The cost of a brand’s website really depends on what you expect the site to achieve for your business — and whether or not you have the time and ability to build it yourself.
There are a lot of things websites can do for a brand:
Determining first the functions of the site that are critical to the business is essential. With this decision made, you can then consider the right tools for the job, and how they’ll fit into your budget. As you can imagine, if you need your site to simply explain who you are, what you do, and how to contact you, that could potentially be done with a do-it-yourself, drag-and-drop website builder. However, if you are selling products that must be custom configured from a host of other parts, that could demand some rather complex coding, especially if you’re taking those orders online in concert with an ERP or CRM.
Now that you’ve decided what’s most important for your business, let’s consider if you can do it yourself or if you’ll need to outsource.
Template-based, do-it-yourself website builders have not only proliferated in recent years, but they’ve also become much more sophisticated. Tools like Squarespace and WIX work for small businesses with straightforward website needs with budget concerns. On the high-end, these platforms are around $50 a month, which is a bargain when you consider they usually include hosting, unlimited storage, and limited integration with popular web applications. So, why wouldn’t you take the rugged individualist’s route with pricing like that?
Building a website is only one part of building a digital ecosystem, which has become essential in our business culture. This is where the “it depends” part of the equation hits hard.
DIY website builders will definitely allow you to integrate video, social media channels, and ways to offer an online store, but do you understand how to build this architecture?
What about getting your website found by customers? Building a fantastic website is not unlike throwing the most fabulous party imaginable — out in the desert. You may have a killer band, top-shelf drinks, and a celebrity chef on hand, but how are you going to ensure that enough people know about the party? How will you coordinate all the logistics to make it a thriving, self-funding event? This is where mastery of search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. SEO isn’t something you build after you create your website, it’s something you plan for before and during your website development.
And what about website design and language? If you’re in a crowded industry segment, being unique, distinct, and compelling is no small task. Are you going to rely on a library of template solutions to craft something “unique?” Of course not. Do you have graphic design skills? Better said, do you have digital design skills that understand how to parlay a brand’s identity across various platforms on this digital ecosystem? Are you going to rely on Canva to create your digital assets? On a fundamental level, do you know what content is going to go where and why?
Of course, this assumes your brand already has a research-backed, customer-centric, well-designed and considered identity.
Let’s be clear here: The hard costs for building a DIY site can be very low; less than $100 a month. But the time involved can be massive; time that you will be spending away from your core business tasks. How much of that time will be time you (or team members) will spend learning the basic functionality of tools, the underlying principles of SEO, collecting high quality stock imagery or commissioning a creative to develop, or how to integrate all of these assets together? In this case, time is money. Perhaps, a great deal of money.