Small & medium business websites – Know the costs

A few minutes thought now can save you years of stress when it comes to your business website. Often small and medium businesses will be sold a site that is good for the developers recurring revenue rather than their own. Knowing the process before you start will help you avoid getting a website that’s not quite what you were hoping for.


Firstly, why every small & medium business needs a website

Having an online presence will be a contributing factor to your business success. There are very few exceptions to this. One example is Switzerland, where I currently live – a country where it feels like 50% of the population still don’t know what the internet is.

The quality of your website will also impact on your business. Quality is a sliding scale and it all comes down to what you want your website to do. How much you spend on creating your website directly influences the quality. 

Appearance: Does it look good and portray your brand in an impactful way? If it looks cheap, people will expect your product or service to also be cheap.

Credibility: Your competitors most likely have websites. If you don’t have one to compete then customer may question your legitimacy.

Functionality: Does your website do what you want it to do? Does it save you time? Does it help sell your products? Does it help you market your business? 

Every business has different needs and there is a simple (and right) solution out there for you. Not every business has an in-house coder to manage their website, so you need to make sure your site serves your needs.

The most important question you need to ask yourself is “Is it easy for me to use?”


How do I get a website for my business?

I’ve helped many companies create their digital presence and I’ve found there are common concerns similar to all of them. The top three are:

  • What do I put on my website and what does it do? 
  • How can I manage it and make changes as I grow?
  • How much will it cost today and what are the ongoing costs?

These three concerns are very real and often lead to unnecessary stress and heartache. I have seen companies pay extortionate amounts for websites only to find, at the end of the project, that using the site is more trouble than it’s worth.

There are four ways to launch your website:

Pay a Digital Agency to do it. (Cost = 10)

This is the most expensive option. A digital agency will have a team of designers and developers to manage every aspect of the project. The benefits of this is you get a custom built site which is fast and looks good. The downside is that this doesn’t come cheap. You can be expected to pay 4 to 8 times more than the next option.

The other negative to this method is if you want adaptations made to your website or want to create a new page for a campaign or even pivot your entire business, you will need to go back to the agency to get it done. This process can take many weeks and the costs will scale according to your original investment.

Get a developer to do it (Cost = 3 in the short term)

There are often ways to get a website done cheaply by a developer. These kinds of website are usually bundled with a long-tail payment plan which involves committing to an SEO spend with Google or Facebook Marketing. If you have the budget to spend on marketing this can result in some success.

The downside is that the process does not involve design. So while your website will work well, it will look bad from a brand point of view. Developers are notoriously bad at attention to detail and lack the design skills to understand what looks good and what doesn’t. Think of it as trying to paint a picture with Microsoft Word.

Get a designer to do it (Cost = 5)

This method often uses “off-the-shelf” platforms such as WordPress, Shopify and page builders like Elementor. These platforms are reliable and low cost and mean the website can be built faster than any other method. The benefits also extend to creating website modifications as your business grows. Making adaptations fast and cheaper than the developer or agency method.

From a brand point-of-view your website will look great as more time can be invested in quality content, images, logos and more.

These platforms have had billions of dollars invested in them helping them to create easy to use software so anyone within your business can learn to make changes and use the website with the minimal amount of ‘training’.

The downside to these platforms is sometimes there’s a website speed sacrifice to be made. This however can be mitigated by improving the speed of the hosting server. Also, if you need a custom built function that is unique to your business, this method may have its limitations.

Build it yourself (Cost = 2)

If you fancy yourself a bit of a creative type and want to go it alone, the previously mentioned platforms can be a good place to start. With a minimal financial investment you can have your site up and running very quickly.

The downsides to this direction is you probably don’t have the design skills to match a designer and you have to consider the hours you’ll have to give up doing what you do best to carefully plan the architecture, content, brand building, image optimising and more – all of which are important aspects of the design process.

So which is the right choice for you?

I write this article today because I constantly get asked by companies to make changes to their websites. In most cases I need to get a developer involved because the original website was built using custom code.

Developers cost $150 and hour and above! The quotes are usually too high for these small businesses and it pains me to think that if only they weren’t sold a lemon to begin with then it would be much easier and more cost effective to help their businesses grow.

Developers build great sites, but they don’t understand people or business. If after 5 years your basic, great looking, website needs an overhaul to deal with your rapid business growth then that’s a good problem to have.

If you need any help choosing the right direction, get in touch today.

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