Website Real Estate. Why a Website is a home not just an address.
TL:DR A secure, well made website can cost between US$175 to up to $US5,000. I explain what you get for those prices by doing a breakdown from doing a simple landing page to a large e-commerce site.
Whilst chatting with a real estate client of mine, he shared with me an interesting insight. He said “One cannot sell real estate these days without having online real estate.” This got me thinking. Your website is a virtual building where you conduct business. You may use Facebook and other social media but that cannot replace your own virtual real estate. You need to own the space you work in. This is above all the key to starting any website development. You own the space, you decide what goes inside and you decide how you want people to live in it. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, websites are not subject to design and algorithm changes. It’s a better investment in the long term and most important you own it.
This is why it’s important to think of your website as a home that lives and grows and changes. It evolves as your needs change. A website isn’t a simple business card, it’s definitely not a press ad. It’s not even a brochure for your business. It’s designed to be you online. So like you don’t stay stagnant in life, neither should your site. The content you put there will always change and grow. Without the right content you don’t have a home, an empty building.
Why your Quality Score is Important to Google
When you are running an online ad campaign your quality score influences the price you pay for the ad. Your quality score is influenced by many things, but one of them is the destination of the ad. If the landing page does not reflect the information in the ad, or it’s difficult for the prospective buyer to find what he was interested in, they will click away. The high bounce rate will affect the overall effectiveness of the ad and you will find it costly. Website landing pages are key to a successful cost effective ad campaign.
The following sections are rough cost breakdowns. After each tier I will put a rough starting cost that you would have to outlay at this point to achieve your goal. This is in no way an actual total cost, but a guide to help you come up with your budget.
So, let’s begin. How do you get the ball rolling?
A website needs a solid foundation.
Every building needs a good foundation, a floor space to start the execution of the vision. But you need to come up with a plan.
A website plan is simple. What are you going to put into this space? What do you want people to do when they visit? Think of a man walking into your store and 5 seconds later walking right back out. How are you going to keep the visitor and customer there? To do this you need a list of things that the website contains. This is your “Content Plan”.
I usually ask prospective clients to fill out a short brief of what they want the website to be. You can fill it out online and I’ll give you an idea of how long and how much it would cost. If you read through the rest of this post, you can pretty much get a gauge on what it costs.
So now you need a budget. There are many options available to you, an almost infinite number of options, but ultimately you need the right solution for your budget. We build many different types of sites and landing pages, but the most popular are Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal or Magento; the other sites are what we call the “web builder” sites like Wix.com and Weebly.com-–we do them all.
A wix.com web builder site may be good for the immediate future, but what happens in a year or two when the business grows? You may need to move to something else. My advice clients is don’t take the easy way and go the web-builder route. Engage a team to build on a solid, more secure CMS. It works out better and cheaper in the long-term.
Finding the right building contractor.
A website needs an address, or as its called, a domain, and you need to have a unique one. You can do your own search via godaddy.com. Or let us find the best domain for you at the best price and you own it forever.
Next comes server space. Not to worry! You don’t have to buy space in the same place you bought the domain. There’s a lot to consider here when buying server space. Its size, available utilities, security, all the things a real building would need. You also have to concern yourself with the technical support you get when the server goes down. Again, not a problem. We deal with all this on your behalf. You would not have to worry about what we call the “backend” when you contract us to do a website.
So you will need the right building contractor and manager to get the site up and running as smooth as you can. Because this is the stuff that doesn’t interest you. What interests you is: “How is this going to look!?” Well, that’s where the content comes in.
Total cost at this point. $US175
Window Dressing and Interior Design
We’re at the stage now where we need a design a theme to contain the content. This is pretty simple. We put up some rough “wireframes” based on the content plan and show you the main pages and some of the sub pages. If you’re okay with the design of the site. We can go to build. In most cases we would buy, install a theme. We usually use specific themes such as Avada by Theme Fusion. But if you saw a theme you’d like we’ll do some research and see what works best.
We use Avada for WordPress because of its awesome support, user base and it’s easy to maintain. There are so many themes out there it’s hard to choose. The facts are, not all themes are created equal. You need to know those that you can customise, have great support and can work well with your backend. Some themes are bloated messes and can actually cause more harm than good by slowing your site down or injecting harmful code.
Once we have agreed upon the direction of the look and flow of the site, it’s time to start uploading content. This is stuff you will supply. Imagery, logos, product demo videos. If you need us to create content for you we will have that as a cost. But for now if you have collated all your content, We will populate the site. Then we run tests.
Total cost at this point. $US1,000 with your content supplied
Testing, testing 1-2-3. . .
In an ideal world you’d test the hell out of a website to make sure it flows correctly. What you do is you put into a test server away from your main server, do the tests and when everything is good you move it and make it live. Its like test driving a car before you buy. You need to also have users try it out in a controlled environment to see if they know how to use it. Most, if not all websites have to function extremely well on a mobile or tablet and under slow network conditions. We install analytics in the back-end to determine which pages perform well and which pages don’t. We also do questionnaires and feedback forms to find out where we can improve and what issues users are having.
Testing involves more time and resources and it’s an investment you shouldn’t ignore. On larger, more complex e-commerce sites security and payment system integrations are key. To do this effectively we need a test server to make sure the processes are within guidelines. The e-commerce provider we recommend is First Atlantic Commerce. The cheaper alternative is using PayPal to process any transaction, both local and foreign, and this has been proven moderately successful for local small business startups.
As was mentioned before, a secure website is key. If you don’t build the proper locks your site can be hacked and used against you. Backups are also a key component that separates an “okay” website build from a “professional” website build. This website gets on average 500 malicious login attempts and thousands of spam comments a month. So keep this in mind when you’re thinking about choosing a web developer.
With testing the cost is now around US$3,500
Your Website is Open for Business
Once launched for the next month troubleshooting and testing continues. A copywriter is essential for proofreading. They make sure the content is clear and there are no grammatical errors. Also what’s important at this stage are all imagery having proper captions. This is important for Search Engine Optimization or SEO. If done the right way your website would appear first in a search.
All websites must have a form of data capture, such as a lead generation tool and feedback area. You achieve this through integrations. Integrations such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact forms and chatbots from Facebook messenger.
In total, the cost of a new website can range between US$175 and $US5,000.
Below are my price ranges for developing a website for you. This is just a guide based on your requirements. But we work with any budget and any scope.
Price for 1 minute
Includes 1 month maintenance with the option
of upgrading for ongoing management
Includes 1 year maintenance with the option
of upgrading for ongoing management
Includes 1 year maintenance with the option
of upgrading for ongoing management
You do need a website.
In the day and age of increased costs and tight budgets you might say. “I don’t have the budget for this!” But keep in mind this is a site that you can have for almost forever! Once the setup is done and everything runs smoothly, the only job left is to promote and continue to build and expand. What content you put up makes the spend worthwhile. If you don’t have plans to update regularly or you don’t think you can keep the content fresh, a simple one page website from wix.com would work just as well. But in the coming years that may not help to keep your business growing.
Just to give you an idea of how the move to online retail and using online to generate leads for your business (whatever it may be) you can read these articles that talk more about how people have used a website to boost their small business.
Handy website links
10 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs a Website
Having a small business website isn’t just about selling your goods and services — it’s also about providing something of value to potential customers.
How to Make the Transition from Offline Business to Online Business
There are more and more entrepreneurs moving into the world of online business after running an offline business. This is because of the potential of the online world, and the fact that many offline industries are transitioning into online ventures.
An interview with the Co-Founder of Quality Lead Associates discussing the journey entrepreneurs have to make in this scenario.
E-Commerce Examples | 5 Inspirational Case Studies for You
True stories of people using ecommerce successfully is always an inspiration. Be inspired by these case studies and know that eve though selling online can be a 24/7 job, it is worth it in the end.
Generating Small Business Customers With Social Media Marketing (PDF DOWNLOAD)
Small business owners have many important activities to juggle each day. Through this eBook, you’ve hopefully gained perspective for how other small business owners have been able to grow their businesses using social media and inbound marketing while managing the time commitments of content creation and customer engagement.
The Last word: A website is just the building. You still need to bring people to it. Long gone are the days when there were very few websites. Now the playing field is vast. You need an effective search ad campaign and a good digital strategy to make sure your business succeeds online. Because as my real estate client said “When I succeed you succeed!”