Web development and design go hand-in-hand.
An architect needs a builder and vice versa—a beautiful house isn’t so valuable if you can’t live in it, right?
You don’t want your house crashing down on you…and probably don’t want any broken doors. Similarly, you don’t want your website to crash or encounter functional issues. Both the design and development stages to a website project should thoroughly weave your business needs throughout, ensuring that the visual branding and site performance goals are met.
So do you need custom web development budgeted into your online marketing strategy? For a successful small-to-mid-sized business model, the answer is often yes. Still, you should know all the choices in front of you and eliminate the ones that can go.
Avoid The Common Mistakes & Marketing Misconceptions
Budgeting your website and digital marketing efforts is a headache, but a necessary one. It can be tempting to mull it over and decide that the free or most affordable options are your best and final pick. Don’t get too lackadaisical. Avoid the common mistakes that come back to bite business owners.
Mistake #1: Online Directories & Listings Are Good Enough.
We’re past the yellow book (p)ages.
Getting your brand name in a column, whether print or online, simply doesn’t cut it. Seeing your business name in an online directory for your specific industry can be gratifying but it’s problematic acting alone:
• You can get listed among competitors—sometimes in hard-to-find places.
• You don’t get full say in how your business appears—it’s not your website.
• Organic discovery via Google and other search engines isn’t fully optimized.
• The directory itself may be seen as spammy by Google—you can end up in a bad neighborhood.
Don’t get me wrong!
Online listings, directories, and maps such as Yelp, Expedia, Foursquare, etc. are all important for getting your business listed wherever your target users might be browsing. You should be looking at it from an off-site search engine optimization (SEO) perspective. If you’re a local municipality-serving business especially, this is imperative. Use a consistently-formatted name, address, and phone number (NAP) across your collective online entities so that nearby prospects have a better chance of becoming customers/clients.
This is a crucial part of Local SEO.
Mistake #2: Social Media Should Do The Trick!
A Facebook Page is nice, but it can confine your offer if it’s all you’ve got.
Sure, Facebook has a strong active user base but if you think running your entire online business through it is your best option, consider a second look. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and others make great digital marketing supplements for B2C businesses, B2B businesses, and non-profit organizations. When used right, social media engages your users, instills brand loyalty, opens up a customer service/feedback channel, and offers another way to let your company culture shine.
However, if social media is your only online outlet for selling your products/services or generating leads, that may not hold up for very long.
• If you want users to direct message you via Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, there is a solid barrier to entry for non-members.
• Your creativity is limited to the design and redesigns that the social media platform imposes.
• Your unique functionality is severely constrained.
• Your call-to-action (CTA) is limited.
• It’s simply not the most effective standalone inbound marketing approach—a strong SEO strategy incorporates social media, but search engines will favor your website domain in the search results.
Social media is an important tactic in the digital marketing mix but working by itself, it limits your target scope.
Subsequently, you lose potential sales. Some microbusinesses do well with just a Facebook Page and a physical storefront, but most are missing out. For larger businesses, social media marketing is commonly used to drive traffic to a website—your online storefront.
Mistake #3: A Drag-and-Drop Website Builder Is All I Need.
Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix make sense for simple or highly budget-constrained businesses.
These site-builders each provide affordable templates while maintaining a variety of styles to choose form. But for those who wish to offer a non-template design, craft a unique user experience, provide custom web application, get the best SEO results, or assume great web performance as high priority, you’re going to need more than a simple drag-and-drop site builder. A custom developed website built through an open-source CMS (content management system) such as WordPress or Drupal offers value that site builders can’t touch.
A custom CMS website may interest you if you identify with any of the following:
• You value website customization highly.
• You value unique user experience and interface design (UX/UI).
• You favor adaptability to your business’s changing needs.
• You want to rank as well as possible in search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
• You’re willing to put in extra time and budget for better quality work.
• You want to be able to add & edit content by yourself, and if applicable, give select employees specific permissions such as editors, publishers, and other roles.
• You don’t want to be locked into a select amount of template designs and styles or deal with possible future restrictions.
• You plan to have more-than-basic functionality such as lead tracking/logging, email marketing automation, user portals, conversion-driven e-commerce/m-commerce, custom map plug-ins, advanced widgets, intranet for internal community members, passworded site sections, etc.
• You require specific back-end web integration or want to use open-source technology for more & better cross-integration options.
• You want your website to be built for long-term support, security, and performance.
• Your brand’s visual presentation or functional requirements can’t be fulfilled by a site builder.
• You wish to own your website, fully.
Using a site builder is like renting out an apartment while custom website development is like buying a full-on house. It depends on your circumstances and goals. Still, if you’re considering a custom-design-and-developed CMS website for your business, know what goes into a project before just diving right in.
Understand the Necessary Work, Cost, and Benefits of Custom Web Development
Having a skilled and reliable custom web design + development freelancer is always an option for smaller-sized website projects.
If you’re looking for a larger-scaled custom website, an agency is going to be a better fit. Certain agencies, like ourselves, are skilled in setting up open-source CMS websites while providing any needed content management training (blog/news/event updates, custom or automated metadata structure, content contributor permissions setup, etc). There’s a lot of CMS options out there but our favorites are Drupal or Wordpress. They both are widely supported and secure.
The WORK: Why It Takes Time + Expertise to Develop a Custom Website.
The amount of work that goes into a custom website partly depends on what you’ve got so far. Do you have a design ready? Starting completely from scratch? Bought a domain name yet? Got an older website that needs content migration? Have a preference in web hosting provider? How well do you know your target audience?
These are all important questions to ask—the answers will help developers structure the website to satisfy users, please Google, agree with the brand, and grow the business.
But know this: The design and development work that goes into a website inherently depends on your business strategy.
A complex, multi-disciplined business or an e-commerce store with huge inventory variety will entail more work due to the immense architectural web of pages required. A simpler, single-service business or a point-of-contact for your product will involve less work. The amount of digital media, copy, link structure, email integration, and additional features will also mean more work and time. And of course a custom website may be part of a larger network of moving parts—your marketing strategy may involve rebranding, graphic design, photo/videography, events, PR publications, copywrite outsourcing, and online advertising, among other nuts and bolts.
This is why we are welcome to collaborating with other agencies at the client’s request.
Whatever the case be, the work's initial planning stage ought to receive the serious attention it needs. That way, you have an approximate timeline of work involved, benchmarks to hit, and a prospective launch date to look forward to.
The COST: What’s the Price Tag for the Work?
The costs associated with creating, launching, and managing a custom website vary.
Broken down into 3 categories, your costs on average will look like:
• Domain Registration: ~$20-50/year
• Webhosting: ~$20-50/month
• Website Development: highly variable—can range from $1,000-$40,000.
Why the large price range for custom web development?
Again, it comes down to your website functionality needs.
How simple/complicated is the design? Do you care about mobile responsiveness? Do you need an e-commerce store set up? Is ADA-compliancy important? What about the copy and metadata for your SEO strategy? Or email automation? An SSL Certificate for HTTPS encryption? CAPTCHA installation? Video embedding? Will social media sharing buttons need to be installed on webpages?
There’s a lot of variables involved.
A logistics company involved in international commerce with multi-purpose inquiry forms and device-catering video optimization will see a very different price than a local herbal tea shop’s informational website.
A large homebuilding company that offers online 3D virtual tours and mobile-responsive interior/exterior photo galleries for each property will also see a different line of costs than a small online clothing retailer.
So, in short, it depends.
We can help you narrow down and solidify your goals into something measurable.
“I’m not sure what a website project’s cost looks like for my business.”
That’s totally okay. We’re web + marketing experts who’ve been at it for over 16 years.
Just send us some juicy details and we’ll provide you a free, clean estimate.
The BENEFITS: How Your Custom Website Grows Your Business and Brand.
1) Business Benefits
Running a uniquely customized website shows you seriously care about your business. A custom-quality designed and developed website delivers a great, memorable user experience to your audience. It shines the light onto your business offer in the exact way you need it to be.
"...Kirill Kronrod, senior global SEO manager from Adobe, shared an example where switching to an SEO-friendly CMS resulted in a 307-percent increase in organic traffic within a year and a 287-percent increase in rankings on Page 1."
Ranking well in search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo is imperative to a solid business SEO strategy.
Users are already searching for your offer. SEO-friendly web development will let them find you and stick around when they do.
Most importantly, a custom website increases business conversions.
On top of your site’s aesthetics and functionality playing fundamental roles towards increasing conversions, so does the speed of your site. A well-developed site that is built for quick loading times is vital to reducing bounce rates, providing an enjoyable experience, and incentivizing users to commit to whichever desired action, whether it’s placing an e-commerce purchase or submitting an email address.
“A single second delay in your website loading time can result in a 7% loss in conversion, and 40% of web users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.”
“51% of U.S. online shoppers cite slow site loading times as the top reason they abandon a purchase.”
“An increase in site speed from 8 to 2 seconds can boost your conversion rate by 74% (this is based on data monitoring real user activity from 33 major retailers).”
For an e-commerce website, including your smartphone & tablet users via responsive web design (RWD) will see an increase in mobile conversion sales. Given this, you should know that detail-oriented development and heavy quality assurance will maximize your business conversions across all devices and internet browsers.
Lastly, a custom website is one that grows with your business. A typical business encounters roadblocks, changes, and renovations—thus, your website should be prepared for adaptability. A well-developed website provides the long-term flexibility, security, and growth window necessary to a successful business.
2) Brand Benefits
A custom website shows you care about your brand image and growth strategy.
With the right planning, your custom website provides an awesome consistency across your other digital channels and physical entities. It cultivates a growth culture instead of splitting it apart. Your custom CMS website allows you to craft expectations that can be fulfilled. It provides fluid continuity in the customer journey—whether it’s from your website to your storefront, your website to the client meeting room, or your website to the package that arrives at the customer's door.
It’s the first encounter which then leads to a product sale, a reservation, a non-profit donation, or a business relationship. On top of strengthening brand equity and leaving memorable imprints, your website is something users can share across social media platforms, direct message (DM), email, text (SMS), bookmark, and link to from other websites. Treat it as your masterpiece.
It’s your internet real estate.
Your 24/7 storefront and sales force.
Your inbound marketing commander-in-chief.
It’s the ultimate online manifestation of a forward-thinking brand.
And for anyone who Googles your brand name, what you offer, or other relevant content, it’s your business’s first impression.
Make a statement. Build your website how you want it.
Give us a call or send us some details.