The True Cost of Website Development
What is the number one reason for having a website for your business? Actually, I should re-phrase that – what is the number one reason for maintaining a website for your business? Notice the subtle difference there? Whether you’re a start-up or an established business, the chances are that first-off, you see your website as a means to attract and convert potential customers. Telling them about you comes a distant second place, because you need to attract prospects first, before you engage with them.
In this blog post I’m going to highlight some important considerations regarding websites that few people recognise unless they are closely involved in website development and digital marketing. The final two Cost Considerations may well come as a surprise.
This is especially relevant for business owners, who often have a very personal stakeholding in their website (and rightly so), but generally very little understanding of what it actually needs to do and how it needs to operate.
How Much Does A Website Cost?
Before you start work on your new website, whether it’s to launch a new company or to refresh an ageing website of an established company, you need to consider all the costs of creating a website. This can include domain registration, design, development, hosting, backup, technical support, content creation, optimisation – the list goes on, so first and foremost, make sure that you have understood and identified all of those costs.
So, let’s take the covers off and take a closer look at what you need to know about website development in 2021 and reveal the cost considerations that you really need to focus on for top website performance:
Cost Consideration #1 : Website Design and Website Development
This blog concerns itself primarily with website development. This is different from website design, which is often the only consideration given to the website by business owners. Good website development will make your website design really work, but a good design (what visitors see) cannot make up for poor development.
Website development and design go hand in hand of course, but make sure that the skills of whoever designs the look of the website also has the capability to match that with excellent development skills as well. A good developer will always make your design work as intended with minimum consultation. A real money-saver.
Cost Consideration #2 : Build Your Own Website
For any website project, there will always be the temptation to forego the website development process and create a website yourself using one of the well-known website builder applications from the likes of Squarespace or Wix. There's an abundance of 'no code' web builder tools like these around at the moment and the temptation of a free or very low monthly fee can be too hard to resist for some, but this can be a very short-sighted decision.
For a start-up company however, these ‘no-code’ website builders can be an excellent choice. They are relatively easy to understand and use, plus you can get a new website up and running very quickly with minimum fuss.
Even for larger, more sophisticated websites, you can use a website builder product to really good effect without needing any developer skills. However, by this point you may also find that some of the features need a basic understanding of HTML, and you may even need to call on a developer who has the relevant product skillset as well.
These tools are a great choice for a start-up. But, you will still need an understanding of how to structure a website and what the various even most basic terminology that the site uses actually means. If you have no previous website development expertise at all, you’ll need to learn all of this as you go along. Ask yourself if you really have the time to put into this when starting a new company and bear in mind that you really need to get a professional to review what you’ve done so that the site actually works as you intended.
Cost Consideration #3 : WordPress Website Development
I’ve included WordPress website development here as it is often considered alongside the likes of Squarespace and Wix as a low-cost option for creating a new website.
With WordPress seen by many as the go-to option for a website, it always features in a list of options for website development. Many very large businesses run on WordPress websites, so it is a logical option to consider.
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) as opposed to a website builder. What this means is that you will need development skills, or access to a good WordPress website developer to make it work correctly, unless you are willing to put in many, many hours of learning to get your site running correctly.
With a huge choice of website template themes available, WordPress can appear to be a really tempting choice for you to create your own website. But unless you have developer skills yourself, you’ll need to pay a developer to make the site work correctly. Even website template themes designed for WordPress will need a skilled WordPress website developer to enable the theme correctly and ensure that it works as you’d expect. Although WordPress is another good option, expect to have to pay a developer for their time or to put a lot of your own into getting a WordPress site up and running.
Cost Consideration #4 : Website Development Service
A good website development service as offered by many digital marketing agencies like ourselves and can provide you with a very cost-effective website solution. This service will offer both the design and development assistance that most companies require. It also enables you to get your new website up and running quickly at the same time as meeting your business priorities and needs.
This option provides a CMS – Element79 specialise in Umbraco – and either a bespoke design or a template theme design of your choice. Many of our own clients elect to choose their own website template design theme from a resource such as themeforest.net, which we then apply to the Umbraco Content Management System.
This option eliminates any need for a client to learn new skills or overcome development challenges themselves, as well as providing a means to manage your new website to precisely the level that you can accommodate internally, up to and including having total control of the website in all aspects as identified earlier in this article.
Although selecting this option to create your new website can at first appear to be the expensive option, for all of the reasons highlighted in the Cost Considerations above, it often actually has a very similar, if not cheaper overall cost to your business. A good website developer will easily overcome many of the challenges faced and provide really effective solutions to your requirements quickly and cost-effectively. Good website development is worth its weight in gold.
Cost Consideration #5 : Website Content
No matter which of the above options you choose when you create your website, you are also going to have to create the content for it. This can take significant time to accomplish and with it significant cost. And this applies whether you create that content yourself or whether you employ an agency to do so.
Faced with this sudden realisation, and especially when refreshing an existing website design, business owners will often expect that the content of the original site can simply be ‘lifted and shifted’ to the new site. This almost always never works. Your uplifted site may have a different navigation structure making some of the original content redundant or conflicting, the new template may not work with the old content, new graphics may be required. The list goes on.
New website owners as well often overlook the content needed to make your new website work for you. Often, they have only concentrated only on the design look and feel, without having thought through how that might work within the content creation skills that they actually have access to.
Creating good content for your website is a skill. You need your website to engage your visitors and encourage them to convert to customers. Significant time is required to do this. You may have come across the phrase ‘content is king’ and for good reason. It is fundamental to how a website delivers value to your visitors and your business. It also has a very significant influence with regards to the following Cost Consideration – SEO.
Cost Consideration #6 : Website Promotion
Here’s the one that most business owners will completely overlook. Website Promotion. No matter how well your new website is designed and developed, unless you put the time in to promote and market the site itself, you will not see any business from it.
There is an expectation by business owners that if you create a good looking website, it will attract visitors and custom without having to neither maintain nor promote it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Google’s search algorithms have evolved to require that modern websites display Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T), so that people searching the web are provided with relevant and accurate information. This is constantly evolving, and your new website will therefore need regular specialist attention to increase its rankings.
This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in. Fundamentally, this is what is going to make the difference between a website that just looks nice and one that actually works hard as a part of your overall marketing efforts to acquire business for you. Good website development will ensure that you are able to manage all of the basic SEO requirements for your site, plus many more advanced features as well.
This is probably the most overlooked and least understood area of website development by business owners. If you do not budget for SEO, your new website will never perform to your expectations. On-page and technical SEO requirements are something that a good website development team will ensure are available from day one. They will also be on hand to develop future SEO requirements on your site with expert knowledge and budget-saving efficiency.
In creating a new website, you have many options. Each comes with advantages and disadvantages according to your own level of expertise and understanding of the subject, plus your business stage, its maturity, and of course, your budget.
Although there are appealing options that seem to make good sense commercially, I would urge you to look at each of the points that I have covered above and understand the cost implications of each before making your choice.
Whatever you feel is the right choice for you, bear in mind that at some point you are almost certainly going to need a really good website development team or resource, who have the capability to quickly resolve issues and write efficient, superfast code to really make your site work.
Finally, do not forget either that as good as the site may be, without SEO services (and all the disciplines that it encompasses, which is a vast subject) your site will not work to bring you the business that you thought it would. A website is not a small investment, no matter which of the development routes you choose. Whether you have in-house resources or you need to pay a website development agency, the time and investment that you put into a website will repay you in the long run.
Have you ever used any of the development processes illustrated above to create your own website? If so, we'd really like to hear about your experiences. Please use our Disqus comments below and share your thoughts and questions.