Need a new website? There are a lot of options out there.
But just like everything else in life- food, cars, and even cannabis- not all options are created equal.
Yet since there is so much to consider when starting a new website, many cannabis business owners don’t think about where their new website is coming from.
But that choice makes a BIG difference!
Top Concerns for Cannabis Web Development
You want your website to work, right?
Of course, that should be obvious! But there is so much more to having a “working” website than whether or not there’s a page for someone to see.
When it comes to overall website performance, there are two very important factors that are directly related to your cannabis website development: functionality and marketability.
Things like loading speed, SEO, and overall lifespan are crucial to website performance. And all are dependent on the way your website was built.
The higher quality the code, the better your website will perform and the longer it will last.
If your website wasn’t built well, things will break. Often. You will also have limited (if any) room for improvement as time goes on.
Aside from being reliable, your website also needs to serve a purpose. For the majority of sites, that purpose is to sell products. For cannabis websites, that goal is usually to sell an interest in the products.
With this in mind, a successful website will combine great content, design, and structure in a way that captures peoples’ attentions and drives them to buy.
This is essential for every company, but even more so in the blooming marijuana industry. Hundreds of new businesses with similar products are going head-to-head every day, meaning that your website is one of a few ways you can stand out from the crowd. If it isn’t built to sell, you’ll be missing out in more ways than one!
Do It Yourself: Build Your Own Marijuana Website
For cannabis startups and small businesses, DIY websites like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace can seem like a perfect solution. They cost little to nothing, and give you full control over your website.
Sounds great? Think again.
The biggest problem with site builders is that they are so out-of-the-box, there isn’t any way to make them unique. This causes some major issues when it comes to performance.
- Inexpensive: you pay the cost of hosting, nothing else
- Limited customization: all websites look the same
- No assistance: site will rely on your own design skills
- No SEO value: out-of-the-box code struggles to rank in search engines
When is a DIY website the right choice?: Honestly, my vote is never. Building your own website is extremely time-consuming, and the results will never be as promising as a professional design.
If you don’t have the funds to pay a minimum rate for a website, I recommend sticking to social media and listing sites (like Leafly and Weedmaps) to get you off the ground. These platforms will give you a good boost in brand awareness without becoming a huge inconvenience. Plus, when the time comes that you can move into a marketable website, you won’t be hesitant to abandon that DIY site you spent so much time on!
Freelancer: Hire a Single Web Developer
For the most part, freelance developers have chosen to work for themselves, separate from any design agency or other business partners. They can be found anywhere, including Craigslist and other job-posting sites, and their talents are as vast as their locations.
Since there is such a high number of freelancers out there, cannabis businesses should be careful about whom they hire. Quality, professional freelance developers do exist, but you’ll have to weed through a lot of prospects to find them.
- Less expensive: cheapest option for higher quality
- Customization: more opportunities to be unique
- Requires research: it’s difficult to verify qualifications & experience
- MUST have contract: freelancers aren’t always reliable
- “Jack of all trades”: one person fulfills the roles of designer, marketer & developer (but rarely knows all of them well)
When is a freelance web developer the right choice?: When you don’t have the budget for a full-service team, but your business model relies on a website and/or you’re ready for that next step. Be sure you have the time and patience to shop around for the right candidate!
Design & Development Firm: Hire a Team
A full-service design firm is usually your best bet, as they provide the most legal security, best staff qualifications, and a well-rounded professional experience. Even so, there are still some bad eggs out there, so you’ll want to do a little comparing before choosing one!
- Reliable: legitimate businesses that have the most to lose
- Multi-talented: professional expertise in all areas
- Full customization: the sky is the limit
- Long-term support: ongoing help for changes & technical issues
- Most expensive: websites take more time, people & resources to build
When is a firm the right choice?: If you want to get the most out of your cannabis website, a professional design firm is the best choice for you! With in-depth marketing knowledge and verifiable development skills, a professionally-built website will offer longevity, sales, support, and flexibility. And if it’s a cannabis-specific development agency, that website will cover all marijuana regulation laws as well!
When it comes to growing your cannabis business, some things just aren’t worth going the cheap route. Actually, you’ll find that most things aren’t worth going cheap in the long run! This is no less true for marketing and design services.
The bottom line is this: if you want to be taken seriously in the cannabis industry, you must look the part. Push quality products, build an engaging brand, and have a professional, reliable website that truly performs!