Knowing When to Spend $5k or $20k on Your Company Website
Partnering with a professional web design agency can be tricky if you’re not sure what you should expect from your budget. After all, the market is cluttered with hosting platforms, CMS solutions, and languages you can use to build your site.
So how do you know whether to spend $5k or $20k on your company website?
At OSE we regularly meet with potential clients who come to us with a budget in mind, yet have spoken to a handful of other agencies only to become confused about what they should be spending on their company website. From a clients’ perspective, usually they’re simply looking for a website that’s easy to maintain, affordable, looks great and can be enhanced over time. Surely this isn’t too much to ask right?
In this article we’ll break down what your budget will get you when purchasing website development services in the Australian market. This will include an in-depth feature comparison, limitations of each service, and a look at the quality of the product you’re likely to receive.
Understanding the fundamentals of the entry-level market
When it comes to purchasing a website solution for your company, as much as the salesman might tell you otherwise, you do get what you pay for. So if you’re getting sold on a $5k website that can do everything, be wary, as they'll almost certainly be a limit to how much can be achieved with this type of solution, and certainly questions around the quality of the product you’ll receive.
For the most part, customers who are looking to spend $5k to $10k on their website will choose a solution built in WordPress. The reason WordPress is commonly the solution of choice for customers in this price bracket is because it’s built to offer a simple to use content management solution for blogs and brochure-style websites. Outside of this, if you’re looking to achieve something more, then likely this isn’t the solution for you.
WordPress is a fantastic product and is widely used to deliver economical blogs and company websites that require little maintenance and can run on affordable hosting packages. However, if your traffic begins to spike or you’re looking to deliver more complex custom functionality, using WordPress to deliver more complex functionality is likely not the best means of doing so.
Over the years WordPress has gained massive popularity because of the number of handy-third-party plugins available on the WordPress marketplace. This has meant that development agencies have been able to quickly produce attractive functional websites for customers, but all this has come at cost. Performance.
When using third-party plugins, you really don’t know what you’re getting. The code could be poorly built, slow your site, or worse...conflict with other plugins resulting in your site malfunctioning. So beware when you buy an affordable WordPress solution that includes excessive use of plugins.
The other ‘cheap and nasty’ trick out there many agencies use is purchasing $50 WordPress themes and customising them for their clients. Almost all of the time these themes are poorly built, difficult to enhance, and a bad choice. If you’re purchasing a WordPress site, make sure your theme is custom-built.
So what should I expect from an entry-level WordPress solution?
As mentioned, WordPress is a fantastic option for entry-level websites, however there are a few things to be aware of before partnering with a web development agency for your first WordPress solution. Here's a list of what you should expect to receive when spending $5k and $10k on a WordPress website.
|Page Count||5 - 7||7 - 15|
|Special Features||Contact Form||✓||✓|
|Social Media Feed||✗||✓|
|Optimised Title Tags||✓||✓|
|Optimised Meta Descriptions||✓||✓|
An emphasis above in the above table is placed on the quality of features not quantity. Sure, you can get more for you money, but you will risk decreasing the quality of product you receive.
Moving through the mid-market.
When people talk about WordPress it’s often associated with entry-level website development, and for good reason. Although WordPress can be scaled and used in much higher traffic scenarios such as popular blogs, if you’re looking to do more than just serve static content from your CMS you’re going to want a solution that offers you a more advanced feature set.
The sorts of features commonly sort by customers looking to spend up to and in excess of $20k on their company website include the following:
- Multi-author workflow: If you’re working in a team with multiple content authors, it’s important to have an editor with ‘go-live’ privileges that can approve or reject content for publication across your site. This is where a more advanced workflow solution than what WordPress can offer is a bonus for content marketers and editors alike.
- System connectors: If you’re looking to connect data in one system with another, then you’re going to need system connectors. Sometimes these system connectors come as add-ons to various CMS’, other times they are directly built in or need to be custom developed. Either way, if sharing data such as new registrations or recording performance statistics is a requirement for you, then stepping up a price-bracket is your best bet.
- Email marketing: For a long time now email marketing has been the second most effective online marketing channel behind search. With this in mind, being able to automate emails from your CMS and capture data more readily is a very important aspect of successful online strategies.
- On-site search: If you’re running a high-traffic blog or eCommerce site then you’re likely going to want a powerful search facility you can customise to show your visitors dynamic results sets. Although there are entry-level options in this space, the quality and configuration of these services is largely limited.
- eCommerce: Looking to make a few bucks online? I get that. If this sounds like you then utilising a purpose-built eCommerce solution is the way to go. Services such as Magento are a great option and allow you to build a solution for a specific purpose rather than trying to re-invent what services like WordPress were originally design to do.
- User journey mapping: If you’re looking to understand your users’ journey and have a large number of pages on your site, then you’re likely going to want to implement some user journey mapping. Whether you use Google Analytics or another customer mapping tool, tracking key events is an important online marketing process.
- Dynamic reporting: Most CMS’ in the mid-market have some form of reporting that allow users to report on key content, site usage, or identify broken pages across their site. This is very important because it improves the overall quality of your service offering.
- File type management: In addition to a standard media library, more advanced CMS’ allow you to upload specific file types which come with their own feature sets. So instead of all the files you upload to your CMS (i.e. images, video, PDF’s) being looked upon as essentially just a file, your files are given a context in their new online home.
- Metadata: When you begin dealing with increased file counts, pages and greater volumes of content online, utilising metadata to tag and give meaning to content becomes extremely important. This is one of the key features any quality enterprise CMS will provide, and is a major point of attraction for the mid-market.
- Support and SLA’s: If you’re publishing large volumes of content online, then ensuring your site is available 24/7 is going to matter. By ensuring you have appropriate product support and an SLA (Service Level Agreement) in place you're going to be much better off. If you’re new to product support or SLA’s we recommend getting in touch with OSE for a further discussion.
What about hosting?
As you’d expect, there are a number of variables which can affect the type of hosting required to support your company website.
If you’re looking to purchase an entry-level solution, the good news is you can purchase affordable hosting which will most likely be a great fit for your needs. For example, you can purchase hosting with companies such as GoDaddy for as low as around $10/month that will be a great fit for your site. This is what’s called Shared Hosting. However, did you know that your site may end up sitting on a server with up to 500 other sites and could be potentially affected by their performance and traffic?
This sort of setup although affordable can be quite risky, so you may want to consider a slightly more expensive service level called VPS Hosting. This service does include other customers on your server, but a whole lot less. In generally VPS hosting is much more powerful and less likely to experience performance issues. Services such as Amazon Lightsail are a great option in this space which OSE support.
However, if you’re looking for a solution to power an enterprise-level CMS such as Squiz Matrix, you’re much better off looking at a dedicated service built on Amazon eC2. Services such as this are still affordable, can be scaled up or down as needed both in terms of performance capabilities and storage, and are pitched at customers looking for more from their digital marketing infrastructure.
Which languages should my site be built with?
Choosing a language to build your company website in can be tough, especially if you’re not a programmer. Even worse, programmers and agencies tend to have favourites when it comes to programming languages, and at times can be less than objective. That being said, we’ll try our best.
Below is a table which provides a summary of the common languages you’re likely going to hear about when deciding what service to build your company site in. Each has its benefits and associated support costs, which will hopefully assist you to make an informed decision.
|Ruby on Rails||Back-end||Core||Medium|
As you can see there are a number of languages to choose from to build your website (and this is just a handful). The interesting thing however is that in most cases you’ll need to use a combination of these languages to get the job done right. However, what most agencies don’t mention is that the variance in price that we pay to source developers for various pieces of work varies greatly and will have a major impact on how much you pay. For the most part, unless you’re building an app, all of the above languages can be used to build a website, so try and stay away from the expensive ones!
If you’re looking to design and develop a website for your company, you should now be equipped with a whole bunch of questions you can ask the agencies you’re interviewing.
Purchasing a website is all about finding the balance between quality and quantity of features and hopefully building your visitation over time; however, if I was to put my dollars anywhere, it would be with a provider who emphasises quality.
There are a number of providers out there who will promise the world and under deliver, so if you’re looking to partner with an agency who builds high quality website content and infrastructure for their clients day-in-day-out, why not give OSE a call.