There was a time when it was enough just to HAVE a website for your business. Now that every business has an online presence, you need to think more strategically to make sure yours can deliver. You need potential customers to be able to find you, to quickly and easily interact with you, and to move down the funnel to a purchase. Existing customers want to reach you in whatever way they prefer and get a satisfying response. Your business will have to budget to achieve these goals. Yet, you want to make a wise investment.
Estimates for the cost of a new or updated website can vary wildly. Is the most expensive the best? Can you get by with a site designed pro bono by a new freelancer looking for exposure? (The answer to both questions is probably “no.”) Here’s how to navigate the sometimes confusing proposition of budgeting for a quality website.
Factors That Affect Cost
Your website cost will depend on what features and how much customization you want. While your website, depending on the size of your business, may not need a lot of custom features, there are some features you can’t afford to skimp on.
Website security is an absolute must at Viral Wolf. This goes double if you sell things or accept donations through your site. Customers trust their payment information with you; don’t let them down. Ensuring that your website has strong security measures in place will also prevent potential hacks. Security is an ongoing effort, too. Find out whether the company designing your website will continually install patches and updates once they launch the site. If they leave you high and try, you will be open to hackers. The level of security you need will affect costs.
Integrate Social Media
Your website works in conjunction with any other online presence, including your social media channels. Regular, quality social media content make you an authoritative voice in your industry. It can also provide a way for customers to reach you with questions, concerns or words of thanks. If you want your social media integrated with the site, it’s best to plan it that way from the outset. A savvy designer will format pages and blog posts to share easily and beautifully, while also encouraging site visitors to follow you in social.
Beauty and Functionality
Naturally, you want your website to look good and reflect your brand. Good aesthetics could be what initially attract a new customer to your website. But a great website must also be functional and dynamic. Everything on your website should have a purpose. If it doesn’t have a purpose, you’ll need to take a step back and see if it does need to go on your website. Do your research to learn how your likely site visitors will view your site — on what device, in which browsers, and in what setting. Those factors will influence the overall functionality of the site.
Estimate Your Investment
Before you start looking for quotes, first write down a list of everything you want from your website. In any situation, details matter and details certainly matter in this case. The more bells and whistles you want from your website, the more it’s going to cost. But if you know about those costs ahead of time, it will be easier to allocate the funds and justify the expense to other members of your company. From there, begin to put out feelers for cost estimates. Get recommendations from colleagues. Ask if a design company is willing to break down their pricing instead of providing one total fee, so that you understand everything. Just know that the estimates that come back to you may be incredibly different.
What Goes on During Design You May Not Know About
As we’ve said, website design isn’t just about making sure your website looks the best. Plenty of other factors go into designing a quality website that you may not know about.
If people are out at an event and hear about your company, they may be inclined to look you up. If websites aren’t designed with mobile devices in mind, they won’t display properly and may turn off a potential customer because they were unable to access your website and see the features properly. Confirm with your designer that the website will look good on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Also look for qualities like the ability to call you with the touch of a button, or to integrate events with the user’s calendar.
Search Engine Optimization
Your website is only as good as a search engine’s ability to find it. Making sure that your website is optimized using SEO best practices brings it closer to the top of search results. Getting pushed to the front of the pack means more business for you.
How to Know You’re Getting a Good Deal
It’s difficult to state simply how much you’ll need to spend on a quality website because of all the factors that go into it. However, there are still ways of knowing if you’re getting a good deal on the website.
You’re Getting What You Want
In any business traction, you should come away satisfied. The same goes for your website. If your designer gets things done by the deadline and provides what you wanted, you can justify the price. However, don’t expect a designer to read your mind! Explain what you want as fully as possible. A sign of a good design firm is that they will ask a lot of questions up front about your goals for the site and the audience you want to reach. At Viral Wolf, we ask new clients to show us sites they love, regardless of industry, so we know what they envision.
Communication will make or break the design process. If you’re able to stay in contact with the designers working on your website and communication is flowing nicely, that’s a sign of a good deal. If something should come up and the results of something weren’t what you were expecting, you already have a rapport going and you know your concerns will be met.
While it may seem daunting at first, a quality website doesn’t have to break the bank. However, don’t choose the least expensive option just because that’s what it is. A website is an investment in your business, and like all other investments, it’s bound to pay off and help you in the long run.