be, and be able to commission a custom website that is just right for your business, gives you the confidence needed to make your next moves, and makes things easy for your and your customers? I would suggest focusing on building your brand, increasing profit, and planning for the time when you work with us to build an online home for your business that will take you to the next level.

In the meantime, please sign up for our newsletter, where I provide all kinds of help and ideas for improving your business and website.

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