Are you planning a new website for your business? The range of options and costs for website design can be baffling. In this article, we provide 9 great tips that can help you budget for a great website!
Too many business owners start out thinking about the design and look of their new website before anything else. This is backwards! It would be more efficient to think about the results you want to achieve with your website. Do you need your website to generate online sales, or help you acquire new customers? Does it need to facilitate a process? Try to be specific as possible - ideally set SMART targets for your website. Content and design come second, once you have established the goals!
Building your own website (or asking your nerdy friend) might seem like an appealing option. You think you know what you want and so why not do it yourself.
These platforms are reasonably easy to use, they provide good templates and tools, and lots of functionality.
The problem is that it’s very possible that you don’t know what a successful website and marketing strategy for your business looks like.
Looking at your competitors' website’s and copying them is not going to give you an advantage! And using the pre-built templates is not going to produce a result specific to your needs.
There are so many steps to producing a website that can provide value and its quite probable that you'll miss many of them and struggle to create a website that can attract traffic and generate leads for your business. There are also lots of tricky technical issues that you’ll need to overcome, such as image resizing and optimisation, setting titles and data for search engines, and improving page loading speeds.
A fair number of our clients went down this route before coming to us. We advise you to focus on your business and outsource website development to save your time and your business!
If you browse any of the design crowdsourcing platforms you might discover that freelancers will offer website design and development for very low prices. You might even find a local developer that offers equivalent prices. We are talking in the range of HK$10k or less here. Sometimes much less.
The concept is that business owners can take advantage of geo-economic differences and hire talented designers and developers. HK$10k goes a long way in Bangladesh! You might even find a local website designer happy to do the work at that rate. Perhaps utilising a ready-made subscription platform and template.
Let us be clear here! At this low price point, your website designer will NOT be asking detailed questions about your business. They will NOT be researching your target market or providing solutions on how to better present your products or services. They are unlikely to ask questions to get to the bottom of the problems or needs of your business.
You will probably find that you have to take a lead on design and layout, and you'll be in the same situation as you would be if creating it yourself - you do not have the knowledge or experience! On top of that, you have potential language barriers and the chance of disagreements is high. There is also the risk of a sudden disappearance when the work becomes more challenging than expected. We see quite a few websites that are unfinished or need fixing after the business owner has used these cheaper services. Don't be tempted by lower prices, save your time and make sure your investment brings a return!
Your investment should be paying for the knowledge and experience of a professional. A freelancer or company that understands what your business needs and can advise you on what your business requires. They will know that the actual website is only a cog in the full process of a successful online marketing strategy. They will identify your goals, your competitors, your target audience and then define the best online solution possible that is within your budget.
By paying an experienced freelancer or company you are ensuring that all those mistakes that you would have made do not happen. You are also ensuring that there is attention to many aspects of the process that you probably hadn’t even considered.
Consider the following steps needed for website development and deployment.
Each and every one of these steps can be done in greater or lesser detail. Each step could require work that might cost HK$30k on its own, or perhaps they could be all be lightly touched for an entire budget of HK$30k.
So a budget that allows more work to be committed to each of these steps produces a much more competitive and effective end result. By reducing the budget some of these steps will be skimmed over or even entirely omitted.
That is why a good website design company or freelancer will ask you what your budget is. If websites were cars, then they need to know if they are building a formula one racing car for a very competitive race, or are they building a BMW sports car which needs to win against competitors that are mostly in Toyota Corollas? It's important to identify the race you are entering and how much budget there is to make a car that can win. And here’s a big point –website development companies want to work with clients that have a good chance of success. If their client gets great results, then it makes them look good too!
As we saw above, the greater the budget, the more attention can be given to every step in the development process. A website built on a larger budget will be more competitive that one on a smaller budget.
Your business needs to compete, so its important to understand what your competitors might be paying. What are the industry norms in Hong Kong?
hellotoby is a HongKong-based freelancer platform and they collect data on all contract between service providers and their clients.
* 10-20 page website with blog, social media, calendar and registration
** Online shop selling 100 to 500 products
We have seen examples of company websites developed by Hong Kong freelancers for as little as HK$15,000, that demonstrate good design and layout skills, but these sites were always compromised by poor optimisations or fell short in other areas.
We have also seen “starter packages” from Hong Kong Agencies in the region of HK$30,000 and believe this is the lower end of the spectrum for a more comprehensive result. If you are going to be requiring any functionality such as e-commerce, membership or events systems then you can expect additional costings for these, a minimum of HK$10k to be required for e-commerce functionality – perhaps half that for a basic event or membership system. You need to be aware that this sort of budget range is targeting a fairly shallow penetration into the different elements of a full-blown marketing strategy, and you are getting what you pay for. As shown in the table from hellotoby's data, most digital marketing agencies will require a starting investment of at least 3 or 4 times this amount - this is to ensure they can deliver quality results!
You are running a business and your website needs to provide value to your business. It’s an investment, just like advertising, and so spending money and time on a website that no one visits is money down the drain!
If your website cost $10,000 and provides no leads or business value, then you have wasted $10,000!
However, if your website cost $60,000 and provides a verified $100,000 value of additional profit the first year, then you have recouped the cost of your initial investment in a matter of months and have a tool that can provide long-term value!
Deciding on how much budget really depends on your specific needs. Think about how much is your business dependant on online customers/sales? How scalable is your business? What is the customer lifetime value of each new customer you gain from an online strategy? How competitive is your industry?
For example, if each new customer is worth $500 of profit and an effective website and marketing strategy can generate 100 new customers a month, then you can work out the maximum you can spend and still be profitable.
If you are running a brick and mortar business, then you might feel your customer base is due to your location/footfall and your website of less importance. You run the risk of underestimating the power of online marketing that can target specific locations or your existing customers.
If you are working with a good website company/freelancer, then they should be able to guide you and provide more details of different levels of investment can return. In the case that you have under-budgeted, they may be able to suggest a simplified approach that utilises your budget effectively. Or they might have to tell you that your budget is insufficient for the purpose - no one benefits from the launch of a website that is destined to fail.
As when working with any services provider, it’s important to do your homework. The final result is highly dependent on the developer’s experience, and knowledge as well as their process and attention to detail. You want to avoid the risk of paying good money and ending up with a poor-quality website.
We have mentioned the need for fairly frank discussions about your budget so it’s very important to be able to trust your website design and development team.
Here are some features to look out for when assessing potential website development companies. A good company/freelancer should have:
Once your new website is launched it will be time to deploy the processes to drive traffic to the site and capture new customers or clients. Depending on your strategy, this will require content or advertising or both.
Most website systems allow business owners to manage their own content and updates but it's still prudent advice to ensure you have a support package of some kind from your developer to ensure all systems are kept up to date and operational.
It is possible that your initial website build includes automated systems that can generate leads with minimal maintenance. An expert can optimise your advertisements and landing pages through A/B testing and analysis of the conversion rates, so a budget for ongoing support to make optimisations based on the results can be a wise investment.