If you’re thinking about a new website, one of the first questions you’ll be asking is “How much is it going to cost?”
Of course, budget is a key factor.
Many business owners and marketing execs aren’t sure what sort of price they should expect to pay for a new website.
Sometimes it’s a surprise to find out the price is more than they had in mind.
The most common reason is that many people don’t fully appreciate the range of skills and strategic considerations that together determine the price.
There’s a perception (often driven by offshore businesses and web hosting companies) that a new WordPress website is a quick job – or that a website can be delivered ‘off the shelf’ for a few hundred pounds.
Yes, it is possible to source a boilerplate theme for £150 from a theme provider. But before you take that step, ask these questions:
- What do I want my website to do?
- How will it meet these objectives?
- What is included in the project price?
- Which elements will I need to do myself?
- What happens when I want to make changes to the site?
- Can I maintain it myself?
- How will my requirements be different in 6 – 12 months?
The Downside of Off-The-Shelf Themes
It’s important that we clear one point up right from the start.
Theme-based sites often look attractive. They are often available at a very low price, because they’ve been designed as ‘boilerplate’ or ‘template’ themes. For some businesses they work well, for a while.
However they offer only limited functionality and flexibility.
Boilerplate themes often become quickly outdated. The result is that when your business grows, and you need to make changes to the design or features of your website, it’s not as easy as you’d like.
Many themes are coded so that they cannot easily by updated. They may require compatible plugins or bespoke programming work which even an experienced developer might find challenging. Tracking down the original developer of low-cost themes is notoriously difficult.
Ultimately, you may end up paying more in the long run as you see the drawbacks of your cheap option versus the benefits of the professionally developed approach.
Why A Website Might Cost More Than You Might Think
As with many purchases, the answer to your “How much?” question is usually going to be “It depends…” A good way to start is by looking at the sorts of suppliers from whom you could source your new website:
- Friend/colleague who does a bit of website design
- Self-employed web designer/contractor
- IT company
- Offshore web design agency
- Digital agency
- Marketing agency
Another question to ask and get clear in your own mind is where the remit for your new website project belongs.
Is it an IT project? Or a sales project? Or is it a marketing job? Could it be something that you could do by reading a few articles and spending a couple of weekends on? Maybe it’s a ‘business’ project. Or a combination of all the above.
But that’s something for another blog.
The Key Ingredients of a Professional Website Project
We’re going to explain the approach that we as a professional marketing agency take – and that you could expect to be taken through too if you have decided that you need a new website for your business.
As you’ll see, if you want more from your website to work for you and support your business goals, there’s a lot involved.
1. Scoping and goals
These will be driven by your objectives. What job does your website actually need to do?
The answer to this may lie in looking at your ‘buyer journey’ *see our recent blog. Thinking about this, you need to ask:
- Who are your target visitors?
- What are they looking for and why?
- How will they find your website?
- What do you want them to do when they arrive on your website?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ websites?
At C4B Media we almost always run a formal website scoping workshop before doing anything. By doing this it helps focus the client’s mind on some difficult questions which they may not have thought about.
The scoping plan also provides a useful document to refer back to in the rare event that differences in opinion arise about what was meant to be included at the outset!
The structure of your website (i.e. the menu and site map) will be key for navigation – and play a huge role in the usability of the site.
Your visitor experience must be intuitive and easy. The must be able to find the key information they need – and which you want to bring them to – in order that the site can do its job of driving them on to the next stage in the buyer journey i.e. by completing a conversion action.
Your design of your new website should be consistent with the rest of your corporate branding.
This brand consistency is key to developing trust in your business services, products and expertise, so that visitors feel confident to take the next step towards becoming a customer.
The look and feel of your site can also tell the visitor a great deal about what sort of experience they are going to have if they buy your product or service.
The number and style of images is very important. Shoddy product shots and shaky videos are not going to convey the professionalism that will persuade potential buyers that they’ve arrived in the right place.
Often a second option is to pepper the website with stock images from libraries such as Shutterstock – which is OK up to a point – but these must be selected with great care and licensed correctly.
Ultimately, many of our clients opt for bespoke photography. This is the best option to convey a truly unique view of what your business is all about.
5. User interface and usability
It’s amazing how many websites are just too complex to understand or use.
The simple rule is to avoid compromising on usability by ensuring that every piece of design is aimed at an intuitive user experience.
Otherwise, visitors will simply leave.
There are easily 1.5 billion websites in the world. Among these, and all the sites or your competitors locally, nationally and internationally, your website needs to be findable by target customers and buyers who are looking for products or services like yours.
You’ll need to figure out how you intend to attract visits via Google (other search engines exist) as well as how you can drive traffic to your site through other marketing channels, such as your social media platforms.
It must work in harmony with and alongside these other marketing activities.
Who will write your website content?
Interestingly, less is often more when it comes to website content. Yet it requires a great deal of skill to get key points across quickly and succinctly.
We suggest your website content is professionally written for the web so that it can assist with SEO, for example by incorporating carefully researched keywords and headings.
Other content to consider includes videos and infographics.
Above all, your website content must clearly address the questions, problems and requirements of the visitors and target customers who are visiting.
8. Gated content
Some kinds of content might be much more useful to a prospective buyer than a page of regular web content. These content assets – such as high-quality Buyers Guides, Research Papers or Strategy Templates are valuable to a prospective customer, so it’s worth asking for contact details in return.
Gated content assets sit behind a form, sometimes on a dedicated landing page.
When visitors arrive on your website, you’ve got 3 to 4 seconds to grab them before they make a snap judgement and navigate away to a different website.
It’s vital to map the experience and ‘journey’ that you want them to take from their landing page.
Your goal is to draw visitors from the entry page logically and intuitively to a point where they are persuaded to take the form of action that you want them to take i.e. the point where they will ‘convert’ by making an enquiry (however you define that.)
Try and avoid putting anything in the way that may distract them from that path.
10. Offers, calls to action and conversion
You need to define what you want your website visitors to do on your website i.e. the action you want them to take. What is going to tempt your visitors to take that next step – to “get in touch” or “submit their details” – it’s got to be something valuable and compelling to them.
Whatever the conversion action you envisage, this can only be achieved by positioning highly visible ‘Calls to Action’ (CTAs) around the site – usually in the form of buttons or icons.
Don’t fall into the common trap of only using “Call our sales team” as your call to action.
Instead use more compelling CTAs such as: “Download this informative guide”, “Try this product for free”, “Request a free sample” or “See how it works”.
11. Privacy and data protection
Increasingly, business buyers look for compliance in these areas as a condition of doing business. The risk of data breach is just not worth leaving to chance, so – like it or not – it must be factored into your website.
In some website projects, we don’t commence any development until all the above have been worked through and decided.
The development or coding of your website requires specialist skills not just to get to a launch point, but also to ensure that you can easily update and amend the site content after launch. Key aspects of development include:
- Browser compatibility: Your website will need to be compatible with the many browsers – previous as well as current versions.
- Responsive: it will also need to be mobile responsive so that it provides users on a smartphone or tablet with a seamless experience.
- Security: your website, and all the links on it, must be secure.
- CMS: the website will ideally be built on a user-friendly content management system (CMS). At C4B Media, we use WordPress – and train our customers on how to use it.
13. Project management
With so many factors to consider, and especially if you want your new website to launch to meet a certain deadline such as a product launch or event, the process of designing and developing it will need close project management.
With so many inputs, it can be a job in itself just to keep things moving and co-ordinate all the elements.
14. Testing and review
This is a critical step before you launch your website and may take a couple of weeks.
Many people skip or skimp on testing because they are in a rush.
However it’s important to proofread each page carefully, test your contact forms, check your links including social media sharing icons, ensure metadata is in place for SEO and run page speed checks.
We use a development site for most of our website projects, so the client can review progress at each stage. It’s always worth spending your own time reviewing your new website here to satisfy yourself that it does the job you want it to.
15. Launch and hosting
Once your new website is ready, you or your web design agency will need to launch it on to your hosting service.
Hosting is a complex area – and one where you really get what you pay for. Ideally, your website should be hosted in the UK on a good quality hosting platform with plenty of “resource” to ensure that page load speed will never be compromised.
Uploading files and databases to a hosting server isn’t for the fainthearted, so if you don’t have the technical skills in-house, someone with the expertise will need to do it for you.
16. Post-launch maintenance
Like any software, your website will need maintenance and updates as new versions and tweaks are released by the Content Management System provider (e.g. WordPress). These updates ensure that the underlying technology on which your website is built remains secure and compatible with any plugins that are used in the build, as well as with hosting platforms, operating systems and browsers.
Without this maintenance, the site will become outdated – and more importantly, at risk of a security breach.
17. Staying visible
Search engine ranking is like a race. If you’re not actively trying to compete, you won’t get the result you want.
So if you want your website to rank in Google for the specific keywords your potential customers are searching on (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll need an ongoing SEO programme.
One of the key factors in SEO is fresh, original content which should be posted to the website at regular intervals. An ideal way to do this is by writing informative and relevant blog articles on relevant topics.
18. Website performance and analytics
If you want to know how your website is performing, you’ll need an analytics programme such as Google Analytics. You might want to know how your visitor numbers change over time, what the most popular pages are, which blogs are getting read the most.
Analytics can also reveal visitor paths through your website from their entry page through to the point where they either ‘convert’ or leave the site.
This is where your website now sits firmly in the marketing realm of your business – and where your IT guys, self-employed designers, off-shore developers and ‘design only’ agencies might not be able to help at all.
As you’ll have gathered by now, website design and development isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ thing, nor is there any standard price for a website.
At C4B Media we scope every website project carefully, ensuring that we ask the right questions. Not every web design agency does this, and few projects can be delivered by one person alone because of the range of different skillsets involved.
Speak to us on 01763 877110 about an assessment of your current website’s performance, or about a Website Scoping Workshop.
Let’s get your new website project moving!