What should you spend on your website design project?
Setting a proper budget for your website (which is arguably the most important brand asset you have) is certainly a daunting task. It’s not something that can easily be found with a few Google searches. This is because design companies aren’t willing to ward off any potential customers with a few eye-opening up-front costs. This article will explain what goes into highly successful website design and some guidelines to create a realistic budget that will make sure your site impresses visitors and generates business.
Step 1: Think Beyond Your Website.
Your website is often a potential client’s or customer’s first exposure to your brand. In seconds, they will decide if they like you, trust your company, and if it’s even worth their time to read on or click through. Your website should impress the heck out of potential customers and encourage them toward actions aligned with your conversion goals. Your website’s architecture and functionality are crucial, but they rely on MANY other branding components that will complement your website and create continuity in the brand experience. Here are some key elements to consider when building or redoing your website:
- Discovery and Strategy
- Animations/Slide Shows for the Home Page
- Interactive Features Manageable via Your CMS
- Content Management System (Drupal or WordPress?)
- Online Brochures
- Customized Blog Style
- Landing Pages and Modules (in CMS)
- E-mail Templates That Match New Brand Style
- Mobile Requirements
The total web design cost logically adjusts to how many of the above brand assets are budgeted for the initial branding or brand-rejuvenation efforts. You will need to add an ongoing monthly budget for advertising and ongoing marketing; this amount also needs to be consistent with your budget. You can read about marketing budgets here, but basically most companies spend between 4 percent and 10 percent of their total annual advertising dollars.
Step 2: Determine How Much You SHOULD Spend.
These days, you can search online for web design costs or firms…and get prices from $500 for a basic set of services to several hundred thousand dollars for a robust database-driven website or customized e-commerce solution.
So how can you determine what web design budget is for you? Start by asking yourself the following:
- How important is my website to my overall brand experience and revenue growth?
- What am I trying to accomplish? What are my goals?
- What percent of my total marketing budget do I need to spend?
(Since your site will last you 2-3 years before needing a major overhaul, use a 3-year budget as a benchmark.)
- What do the leaders in my industry spend?
Here at ImageWorks, we can build you a very inexpensive site and even use your provided content and images…or we can sit down with you, learn about your business, plan a strategy for the website and your conversion goals, and build a whole new online brand and marketing campaign. The two options, as you can imagine, differ greatly in total cost and the final impact they can have on your marketplace. After all, if the site we build and the leads our marketing generates fuel your way to tripling your revenue in a couple of years, wouldn’t you invest heavily?
Step 3: Understand the Quality Differential.
A poorly designed site or brand not only will do very little to bring clients and/or customers to your site but will also heavily damage your brand and reputation. The quality of work and the team that creates the work will dramatically affect the end results. Exceptionally built custom websites are created by a team of top-tier creative talent as part of a custom proven process. ImageWorks will work with you to determine a strategy and a budget that suit your business.
To be successful, your website will need to include most of the following components and strategies:
- A discovery process and production of a well-articulated creative brief—the essence of your marketing and sales strategies.
- A site map —an outline of your website that shows all the navigation and pages. This should be completely centered around your customers’ needs.
- Visual direction and messaging aligned with your marketing objectives.
- A design and layout for your home page, based on an agreed-upon visual direction and messaging.
- A design and layout for an interactive subpage/interior page template that will inform your visitors and guide them through your site while maintaining your brand identity.
- Professional copywriting or content optimization (yes, you do need it!) that will allow prospects to scan while they get information to pique their interest and drive them toward your calls to action.
- Animations/scenes to stimulate interest and communicate key points without crowding the page.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). Your site should be designed in a way that’s search engine friendly and easily accessible by search engine robots. By thinking ahead, you’ll be well positioned to appear high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
- A custom-designed blog. This is critical—it’s today’s free PR machine and an SEO staple.
- E-mail templates that match your new online brand. E-mail marketing is the best ROI in marketing—a must-have!
- A downloadable PDF brochure or content piece with easily digestible information—so your prospects can share it, print it, and/or archive it. (Viral media)
- Online conversion forms. Why make it difficult for someone to contact you? Interactive forms make inquiries a breeze, and data capture automatic.
- Calls to action/landing pages. Destination pages that lead to the specific conversion goals established in your creative brief.
Most of these items cost between a few hundred to a few THOUSAND dollars each—so you can quickly see that building a successful online brand via your custom website can be a serious investment. Of course, a site that is built correctly will grow revenues and awareness of your brand more than you can imagine!
ImageWorks has built head-turning, revenue-generating small-business sites for under $5,000 and “ultra-customized” brand rejuvenation projects for more complex requirements; these initiatives have transformed companies’ brand images and returned nearly unbelievable ROIs on their projects.
Scott C. Margenau is the founder and CEO of ImageWorks Studio, an award-winning web design and branding firm. Visit www.imageworksstudio.com, or call 800-308-8573 for more information.