How much does it cost for a website? We get asked this question often when a friend is planning to start a new business. And every time we give a different answer. The question is like asking, how much does a piece of jewelry cost?
I often want to say, that’s an important question, but unfortunately it’s the wong one. However that’s a really annoying answer. So here I will suggest a way around the problems and give you a price and a plan for your website.
I can show you how to make a website yourself in a couple of days for very little money. This solution works well if you have plenty of time and little money, and don’t expect your customers will judge your business based on how your website functions.
Since where we live people are usually short on time, and can afford the cost of a good website the do-it-yourself option doesn’t really work. The recent research I’ve seen conclude that 90% of people mistrust the business if they find something wrong with the website, so it seems obvious to me that it needs to work well.
Now I should tell you to hand everything over to a Web agency and pay them. That can work great, but you really can’t throw the ball in their lap. A website must tell the story of what you do, it must visually reflect your identity, the text must have a tone that seems to be coming from you, it must give relevant information whether a customer is heading to see you or visiting from an advert that you placed. The information must be up-to-date. And the of course it should look good.
What you shouldn’t do is make a pretty website and leave it unchanged for years. People are unlikely to visit, and your money will be wasted.
Since you have to regularly update the website a great approach is gradually improving the website. If for instance you made it better every three months, you could time it with a new special offer promotion. The trick is not having to replace the old website wholesale, but rather make a base that can grow.
Ah, so I need some sort of magic technology to allow my website to grow! Although web developers and software engineers talk about this topic a lot, they don’t have the solution. They can only make you something based on the information they get at the beginning.
The way to do this is with a good design that looks ahead to what might be in the upcoming releases. When we talk about design it isn’t about coloring, logos and visual wow. It’s about creating a rulebook for how things are done, based on an understanding of you, your business, how your products are made, and your customers.
If you know up front, that you will launch with 10 products and the next year have 1000 products it’s easy to plan how both will work equally well. Conversely if you don’t know how many products you will have, how can you design a web page showing off the products.
In my parents business they have 50.000 products, and perhaps 10.000 come and go every year. If you were to put those on the website, you’d need a plan for keeping up-to-date without getting swamped with work. Knowing such facts leads to the right conversations up front about what to include on the website and how. These conversations are as much your responsibility as a business owner, as they might be ours as consultants.
So what should you do to get your website up-and-running?
Put as little in as you can get away with in the first release of the website. Make a design sketching much more, but cut it down to very little from the outset. This makes the first version relatively cheap. It will still take a couple of days to make, but you will have something, and still be able to make significant changes and improvments later in the year.
Before making the website find the questions that must be answered to make a good website. None of these are technical, but instead reflect who will visit the site, what they will do there, how you will get them there, and the metrics of your business. Each business has different questions that are important, so I can only get you some examples.
- Do you sell standard products or a single custom service
- What words would describe mood/vibe/style for other things that match your business and products
- What associations do you want people to have when they are introduced
- When are people most likely to visit the website; In the sofa, in the office, on the street
- How often does your business/products naturally change
- What is the main focus for the website the customer / the people / the projects / the business
- What is the action you want people to take before leaving the website
- What will most people visiting be looking for
It is important that you focus on the questions before answering them, this gives you the best brain storming results. It is very important that you think hard about your own questions rather than just answering the ones above.
When we consult on this we turn this exploration into a full day of working out questions. We do different exercises and presentations to get the thoughts rolling.
Now that you have a clear map of the why-what-how of the website put it in a document so the person making the website can understand where you’re coming from and have the details needed to make the hundreds of decisions involved in creating the right communication.
- Do you have a logo? We need the AI/PSD format and a transparent SVG/PNG
- The brand/company name, address, phone number, public email
- Do you have a tagline or slogan?
- Make a statement of what you do in about two sentences.
As you can see you have to do a lot yourself before anybody can make a website for you. But now you’re ready. As I said before, don’t jump in and have a site done with bells and whistles. Instead we time box it to 2.5 days work.
- Work day 1: Pick the suitable templates and hosting
- You decide which one of 3 - 5 templates to base the site on.
- Work day 2: Adjust the template and fill in initial site
- Handover Day 3: Learn how to modify
In the end you have a simple website where you can make simple changes and post updates. In the next release you can add more functionality or information, but that is for another day to plan, design and implement.
If you want us to help you, it can be with a design workshop to clarify your business design or to start the new website.