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You know you need a website but you’re not sure where to start.

There are basically three types of websites you can get:

  1. Do-it-yourself websites (DIY)
  2. Template website (usually free) + other marketing services
  3. Custom website

The solution that is best for you largely depends on where you are in your business, what your goals are, and how much time/resources you have available.

Here’s a comparison chart of all your website options:

comparison chart

Do-It-Yourself Websites

The Good

Some of these tools are really top notch and not that hard (for an expert) to use. You can definitely have a good looking website up and running for your business with a minimal cost.

The Bad

If this is your first time designing a website, you will almost certainly mess this up. Your site might “look” good when you’re finished, but you’ll be missing all the recommended lead generation techniques the pros use.

Also, you should expect this little project to take about 10x more time than you originally thought.

Who This Option Is Good For

New businesses. This option is recommended for people who just started their company last month. If you have almost no marketing budget and are not overloaded with customers yet, you’ll have the time to tinker with these cheap website building tools.

Template Website + Other Online Marketing Services

The Good

Your website will be up in just a few days and with all the online marketing you’ve purchased, you’ll probably get a bunch of traffic as well.

Sometimes this is a “pay per lead” service which might make sense for you. You’ll want to check the quality of your leads and see what your actual closing rate is to see if it makes business sense.

The Bad

This may seem like a cheap solution, but costs can quickly get out of hand. Ask anybody who’s had experience with Google Adwords about how much they’ve spent in a year.

This service is typically offered by large companies so you get all the trouble with large companies also. A lot of people get roped in by a salesman but once the sale is made find it extremely difficult to get anybody else on the line.

Customer service is usually a big problem.

Who This Option Is Good For

Young businesses who are just testing out their online marketing. These services are a good way to get your feet wet with different online marketing services.

Results will vary, but some companies will be satisfied with their results for a time.

Custom Websites

The Good

You’ll have a professional website that will build your brand image. If done correctly, the site will bring in substantially more leads for the amount of traffic than the other website solutions.

Some website developers (ahem… Bradford & Crabtree) will also include more advanced techniques like email marketing and list building into your website package.

You’ll also have the smug feeling of having a better looking website than most of your competition.

The Bad

High upfront costs and long development times are the biggest drawbacks for getting a custom website.

Also, some web developers are flaky. It’s sad, but true. You need to be extra careful in choosing a web developer you trust to be responsive to your needs and questions.

Who This Option Is Good For

Established businesses who want a marketing edge. If a company is spending money on traditional marketing, a custom website using the latest lead generation techniques is the easiest way to super-charge their existing marketing budget.

If your company is spending money advertising but your website is mediocre, it’s like having a world class sprinter running with a lead jacket. 

A strong custom website will effectively remove the lead jacket so your sprinter (aka marketing budget) will be much more effective.

Conclusion

There’re pros and cons to each type of website solution you get but most of it depends on where you are with your company.

A start-up might be more interested in the DIY website. A young company can test their way with the “Free + online marketing” companies. And established companies will be able to pay a premium for top of the line marketing materials.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide where your company is right now and what you have budget for.

The internet is not going anywhere. All small businesses should aim to have the best possible website, eventually.