Did you create your own or hire someone to do it? About how much did it cost on average to get the website up and running?
Also do any of you use Facebook or Twitter for marketing purposes?
I had a friend do my first site, but she moved and it became difficult to get it updated. I left it up for a number of years. Then I finally had a professional do the site. It was about $2,000. We worked very hard to get it exactly what we wanted it to be. It took about 5 months to get it up. The number of calls that resulted from the new website has really astonished me. I know the brides and the younger crowd do most of their "legwork" online. I orginally did not wanted to spend alot of money on the site, but now I am so glad I did. I even got a call last summer from the Food Network as a result of our site. I don't think I would have believed it if someone had told me the improved site would make a huge difference.
I created the web site for my business, but I have a background in graphic design and web development. A nice informational web site (without e-commerce) shouldn't cost more than $500 or so...you can get an even better deal by contacting a student from a local college with a web design program. Just make sure to have a good outline of what you want on the site before you meet with the designer.
Also, you'll want to run usability tests -- for example, talk to someone who has never seen your web site and have them run through a scenario (i.e. they are a bride looking for a specific type of wedding cake), then sit back and watch what they do on your site.
I use Facebook as a placeholder to direct people to my main web site, Facebook's tools just aren't flexible enough to make a business web site that stands out and works well. Twitter works like an e-mail newsletter, people who want updates just subscribe to our feed and I post news and new product info every once in a while.
I don't think I would have believed it if someone had told me the improved site would make a huge difference.
Very nice site, but $2K is a lot for what is essentially a custom WordPress theme. I'm guessing that they included at least several years of hosting, advertising, and SEO services (to help you appear higher in search results) in that price -- and if you noticed an increase in traffic it was probably a result of better advertising and SEO rather than a nicer-looking site.
my website i got from intuit web services, i set it up myself, but they have templates that you can use, and to start my site was only like 8 per month. now i pay 20 per month because i needed more pages and space for pictures, but this is as high as it will go for a while. i can also add to be found by people on google later for a small charge. I like them, also their customer service guys will walk you through anything you want to do with your page. Its really easy to do it yourself. its www.myharmonycakes.com if you want to get an idea of what im paying for.
I did my own site, and the web designers hate it because it isn't flashy and minimalistic like they want it to be. HOWEVER, I have brides tell me every day that they love it because it's so informative, and it ranks right up there at the top of google etc. by me using my own SEO. I use the yahoo template and do it myself so that I can change things without having to go through someone else and wait for them to do it.
Brides don't shop like other people, you can't expect people who don't actually sell to brides themselves to understand how they think.
Being on a tight budget I created my own through wix.com. I pay $4.95 a month to host my domain name and that is all. I had to buy the domain names and incorporate the name as well as the fictitious name and that is what cost the most.
I paid, but I needed to appear in search categories unrelated to cake. It isn't easy making this happen.
I did my own using templates with Mocrosoft live. There are no bells & whistles but it is imformative and I've recieved poossitive feedback on the ease of navigation and the look. I pay $19.95 per year for hosting services and they have a way to imbed search keyword in your site as well. It took a lot of time but wasn't difficult.
If you have the ability to create a professional looking site on your own that meets your needs, then go for it! If not, I think it is a good idea to hire a professional. I once read on here someone comparing paying a designer to paying a cake decorator. If you want a nice site, you have to pay a designer for their time and expertise - just like we ask our clients to do for us!
classiccake - I love your site! From what you said, the new traffic and business its generated was definitely worth the money. Especially if your designer put in all those pics - if you had to pay an hourly rate for all that then you probably got a great deal
I was a senior website engineer and graphic designer for 12 hrs before I started doing cakes, and I still use wordpress.org (not wordpress.com) for my site. I love how robust it is and all of the free plugins that are available. These days, a blog type site is much more useful than just a static information site, and you can set up your blog to look more like a website than a traditional blog, which is how I did mine. www.threelittleblackbirds.com
If funds and knowledge are lacking, I highly recommend starting with a business page on facebook and using Flickr as well. Flickr has SEO built right in with meta tags needed for a robust search. Where do people go most often to search for something, especially pictures? google or a similar search engine. Your pictures, if tagged, will come up in search engines. Once people find your pictures, they find you.
Actually my old site was ranked at the top. It had the SEO utilized on that site. So I am confident that the new site looked much more professional, was easier to navigate, and had so many new photos and information available. I still don't regret paying the money and they did include many services.