Why do website prices vary so much? As an agency, we hear this all the time. Along with, “we saw a TV commercial that tells us we can buy a website for as little as £99”. And “our son’s friend has been learning web design at school and has offered to do it for nothing”. At the same time, we often hear of large multinationals paying seven-figure sums for website design!
How can there be such disparity in pricing? This article hopes to explain the top level factors that together create a price for a website.
All too often this elementary question gets forgotten. In its absence, a website simply becomes nothing more than a glorified brochure. A well-designed website should function as a sales and marketing funnel.
All too often this principle is at odds with the goals of your agency. In the minds of the client, more pages means more work, which means more value, doesn’t it? The truth is, each page of your website should have a goal in mind. Each goal should form a step along the sales funnel. Transforming a prospective customer into an enquiry or booking.
A well-structured website should act as a funnel which drives customers to enquire (leads) or make a purchase (eCommerce). Unfortunately, most websites aren’t designed in this way. Rather than being shaped like a funnel, they could be more accurately described as a sieve. A series of disconnected web pages which have no purpose other than to frustrate the visitor.
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to design a sales funnel correctly. As important as aesthetics are to the hospitality industry, it should never overshadow the true goal of your website.
Why do you need your website? If you don’t have hard data on the return that your business generates from its digital investments, then you’re basing your decisions on opinion and not fact. The often forgotten or bolted-on aspect of website projects is analytics.
When configured correctly, analytics provides the ongoing information which enables you to measure the return on your digital investments. Whether that be something as simple as how many people visited our website yesterday, to the more complex, like, how many Facebook visitors from yesterday’s post made a booking?
Analytics needs to be aligned to the business strategy, the goal of your website and the metrics on which you plan to measure its success.
There’s a lot of confusion around the meaning of SEO. In its most general sense SEO means Search Engine Optimisation. In the context of website building, the term optimisation should really be replaced with optimised.
The easiest way to view SEO in the building phase is to think of it in terms of building regulations. Just as is the case with building construction, the critical work happens behind the scenes, in the foundations.
If a website is built with disregard to SEO, then it could arguably be described as unfit for purpose. Retrofitting SEO to a poorly thought out website project can be an extremely costly and time-consuming process.
Mobile traffic to websites today is rapidly outpacing desktop. Although most businesses have embraced this change and created mobile versions of their website, they haven’t considered the user interface. That is to say that people’s habits when using a phone are very different to when using a computer.
A great example is the interaction people have with photo galleries. Sites such as Facebook or Instagram have taught consumers to interact in very different ways on their mobile devices than they would in front of a keyboard. Simple things such as swiping left or right, or pinching to zoom are functions expected on touch screens, yet absent on a desktop.
Factoring in these additional design features means to a certain extent designing a second site. Rather than thinking of mobile as the poor cousin of the desktop, we need to be increasingly placing mobile front and centre in our design process.
This is a huge area and can significantly impact the final cost of your project. Website content can not only be costly to produce, especially when it comes to video and photography, but also in terms of time. One of the most common delays in a website project is the production of content.
When faced with delays, you run the very real risk of focusing on the input and not the output. In other words, you focus on getting something onto the website so you hit your deadline, rather than focusing on the real goal of the project, namely increasing your new business.
Don’t rush this stage of the project or underestimate its importance. The return on your investment will be impacted heavily by shortcuts taken in this area.
7. Content Management System (CMS)
Do you plan on updating the content of your website regularly?
You can pay to have a CMS included in the price of the build. Be warned many design firms use proprietary software to keep you tied to their business. Try and leave and you will have problems updating the content yourself. So if you do opt for a CMS, make sure it’s not something custom built by the agency, and something that they can demonstrate is used by the wider community.
You can also opt to have the agency maintain the content on an ‘as needed’ basis. The assumption being they can make changes to a website more efficiently than you.
Do you already have clear branding guidelines that your agency can work from? It stands to reason that project costs can dramatically increase if the designer needs to create everything from a logo to the layout of your booking forms.
Avoid low-cost template websites that promise everything for a fixed price. Your first impression these days, more often than not, is online. If you’ve invested time in differentiating your business from your competitors in the physical world, doesn’t it make sense to do so in the digital?
9. CRM Integration
A CRM (customer relationship management) system is critical to not only manage the development of potential customers but to manage the relationship and lengthen the lifetime value of each guest.
It’s likely that over 90% of the visitors to your website won’t be enquiring or booking anything on the first visit. Even more frustratingly, many of those which do enquire, will more often than not, get stuck in the sales funnel you’ve created.
As we already mentioned, the website is just one element of your marketing and sales funnel. This makes it critical that any current or future CRM system, should be tightly integrated. The cost of doing this type of project can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the CRM solution.
10. Other Integrations
Following on from the CRM system, it’s also important to consider any further integrations within your business. Do you need your website connected to bookings, payments, calendaring, email confirmations, SMS, marketing automation? Although impossible to fully scope out all the potential future integrations, careful consideration at this stage can ensure greater compatibility in the months and years to come.
A word of warning when it comes to including deliverable dates in your agency selection criteria. The real hidden costs related to time is actually around delays. This comes in the form of the agency slipping your project. Which can often be the case when timeframes are a factor in the contract bidding process. When agencies are forced to quote unrealistic deliverables in order to win the contract, the inevitable happens.
It’s also rare that an agency is working on a single project at a time. Expect to pay a premium if your timescales are so tight, that resources need to be pulled off other client work to focus on yours.
It’s time to take a look in the mirror. Are you the type of client who has a very clear idea of what their website is setting out to achieve? Or do you require strategic input from your marketing agency? If it’s the latter, aside from the impact on costs, you need to really consider the capability of the agency. A portfolio of shiny new websites doesn’t mean they have in-house expertise when it comes to business strategy.
Hopefully, at this point, you can appreciate why there’s such a huge disparity in pricing within the industry. At the same time, we know how frustrating it can be to take the time to read an article on price, and never see one quoted.
Before we get to that number, it is important to point out that LeadDigital has a very clearly defined customer profile which needs to be taken into account in relation to our typical costings. Our clients typically have very clear branding and product positioning. Their businesses are usually at least 10 years old. They are generally in the £5-10M revenue range. They’re private companies that generally have a singular vision driven by the founders. They have in-house copy and photographic archives for use with creative projects.
Our average website project is in the range of £15K – £20K. That budget would generally include an eCommerce component and some level of lead management, generally in the form of integration with CRM or marketing automation.
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