THE REAL COST OF BUILDING A WEBSITE

Are you looking for a new website or looking to update a site you already have?

These days there is quite a variation in costs on website design and the associated work that compliments it and how long it should take to deliver. There is so much to redesigning or building a new site it can be a bit overwhelming for a novice and you can end up wasting a shed load of money on things you do not need.

So, the question we are often asked is “how much does website design actually cost and how long should it take?”

Well, before we get into that, we just want to start by looking at your time. It is very useful to compare your own day rate or the day rate of anyone in your business who will be doing the work if you are thinking of using a drag and drop website builder solution (we will explain that in a bit). Ok, with that in mind, let’s go through this.

So, let’s start by looking at the most common options available to you. We will assume that you are going to use WordPress as your preferred choice of website. At one end of the scale is a website building website like WIX (we will refer to this as a builder), where you can pick a template and use drag and drop editors to customise it to your requirements. These are usually charged at a fixed monthly cost including hosting and you can add functionality at additional costing including Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), additional security, stock imagery or
e-commerce and payment gateways if you are looking to sell products and services via your website. At the basic end the cost can be as little as £10 per month.

The main advantages of using a builder is it can be a great way to start when you are restricted on budget and you have the time or the time of a resource to put into the build. You simply sign up, pick your domain if you do not already have one (we will come back to that) and start putting your site together.

The next option is to secure some hosting space with WordPress optimisation, buy a WordPress theme and customise it yourself. Similar to the WIX solution, with more flexibility, however, it is ideal if you have some understanding of HMTL and CSS.

So if we leave that there for the moment and now look at our approach.

We firstly take a look at what you want to achieve, new business launch, new service launch, more sales, increase awareness, new territories, address problematic areas of your existing site (and too much more to mention here) and then envision the best practices of the site against any design requirements you have. Then we research. We research your business, its competitors, your objectives versus what is out there, pricing comparisons, accreditations, brand similarities, the list goes on. This research is ongoing through design and development.

Now we look at the user experience. How well people are interacting or going to interact with your site. We have to make sure that your visitors can glide through your website enjoying the engaging content and end up converting.

Then our team will collaborate and our designer will draft out the initial designs. It is not always good enough to buy a few stock images and populate your site so where required our photographer will engage and get imagery for both the website and any post website launch marketing with a full brief on what you are trying to achieve from your website.

Once you are in agreement (and you usually are because we really do listen) the development work commences.

If it is a new website, we usually put up a landing whilst we working on design and development with all the critical components, a short bio, contact form, social media contact and compliance so there is operation possible straight away.

Our content team who get involved take much of the information from our research and meetings with you to write content that is clear, concise and conveys your message, services and or products. Our photographer is usually involved again here and then we start work on responsiveness. In the early days of web design websites only had to cater for a few different screen resolutions, usually all running on the same operating system via the same browser. Now, there are so many variations that extensive testing has to be performed to ensure the website works with anything from a 60 inch TV screen right down to a 3 inch screen on a phone and most things in the middle and of different platforms via different browsers.

Client testimonials are gathered, optimised and presented in development whilst our content teams start working with you on blog posts to populate your site, ensuring the right content matches the relevant images we are working with. You are kept abreast by access to our development area for ongoing appraisal, review and progress. Much of this we do out of hours because after all, you are busy all day.

All going well and we get into testing so at this stage it is a good time to look at your GDPR compliance to ensure the website is fit for purpose. SSL certificates are now the norm so they should be installed as part of compliance, then write the appropriate privacy terms, disclaimers and cookie policies to consider.

Whilst all this is going on usually some social media is put out across all platforms so our designer will design the relevant assets for the relevant social media platforms.

Proofing, amendments, more proofing, responsiveness testing, form testing, link testing, button testing (I could go on), finally, testing complete a launch plan is agreed. The site is then launched, initial monitoring is performed to ensure everything is OK and that’s it.

Only joking.

That’s not it. There is more.

So we have delivered the website and now you have to decide if that it is for us or whether you will engage us to manage the website going forward for maintenance and or content.

Once your website is up, it is all about keeping it up to date. Your content and subsequent SEO are to be constantly optimised if you are going to use a non paid approach. The alternative is to use something like Google AdWords, which in itself is a challenge and not something that you just simply configure and walk away from.

Content is key so keeping the site up to date with relevant news articles that can be shared across the relevant social media platforms to then convert traffic back to the website. Then there is keeping an eye on all that to ensure that the content that you are writing is working for you.

WordPress websites require updates to both WordPress itself and any plug plug-ins and extensions which may have been used in the design. Without a maintenance contract in place to manage the updates of service packs and updates, updates can cause a website to crash, leaving you spending time trying to identify what caused the failure and then rolling back until the site is back on line. We perform maintenance out of hours. Just to be sure, you should ALWAYS perform a backup before you work on your website.

Along the way, these changes and updates are critical to the health of your website. I bet you can remember visiting a site, thinking it was really nice until you came across a broken link or a button would not work and you were off to the next site.

So now let’s go back to you doing it yourself. We have given you a rough idea of the effort involved and the different resources utilised throughout the project to deliver something cool.

With the builder solution, much of your work is simply dragging and dropping, however, you can encounter personalization issues and these often take more time to resolve than you can afford to spend. There can also be limitations in terms of functionality and outside of the offering, usually anything more complex or bespoke has a cost to it. You may also feel that many of the designs are similar, even with customisation.

In defence of builders, they place the emphasis on simplifying many of the tasks we have mentioned in our approach; however, it’s never usually that simple. Firstly, many of these builder companies say that you do not need any web design skills. That’s ok until you are on the phone to their support department in excess of an hour trying to understand why a particular piece of text doesn’t sit correctly on the page and the answer is that you have to write some custom CSS. You might know what that means, if you don’t, you will have to.

Then there is the hidden costs. There are a lot of things that we would have considered in the early stages of information gathering with you that are included in our quote. Antivirus, SEO, image compression, video requirements. Builders offer all of these, usually with a cost and you will usually have to apply some level of customisation to make these things work effectively for you.  If they don’t, you need to find out why or you are just throwing money away. Are pages showing up errors, is the content engaging enough, are you ranking high enough to get you seen? That’s when you find yourself constantly flitting between Google searches to try and separate the good from the bad advice on how to get your website where it should be.

If your website does go down, this is time you have to spend on the phone to the Builder organisation, if they offer phone support, otherwise they offer you an online chat or you can visit the forum or send an email and then wait for their response. Usually any fixes that have to be done from your side will be performed by you with their documentation or video how to.

We have only skimmed over the surface here so let us summarise. Your website is a 24 x 7, 365 days a year beacon for your business. In many cases will be the first thing any new potential client of yours will see. So shouldn’t it be something special? Of course it should.

Everyone on our team has a minimum of 15 years’ experience in their respective field and the changes in website development over this time has been immense and we have been privy to it. There was a time when you could craft a website with something as simple as Microsoft Word, upload it onto some hosting space and hey presto all done. It’s just not that simple anymore. Websites were once very static, they are now live and evolving as your business does and they require collaborative effort to deliver something that exceeds expectations.

Finally, consider this, whilst you’re dealing with all the matters relating to designing a new website and actually designing it, you need to do your own job and again, unless you are blessed with the gift of time, you can end up with in a situation where you are only managing half of your job and half of a website design.

So in summary, how long does a website take to design and how much does it cost. Well, let us return to your day rate and multiply it to what you think the number of days are against the tasks we have mentioned then double it to absorb what we have not mentioned and additional time for learning and hey presto.

Of course you may well deliver it much quicker, however we are just trying to show you some key points to consider and if you are still not sure what to do, get in touch, let’s have a chat.