How Much Does A Website Cost?.

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I like to think of websites a bit like cars. Fundamentally, all cars are the same – 4 wheels, one engine, some body panels and some kind of seating and storage area. However, even within a single class of car (e.g. medium sized family cars – a class close to my heart) there are a range of similar but different cars, with loads of different options and they are never the same price as one another.

Websites are the same. Just as you can buy a Mondeo or a Bentley you can buy a website or customer experience platform (i.e. a website). What makes a difference are all the same things that make a difference with a car:

1.     The expertise of the Team that build it
2.    
The amount of research and testing
3.    
The level of experience planning and design
4.    
The core platform
5.    
Value features beyond the standard model, including

a.     CRM capabilities
b.    
Marketing capabilities
c.    
Bespoke features
d.    
Integration with other systems

6.     Lifetime running costs (i.e. on-going hosting, support and development)

Let’s pick out a few of these and assess them in more detail. Sometimes the most difficult one to determine for a customer is the expertise of the team that build it. It’s not just a case that bigger teams have bigger overheads and therefore cost more (although this is true), however, the value of a large team always outweighs the cost. For example, at Sagittarius any website project is assessed in the research stage by individual experts in design, user experience, search engine optimisation, technical development, hosting and infrastructure and digital planning and strategy. That’s seven people who have dedicated their careers to specific parts of the process of creating a successful website – you can’t get that level of expert focus in smaller one or two man bands.

Research and testing is another area where websites can differ greatly. Depending on budgets we have run everything from internal sign off sessions to international focus groups as part of the planning stages. Testing can include eye tracking, focus groups, low fidelity prototyping (with or without focus groups) and beta launches for brand loyal customers.

The core platform is also an interesting area given the rise of Open Source platforms such as Magento (Community Edition) and WordPress over the last few years. These are great platforms and can be a very cost effective way to get started but there is a common mis-conception that these are ‘free’. Any platform cost should be considered in the context of lifetime costs for development, hosting, support and value to the business. When you consider that a Magento/WordPress site still needs user experience planning, design, development, hosting and support as a normal website does then there are clearly still costs. Also, consider the support model – if the WordPress core has a problem who is responsible and what’s the SLA? Feature development can sometimes cost more with open source platforms as opposed to bespoke platforms so again, consider your features and functional requirements first.

The technical ones above such as bespoke functionality and third party integrations are fairly self-explanatory – more bespoke/integration development means greater effort required and this usually means increased costs.

CRM and Marketing features should also be considered though. Most commercial websites have either ecommerce transactional KPIs or lead generating KPIs and so a good platform should have some level of Customer Relationship Management and Marketing functionality. Again, all open source platforms do but they are usually quite basic admin tools for simply exporting user details and managing passwords.

Enterprise platforms, such as Sitecore, have far greater CRM and Marketing capabilities and include automated marketing, email broadcasting, web to print, engagement analytics and personalisation based on profile metrics and engagement value attribution.  These are far beyond the reach of Open Source platforms and should be at the heart of any commercial website.

So there you have it, a website, just like a car, costs as much as you can afford. The trick to buying a website, just like buying a car, is finding a supplier and brand you can trust and making sure you get enough of the right features, design and on-going service for the budget that you have.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Nick Towers
Nick Towers
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
Co-Founder, CEO and self-confessed massive geek, Nick has been in digital since graduating from law and moving into technology many years ago. Through a combination of building awesome client relationships, crafting a formidable team of digital experts and consistently delivering results for our clients Nick has taken Sagittarius from being a successful small agency to the global digital customer experience consultancy and Sitecore powerhouse that it is today.
Nick Towers

Nick Towers

13 Jun 2014 - 6 minute read
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