Strategy. Design. Coding. SEO. Maintenance. A lot goes into a modern website. Prices can range from $500 to $30,000 for a small business or nonprofit. No matter the cost — a website that doesn’t deliver results won’t do you any good, no matter what you spend on it.
Because the cost of a new website really varies, one of the first questions I get asked is “How much do your websites cost?” Here are a few questions I ask as I consider how to estimate the cost of each website I design and build:
- Can people find your website? If not, why not?
- If people are finding your website, does it move them to action?
- Does your website accurately reflect the reputation of your organization? Do you wish you had a website that presented you as more established, or more successful?
It goes without saying that a website is an investment and you need to see a return on your investment. If no one can find your site in Google, or it looks unprofessional, it obviously will not be a good investment.
A great website will tell the story of your organization, and help people know and trust you. It should overcome any resistance and reassure your customers or supporters. So to be effective, your website will need to include the following:
1. Marketing/Brand strategy — Everything starts with strategy and if you get this wrong, people don’t understand who you are and what you are offering (and a confused mind will not take action). If you are a business, what exactly do you sell and who exactly is your ideal client? What are their pain points? How is your company unique? Without a good strategy, it’s impossible to know what page content to write for your website.
2. Well written page content and SEO — Once you know your strategy, working with a professional writer can really pay off. Sure, we all can write, but a copywriter writes persuasively, so that web visitors can get to know you. Remember, your ideal clients need your services (otherwise, they wouldn’t be visiting your website). Now they need a little reassurance to hire you. Great copywriting makes a huge difference in describing the value you deliver with your service.
3. Graphic Design & Photography — Do you cringe when you see the same tired stock photos? Professionally-trained graphic designers know how to find the right image, and are exacting and precise. They know how to set the right mood and tone on your website, especially if you are a nonprofit who is telling stories (pictures ARE worth a 1000 words in this case). For Businesses, acupuncture services are very different from tax accounting, and good design is the key to reflecting your unique business. Custom photography is always a good investment because it elevates the level of professionalism and this reassures prospective clients and donors that your business is thriving and legitimate.
4. Web Coding — Anyone who has struggled to use an inexpensive WordPress theme knows firsthand how hard they can be to customize. These templates are designed to sell and once you swap out their gorgeous photos with your snapshots the design really suffers. Working with a web coder solves this problem and always results in faster loading websites highly customized to your company.
5. Ongoing Support — Successful organizations know that marketing is an ongoing process and websites are never really “done”. Any web team you hire should be willing to stick around to keep your website safe from hackers, and ensure that your site continues to loads fast. When you invest in a business-class website — one that will make a difference in your success, you will need:
- marketing and brand strategy (what are your site goals?)
- a professional, experienced copy writer (persuasive messaging)
- exacting graphic design (to create the right look and feel)
- professional photography (to show the people behind the brand)
- expert web coding and ongoing maintenance (for fast loads and safer websites)
Here are a few questions you can ask as you consider your next website design project:
- How “findable” will my new website will be (will it be SEO-friendly?)
- Will I be able to update it easily?
- Will it display properly on a phone?
- Do you have a portfolio that I can review?
We have a web designer scorecard on our website, with a list of these and other questions you can ask as you interview web designers.
Heather Cox’s business, The Mighty Little Web Shop, serves small businesses who sell professional services. Mighty Little Web Shop’s mission is to help organizations to confidently attract a steady stream of visitors, and convert them into paying clients or long-standing donors. You can view her profile HERE.