You realise you need to build a new website, but want to be smart and get it as cost effectively as you can.
Small – medium sized businesses don’t have to spend the earth on a new website, but like most things, you usually get what you pay for. The devil is the details – and there are many in a new website! That being said, there are some things you can do to help minimise the cost of creating your website. If you have a marketing plan, you probably already have the information for the first 3 points. If not, that’s a good place to start either on your own or with the help of a professional.
Here are 9 tips to help you minimise the cost of the new website you want:
- Know your brand. What does your brand stand for? What is your brand promise? What makes it better than your competition? What are your values? If you are a luxury brand your site will have a different feel to one that provides value for money so it’s good to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the brand identity from the start.
- Know your target. Who are you trying to reach and what do you know about them? Why should they use/like your brand? What messages are relevant to them? Which targets are your priority?
- Know what you want your website to achieve. Is it a place to create company/product awareness, provide information, sell products, generate leads (calls, emails etc), create traffic to your bricks and mortar location or even fundraising . If there are multiple objectives, then prioritise your goals.
- Research your competitors and other sites to see what you like and don’t like about their sites. (Don’t forget to think about this through the eyes of your consumer. The site should reflect your business image but should also be attractive and relevant to them). It’s helpful for a designer to understand your preferences before they begin designing. Think about things like the overall look, the colours, the navigation, the types of images and amount of copy.
- Make an initial “mud map” or outline of the content that you want on your website. It should have all the tabs or categories and pages of information you want to include and what’s the most important. This will ensure that the site will include all the information that you require and have an idea of how much there is.
- Functionality– have an idea of what you want the site to do: all sites will have a home page, products/services, about us, contact us, but what are the other things are relevant to your offer that you want to include? Eg. testimonials, photo gallery, FAQs, newsletter signup, ecommerce, blog, login/ members section, search, printer friendly pages, social media links, Deciding early on what functionality you are interested in ensures the will be built into your site. It’s almost always more expensive to add something later that you didn’t specify at the beginning.
- Take time to review your wireframe carefully. After your first meeting or two, a wireframe, or outline of the website will be developed based on information you have provided. It’s not sexy, but it will contain the overall layout and functionality of the site. If there’s one thing you take away from this article it’s to review this carefully to ensure that it has everything you want and you like the overall flow and general layout. This is the blueprint for your site, and it is easy to change at this stage in the development. It is the basis for the design that will follow. It can be changed after you have a design or after programming has begun, but both of these places incur significantly more costs and take more time.
- Provide feedback at one time. Get all the feedback to a given wireframe, page/layout design, copy or other creative output from the necessary stakeholders and provide it all at one time. It is better to take your time and provide complete feedback rather than getting it done quickly and missing something. Providing feedback on Monday, Wednesday and more on Thursday and then the CEO’s feedback the next week means that there need to multiple rounds of changes each of which takes more time. If you need to have things in a relatively finished form for your boss, that’s okay, but it’s better if it’s at the wireframe stage than during the final build. It’s not that things can’t be changed, but it will probably mean your cost and build time will increase.
- Be open to Agency recommendations. While you need to be prepared with your brief to the Agency, listen to their recommendations. They build sites all the time so they know things that you might not be aware of…. Eg. visual sites are beautiful on a computer screen, but take lots of time to load on a mobile; Ideas that have worked on other websites; colours that work best together; and importantly, things that haven’t worked well in the past. While it’s great to be on the forefront of technology, it often comes with a price tag.
You may or may not be able to provide all this information to your web agency and they can help you work through all of this. But the more you can bring to the project, the less the agency has to do and consequently your overall cost is less. If you have a very simple website, you might be able to benefit by using a template. These are ready-made sites that can require less design and minimal programming which is why the cost is low. These can be very cost efficient, but your information needs to fit into the template “as is”. If you have changes to the template, this can end up costing more than a custom designed site, so you have to work with your agency to determine if it’s a good option for you.