Based on responses to the 3-Hour Web Site Plan hiring someone to build your Web Site has hit the big time with small business owners who are realizing that often the time and energy spent doing-it-yourself may not only be better spent other ways, but also may not provide the results you want. A Web site should not only provide visibility for your business, it should also present a positive image for your business and drive either online sales or leads. If you are starting a business based on advertising sales your Web site is everything.

So how do you first find someone to build your Web site and how to do you make sure that you get what you want from the relationship?

As hiring someone to build a Web site becomes more and more popular, here is every small business owners guide to making the decision wisely:

Get your act together!

Not understanding Web technology is no excuse these days for looking like a dear in the headlines when asked – "what are you looking for?" Not knowing what you want will usually lead to quotes that can't help but be inaccurate, a lot of time (and possibly money) spent having your Web designer make mistakes so that you can tell them what you don't want and eventually get to what you do want.

Especially if you are working with a very limited budget you will want a clear plan for your site. See next week's post for coverage of some vital questions I ask all of my clients and students to help them get ready:

Be realistic and open about your budget

It is important that you know what you have to spend. If you are selling online and want to hire a reputable company, expect to spend between $1,200 and $5,000 for a Web site that can generate leads for you depending on whether you want a custom design. If you're planning to sell online (excluding a simple PayPal sales) expect to spend from $5,000 to $20,000 to get a site set up.

Get a Referral

Technology can be a murky business. I have heard both wonderful and horrible stories about business owners who hired a Web site developer from a simple online search. I strongly recommend asking people you trust for referrals. Also consider going to your local business support organization like the New York City Department of Small Business Services or Seedco and asking for suggestions.

Use The Horse for the Course

No we're not talking about OTB, and there should be no "longshot" factor in your Web site construction project. There are different kinds of practitioners involved in building, marketing and maintaining a Web site and they all have different skillsets. It's not hard to know who they are and what they do, and this is one thing you really should know.. Do you just need a designer? Do you not need a designer at all? Do you need a programmer? Maybe you'll be fine with an HTML coder who is usually less expensive than a programmer? Check out next week's post for a description of Web site roles and players.

I know it can be hard to figure out what you want and a lot of times, the person you hire will help you do that. But you want to hire people with the right skillset to even be able to answer those questions for you.