“How much should I pay for a website?”

One of the organizations I belong to is the Staten Island Netpreneurs, which is a great technical resource for local small businesses. (For those of you who can’t make it to Staten Island once a month, Viv wrote a piece about starting your own group.)

In our monthly meetings, we start with a talk, usually by a member, about some e-commerce problem or idea, and end with questions from the floor, answered from the floor. Each meeting is about a dozen people.

This Wednesday, one of the members, the owner of a spa, asked how much he should have to pay to get a website set up. There were two contradictory answers and then a third answer,  a combination of the two.

Answer 1: Set up a blog. Blogs are free and they’re easy to set up, design, and run. You don’t need any special skills.

Answer 2: Don’t set up a blog. A blog only works if you add to it regularly. But as you add material, whatever you wrote earlier gets pushed to the bottom of the page or into a monthly archive. So if you have a particular message (mission statement, list of services, etc.) that you want readers to see as soon as they come to your site, it’s invisible after a month or so.

Answer 3: Set up a blog, see what works, and then create a website based on what you’ve learned. You can find out what appeals to your readers by the responses you get and the clicks reported for each post, and you may also find out what’s most important to you as you write about your business or organization. Then, by the end of six months or a year, you’ll know what should be on your real, fixed website.

The hardest and most time-consuming part of designing a website is figuring out what you want, and the less clear you are, the more expensive the process is, since your designer has to revise and re-revise the site.  (As a web designer, this is a process I know all too well.)

The spa owner is probably going to go with answer #3: set up a blog and create a website later when he knows what works. No doubt he’ll be our guest speaker in a few months.

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