5 Things to Know Before You Build a Website Want to put yourself out there professionally on the Internet? Learn the cost and effort needed to best represent yourself and attract clients. Make It Work
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Make It Work  |   March 01, 2016
5 Things to Know Before You Build a Website
Author Notes
  • Ria Godoy owns Online Internet Results, which helps businesses define and implement the steps needed for online success. This article is based on her presentation at ASHA’s 2015 Schools Conference. ria@onlineinternetresults.com
    Ria Godoy owns Online Internet Results, which helps businesses define and implement the steps needed for online success. This article is based on her presentation at ASHA’s 2015 Schools Conference. ria@onlineinternetresults.com×
Article Information
Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Make It Work
Make It Work   |   March 01, 2016
5 Things to Know Before You Build a Website
The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.21032016.30
The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.21032016.30
Most—if not all—people younger than 50 use the Internet to find information about products, services and businesses to make informed decisions. A business with no website simply doesn’t exist to most potential clients looking for help.
But before you rush to give yourself an online presence, and the credibility that accompanies it, ask yourself these five important questions.
Why do you want a website?
A website is not for the business owner—it’s for clients. It serves as your online “office” or “store.” What do your clients—current and potential—want to know? Your content should anticipate and answer these questions without need for contact.
Websites can serve many purposes: They can capture email addresses for marketing, serve as a portal for setting appointments and paying bills, and provide information about a product or service. Who do you want to find your website? Who is your market? What do you want them to know? Define what you want to accomplish from a website first!

If you do not work your website, it becomes merely an expensive business card. People do not automatically find your website just because you have one.

How much does it cost?
Make sure you know the full cost of setting up and maintaining a website. These include:
  • The URL for the site: Usually less than $20 annually.

  • Hosting: Your website needs space on a server so users can access it. Space with companies such as HostGator, WP Engine, GoDaddy and Bluehost runs $10–$30/month, depending on the features you want, for a small to medium-sized website. Many developers offer to host as a convenience to you and them. Make sure you have full access to the backend—the administrator area of the site that allows you to change various settings, content and pictures—even if you never use it.

  • Development: Creating a website can run $1,500–$50,000, depending on the complexity of the site, including number of pages, content, pictures and other features.

In addition to obvious costs, there are some hidden fees:
  • Maintenance: If the website platform and plugins (such as a search engine or video player) are not updated as needed, the website becomes vulnerable to spam and hackers.

  • Keeping the website in line with changes: The most obvious change in the last couple of years is that a website needs to be “responsive”—that is, it adjusts to fit the device (laptop or desktop computer, tablet or smartphone) the viewer is using. Because the Internet changes constantly, websites should keep up with current standards, or they will be relegated to lower rankings in search engines.

  • “Working” your website: Think of a brick-and-mortar store or office. You can’t just rent or buy space, sit back, and think customers will come. You have to have displays, sales, brochures, shows, seasonal offerings and networking. The same applies to your Internet presence: If you do not work your website, it becomes merely an expensive business card. People do not automatically find your website just because you have one. You want your website to appear at the top of the list when users search on terms such as “stuttering,” “hearing aids” or “swallowing.” Working it has many components, including search-engine optimization (known as SEO), content marketing, blogging and social media.

  • PPC (pay per click): In this Internet advertising model, which directs traffic to websites, advertisers pay the website host when an ad is clicked. Do you need PPC? Can you afford it? What do you want to accomplish from PPC? Is it right for you?

These costs are ongoing and can vary greatly depending on your market size, competition and budget. The more you do, however, the quicker the reward: namely, gaining those coveted top keyword spots when a user searches for your type of business.

Consistent additions of blogs, podcasts, videos or pictures keep your website fresh, so that the search engines come back again and again.

Will the developer hold you hostage?
Make sure you, not the developer, own the URL. You should have full backend and control panel (cpanel) access to your website. Your host should willingly provide this information. If not, your website can be held hostage if you want to change to another developer or hosting platform.
Why is fresh content absolutely necessary?
You are so excited—you have a new website! Everybody you know is excited for you. But six months later, you have no new traffic. Why? You didn’t keep your website fresh.
The search engines are not going to come back unless there is something new added to your website. Why would they? Consistent additions of blogs, podcasts, videos or pictures keep your website fresh, so that the search engines come back again and again. This process increases your ranking, especially if people read your original, interesting and relevant content and comment on it.
It’s been six months, a year … where are my results?
Remember that some people have been working their Internet presence for years, so you are basically chasing a bullet train with a bicycle or a car. You can reach the same destination as the train, but it will take time. By tracking stats and analytics on your social media and website, you should see an overall upward slope (with some peaks and valleys) that indicates progress.
Developers who say or guarantee that they can get your keyword, name or product to the top of a search within a set timeframe are not being truthful. Internet success takes some old-fashioned hard work. It’s up to you to provide the updated, fresh information Internet searchers need to find—and use—your services.
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March 2016
Volume 21, Issue 3