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Why Do you need a website for your Fort Collins Business?
There are hundreds of reasons why you need a website for your Fort Collins business. Whether it’s attracting new customers, selling products and services, or providing information, the internet is now the first place people go before making any purchase decisions. Therefore having a well-built site could make the difference between success and failure, especially if you’re running a local business.
Your website is your portal onto the internet. That means it needs to be good enough to represent your brand and your company online. Your website must work for you 24/7 so potential customers can always find out what you have to offer even when they aren’t looking directly at their screens.
This guide’s goal is to tell you everything you need to know about building a website to drive more traffic, business, and sales into your Fort Collins business.
What is a Fort Collins Website?
Website design is like creating an online resume for your business. The site’s goal is briefly to showcase all it can do before pointing people towards where they can learn even more about what it does. Companies are always on the lookout for ways to advertise their trade or talent better. A stunning, well SEO-optimized website can make a huge difference in your bottom line.
How Much Will Your Website Project Cost?
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Should You Hire A Web Design Agency or Use a DIY Web Design Platform?
There are many options to choose from when deciding how you’re going to design your Fort Collins business’ website. The world wide web is full of opinions as to which option would be best suited for you. One of the most significant decisions you’ll make is hiring a web design agency or using a DIY web design platform. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to weigh up all of these factors before choosing one as your primary method.
DIY Web Design Platforms
Suppose you’ve been online at any point recently. In that case, there’s a big chance that you’ve come across a DIY website builder tool such as Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. These services are always offering free trials, money-off deals, and slick-looking templates.
- Huge range of customizable website design options that
- Potential for a modern looking website with unique branding
- Quick and easy setup process
- Variety of features including blogging, limited eCommerce, and hosting packages available
- Email accounts included on most plans
The real disadvantage of a DIY platform usually hits people in competitive local industries or competitive national eCommerce businesses. Suppose you compete against your local contractor, who has been around for 25 years, and everyone knows their brand name. In that case, you will need a perfectly designed website that is fully ready to compete against a company like that.
If you’re selling products online, then DIY may not work as well as you hoped without an eCommerce plan from the service provider, which starts from around $10/m. Suppose you currently have a full-time web developer on staff. In that case, it could be better for them to build the site instead so they can incorporate more advanced code and features rather than what you’re able to do with a DIY website builder.
Professional Web Designers
- A professionally designed website created by experts
- Graphics and images are high quality
- Increased SEO rankings due to more backlinks with other sites and higher quality content
- SEO and PPC campaigns help maintain your rankings and increase online traffic
- Option to launch an eCommerce site if you’re selling products or services
- Designers often know which trends are popular and what looks good, so they’ll be able to incorporate such features into your new Fort Collins business website.
Agencies may require contracts for the design period, which might be too pricey for a startup or small business just getting off the ground. Generally, professional site design will eventually pay itself off when your site’s traffic volume increases. Still, it could prove a major setback if you’re not generating results straight away.
A web design company may even require minimum monthly advertising or SEO spend of up to $350+, which leaves very little room for error if any setbacks occur during this period.
Our Recommended DIY Web Design Platforms
It’s no secret that the web is changing rapidly. However, it can be challenging for small business owners to create websites that meet their needs without breaking the bank.
The good news is there are many different website creation platforms available on the market today. So if you’re interested in taking advantage of this advanced technology without having to hire professionals or break the bank, here are some DIY design platforms we recommend:
WordPress websites have become by far the most popular option for DIY website creators. It requires virtually no technical skills to use, and it’s incredibly user-friendly. If you have ever used a blogging platform before, then you already know how to use WordPress. It also has an endless library of free plugins that allow you to easily add advanced functionalities without hiring a developer or learning any programming languages.
WordPress is also highly customizable, with thousands of themes for just about any business type out there.
To take advantage of the incredible power behind WordPress, simply visit their website.
You can use WordPress with almost any web hosting service out there. If you don’t already have a website host that you like, we recommend trying Siteground. They offer one-click WordPress install on their servers, meaning that setting up your site will be as easy as pie.
For all the good with WordPress, it can also be a double-edged sword when choosing it as a web design platform. WordPress is easy to make a basic site or build off the countless WordPress templates on the internet. Still, to truly make the site your own, it can take a lifetime of customizations and frustrations as you try to navigate the infinite combinations of systems in WordPress.
If WordPress doesn’t seem like the right website design platform for you, there are many other DIY web technologies out there as well.
Squarespace is a highly user-friendly website builder with a focus on aesthetics and ease of use. They have pre-designed templates to make it easier for novices to create websites. Still, they offer advanced functionalities such as e-commerce capabilities or member’s areas if you want more flexibility in your website.
With Squarespace, you get what you have paid for here. You can get an essential website for a very affordable amount. Still, Squarespace has struggled for years to have a platform that adapts well to search engine optimization. The developer environment on Squarespace is non-existent when compared to more open platforms like WordPress. If you need your site to draw in business, your Squarespace website will probably never get the job done for you. If you need something, prospective clients can double-check your business validity; it can do a great job.
Wix is another extremely user-friendly web design platform that makes creating your website super simple. It’s not quite as powerful or customizable as WordPress or Square Space; however, it will only cost you around $5/month.
Wix offers over 40 free themes that are fully customizable with their drag-and-drop editor. The best part is if you decide that you would like to switch themes later the road, it’s just one click away. Wix also offers 24/7 support via phone, email, or chat, which can be very helpful if you’re new to website design and need some assistance.
Wix is the training wheels of website design platforms. If you want to use a DIY platform and have zero experience with site design and no desire to get better, this is the platform for you. The ease of use comes with a warning. Just like Squarespace, this platform lacks heavily in the digital marketing resources and functionality customization areas. Suppose you need a powerful marketing site or robust functionality on your site. In that case, this is not the DIY platform we recommend for you.
What Parts Does Every Web Design Need?
Each web design will need a specific set of web pages to function appropriately for your audience. The most critical pages are listed below:
As we mentioned before, you never want to leave out contact information on any website design. Because it’s one of the first things that people will try and use as a resource to figure out if they can trust your business.
The process of adding contact information is super simple.
Depending on how much information you would like listed, it typically only takes a couple of minutes or less. The main thing that makes this process so easy is that every platform has pre-built contact us template. That automatically places all of your necessary contact information in the correct spot on your site and makes sure it looks good.
A Call to Action
Website design is a lot of things, but first and foremost, it’s a marketing tool more than anything else. Even if you’re not trying to sell something on your site, there needs to be a call to action that lets people know that more information can be found deeper in your website.
The best advice we could give for creating a call to action is to think about what your audience would want from your website. Use those ideas as inspiration for the content you include on your contact page. In addition to contact information, some other widespread calls to action are:
- Offering coupons or discounts for new visitors who sign up with email addresses
- Use a call-to-action button at the bottom of blog posts for people to subscribe to an RSS feed or follow your social channels.
About US Page
The about us page of your website is one of the most important things you will add to your site. People need to know what they are clicking on when they get to your website, and the best way to accomplish this is by giving them a background of what you do.
Legal Disclaimer Page
In addition to these five items, there may be additional sections required at a minimum, depending on your website’s goal. We will touch on these below based on the need case.
What Does Every Local Lead Generation Web Design Need?
A lead generation website is a site that collects information from its visitors to bring them one step closer to becoming a customer.
In the case of local lead generation websites, there are a few items that you will need on top of what we mentioned above:
Powerful Service Landing Pages
When building a lead generation website, users will be expecting the content that is useful to them. Valuable content means filling your site with as much information as possible about the services you offer and how consumers can use those services.
These pages provide three main benefits to local businesses:
- It gives you something extra to show on search engine results pages (SERPS)
- It lets users know that you are an expert in your field.
- You give yourself more time to talk with leads before they convert into customers.
Landing pages are just web pages explicitly designed to help guide the user towards converting into a customer.
Since Google first started cracking down on local SEO practices, geotagging marketing has been an essential tool for online marketers. The idea behind geotagging your business is if potential customers search for your product or service. They see several results just miles away from their location, which will get more clicks than seeing results across the country.
Suppose you’ve searched for any restaurant, business, or even local attractions in person. In that case, you know that many of the results will come from places right down the road. Suppose your site doesn’t have some geotag marketing on it.
In that case, you’re going to miss out on thousands of visitors who may end up canceling their plans for a night out because they simply didn’t find what they were looking for.
Even if you aren’t a local photography studio adding high-quality photos to your page is always an attribute that will drive more traffic. Having beautiful imagery instead of text would help people understand what you do better than anything else.
For example, let’s say a law firm in Colorado specializes in solving family issues. These photos could be anything from divorce to child support and anything else that could affect families in this way.
Having photos of different family members or even stock imagery of people smiling while hugging each other would be the best choice for imagery in this website section.
After you’ve had some time serving clients, it’s always best to ask them if they’d like to leave some positive feedback on your website about what it was like to work with you. Client Testimonials are more than just collecting their email addresses either. Once someone leaves some public testimonial content on your site. That testimonial will help build trust with all future visitors, which will help them understand whether or not you’re the right person for their needs.
Client Testimonials are especially beneficial to local lead generation sites because it helps put a face behind your business that visitors can remember while on your site. Then, when they click on one of your services and see more testimonials from the same person, the trust factor becomes even more significant.
What Does Every National Lead Generation Web Design Need?
To answer this question is simple: everything that a local lead generation website has but built out for each of your marketed areas. It doesn’t take a lot of words to explain it, but the amount of work based on how many states you service can be staggering.
What Does Every Ecommerce Web Design Need?
Web design for eCommerce sites is full of unique opportunities and challenges not present in most other types of websites.
Every eCommerce website needs a shopping cart system. A shopping cart means that the website should accept payment information and track orders as they come in. There should be some way for customers to add items into their online shopping carts and pay for those items before completing the checkout process.
Another thing that every eCommerce site needs is a way for customers to browse or search through the product catalog and add items into their shopping carts. It’s crucial that the website not be too cluttered with navigation options. Still, there should also be several ways to find products depending on the type of customer you are on a website.
For example, a customer who knows what they want will likely visit an online store using the search bar or perhaps via a short categories section. Someone who wants inspiration might enjoy browsing through collections based on topic or season. Whatever your product, make sure it’s easy for each customer to find what they need!
Finally, there should be some system to manage the products sold. Inventory systems are pretty standard these days. You’ll want to have some way for your staff to create new items, edit existing ones, remove items from the catalog, etc.
A custom CMS with permission-based user roles or a shopping cart system that admins can access will give you this flexibility.
What else do I need?
There are dozens of little things that go into an effective eCommerce site design. These effective items are not limited to:
- Good product photography
- Good use of fonts
- Excellent use of white space
- Attention to detail on imagery and copywriting (you should hire a professional writer if you’re not one).
But those all fall within the category of “nice to have.” You don’t need them for your eCommerce website, but customers will appreciate them.
Building trust is essential to any successful eCommerce site design. You should always ask yourself: “How can I make it as easy and pleasant as possible for my customers to complete the checkout process?”
Create a sense of urgency
Be clear about product shipping timeframes!
Use plenty of calls-to-action reminding shoppers that there are limited quantities available if they want to take advantage of special offers or price reductions.
Make sure your payment system is secure
This one goes without saying, but make sure any online store you build has SSL encryption ( HTTPS:// ). It’s now standard on modern browsers and extremely important if you’re handling sensitive customer information like credit card numbers!
Make sure your shopping cart saves
If saving the contents of a shopping cart for later use is vital to you, make sure that it’s easy to do. You might even provide additional incentives like coupons or special deals for repeat customers if they’ve saved their info with your online store before.
Have a clear policy on returns and exchanges
Customers often have concerns about buying digital products from an online retailer, so having a clear policy in place can allay those fears.
Build trust through clear communication
To build customer trust over time, consider blogging on your website regularly and sharing helpful tips or insights related to what you sell.
Although we don’t want to crush your DIY dreams, utilizing a professional web designer is almost a must when it comes to eCommerce. Working with a professional website design consultant should be strongly recommended.
If the go-it-alone style isn’t for you, keep reading to the next section, where we will cover how to find the pro-web-site-design folks and vet them out for the best candidates.
Hire a National Web Design Agency or a Local Fort Collins Web Designer?
As with anything, there are pros and cons to hiring a national web design agency or a local Fort Collins web designer. One of the downsides to working with someone, not in your area is that they’re probably more expensive than an equally or even less talented local contractor. You’ll have to weigh the cost vs. quality when making your decision.
If you want to work with someone who has skin in the game, make sure you take a closer look at their portfolio before signing on the dotted line. Web developers should be able to provide plenty of client references if they’ve been around for any length of time at all. Especially look for references of clients that are geographically similar to your business.
You might want to consider using one company for initial website development and hosting services while hiring a second for ongoing maintenance and marketing of your website. This is usually the most cost-effective approach, but it can be tricky to negotiate unless you can leverage some existing relationships.
A national web design agency has some benefits over using an in-house or local Fort Collins web designer. The main advantages are that they might be more experienced with eCommerce site design than the average freelancer. Generally, this means you’ll get better results faster.
They’re also probably better equipped to take on bigger projects with higher budgets without getting bogged down by administrative stuff like bookkeeping, invoicing, etc.. Hence, there’s generally less headache involved as well.
The downside here is that it sometimes takes longer to communicate desired results or objectives to someone far from your market. These larger national groups will usually use freelancers to pick up the burden, and the quality of the project might decrease based upon how they treat those freelancers.
Some agencies will want to take a more significant cut of proceedings or charge by the hour for their services. However, some firms know how to make freelancers feel more valued while charging reasonable rates for their services.
One final note – when you’re looking at hiring an eCommerce development company, they need to have experience in your specific niche! Every industry has its vocabulary and jargon that is unique to it.
Industry-specific language makes it difficult for freelance web designers to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with your site. Make sure that you check out their portfolio and read any case studies they’ve written about past clients. If they’re not familiar with your industry, then you might have a hard time getting them on board, especially if you just need an advanced website.
If the company is not local-based, ask for references from customers who work in similar industries as you do. Their website should list many big-name brands that have used their services before, so take note of those companies!
Fort collins business owners should be aware that not all web design agencies are created equal. A local web designer might have the necessary skills. Still, always suppose they don’t have enough experience designing e-commerce sites or service sites in your niche until they prove otherwise. The results of taking their word without proof could result in more lost revenue than you saved by hiring an “inexpensive” freelancer.
Let’s face it – you have to pay to play! If you are reading this article from our local Fort Collins area, then you are in luck! Some of the best web design agencies in the country are in Colorado!
How do you find the Best Web Designers in Fort Collins?
Finding the best web design agencies in Fort Collins is not too difficult when you know where to look. The ultimate goal is finding a company that can give your business both quality and speed.
By following these tips and tricks, we hope that you will find success:
1) Stay away from the large mass production website companies (Keep to companies that specialize in your niche)
2) Look for eCommerce experience (if you are eCommerce)
3) Ask for client references (all great site designers will have a long list for you to speak with)
4) Filter out “cheap” quotes by asking about their pricing model & structure
5) Read reviews online! Research the company before hiring them!
When you pinpoint the best web design agencies in Fort Collins, CO, they will meet ALL of these criteria.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Prospective Web Designer Short List?
Once you refine your list, here are some talk points to use when speaking directly with the web design company’s representative:
- Do you have experience with eCommerce sites? (if applicable)
- How do your fees work?
- Do you use fixed pricing or an hourly model?
- Who will be working on my website (or who did the developers/designers who worked on your last few clients come from)?
- Do you have any references that I can call?
- Can I see some portfolio samples of websites that are similar to what I am trying to accomplish?
- What steps should I take to make sure my site generates revenue (what kind of promotion should we do)?
- What type of analytics reports can you provide me with to track our progress?
- Will you create Content Management System (CMS) pages to update our website as needed, without needing a web designer’s help?
And of course, the golden question, how much will my project cost me to complete? We’ll talk more about this in the next section!
How Much Will It Cost?
This is a fundamental question to ask, even if you are only speaking with one web design agency on your list. Remember that it’s not just about price but ROI (Return On Investment). ROI is heavily dependant on the number of visitors the website will likely get you and how many sales can be expected from those visitors.
Below is a quick reference range for each of the primary website categories and the cost to create them:
- Small Local Lead generation sites (10 pages or less) – $300 to $1000
- Medium to large Local lead generations sites(10 pages plus) – $1000 to $5000
- Small eCommerce stores (10 products or less) – $ 1500 to $5000
- Medium eCommerce Stores (10+ products) – $2500 to $10,000
- Large eCommerce Stores (100’s if not thousands of products) – $10,000 to completely custom pricing
You can find freelancers and agencies that will be well below the costs above or well beyond it. This quick reference guide is based upon all our client data; these are generally the site creation costs we have heard from them.
What Should Be Your Expected Website Turn Around Time?
Probably the most crucial question in this entire guide and probably the hardest to generalize. Suppose you are working with a Fort collins web designer, agency, or freelancer. In that case, having a website launch date is an absolute must. If your agency or a professional web designer can not give you a hard date, run away now.
I have heard nightmare stories from company owners over the years. Some owners have told me they have been working on a new professional website with an agency for over two years. Two years is outrageous, and with how professional website tech evolves today, they will probably need a new site the moment it launches.
However, a local service professional website can get turned around in 30 days or less when working with a reputable web design company. Ecommerce projects almost always take longer than lead gen. Still, a reasonable turnaround time for a launch would be 60 days or less.
We know choosing the right web site design developer can be a massive headache, and the design can make or break a company’s digital future! We hope that this guide has armed you with all the right questions talking points, and expectations so you can go out with confidence and find the right fort collins web designer for you!
If you are still unsure who to reach out to, please give Rank Rise Digital Marketing a call today, and one of our web site consultants will help you with all of your questions!
Rank Rise Marketing The Leading Fort Collins Web Design Company
Rank Rise Marking is a full-service digital marketing agency based in Fort Collins, Colorado, with a team of over 20 designers and developers. We have been providing web design services for over ten years to clients across the country. Over the years, we have seen it all, so please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the areas covered in this article!