Startups of course are always looking at a brand new website, but existing businesses that find themselves looking for a new website may have other options. To start over, or to redesign and set up their websites to evolve over time is the real question.
Particularly if their website was built on the WordPress platform, business owners should consider an option that will allow their website to be changed as needed with minimum upheaval.
So let’s start off discussing what to consider when building a new website.
New Website Creation – Your Budget
Probably the first step in the process is to set a budget. This will depend on your business launch budget. Resist the temptation to use one of the free website builders out there. I won’t go into a list of them all, but while they can be quite visually appealing, you give up functionality as well as more Google Juice than you would believe. Websites built on these platforms rarely get the sort of traffic that will allow for you to become a center of influence.
Having said this, let’s talk about the scope of your business. If you are starting a conventional business like a restaurant, a plumbing business, or perhaps even a used car dealership, then you should probably looking in the $2,500 to $8,500 range. This may seem steep to you, and you’ve probably heard of one man shops that will build such site for as little as $750. Take a pass on these deals. Here is why:
What happens when that guy gets hit by a bus? This is a very real concern long after the website is finished and live. Many developers will use customized themes or plugins that cannot be updated along with your platform by anyone else. This makes your website a hostage to the well being of the original designer. There are ways around this issue, but you are still best off dealing with a reputable firm with a development team, as opposed to a single website developer.
If you need a more robust site that has more functionality, you may need to go with an e-commerce website or one built on the .net framework you will be looking at a more expensive proposition. Be sure to get several prices, but be prepared to pay more based on the scope of your website. This may bring you into a budget from $8,500 to $25,000 without breaking a sweat. Be sure you know what you are getting for this price point, and expect to see a portfolio of similar websites.
Higher budgets than these are sometimes necessary. If you continuously get quoted more, you should have been prepared for this, or need to contract with a consultant to see how lower quotes may be obtained. One such job that our team worked on went from an average quote of $45,000 (low of $35,000, high of $50,000) to several proposals in the $7,500 to $8,500 range. The issue is usually site security while interacting with off site resources. Key to getting the cost down is getting developers to meet but not majorly over reach on these specs.
Make sure your service contract specifies what is included specifically to avoid cost overruns. Also a strict time frame with penalties for not meeting them. Make sure you understand, and meet your responsibilities in that time line.
Selecting Your Website Platform
Better than 95% of you will be looking for a website built on a CMS (Content Management System). These used to be called blogging platforms, and yes WordPress is the most commonly used of the lot. The next two commonly used are Drupal, and Joomla. WordPress has a healthy 60% marketshare in this arena and with good reason. It should be 90%. Most of you need to go straight for a WordPress website and not look back.
Whichever CMS platform chosen, it is best to use a good third party theme like Elegant Theme’s Divi as opposed to a custom created theme. This insures that the theme will stay compatible with updates to WordPress for a good long time.
You may say, but I am not a blogger! The Ford Motor Company website is on WordPress. They’re not bloggers either. Around 23% of all websites online today are built on this CMS platform. Don’t listen to the naysayers, WordPress websites are secure, robust and flexible. There isn’t much that is beyond what a WordPress website’s capabilities.
When should you choose otherwise? While WordPress can and does support eCommerce, there are better options for many of these businesses. Shopify is the best known eCommerce solution. I recommend this platform, and usually also would strongly suggest that you add Zipify for added functionality and lower development costs on your build out, as well as ongoing.
Remember those websites in the stratosphere of costs mentioned earlier? In most cases the .NET framework by Microsoft is the go to platform for these. Are there exceptions? There are always exceptions. If you are having to interact with a third party data or software provider, build your site based on the platform they are on.
This topic alone would take far more space than this article can afford to give it. This is when you need a consultant to help you even get the project properly quoted.
90 times out of 100, BOMC strongly recommends using WordPress. The next 5 sites are eCommerce sites that are perfect for Shopify. the next 3 would be .NET sites, with the last 2 being specialty high end websites that are interacting with multiple third party resources and necessitate a lot of custom coding beyond simple design concerns.
The Website Development Process
The website creation process can be a lot of fun. It can also be the most frustrating experience of your life. The difference can be summed up between two issues
- How well your can describe your needs, vision, and wishes.
- How thoroughly you vet your website development team.
Make sure your team knows what you want your website to look and feel like. Talk to them about your business vision. What is sometimes referred to as corporate culture. As much as possible you want these creative individuals to buy into your business vision.
Make sure you know who is responsible for the creatives to be used on the website. Are you providing photographs of your brick and mortar location? Your staff? Headshots of key individuals for the About Us page? 95% of dissatisfaction with finished websites is due to poor communication.
Your service agreement should have specific deadlines along the way to see the website progress. These should have specifics as to what you will see each time. It should also spell out what, if anything you are providing for that step to be completed, and when you need to provide it. Again, clarity of communication.
Unless there is a lot of custom coding to be done, with challenges along the way that are clearly beyond normal coding your website should not take longer than 90 days. If there ends up being a delay, be sure that it isn’t due to anything you have failed to do or provide. If a meeting culminates with your team not having met their deadline for a level of completion, request a separate meeting to discuss why this has occurred.
Make sure that your initial service contract with the team outlines what their responsibilities are beyond website launch. If there is no follow up responsibilities for the team, be sure that your Webmaster service provider is well briefed on custom aspects of the website, with contact info to the team as well as to administrators of any unique or custom plugins and add-ons used.
Obviously the optimal situation would be for the website development team to be a part of your primary Marketing Agency or a member of your Consultants team. This allows for the greatest protection against problems going forward being beyond solving.
All of this assumes that you have opted for a new website as opposed to going with an evolving website. This will be covered in a future article, as it’s merits require too much discussion to go into here.
Once Your Website Is Launched
There have been repeated references to Webmaster services to be provided once your website has been launched. Do not wait until launch to get this in place. Your Webmaster services team should be involved in the final phases of website creation. This allows questions to be asked directly of the development team.
All of this can and should be taken very seriously as many businesses have paid out significant funds only to have to start completely over again. This mostly happens due to poorly communicated goals and needs for the website. Another common issue is a lack of coordination with the rest of the digital marketing team.
You can and should sit down for a long consultation before selecting a website creation team. We at BOMC do a very good job of this at no cost, and with no attempt to sell you anything. We can only work with a set number of clients at a time, and not all can afford our $5,000 – $10,000/Month fees.
We are happy to consider working with anyone that wishes to but our consultations are about conveying information and education to the business community. Please click below to set up your free consultation.
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