How to Know If You Are Making the Right Investment In Your Web Presence
There is a wide variety of opinion on what makes a solid business website, and what a business should expect to pay for one. “The evolving formats and functionalities in a Web presence can parallel a businesses’ growth from a small start up to a mega-corporation,” says Kevin Hourigan, President and CEO of Web design, Web development and online marketing agency, Bayshore Solutions, “A business’ needs will drive the complexity required for its website, and the budget to support it. But the key question to ask is ‘What is it costing your business to not have a web presence on par with the expectations of your target customers?’”
How much do I really need to spend on my website?
The real question to ask is: “What could the ‘right’ website produce over and above my current website. If the answer is anything more that what you currently have, then you need to ensure that your website is developed in a manner that delivers the right digital results to help your business succeed now and as your business grows.
What’s the difference between a $10, $25k and a $50K website?
In a nutshell, as a price point on a website increases, so does feature functionality, control and strategic readiness. Features include user interface items like site search, navigation options, applications integration to CRM, inventory management, marketing automation platforms, etc., financial transactions processing, and capacity for content variety (images, sound, video, downloads, etc.).
Control items include how easy it is to access and edit your website and interface with the information flow it holds. Hosting and IT access, a web content management system (CRM), SEO access, and data collection and export or synchronization with integrated applications are examples of these.
Strategic readiness of a website includes: dedicated aesthetics that enhance your brand, SEO friendliness of the site structure, interconnectivity with your other marketing initiatives, and flexibility of your website to scale as your business needs develop (for example: if you need it to, can the site handle 10 orders in May, 10 thousand in June and 10 million by July?).
There are many relatively lower price point “template” website packages that a business can use, but this will be within a specific set of limited parameters in all of the above areas. For small business start-ups these often might be a good initial choice for a first website. With their low costs, they are affordable for small businesses and can act as a “billboard” for their company in its initial start up stage.
As companies grow, so do their customers’ expectations of the businesses’ Web presence. These expectations call for an online experience well beyond what most templates can cater to. This is where companies must rely on specific, design elements exclusive to a brand, more dedicated control of technology, and the ability to access, edit and scale become necessary as a business grows. At this point the templated web designs become like a toddler sized suit on a teenager. They just cannot give your business the best fit or professional presentation. Some businesses take time to reach this need-level. Others, in order to compete, need to accommodate an enterprise scale with their first website.
As your business grows and needs more than an elementary web design, the investment required increases in order to support custom programming, allow ecommerce and application integration, ensure the level of professionalism in user-interface and administrative functionality, as well as offer the features and integrity of a higher caliber website. It is not uncommon for a website that is developed for enterprise business results to require a starting investment in the tens of thousands to multiples of six figures.
The focus needs to be on the return you are expecting for your web investment. If your website and the results it brings are strategic to your business, then that website needs to be developed, maintained and supported accordingly.
How can I get the most for my money with my business website?
Here is a quick checklist of things to look for and consider when shopping for a website design or development partner:
- First and foremost, determine your goals and results expectations of your website. Use these in a measurable way to gage the promises and the performance of potential and ongoing web partners.
- Use an experienced professional. Relatives and friends that aren’t tenured web professionals typically don’t deliver the results your business needs.
- Ask for Case Studies. Portfolio examples alone of ‘Wow’ imagery and impressive visual design are one thing. Tangible improved results to the business are the true measure of great design.
- Ask what ongoing SEO-readiness is part of their normal website build process. Are they aligned to building a site equipped for you to market it successfully after it is launched?
- Ask for details on website hosting requirements and access. What are the downtime risks and recovery processes?
- See a live demo of the site’s administrative editing and access proposed by potential web partners. How easy and quickly can you (not them) make changes, and what kinds of changes additions etc., can you make?
- Compare apples to apples, and understand the options. This can be a complex process, and often a great approach is using a ‘consulting’ engagement to determine the best scope and needs for your website. It can save you a lot down the road by helping you make fully informed decisions and asking the right questions at the start.
These insights will help you make the right-sized investment in your Web presence best suited to deliver ongoing success to your business.