"God, I really wish I had spent more time at work!" Who said that when lying on their deathbed - NO ONE?! Here is another one for you. "Find me the cheapest surgeon available." Sounds demented does it not? In my humble opinion, we hear folks voice statements akin to this every day. Believe it or not. Now on to the show.
There are literally tens of thousands of sites on the net offering build your own website deals for free or nearly so. Now; before I go on, I do not have an issue with these deals in certain situations. The Smith Family vacation to Austria to visit the remaining Von Trapp family website (daily blog entries included), The birth of the first Logan family child (NOTE: the site will soon go stale because you will never see any evidence of child two through whatever), The family "YUM" site highlighting all the fabulous recipes you happened across on the web in the last hour and every 27 seconds throughout your surfing day (To be honest Facebook has taken over most of this traffic) to name a few, you get the point.
These types of sites are fun to build and informative for your friends and family. They are not at all appropriate for any type of business endeavor. Your company website is the public face you present to hundreds of potential customers each day. That image must be professional, informative and as easy as possible with which to interact. "Build it and they will come." The statement never was totally accurate, and it is virtually totally inaccurate now. Unless you are VERY much better than the average bear technically, leave it to the professionals. Website technology advances rapidly. The baseline expectations of the browsing public increase as the techniques improve. Visits from folks using mobile devices is fully expected to continue on the upswing. Reacting to the change can be a handful for a pro. It is impossible for others to keep up. Small business owners must be great at their core business to stay viable. Do that. Do not attempt to also become a skilled web developer. Something will have to give. Let it not be what pays the bills.
A huge misnomer is professionally built websites cost thousands of dollars and are not affordable for most small business. Not true. You can spend pretty much as you like, but it does not have to be that way. It is entirely possible to have a site built for under a $1,000 using the latest and greatest tools. This is your best option; not some scaled down version of CNET circa 1975. That route sends a message to your customers and clients and it is not a good one.
√ Decide if you need a website
The answer is "Yes" in 99% of the cases. Nail salons, mechanics, landscapers, restaurants, pubs, and list goes on, all need a presence on the web. The 20 and 30-somethings in world expect a company to have a website. Not only does this age group live by the text message; they live by sites usable from their smartphone.
√ Decide what you want to accomplish with your site
Ask yourself some questions like, "Do I want to sell products/services", "Do I want to communicate with my customers and prospects this way", "Do I want to let the world know how great my customers think my products/services are". The list will vary greatly based on your business.
√ What is my budget
Do I want/need to grow my business? What do I spend on advertising now? How much do I want to divert to website development and on-going maintenance?
√ What is the plan for keeping it up to date
Do I have the time, skill and desire to update the site regularly? Should I instead contract that out?
√ Decide what additional services you need
Do I need a company website domain, and email to go with it? Again, the answer here is almost always, "Yes."
√ Get bids
Find websites of other small businesses in your line of work/services/products. Who built their site. What do you like about it? What would you change?
Armed with this information, you are well on the way to meeting your goal(s). I personally have always found legitimate web development companies to be more than helpful and understanding. Shoot; they are most likely small businesses too, and they know the challenges you face. Don't go with any company that will shoot you a price without first carefully assessing your situation. Each is different. One size does not fit all. Look for a company that understands and truly cares about meeting your needs now and into the future. Find a company that has a proven track record of longevity and service. Forget about your niece's boyfriend's cousin. I can't remember how many sites get left unattended in that scenario.
And finally; do not go with The Cheapest Surgeon Available ...