Welcome to the final part of our Insight Series designed to help you create a great website.
Part One looked at your site’s purpose and gave you the tools to identify and understand why you need a website. In Part Two we covered the importance of design, content and marketing for your new website. Part Three explores two more aspects to consider for your new website – the true cost of a website and its ongoing support and maintenance.
The True Cost of a Website
Costs involved in having a website can vary greatly depending on the design of the website, the functionality it provides, the scale of the site, the platform it is built on and the experience of the team creating the site.
A custom design goes a long way to promoting your brand, products and services online. It enables us to match the look and feel of your website with your existing branding and provide a truly unique user experience. Experienced Graphic, UI and UX Designers ensure your new website design is thought-out and optimised at every step.
There are many areas that design can be applied. From the application of your brand assets across an existing template to a completely bespoke look and feel for your new site. The more time and consideration you give to your website’s design and function, the more user-friendly your site is and the more likely your site will realise its goals.
Functionality relates to a broad range of elements within the website. From interaction design and content animation to media galleries, live chat and even shopping carts, the required functionality will differ for every site.
A single-page website for a local business may need a slider to promote specific content at the top of the page, some smooth transitions between page sections and an enquiry form for users to contact the business.
A community association website may require several different content layouts, an animated history timeline and multiple forms for user contact.
A retailer website might need a product showcase, warranty & returns forms, shopping cart, and credit card processing.
Understanding what functionality the website needs will help clearly define the scope of the website and its associated costs.
The size of a website is determined by more than just the number of pages that it contains. Pages, products, forms, downloads, and even website traffic can have an impact on the scale of a website. If your website is an ecommerce channel, you will need to consider how a user can choose items to purchase from your site, make payments, and track orders. A showcase website has a very different purpose and will likely have fewer pages than an online store, however it may generate a great deal of traffic to the site which means the website platform and hosting needs to be scalable to match the demand.
It helps to know what options are available to find the right solution for your needs. From free website builder platforms to full-fledged ecommerce applications, each have their own requirements and associated costs.
A static HTML site will often provide the fastest, most efficient solution for sites that don’t require regular changes to content. They’re built offline, optimised and deployed to the live web server for users to visit. Updates to the site are quick and efficient through automated build and deployment processes and can in many cases rival or surpass larger Content Management Systems.
A Content Management System (CMS) is a web-based platform that allows you to add, edit and delete content on your website via a user-friendly interface. Many of these CMS’ provide flexible plugins and add-ons that allow you to easily extend the functionality of the website with relative ease. While these platforms give you the ability to make these changes yourself, they also introduce additional overhead in making sure the platform is up to date and secure.
Free and low-cost website builders are a great way to get started online however it is important to understand their limitations. Many have limited design customisations and either exclude functionality or charge premiums for additional capabilities.
Choosing the right platform to suit your business now and still provide you flexibility and growth opportunities is an important decision. By having a clear understanding of the purpose of your site and how you intend to manage content, we can help you make an educated decision on the most suitable platform for your new website.
In addition to the cost of designing and building your new website, there are other associated costs such as domain name registration, website hosting, email hosting, SSL certificates, subscriptions and licenses. You may need some or all of these depending on your website, so it’s vital that you clearly define your site’s purpose so you know what you need.
It is important to understand the value your new website will deliver to your business and make sure that value is proportionate to your investment.
Support and Maintenance
A website never sleeps and to remain relevant and accessible online, you need to continue to build on what you have to protect your investment. Choosing the right support and maintenance plan is an important part of owning a website and an important cost to consider in running a successful online presence.
Technology is always improving and depending on the platform the site is built upon, there may be ongoing updates required to remain stable and secure. A static site may only require the occasional content or framework update whereas a full content management system will require weekly system updates to ensure it is stable and secure.
When engaging in a support contract, be sure you understand what deliverables are covered in the service level agreement, how time is recorded and charged, what the response times are and how emergency issues are handled.
Making sure you have the proper support network in place to help if something goes wrong is critical. Whether it’s something not working with your site or a new feature you would like to implement, a good support plan will ensure your site remains online 24/7, secure and accessible to your users. This concludes Part Three and our final part in our series on Creating a Great Website. If you have any questions, or need some help with anything we’ve covered, feel free to reach out below or via our Facebook Page and let’s start a conversation.