So you want a new website but your budget is somewhat limited. You turn to your friend who can build you a site and ask them for “mates rates”. Great News. You’re going to get yourself a new business website and it’s going to be nice a cheap. Really? Is it going to be cheaper? Maybe in the short term, but what about the long term?

Here are a few things to think about when using a friend, mate, husband, wife or uncle to build you a business website.

We all know that you get nothing for nothing in this world, so why are websites any different. Answer is; they are not.

You will always get what you pay for and the less money you pay, the less you will get.

Ask a few very important questions

Make sure that if you are using a friend, mate, husband, wife or uncle to build your website that you ask a few very important questions BEFORE you commit to them.

How well do you know this “mate”?

Deciding who to choose to build your website is a very important decision.

Are you letting the cost or your mate sway this decision?

If the only reason you are choosing them is because they are your uncle and you don’t want to offend them by saying “no”, they you are making the wrong decision to use them. Yes you may offend them, but business is business and mixing business with pleasure is an absolute no-no.

Yes it will be hard to tell them “thanks, but no thanks” but you really need to do this for your own sake and sanity. Choose a professional, full-time website design company and you will pay more in the short term, but get a much better website and it will cost you less in the long term.

What about ongoing support?

So, you’ve had your website built and over time you naturally want a few tweaks and adjustments. Is ‘uncle web’ still on hand to fix your website for you to add that extra functionality? Is he more interested in his daytime job? Are you still talking?

Without ongoing support from a dedicated website professional how will you keep your website up-to-date? Who will make sure that it has all of the latest updates, software patches, features and trends? Even if they are available, do they make sure that they keep current with all of these topics anyway? Do they keep themselves educated with website design?

Can you complain?

Sometimes you need to give hard feedback or make a complaint. Can you do this to a friend or relative? Will this test your friendship? After all if they are doing this as a favour for you, do you have the right to complain? Will you feel awkward or let something pass that you wouldn’t normally?

If you do complain they may answer “I am doing this for free (or at reduced costs) so I’ll do it when it suits me” – you just may run into more problems that you would using a website designer.

How cheap is cheap

You need to work out how much money you are actually saving by getting a friend or relative to build your website. Are you getting it for free, for a few hundred pounds or just saving a few pounds.

You really need to weigh up the total costs of the entire website design project, what they are going to charge you for and what would a professional agency charge you. Have you even discussed costs or were you just going to leave that to chance?

As we’ve said, you get what you pay for, so paying cheap will get you a cheap website.

Will you get the same priority and customer service

When you do make that call for some advice or help, will you be at the top of their priority list or right down at the bottom; after all you’re not paying the going rate so really why should you expect any more?

Is this good enough for your business? The prices are now wrong and that offer you have is no longer appropriate, but ‘uncle web’ is off on holiday and can’t update your site for another 4 weeks. This is your business online and that really isn’t good enough is it.

Will you be at the top of their development list

Once you’ve agreed for ‘uncle web’ to build your new website for you, when will they get around to it? Can you really ask them for a timescale or is it a case of when they get around to it?

Naturally you’ve got some timescales of your own, so how do they fit in with your new mate developer?

How good are they really?

Even if they do say that they can develop and design your website, can they prove that they will do a good job? Have they done any other websites or is this their first? Have they built any other business websites or just a basic site for the local mother’s union? If they don’t have a great portfolio of business websites, alarm bells should be ringing and you should be asking yourself, why am I using them?

You’ve heard the phrase “a little knowledge is dangerous” – well this is true in website design and development. Sure your mate who’s in IT says it’s not hard to build a website and he can help you. But is this really true, he might be able to build something for you, but will it be the best website for your online business or just something that is cheap?

Cost is so much more than just money

If you think that the cost of a website is just about the amount you spend on it, you’ve forgotten about the other intangibles.

What about the amount of time you have to put in to manage your friend?

The time you have to put into the project; are you doing most of the work?

The biggest cost you might not initially think about is the success of your website. A well-built website will attract more customers and turn more of them into customers. So you’ll start to make money from your website.

If you’ve only spent a small amount on your basic website, then it will not work as well for you so you’ll get less business from it. It’s a false economy to think cheap when building a website.

You unfortunately cannot measure the failure of how many people do not convert into customers from your basic website, so sadly you’ll never know how much asking your friend to build your website has actually cost you.

All you will know is that you get a bit of business from your website, but it’s not quite as good as you wanted it, so after a year or so maybe you decide to invest in a professional website or maybe you close down your business – Either way, this is the real cost of your “mates rates” website.

So who are you going to choose?

Keep on asking yourself all of these questions whilst you are choosing who to use to build your website. You may think that you are going to save a few pounds by asking ‘uncle web’ or a mate to build your website, but the costs are more than financial.

Invest in your website designer and the rewards to you will be a website that helps to support your business and acts as one of the sales tools to help sell your products and services.