Big corporates have no problem finding moola for their websites, especially if they have juicy budgets that can accommodate all the bells and whistles, such as e-commerce capability and brand design.
But for the little guy who’s just trying to get his name out there, this can be a daunting concept. As a small-to-medium business owner, you may be asking, “Why do websites cost so much and what should I be paying?” Well, here goes.
Websites cost a lot because…
- You need a website that works
Ever wondered about how websites are built? Nope? Well, there is actually quite a lot of skill and graft that goes into a website that works. And by “works”, I mean a website that loads fast, that is coded properly and which looks fantastic.
I’ll let you in on a little secret – most web developers don’t have a formal qualification behind their name. It is still an emerging field, so accreditation on formal education in this sector is sketchy, but there are ways to tell whether or not your developer knows what he is doing. The only thing that really matters here is experience. Ask your potential web dev suitors for a portfolio of sites they’ve built, and check them according to this grid:
Loading Speed – websites that take longer than three seconds to load have probably been built inefficiently.
Mobile responsive – it is literally a no-brainer that websites have to be mobile responsive now. This means that if they are accessed on a mobile device, they adapt and behave according to the specs of the phone. If you have to tap and then spread your fingers on a website to read the copy, it’s a sure sign that your dev guy is a little behind the times.
Click and land – click on the tabs and menu items on the website. Do they land where you expect them to? This is basic web nav 101. If you click on the Contact tab, then you need to land on the Contact page, which should have all the legitimate info you need. However, if you click on a tab and the page takes really long to load or lands somewhere odd, something is broken. Now, a disclaimer. Sometimes websites break. But if it is a pretty recent site, and the pages and links don’t work, it’s a sign that whoever built the site isn’t very conscientious.
If a web developer has built websites that meet the minimum criteria, then he’s probably worth a shot.
- You need a website that people LOVE
Now other than just building a website that simply works, web developers also have to build websites that are painless for people to use and which they enjoy visiting – this is especially true for e-commerce websites. This not only takes technical suss, but strong knowledge of user behaviour as well. Believe it or not, a functional website is not the only thing people are looking for when they visit your site. They want to find the information they’re looking for, fast. They want to understand what they need to do to get what they want. And they want something nice to look at – especially if they’re going to be browsing for a while.
You need a developer who understands this.
- You need a website Google likes
Google is a business. It gets business by ranking websites according to how well its search engine matches user search criteria. When a user searches for a website, Google returns results that it thinks best matches that search. Then, when a user clicks on one of those results, Google starts measuring. It measures how long that user spends on each page, whether the links on the site click through to where they’re supposed to and ultimately, how long the user spends on the site as a whole. The longer a user spends on a website, the better Google thinks the user experience is.
There are a number of elements that contribute here. SEO optimisation is a huge one. Basically, your web developer needs to know how to optimise your website, and its copy, so that Google (and other search engines) can find it faster. As mentioned, factors such as loading speed, responsiveness and design all contribute to a better user experience. And the better the user experience, the more likely you are to start ranking on page one of Google.
Imagine spending a huge amount of money on a website, only to discover that Google can’t actually find it, or that it is difficult for people to use? Pass.
The takeaway from all this is that, yip – sometimes websites are expensive. Sometimes they’re not. It all depends on your budget and what is expensive for you. But, making sure that your web developer understands and appreciates the intricacies of building a website that’s worth its space on the web really is key. It may cost you slightly more at the outset, but in the long run you’ll definitely be getting more bang for your buck – especially if that website brings you new business.