Website design advice

Hi, my husband and I are soon to be opening a small b&b. We would like a website that looks great,allows people to book online,provides the usual information etc, has some chance of Google visibility etc etc. Quite honestly though we don't know where to start, we would definitely like to pay a professional as we genuinely are useless with technology, so a few questions,and please excuse our complete ignorance here-
1) What should we be budgeting for this , both as initial outlay and then any ongoing costs?
2) How far ahead of opening our business do we need to get on this, ie what kind of time scales are we talking?
3) Does it matter if they are local to us or the other end of the country?
4) Do we need to be providing logos etc ? Maybe to match our signage? If so where do I start with that?

I'm finding this side of things completely overwhelming and after a look about have no idea on earth where to start to end up with something we're happy with ,but is not costing the earth. Many thanks in advance for any help.
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Comments

  • redped
    redped Posts: 724 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Are you planning on also having your B&B listed on booking.com, tripadvisor, etc.?  They're usually the first port of call for a lot of people, so you may find there's little benefit in having your own website.  We've recently booked a short break in a self-catering apartment in NI which we found on tripadvisor (it's also listed on some of the other major sites as well).
  • MalMonroe
    MalMonroe Posts: 5,783 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Photogenic
    Hi, I'd agree with redped, above. Don't start spending money you don't need to.

    For example, Tripadvisor - if you click on this link : https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/

    and scroll to the bottom, there are links to contact Tripadvisor and also a link for how to advertise. That's a starting point and don't forget that Tripadvisor is international, which can only be a good thing. 

    Good luck with your business!  An exciting time.
    Please note - taken from the Forum Rules and amended for my own personal use (with thanks) : It is up to you to investigate, check, double-check and check yet again before you make any decisions or take any action based on any information you glean from any of my posts. Although I do carry out careful research before posting and never intend to mislead or supply out-of-date or incorrect information, please do not rely 100% on what you are reading. Verify everything in order to protect yourself as you are responsible for any action you consequently take.
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,018 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Even if you don't go on the usual booking sites, there are off the peg booking solutions you can use. https://via.eviivo.com is one example.
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • Hi ,thanks for all of your replies,but no we aren't planning to be on any booking sites, at least initially. The current owners have achieved full occupancy due to the location of the B&B without having to advertise beyond their own website, so the short term cost of the website should save us a lot of money in giving away percentages in the long run. The reason we aren't going to take over the existing website is that we'll be changing almost everything about the place, the name,the look,the prices, what's offered etc etc
  • redped
    redped Posts: 724 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    It's not simply a case of a short term cost for the new website - as you mention in your first post, there'll be on-going costs for it as well.

    Can the current owners give you details of the ongoing costs to run their current website?  Even if you know who ran it for them (e.g. do they use a booking system like eviivo.com) then that'd give you a starting point - it wouldn't take much effort to set up accounts with several of the main booking sites to compare costs.  You could even advertise the B&B on the main booking sites initially, which would allow you time to set up your own site at your leisure.

    The other main issue to bear in mind with starting a brand new website is that it won't appear near the top of any search results, whereas I'm assuming the existing one does.
  • Mistral001
    Mistral001 Posts: 5,349 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post I've been Money Tipped!
    edited 22 August 2022 at 9:33AM
    Hi ,thanks for all of your replies,but no we aren't planning to be on any booking sites, at least initially. The current owners have achieved full occupancy due to the location of the B&B without having to advertise beyond their own website, so the short term cost of the website should save us a lot of money in giving away percentages in the long run. The reason we aren't going to take over the existing website is that we'll be changing almost everything about the place, the name,the look,the prices, what's offered etc etc
    Has the present website closed?  If not, then a website developer will have something to go on.  So it is probably something a local website developer could handle.  When I ran a small business, I would always try to have professional services providers, such as accountants and legal advisors, provided locally where possible.  If there is a problem, they can be contacted by phone or in person and that saves a lot of time and usually money in the long-run.  
  • Hi Hayley - if you think you might like to have a go at making your own website I recommend looking at Create.net (no affiliation! - I just use them myself for an ecommerce site and find them very good - and setting up our website with them allowed us to have full control of our own website without having to rely on anyone external to make changes, etc. Other simple website design/hosting providers are available!). I think you'd probably need their professional package which costs £16.99 per month for hosting. It's very easy to make a simple website with no technical knowledge, and they have a very helpful and fast-responding small support team - I had a look round in their help section and on their FB users group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/295819034580106/ - also a great resource for asking qs) and for people needing a booking system they integrate with Calendly ("free online appointment scheduling software") If you want to allow payments for the booking to be made through the same system (rather than just booking/reserving a slot) you have to use Calendly's professional package, which costs c. £8.64 per month (I think! - most of online info seems to be in $ for some reason...). I found an example of a website made using Create and Calendly which you could have a look at to see if it's the kind of thing you're thinking of - https://www.hillheadhideaways.co.uk/.

    If you don't think you could manage the website set-up yourself Create have their own design service, and there are also Create users who can design for you, who you can approach via the FB group...

  • tifo
    tifo Posts: 1,935 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker

    We would like a website that looks great,allows people to book online,provides the usual information etc, has some chance of Google visibility etc etc.

    1) What should we be budgeting for this , both as initial outlay and then any ongoing costs?
    2) How far ahead of opening our business do we need to get on this, ie what kind of time scales are we talking?
    3) Does it matter if they are local to us or the other end of the country?
    4) Do we need to be providing logos etc ? Maybe to match our signage? If so where do I start with that?
    1) The budget will depend on what you want and a developer will price accordingly.
    2) It might take a month or more to develop depending on what you want. The more features you want the longer it takes.
    3) They can be anywhere but local is better and I would say in the UK at least.
    4) You'll need to provide all the info for the website, current website as guidance. Logos etc are a must.
  • freeflyer
    freeflyer Posts: 50 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 30 August 2022 at 4:54PM
    You should absolutely have your own website. However, that isn't enough on its own. You need to market it afterwards with a specialist local SEO company (and by that i mean a company who specialises in 'local SEO' , as opposed to a company who is local to you). They will carry out particular procedures to improve your chances of being listed in the maps results for the area you are targeting. Finding a decent company to do this for you is another matter entirely (i run an SEO business, but i dont think i can drop a link).

    Budget wise, a small business website should ideally be £500-£1000 for a business such as yours. Ongoing SEO after that would probably be in the region of £200-400 a month if you shop around.
  • freeflyer said:
    You should absolutely have your own website. However, that isn't enough on its own. You need to market it afterwards with a specialist local SEO company (and by that i mean a company who specialises in 'local SEO' , as opposed to a company who is local to you). They will carry out particular procedures to improve your chances of being listed in the maps results for the area you are targeting. Finding a decent company to do this for you is another matter entirely (i run an SEO business, but i dont think i can drop a link).

    Budget wise, a small business website should ideally be £500-£1000 for a business such as yours. Ongoing SEO after that would probably be in the region of £200-400 a month if you shop around.

    None of that sounds very money saving... Probably the best (and free) way you can help your local visibility is to create a Google Business Profile (https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/) - ideally you'd add links to your website from that, but no need if you haven't yet got one, the profile will act like a free mini website especially for people searching for businesses in your local area. If you know nothing about SEO I wouldn't advise googling it - since practically everyone who has a website wants to improve its visibility there is an enormous industry built around encouraging website owners either to pay for advice on SEO or to visit websites which will tell you how to improve your online visibility (the more people that visit the website the higher the visibility of that website will be, hence that website wins the SEO for SEO websites race... :-)). You'd probably do best to start with Google's own guide to SEO (https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/seo-starter-guide) which includes advice on whether or not you might want to hire a professional SEO adviser.
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