Most new food truck owners I’ve spoken with, dream of having an awesome website for their mobile food business. The site will look great, attract new customers and acts as a virtual promoter 24 hours a day. While this can be achieved, the reality is that the road to creating a great website for your food truck is usually filled with potholes.
Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a developer to help build your site, there are a few things you should watch out for when you get started. These are 5 of the most common mistakes I see vendors make when they start developing the website of their dreams.
Not Owning The Domain
This is more common than you may think. Whoever owns the domain name owns and controls everything. All settings and changes originate from the Domain Name Service (DNS), which is controlled by the person who owns the domain.
Whether it’s good or not so good intentions, sometimes a web designer may tell the novice website owner, “don’t worry, just pick the domain you want and I’ll take care of it for you”. What this usually means is that they have purchased the domain under their own account and thus own the domain.
What you can do
Be sure that you are the one who actually purchases the domain name. There are services like Go Daddy that make it easy to buy a domain name, which costs less than $15 a year.
Using a Free Website Hosting
Using a free hosting solution like Tumblr or WordPress.com, which is the self-hosted version and highly recommended) may seem like a great way to save a few bucks when you’re first starting out, and these are great solutions…..but not for a business.
A free hosting solution will usually offer you a free sub-domain on their site, such as: “Myfoodtruck.wordpress.com” with the option of adding your own domain “mywebsite.com” for an additional fee. First of all, you should never create a business site as a sub-domain off of one of these sites, it screams the fact that you’re cheap, not-committed to your mobile food business and may not be around for long. The other problem is that you have no control over your server, meaning if it slows to a crawl or your site goes down completely, it can be difficult to find customer service to fix it.
While the free model for food truck marketing has worked well for many, when you use a free service, you are not the customer, you are the product.
What you can do
Purchase your own hosting like InMotion Hosting or BlueHost, which offer plans that start at less than $5 bucks a month. From there you can use a CMS such as WordPress.org to build your website which you will host on your own server.
Not Using a Common Content Management System (CMS)
If a developer tells you they have their own CMS solution that they want you to use, run for the hills. Popular open source Content Management Systems such as WordPress and Drupal, will work just fine for a food truck vendor’s needs. These platforms have been tested and improved upon over the years and have huge communities of developers who continue to add value to those platforms.
So why would a developer want you to use their own CMS? Basically it’s a “lock in” feature, meaning that once you start up with them, it is very difficult for you to leave.
What you can do
Insist on using an open source CMS like WordPress for a traditional food truck site. If you ever need to leave your current developer, there are thousands of developers at your fingertips that can easily take over that project for you.
Creating a Blog Separate From Your Main Website
This is a fairly common problem I have found with some food truck owners. They create their main site, often a static HTML site and then create a blog on a free platform like Blogger for their blogging. The reason they usually do this is that their main website is either an HTML site or some complicated CMS, where they have no clue how to use it and blogging platforms like Blogger are simple to set up and use.
The problems with this approach:
- You have two separate websites to manage.
- They look, feel and act differently from each other.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is spread out over two different websites.
What you can do about it
Make your blog part of your main website. If you use a CMS like WordPress, it’s simple to add a blog as it comes installed already. In basic terms, it will look like this: “www.myfoodtruck.com/blog/the-name-of-blog-post”.
By adding the blog as part of your main website, you can use it to help build the search rankings for your entire website.
Letting Your Someone Else Write The Copy On Your Site
It’s amazing how many people spend time and money building a website for their food truck business, and then blow it by treating the actual copy as an afterthought. The words on your food truck’s website are what actually sell your brand. This should be one of the most important steps in the entire website development process, yet many vendors spend very little time on it or hand the responsibility to someone, who doesn’t know you, your concept, or your menu.
Your designer or developer may tell you they can create the copy for you for an additional charge. It’s an easy upsell for them, poor results for you.
What you can do about it
Once you have your food truck website layout completed and you know what pages will be created, you need to get yourself someone who can write. There is a big difference between a writer and a copywriter, a copywriter writes with the intent to persuade and sell, which is what you want for your food truck website. Even if you have a small budget, you can find quality copywriters locally or online at sites like Elance.com. With a small budget, I recommend to start with your homepage and main menu page(s).
Get it right from the start
Avoiding some of these mistakes can help any food truck owner avoid headaches later on down the road. Ultimately, my advice is to do your research before spending your heard earned time and money on your food truck’s website.