In the end, a website shouldn’t cost anything – because it delivers ROI far exceeding its costs.
Between now and then, what happens?
There’s a lot of confusion out there about the cost of a website. Some “website builders” claim you shouldn’t pay anything at all, or at least not more than $20, as long as you’re willing to do everything yourself. Amateurs offer rates of $100 for website design.
But before you can evaluate any of these offers, you need to decide exactly what you’re looking for.
These days, the term “website” can mean just about anything. Netflix is a website. Twitter is a website. ThisWebsiteWillSelfDestruct.com is a website. Every website is designed to do different things. Making them takes insight and technical know-how based on the goals the website needs to achieve.
Yes, certain kinds of websites have certain design patterns. If you want to run an e-commerce business online, for example, you’ll need product photos, descriptions, a shopping cart, and payment functions. But if you want your e-retailer to compete with Amazon, it’ll have to go to a much higher level.
Service-based Central Florida businesses have even more decisions to make.
To know how much a website should cost, you have to know what value you’re expecting to get from it. All too often, business owners succumb to the Field of Dreams effect – “if you build it, they will come.”
Then, when “they” don’t show up, the website becomes nothing but a cost center. It’s safe to say most Central Florida businesses aren’t making a dime from their websites. When your website is a powerful magnet for customer acquisition and retention, that’s when it’s really doing its job.
That breaks down to three main considerations, all of which affect your upfront investment.
Let’s take a closer look at them now.
1. You Need a Custom Website to Create a Brand People Will Remember
There are hundreds of companies out there that can churn out a website for cheap, often in as little as 24 hours. They use templates to generate hundreds of client websites a month and rely on freelancers who have no idea how to design a website to spark real bottom line value for your business.
If you’ve been looking for website design lately, you’ve probably seen their ads.
And most of us know people who claim they can put together a website. They might have taken a one-month online boot camp in coding. They have the confidence, but often not the skills – and they’ll end up delivering a website that looks just like everything else out there.
In Central Florida, your website is your digital first impression, so it needs to be memorable. It should set the stage for a lasting relationship with your brand before users ever reach out to you for the first time.
And that simply can’t happen if your website looks like every other one out there.
At New York Ave, we use WordPress to build our clients’ websites. WordPress provides a solid and extensible foundation to create virtually any kind of website.
It may seem simple at first. You’ve probably seen bare WordPress “Hello, world!” websites and recognized them immediately, even if you didn’t know precisely what you were looking at.
But, under the hood, it conceals a tremendous amount of power.
In the right hands, WordPress can:
- Incorporate virtually any feature you can imagine (including what competitors are doing)
- Conform to any kind of design plan or aesthetic, aligned completely with your brand vision
- Be faster, easier to use, and more secure than virtually any other platform on the internet
Most importantly, WordPress is built around the idea of crafting a truly custom website. Your website can be made totally unique through the development of all-new features and designs, or by combining existing features in a way that has never been seen before.
When your WordPress website is truly great, no one knows you’re using WordPress.
So, if you’re looking at a website designer that uses an alternative like Drupal, Joomla, or Magento, you should expect to pay less … much less. Because you’re much less likely to end up with a website that will reflect your brand or help you convert traffic into customers.
And what about all those bargain basement “website builders” where you do it yourself?
Some of the builders have interesting features. But if you want something on your website the designers never considered, you’re simply out of luck. Updates to website builders come rarely or never. They’ve set the rules of the game and you pay them to play by those rules.
Since they’re made from cookie cutter “blocks” of pre-designed, pre-programmed content, website builders can’t really be called custom. And they usually only support plain text and other static, pre-loaded content, giving you nothing visitors haven’t already seen ten thousand times.
When you choose a truly custom website, you can expect to pay more. You’ll also need to plan for regular updates, which should be handled by your provider. But you are investing in the certainty nobody who visits your website will mistake it for anyone else’s.
In the long run, that’s a cornerstone of a thriving digital brand.
2. If They’re Going to Be Effective, Websites Can No Longer Be Static
Think of today’s most popular websites and you’ll notice one thing.
The vast majority of them are interactive. They respond to your input or give you more to do. They pull you in with action and signs of life. Even business websites that don’t leverage this concept to the fullest still incorporate a Twitter or Facebook feed so you know they’re active and doing something.
The biggest brands in the world do things this way because it works.
You don’t have to have a legion of help desk workers or post on your social media feed 24/7 for your website to be responsive and lively. There are many different ways to go from a static website to a dynamic one, and all of them are attainable right from a well-designed custom website.
Responsive Layouts for Mobile Users
One of the most powerful pieces of interactivity on any website happens behind the scenes before all the content is even loaded. It’s called responsiveness, and it adjusts the layout and navigation, especially for users on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
Websites designed for conventional desktops can be nearly impossible to find your way through when you’re using your thumbs. More and more Americans are using smartphones for product research, and some even rely on them as their primary source of connectivity.
If they have a hard time with your website, they won’t stick around.
But the impact doesn’t end there. Google rates responsiveness as the leading criteria to determine if a website is “mobile-friendly” or not. A website that doesn’t support mobile users will have its search rankings dinged, as Google consults the mobile version of your website first when calculating ranks.
Interactive Search and Knowledgebases
When a newcomer first arrives on your website, an invisible countdown starts. They know what they’re looking for, and they need to find it – or something that encourages them to keep looking – in no more than 30 seconds. Otherwise, they disappear for good.
Making information discoverable is crucial. And that requires high quality website design.
There are countless ways to make content easier to find, but they need to make sense to a brand new user at a glance. That requires a lot of insight into how people think and use websites that the average freelance website designer simply doesn’t have.
An interactive database of frequently asked questions, AI-based chatbots who respond in natural language, or even the ability to pose questions using text messages can all work. Each one makes a website friendlier, so users are more likely to stick with it until they find something good.
Social Feeds and Recent Updates
A website isn’t just a brochure you post online. It should act as a hub for your digital brand, showing the connections between all the different places where customers can find you. In many cases, that makes it a smart bet to integrate social media feeds right on your website.
Likewise, you want to be sure that recent updates to your blog (the cornerstone of modern content marketing) are easy to find and relevant to your audience. Older posts can and should be updated occasionally to expand on text, correct omissions, and add even more resources.
All of that becomes nearly impossible or incredibly time-consuming with a static website.
The simple decision to go with a dynamic base from the beginning gives you a treasure trove of options. A dynamic website can be developed over time into anything you can imagine, following the way your brand naturally evolves. But if you go static, you might find yourself starting over from scratch.
And that means also starting from scratch on search engine visibility and much more.
3. Website + Marketing = Customer Acquisition and Retention
A lot of thought and care goes into a good website. When you invest in the experience and expertise of a professional designer, you have the opportunity to go through a process where your website looks and feels like an extension of your brand, targeted precisely to your ideal customer.
And yet, after all this, your website can still turn into pure overhead.
For most businesses, a website without marketing is a waste of money.
Put simply, there’s no way for someone to find a website unless it’s got marketing behind it.
You need to discover what your future customers are searching for, then help them answer questions and solve problems with helpful, informative content. That content needs to be optimized for both people and search engines. And then, after publication, everything needs to be promoted.
On its own, a website won’t do much to get you more customers, more sales, and higher lifetime value. You also need a digital marketing plan in place – which is precisely why you shouldn’t be looking for a designer. You should be working with a marketing agency.
By hiring a Central Florida marketing agency, you can:
- Position yourself as an advisor by responding to your customers’ burning questions and needs
- Start and deepen relationships with methods like email and social media before a sale is made
- Retain customers, strengthen trust, and win referral business with targeted follow-up efforts
- Gain deeper insight into your customers and use their direct feedback to refine your business
All of these empower your website to be more than just a reserved space for you on the internet. The website brings all your diverse aspects together, but it doesn’t get you to the finish line on its own. It’s like a Formula 1 racer without an engine or a pit crew.
A Central Florida marketing agency brings you both.
Sometimes, would-be website designers have the best of intentions. Sometimes, they don’t really know they’re promising the moon, because they don’t see the big picture. But business owners have to face hard facts: When anyone acts like a website will solve all your problems, they’re not telling the truth.
There’s much more to it than just your website. And to make it all work, you should have a guide.
It’s Time to Rethink What a Website Is Really “For”
Over the last few years, a lot has changed in digital marketing.
But the core focus, the real philosophy behind it, has come into focus.
In the decades since Google transformed how we use the internet, it’s gone through a slew of technical improvements. It now uses AI so advanced, it would have been inconceivable 20 years ago. But through it all, one thing has remained the same: A relentless drive toward better experiences for users.
Those experiences are provided by content.
And that content needs to be part of a complete marketing plan to shine.
So, what is a website really for, if it’s not an all-in-one solution for getting found online?
A website is about serving your current customers as well as attracting future ones.
By positioning your website and marketing as a tool to answer their questions, understand and connect with your brand, and keep you in front of them and accessible.
That’s huge, and it’s often underestimated by businesses when they think about a website.
Every business owner knows you “need” a website. Without one, you’re invisible. But it’s all too often true that even with one, you’re still invisible. And that’s more than just a disappointment: It’s a loss of huge business opportunities. It’s time to get a new perspective on how a website works for you.
Don’t Start with the Website, Start with the Marketing
A website is essential. But without marketing, no one is going to see it.
At New York Ave, we help Central Florida business owners take a comprehensive approach to their digital brand. That includes a website, of course, but it also means an end-to-end marketing strategy.
And that’s something you shouldn’t do without.
Working together, we’ll learn all the ins and outs of your business, who you serve, and what you want to achieve. Then, we’ll craft a digital marketing plan that incorporates all the techniques that will get you there faster. Before long, your website will move the needle on customer acquisition and retention.
It might just become the most powerful asset behind your business growth.
Anyone who’s waiting for their website to grow all on its own has bought a handful of magic beans. But even if your website has never attracted or influenced a single customer, it’s not too late to start doing things differently. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see everything a website can be.
When it comes to a Central Florida business website, don’t do it all yourself. And don’t trust anyone who promises to solve all your problems for a single flat fee that’s less than what you spend on groceries. A modern website is an investment: Treated that way, it delivers value.
Contact us today to find out more or get started.