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Hiring a consultant to build, update, and maintain your website is an option whether you decide to use a platform where the consultant builds and maintains the site or uses a website builder service.  You should view hiring a web designer as a partnership since communication, collaboration, and contributions on both sides are necessary.  Upon identifying several options, meet with each possible consultant to discuss your needs, their areas of expertise, the range of their services and associated costs, and their expectations for a successful working relationship. You should also look at other websites they have built and/or maintain and talk to some of those sites' owners about how good the consultant is to work with and how quickly they respond to problems or "emergency" updates. Also, before you hire a consultant web builder or sign up with one of the builder services, make sure you understand the "ownership" of your website content. If something goes wrong, you need to be sure you can get that material and move to a different consultant or website builder service.  

 

Whether you choose to build your website yourself or use a website builder service or hire the services of a professional, the issues discussed in the remainder of this article will serve as a valuable foundation for the development of your website.

 

Online Stores

The ability to have an online store or conduct e-commerce, is one reason many business owners decide to develop a website.  Many of the website builder services (Wix, Weebly, etc.) offer their own integrated e-commerce platform.  There are also e-commerce platform services, and Square that allow you to build your online store using their service and then link to it from your website built on another platform.

 

Whether you build the website yourself, use a website builder, or hire a consultant there are many considerations that you should work through before making the dive into e-commerce and deciding upon a platform including features, costs and fees, payment processing, and security.  You can read about these considerations and more in the article Management Considerations for Implementing E-Commerce in a Food or Farm Business.  In addition, if your primary goal with having a website is to facilitate online sales, this could drive your decision regarding website development, so really spend time thinking through your reasons and assessing your e-commerce goals.

 

Design

Website design is a highly personal and subjective matter.  Over time, website design has evolved as technology has improved.  To see how website design has evolved, check out the site Internet Archive Wayback Machine.  This site archives websites over time, allowing you to view how an individual website looked 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, or more years ago.

 

While there is no "correct" design, the public has expectations regarding navigational ability and visual aesthetics.  Some of this is determined by industry.  For instance, the expectations for a bank's website are considerably different than that for a landscaper's website.  Web visitors form an opinion regarding a site's appeal and usability within seconds.

 

One way to approach website design is to liken it to a reference book.  Consider what the consumers visiting your site will be looking for and develop webpages (aka "chapters") for each topic.  Drafting a flow chart or storyboard for your website can be a useful exercise to ensure that content is organized in a logical manner.

 

Other web design aspects include:

 

Font. Typefaces and sizes should be chosen with readability in mind.  Script fonts and Old English can be difficult to read and therefore avoided. Do not use more than 2-3 fonts across your site.

Colors. Decisions regarding colors should be made with both your branding and the consumer in mind.  By using the same color palette that you use on your logo, signage, labeling, packaging, employee apparel, and so forth, you'll be extending your branding to your website experience providing an important tie in consumers' minds.  However, just as you would avoid certain color combinations on signs and labels, you should also avoid them on your website.  You should also be sensitive to individuals with colorblindness when making color decisions.  The website usability.gov provides a useful overview of color blindness and web design.

Whitespace.  This refers to the amount of space on webpages that is free of text, graphics, photos, videos.  Sites with little whitespace can become overwhelming, confusing, and tiring for the visitor, leading them to leave your website altogether.

Photos and videos.  The use of photos and video on your website can greatly enhance the visitor experience.  Photos and videos are particularly valuable if you are engaged in e-commerce, as customers want to get a sense of the product they will be purchasing.

Mobile compatibility is another important design considerat

 

 

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