If you’re currently looking for affordable web design for your small business, then the information in this blog post will definitely help you save thousands of dollars on web design and web development costs.
Small Business Website Design & Development – Where The Real Problem Lies
When looking for an affordable business website solution, many business owners will typically base their decision on the cost of getting their website built.
This may sound obvious to budget-conscious business owners. Basing your decision on the initial cost of getting your website built, however, can often turn out to be a lot more expensive later on than you think.
In fact, it’s not hard at all to imagine a number of situations where something starts out as an “affordable” solution, but then ends up becoming very “costly” after all things are considered and all costs are taken into account.
Before you start thinking that this is another one of those “you get what you pay for” articles, let me tell you it’s not.
As you will see in a moment, many business owners end up spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars more than they should have paid, because they weren’t aware of what I am going to share with you here when they set out to get their business website built.
So … let’s start with the obvious.
Many websites are built using platforms, tools and web editing applications that require a knowledge of coding and programming languages like HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP, etc.
For most small business owners, what this all basically means is that if you need to modify content on your site – for example, update your product details, insert images, add a video or a downloadable PDF report, etc., and you don’t have the tools, skills or knowledge to edit your own website or web pages, then you will need to find someone who can help you.
In a professional situation, this means paying somebody money every time you need to make changes on your site.
Another situation can arise, however, that is even more costly. If your website is built using some form of “fixed design” template and for whatever reasons, you decide later that your website needs a complete new redesign, this often means having to pay a web designer for new work to be done, or a web developer if you want to integrate some new functionality (e.g. e-commerce) that your existing website wasn’t built to originally accommodate.
If code on your website needs to be edited or created, you could be looking at anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of your requirements.
But things can get even more expensive for you…
Sometimes, business owners end up in a situation where they have to make the painful (and very costly) decision to scrap their existing website altogether and start all over again.
Here are just some “real life” examples of situations where this can and does happen:
- If your website is built using a “proprietary” platform or an exclusive content management system and you decide to go elsewhere later, you could end up in a situation where you discover that you can’t take your existing site “as is” or any portions of it with you to your new web environment.
- If you come across certain technologies, solutions or applications where you believe these would make a significant difference to your business, but discover that they requires a different technology platform to work on than the one you have built your website on, and the cost to integrate is higher than the cost of rebuilding a new website.
- If you discover that you simply can’t test or measure important aspects of your business online, because your website doesn’t allow you to easily reconfigure different elements and components on your site to compare how one configuration performs against another. Many businesses discover this when, for example, they start an online advertising campaign (e.g. Google AdWords) to drive more traffic to their site, only to learn that Google has given their site a really low “quality score” (which significantly drives up the cost-per-click of their ads). Some will then spend a considerable amount of time and money researching ways to improve their site’s quality score, only to realize that, unless they can easily test different things on their website, they won’t know with certainty what can actually help to raise or lower their click costs, and/or what can help to improve or make their conversion rates worse. If your website can’t be easily reconfigured for testing different marketing strategies and you can’t afford to pay someone to keep changing things around on your site every time you want to perform a new marketing test, then your business will clearly be at a considerable disadvantage because of your website.
The above are just some examples of things that can turn out to be a whole lot more expensive later than most business owners imagine … often because of a decision that was based more on the initial cost of setting up a website, rather than understanding the long-term consequences of making purely cost-based decisions.
The problem is not in the “cost” of getting a website built.
In fact, it has almost nothing to do with how good your web designer is at designing, or how skilled your web developer is at programming code (although the principle of “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to these areas).
The reason why many small business owners can end up paying hundreds, or even thousands of dollars more than they need to when getting a website built for their business has a lot more to do with their choice of website “platform” than cost.
Small Business Website Design & Development – Where The Real Savings Are
You can save anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars in web design and web development costs simply by choosing the right platform for your small business website.
There are many platforms you can choose to use for building a small business website.
One platform, however, stands out from all others.
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) and the fastest growing online publishing platform for millions of businesses around the world.
We present some compelling facts and figures that support the growing popularity and dominance of WordPress and we have written about many of the benefits and advantages of using WordPress in some of our other blog posts.
In this post, we want to focus exclusively on how you can save a considerable amount of money by choosing WordPress to power your small business website.
First, however, let’s be clear on a few things:
1) Depending on what you need, WordPress may not be the ideal solution for your business. WordPress, however, can and normally does accommodate the needs of almost all businesses, especially small businesses.
2) Everyone you speak with about getting a website built will have their own personal preferences and opinions. More importantly, though, they will also have their own “biases”, which is something that you need to be aware of when talking to web designers and web developers.
Typically, many web developers are “technically-minded” and like to mess with code, while many web designers gravitate towards “aesthetic” principles and like how things “look”. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but just keep in mind when speaking with web developers that they probably have certain biases towards solutions that focus more on technical features, and that many web designers you speak with may have similar biases towards solutions that have a stronger visual or aesthetic appeal.
The main thing to remember, however, is that your web developer or web designer is not ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your business. You are.
If you are a business owner, therefore, you need a platform that will suit your business needs more than a platform that will suit the needs or tastes of your web designer or web developer (unless, of course, you plan to let them handle everything on your behalf and are happy to pay them to do this for you).
Now, if we just focus on the topic of reducing costs and saving money, then we should start by comparing how the cost of building a website using WordPress compares with the cost of building a website using other platforms.
Rather than try to list every website-building platform available and then try to compare costs across these platforms, we will show you instead what you should be looking for when making decisions with a relatively small budget, so you will know how to avoid incurring unnecessary costs later.
There are two main “costs” to look for. The first is the cost of the labour involved in building certain aspects of your website, and the second is the cost of “post-production”, ie. your running costs.
Small Business Website Design & Development – How To Save Money
Let’s use a typical small business website design brief as an example, to illustrate how you can save money on web design and web development costs.
Let’s say that you want to build a website for your business that includes the following:
- 5 – 7 Pages (e.g. Home, Products/ Services / About / Contact / News / Legals, etc.)
- Professional Layout & Design
- Content / Graphics (e.g. logo) / Media (e.g. videos) / Downloads (e.g. PDF reports)
- Navigation Menus / Product or Service Categories / Links to Resources
- Contact Form
- Newsletter / Opt-In Form
- e-Commerce / Online Ordering Functionality
- Administration / Private Access (e.g. Member’s Area)
- Optimized For Mobile Device Viewing
- Optimized For Search Engines
- Additional Features (e.g. Banners, Image Gallery, etc …)
All of the above would normally be discussed and agreed on during your brief. Once the project has been agreed on, work on building your site would then commence.
If you look at the chart below, you will see that the first area where you can save money by choosing a WordPress-powered website, is on the cost of labor during production …
Regardless of which platform you choose for your website, the cost of “pre-production” will typically be the same. You will need a domain name and web hosting for your website no matter what platform your website is built on.
Also, the better prepared you are in terms of knowing exactly what you want to achieve online, and having materials like logos, graphics and content for your main pages already prepared (e.g. content for the About Us page, service / product descriptions, etc.), the less time it’s going to take for someone to get your website completed, and hence the less expenses will be incurred by additional meetings, unclear communications, etc.
With WordPress you don’t need to pay someone to spend time creating layouts and designs, coding pages, or programming features and functionalities into your site. This is all handled by WordPress, using themes (pre-designed layouts and templates) and plugins (applications that integrate seamlessly with your site and instantly add new functionality).
WordPress Themes and WordPress Plugins are covered in separate blog posts and in our detailed training tutorials. For the purposes of this discussion, there are a few things you should know about themes and plugins that can save you additional money on the cost of building your website:
- WordPress themes and plugins can be easily installed and activated on a WordPress site with just a few clicks of the mouse. This can instantly and completely change the entire look and feel of your website, and immediately add new functionality (e.g. e-commerce) without requiring programming skills,
- WordPress themes and plugins can just as easily be deactivated and removed with a few mouse clicks without affecting anything else on your site.
- You can easily add new themes and plugins as often as you like. There are thousands of themes and plugins to choose from.
Websites built using WordPress can be fully up and running without the need to spend time worrying about web design. You can start with any one of the thousands of themes that are available and instantly change the entire look and feel of your site any time you like without affecting your existing content, simply by changing your theme.
What you are paying for when you choose WordPress for your website, therefore, is for someone to expertly install, set up and configure your website.
With WordPress, only minimal work is required to set up and configure things like navigation menus, contact forms, newsletter forms, social media sharing buttons, and to optimize your site for visitors, mobile devices and search engines. You can also preview how your site looks as it’s being built, so very little time is required for testing prior to going live.
Essentially, what this means is that by choosing WordPress, your business site can be fully built, set up and be live in just a few days, instead of taking weeks, or even months to complete.
Now, for the great news!
If you look at the next chart below, you will see that where you can really save money with a WordPress-powered website, is on your running costs …
Let’s assume that the budget you have set aside for getting a website built for your business covers the set up costs for a number of different platforms, including WordPress.
If you now look at the “running costs’, you will see that, as we’ve already discussed, costs like domain name registration and web hosting tend to be the same, regardless of which platform you choose. Additionally, all sites require regular maintenance (e.g. upgrading, performing backups, troubleshooting errors, etc…), so expect this.
Where you really can save money, is in the fact WordPress is an Open Source application that is supported by a growing worldwide community of thousands of enthusiastic web developers and web designers, who develop and create new applications and design templates which they then make available for WordPress users worldwide either for Free, or for a relatively small cost.
When coupled with the flexibility, scalability, openness and ease of use of the WordPress platform itself, you can have an extremely powerful website that can look and do almost anything you can imagine, and that costs very little to run and maintain.
Once you know the basics of using WordPress, you can easily upgrade your software application when new versions come out, redesign your website and reconfigure the entire layout of your site, easily create new pages and edit your existing content, and add almost unlimited features and functionalities to your site with just a few clicks of the mouse.
And best of all, you can do all of this for very little to no cost. Start with a simple website built using WordPress, know that you can easily add and change anything you want on your site as your business grows, and you will save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
Hopefully, this information has helped you understand how to get “truly” affordable web design for your small business, and not just how to save some money on the initial cost of getting your website built.
If you have any questions or need any help with WordPress, please feel free to contact us. We provide web design services, web hosting services and also offer comprehensive step-by-step WordPress training tutorials covering all aspects of using WordPress.