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Get the most from your website budget

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June 24, 2016 6:03 pm

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As a small to medium sized business, you will no doubt be keeping a very close eye on what you spend. When it comes to promotion and advertising, it can be hard to know how much to budget, and where to put it.

There is no one answer to fit all, so let’s at least talk about your website, as every business should have one. It shows what your business offers, and lets you be discovered by anyone searching for your services. Within that, there is a variation for what businesses want from their website. Some businesses just want to provide information and showcase what they do, some like to keep up a blog to show their expertise on a range of topics related to their services, and many wish to sell their products and services directly online.

Whatever type of website you require, you need to figure out how to get the best out of your website budget.

What are you bringing to the table?

I would ask yourself this question first. Of course every business should want to be involved in their website creation/upgrade, as the website is your businesses’ online identity. I’m talking basic specifics, like

– Have you got a high resolution version of your logo ready to go?

– Have you got high resolution images ready to supply (and know how to supply them)?

– Have you got your copy written? (Headlines, strap lines, about us description, a list of services and their descriptions etc.)

– If you’re selling online, do you have a full inventory list available?

– Do you already have your domain name purchased?

website small business

These are just some basic questions to ask yourself first to know how prepared you are. The answers will directly affect your budget from the outset.

If you have everything listed above, your website cost should be at the lower end of the spectrum, as the web design team will have most of your website content provided to them.

If you have none of the items listed above, the web design team will need time and resources to help purchase your domain name, produce a logo, search and obtain high resolution imagery (which may come with an additional out of pocket expense attached), write headlines and other website copy (with your help no doubt), and depending on the team you hire, could help you put together an inventory list if you have items to sell online.

The takeaway here is, the more prepared you are in terms of your website content and setup, the less it will cost you. However, everyone needs to start somewhere, and in some cases, having your web team co-create your content with you can produce the best result, as they should be experienced in knowing the types of imagery and copy that will get you the best results from your website.

Web Design – do you have a vision, or do you want concepts?

Some clients come to us with a very clear vision on the type of layout and design they want for their website, with some even providing other website examples. This can be a great help when briefing the look and feel as it gives the web designer a very clear idea on what the client likes, taking out any guess work or misinterpretations. It also gives the web team a chance to feedback their own thoughts and recommendations on the desired look.

This doesn’t mean the web designer should copy examples, but allow them to produce a unique design using the creative clues and theme of any provided examples. This can cut down on design time and any back and forth changes if the creative brief is clear from the outset.

However, in our experience, the business owner wants to rely on the web team to provide concepts and inspiration and guidance on how best to lay out their web content. The web team will need to obtain and write up a creative brief from questions they ask you so they have some direction on the style you’re going for.

This approach means you will receive a range of designs that you can feedback on and change until you reach a design that you like the best. Often this process is extremely useful as it can provide more focus on content and sales conversion messaging that the business owner maybe wasn’t able to visualise before.

How many hours can you dedicate to your website?

A common mistake business owners make is how much time they think they will need to put into their website project. Of course this varies depending on the size of the website and how much pre-prepared content is ready to go, but more often than not, things aren’t ready to go, there are considerations that haven’t been taken into account, and reviewing and feeding back at key stages doesn’t come naturally to many people. Plus you’re trying to do your day job, let’s not forget that!

If you’re very busy and your web team isn’t getting the time they need to progress your project efficiently, you may find yourself looking at added expense due to extra time taken to respond to ad hoc or muddled feedback, or working to resolve unforeseen issues that you didn’t have time to take care of.

Unfortunately, it’s very common for a website project to come to a complete halt for weeks or even months (we currently have 4 website projects that are a year or more in the making as we’re waiting on the business owner for something!). Don’t be one of these people and try and dedicate a couple of hours a week to keeping your web project moving.

What type of team do you want to work with?

Web design and development services can vary with regards to size, quality and cost. The ol’ “you get what you pay for” is generally a good guide here.

You might prefer to work with a solo freelancer if you feel you’ve got a good grasp on creating your website and have all of the content available. Just make sure you know the difference between a web designer and web developer. You will find with this option that you’ll need to work more closely on the project so you’ll need to be able to dedicate a fair bit of your time to see it through. You’ll have to also decide if you’re prepared to work virtually, as a freelancer could be located anywhere in the world or may not be prepared to travel to you. The risk is knowing exactly what the freelancer is capable of, and that you are relying on just one person.

A small website company could have from 2 to 10 people. If they’re small (and possibly home office based) they will probably have less overheads, and therefore will charge accordingly. A crucial deciding factor here is if the small team has the right experience to produce the website that you’re after. Have a look at their capabilities – do they know how to write content? Are they knowledgeable about SEO? Do they understand what is needed for an ecommerce site? Double check they do custom designs, custom web development (look at their work examples) and check their client reviews.

web design development

A large website company will need to cover their overheads and teams of people. If you’re a larger company, you might prefer to have a team that you can call on for extra expert requirements, such as User Experience testing, User Interface mapping, access to a staging server for your internal teams to conduct reviews, integration of a POS system and ongoing SEO work. It really depends on what you need as a business owner.

Get the most bang for your buck

Key takeaways to keep your costs low without compromising on a quality end product:

1. Have a vision – know what you want to achieve from your website

2. Be organised – have high quality content ready to provide (if possible)

3. Ask questions – be clear on the capability of the website team and make sure it matches your requirements

4. Dedicate some time – be prepared to spend a few hours over a couple of weeks to see your website project through as efficiently and effectively as possible

Final tip: Make sure you own your project files (such as logo files that can be used online and in print), and keep a safe record of all your username and passwords to access your site code for any future updates and requirements. Our recommended platform is WordPress.

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