While your employees may work an 8:30-5:30 day, your website is on the clock 24/7. It’s not only your full-time sales tool but it is often the first impression a potential client will have of your brand. Your company’s site should inform, educate, and excite customers while helping to bring them through the buyer’s journey. But what if your website is falling short of the above? The longer your website fails to convert visitors, the larger the impact on your bottom line.
Invest in your website just like you’d invest in a top salesperson.
Creating a website on your own is no easy task. Partnering with an agency will help ensure you have a professional, effective, and searchable website. A website designed and developed by an agency costs money. I don’t want to tiptoe around the fact that a top-notch website designed and built well costs, at a minimum, $15,000. Yup, I said it, a minimum of $15,000, but I’m here to help you understand what factors affect the cost of a website.
Redesign vs. New Website
Are you creating a website from scratch or are you updating your current website? Begin evaluating your current site to find its strengths and weaknesses. Take time to review your business goals and services to make sure your website conveys your brand accurately. Maybe you made your new website two or three years ago; while that may not be that much time, there’s a good chance your website could use some serious updating. If your website is 5+ years old, it is likely that the content, aesthetics, and back-end of the website are all outdated. A new site will allow you to start fresh and build the website of your dreams.
You may already have a domain that you are keeping, or it may be time for a fresh URL. Calypso recently switched its name and URL. We went from calypsocom.com to a simple calypso.agency. This new identity better represents who we are as a company. Keep in mind, if you are using a new domain, it will take time for Google to index and rank your site. Now let’s talk price. A new URL will cost between $10-15 per year while an aged URL can cost millions.
Now you may be thinking, “What is an aged URL?” This is a URL that has existed for years and often is a high traffic destination. For example, the Hotels.com domain sold for 11 million dollars in 2001. While you probably aren’t looking to spend quite that much on a domain, buying new vs. aged URLs affect the overall price of your site.
Now you are going to need somewhere to host your website’s new domain. Simply put, paying a fee for hosting means you are purchasing space to keep your files and databases for your site. You have many options of where to host but we like to break it down into two categories: low-cost domain hosting and higher cost proactive hosting. Low-cost hosting means you have a limited amount of space and little proactive support. If you have the knowledge and time to regularly update plug-ins, run backups on the site, and have the expertise to troubleshoot web problems, this is a great option for you. These low-cost hosting companies monitor their servers but do not monitor your individual site. If you are a web guru and don’t need the extra support, you’ve found your perfect hosting option.
If you aren’t confident in your back-end web skills or don’t have time to dedicate to your site each month, hosting through an agency (especially the agency that created your site) is the way to go. While this option often yields a higher cost, you have dedicated personnel, time, and resources to keep your website up to date. In the event something goes wrong with your website, the last thing you want to do is sit and wait for customer service to familiarize themselves with the website and troubleshoot the problem. I like to think of this type of hosting much like insurance; you pay a little more so that if and when something does go wrong, you have dedicated resources to handle the problem in a timely manner without it being a costly fix.
The functionality of your new site can be a big factor when considering time, development, and budget. Will this be a public facing website that needs to be optimized for SEO purposes, will the website have e-commerce capabilities, or will the website need a content management system (CMS)? Typically, e-commerce sites are much more involved and take more time to develop. E-commerce sites require a database to store the products, a secure checkout method, and often a larger hosting plan to accommodate the storage needs.
Copywriting and Photography
Copywriting and photography are two big factors of the price. If you have a team of strong writers and would like to write your own copy, that’s great. But if writing doesn’t come naturally or you don’t have the time to dedicate, leave it to the professionals. Keep in mind, HubSpot estimates it takes between 2 and 4 hours per page for copywriting and editing. If you have a 20-page site and would like an agency to write the copy, this could range between 40 and 80 hours for copy alone. In addition to the copy, you will need visuals for your site—this could be photos, videos, graphics, and even animations. Working with a professional photographer or videographer comes with a cost, but the benefit is high quality, brand-specific photography or video that helps convey a cohesive brand message.
Template vs. Custom
A custom-designed site will cost more than a template but allows more customization. There are templates for purchase through online marketplaces, such as Envato, that are aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, the CMS you have gone with may offer a template through their own marketplace. Let’s use the HubSpot marketplace as an example. You can choose to create a website on HubSpot’s platform and purchase a template to easily input your content. Templates such as these are very user friendly and often only have a small learning curve for editing content and visuals. The downside of a template is that it does not always allow extensive customization.
If you are looking for a more customized site, it’s time to work with a team of designers to create a site that meets all of your needs and stands out from the sea of websites. Creating a custom designed website can take longer, but the final product is a unique website that meets all of your company’s needs.
Before diving headfirst into your website project, take a step back to reflect.
Decide what your budget is, what your needs are, and whether you have the hours and manpower to take it on alone. Keep in mind, an agency partner can yield a higher cost, but the outcome will be a professional, well-designed site that you can be proud of. If you decide the website redesign route is the right choice for you, check out our Website Redesign Checklist where you will learn how to prepare for a redesign. The checklist also reveals the common pitfalls to avoid during the process.