Some businesses throw money at a problem; some businesses throw time at a problem. There is a third way…

Quite often at Clare Associates we find ourselves picking up the pieces of previous attempts to solve business problems, especially with the company website. Usually these problems can be traced back to the decisions taken when this website was first developed.

The first type of business has money to spend, but no time. They say to their expensive web designer “We need a website. Here’s lots of money, go and make it happen.” The expensive web designer goes away and creates a fantastic looking website. It’s got everything – fancy effects, beautiful photography, even the buttons have that lovely rounded feel. For some reason, expensive web designers often come from an art and design background rather than an IT background, so they do what they know best.

The second type of business has rather more time than the first. They’ve done a little research and they don’t think they can afford an expensive web designer. But they can afford that son of a friend who knows how to “do websites” and who won’t be very expensive. And in any case, he’ll have the time to keep improving the site, adding more content and generally keeping it up to date.

To be honest, neither of these approaches is likely to get the business the website it needs. The first, expensive, website will look good, but it is going to be difficult to keep it up to date with new products and news about the company. It might not show up in search engines as well as it should. The second, cheap, website will be cheap, but it might look clunky and old-fashioned. And the company may still depend on this son of a friend to make occasional updates.

There is a third way.

Don’t just throw money at your website and think that you can leave it to its own devices once it’s up and running. And don’t just throw time at your website (time that could be better spent doing more important business tasks) while getting a bargain basement web designer.

Instead, spend some time with your web designer thinking about what you want your site to achieve. If you have strong ideas on design and look-and-feel, then tell your web designer (oh, and do this sooner rather than later – having your web designer produce several different look-and-feel concepts costs both of you both time and money). Find a web design agency that isn’t expensive because it doesn’t spend lots of money on flashy offices, but which still has professional designers who know not just ‘design’ but also the latest web technologies. Don’t underestimate the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO). (The clever people among you will have worked out by now that we think Clare Associates is just such an agency…)

And no matter what sort of business you are, you will need to ensure your website is kept up to date – new products, news stories about your business, special offers, price changes, opening hours etc. There are two ways to do this. The first method is to ask your web designer to implement a content management system so that making changes to your website is something that non-technical people can do. This method suits companies which have the time but not the technical expertise. The second method is to get your web design agency to manage your website for you, making changes as you tell them. This suits a company where spare time is in short supply and it is actually cheaper to outsource the website management.  At Clare Associates, we can offer both methods and are happy to discuss your needs.

I’ve used website design and management as my example in this article, but many business problems fit into this throw-money-or-throw-time model. Just remember, the third way might actually be the one that suits you best.

By Mark Poles

Chartered Accountant, Google Qualified Advertising Professional, Google Analytics Qualified Individual, creator of "You're Hired!".