Yes, Tony, I can see the benefits, but how much is this website going to cost me?
The stock answer is always "it depends". But people generally roll their eyes and quickly lose interest if that's your sales pitch, so in this article, I'll show you precisely what the cost of building a website depends on.
By the end of this treatise you'll know what you are handing over your cash for and more importantly why you are giving it to me, rather than someone else residing lower down the Google search engine rankings.
If you want the cliff notes, then a typical eCommerce website cost is £3,000. If you need a bit more persuading than that, then read on my thrifty friend.
Firstly, the total budget you have in mind for a new website needs to be split between the site itself and the marketing. The website and its marketing are like yin and yang, you can't have one without the other.
If you spend all your money on a website and don't provide any marketing for it, then all you have is an expensive brochure that doesn't get distributed. Conversely, you can't market something that doesn't exist.
In an ideal world, you will have a £10,000 budget with roughly 30% for the website and the other 70% for marketing. Marketing consists of Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google Adwords, Facebook advertising, Search engine optimisation (SEO), social media marketing, email list building, press releases and other activities like customer relationship management (CRM).
Part of your marketing budget also goes towards analysing visitor behaviour (Google Analytics) and establishing which landing pages work and why. Much like finding out which adverts work best in traditional print advertising but with a more scientific approach.
How you split your overall budget depends on how much marketing work you've already accomplished.
Building A Website
The first step is to write up a simple one-page project scope document. At it's simplest, a project scope could be merely a list of pages that an author needs producing.
This simple list can then be expanded into greater depth depending on how many pages need components (forms, XML feeds, etc.) placing on them.
If you are replacing an existing website, then you need to know what architecture and systems are being deprecated.
Are forms being replaced, and how is data being collected and routed?
Do XML feeds need integrating?
Is there a separate mobile site that needs designing or is the global responsive design to be used?
Are image repositories being utilised?
Where are the existing image source files or originals?
Do existing images need cropping, resizing and scaling?
For new eCommerce websites, then we already know what most of the standard requirements are, but there can be differences in the approach. For example, a jewellery store may want to custom engrave certain items, and a routine would have to be developed for that process. Defining these custom elements is an essential part of costing the project.
Once the high-level requirements have been determined, the site scope document can be used to drive forward the entire website development project. Working with a digital agency is a two-way street, and a website project scope document is there to help us both understand what the overall goals of the project are.
Budget £500 for requirements gathering.
Images And Photography
Using royalty free images will keep the cost down, but it heightens the chance of using images that are used on many other websites. Using poor product images is a real conversion killer, but a professional product photography shoot can easily cost £500 for ten products.
How images are used can make a significant difference to the cost of a website. Most eCommerce websites use royalty free photos and manufacturer supplied stock photography to keep the cost down and to use something better than this costs a lot more.
A logo design typically costs between £150-£250 for a solo production and the costs of custom graphic design are usually around £750 per website.
A We Build Stores website includes all the necessary artwork for the production of business cards and supporting stationery.
Budget £1,000 for graphics and supporting artwork.
Copywriting is essential to making your website convert visitors to buyers.
Yeah, that's true. But fantastic copywriting that snaps, crackles, fizzles and pops into your customers head makes the difference between an also-ran at the local flea market and a global, money-making conversion machine on steroids.
Great copywriting speaks directly to your reader, grabbing them by their fat puffy red cheeks and pulling them closer to the screen until their darting, ravenous, beady little eyes fixate on the "buy now" button.
Shhh...come closer I have a secret to tell you...
Writing captive headlines and producing stunning landing pages is a creative process that takes time and thought energy. You don't get to have a better-converting website by plagiarising someone else's text that they, in turn, copied from the manufacturer's handbook.
Budget £1,000 for content creation and copywriting.
The eCommerce Store
These days the least expensive part of building a website is the eCommerce platform itself. With so many cloud-based solutions available, the cost of running and maintaining an eCommerce store can be as little as £29.99 per month.
Which solution is best for you depends on the content of your web scope document we spoke about in "requirements gathering".
One thing is for sure, the option of using open source software (Magento, WordPress, Joomla, Open Cart et al) is rapidly becoming a much more expensive way of doing business.
Just because open source software is free doesn't mean that it doesn't have associated costs. The maintenance of an open source installation is down to the owner themselves and for that reason, unless you are technically skilled, ownership of such a platform makes no sense at all.
Putting It All Together
The cost of building your eCommerce store should be roughly 30% of your total online budget. So if you have £3,000 to spend, then £1,000 goes on the website and the rest on marketing. Without marketing, you can't make sales and reinvest profits in website technology.
Which is why a pay monthly website is such an attractive option. If you consider that it takes three to six months to start making progress with SEO, then an upfront payment of £3,000 for a new website is a poor investment. If you spread the payments over a year, you get the chance to begin recouping your outlay after six months when organic search engine rankings start to take effect.
What Extra Features Does My Website Come With?
Your pay monthly website comes with everything you would expect from a first class design agency including live chat, a booking and event calendar system, full eCommerce functionality, social media share icons and hosting all included. Did I mention you'll also get a free domain name added as well?
All We Build Stores websites are fully responsive, meaning they will look great on a mobile or tablet as well as a desktop, and you can also control the mobile layout separately if you wish.
Support costs are included so there won't be any additional monthly maintenance charges and your website comes search engine optimised right from day one.
The site will be added to Google search console, a sitemap created and page titles and descriptions fully optimised. Google analytics tracking comes as standard.
To summarise, a pay monthly website gives you all the high-class website design aspects that you would typically associate with huge upfront cost, along with the support and security of working with a talented team of designers and developers.