The overall cost of a website can vary depending on the needs that are required for the business to succeed online. For example, an shipping company might require more functionality then a pastry shop.
But what exactly are these costs you’re paying for?
Well, let’s go through the process of creating a website from the initial discovery meeting to the final website launch so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
In this post, we’re going to use a mock eyeglass shop located in St Catharines called VisionPlus+ as the business is interested in getting a new website.
VisionPlus+ is Owned by a lady named Mary and both her and her husband Mark manage their eyeglass vision specialist that help customers find the right pair of glasses to fit their prescription and personality.
The VisionPlus+ team consists of 5 team members who all have a basic understanding of computers and know enough that they can get by on the Internet.
The owners Mary and Mark understand that having a great looking website is important for getting more customers through their front door. The last time they updated their website was 2013 and many things have changed since then. They don’t have the technical ability to update the website on their own without the assistance of their developer who has mysteriously moved out west after launching the website that costed only $500.
Mary and Mark need their new website to be able to attract new customers that accurately represent their brand in a manner that is familiar to their customers.
Another one of the requirement for their new website needs is that it needs to reflect their business goals specifically in regard to growth. They’re coming out with a few frame styles and would like to highlight them in hopes to bring in a new generation of customers.
As we sit down with Mary and Mark for our discovery meeting after finding out the above, some of the questions we ask:
- Who is your primary target market?
- If you had the perfect customer?
- Describe that person to me?
- What’s their age range?
- Is it one gendre or both males and females?
- Are you catering to the middle class or upper class citizens?
- What are some of the common habits of your primary target market?
- Are they active on social media?
The answer to this question helps us with our user research; you may not know it but yes, we as web designers (the good ones at least) do preform research on how people interact with websites, what their expectations are when visiting a website in your industry.
We will survey both men and women in your primary target market that wear glasses, if they first researched the business they purchased it at and what some of the deciding factors were in taking the next step into visiting the store. Whether it was a local Google search to find the shop or that discounts were advertised on the website or the product catalogue was available in PDF format. It’s important to understand first how your visitors get to the website and then how they expect to interact with it.
We then move onto the next question: If your website were to preform 3-4 actions really well, what would they be?
This is what’s called creating actionable items. You want to make sure that each page is targeted for users to perform a certain action. A best practice in todays website design industry is to have 3-4 actionable items on the page whether it’s a short blurb about your business, section featuring your newest products, or highlighting your testimonials.
These 3-4 actions that are used on your homepage should engage your primary target market to want to learn more without hesitation to continue. If you are using images to convey the message, make it relevant to the content it’s representing. If you’re business is in telecommunication don’t have a picture of ducks because you think it’s cute, it’s only going to confuse your visitors and perhaps create frustration because they don’t understand the relationship between the image and content.
The next question we would ask is: What specific features would you like for your website to have?
As the meeting continues, we progress into asking about features Mark and Mary would like for their website such as a gallery or e-commerce integration, perhaps a testimonials section displaying all of the great things that past VisionPlus+ customers have said.
These are things that will help users gain a sense of desire for the products, seeing the glasses will make visitors want to try it on and see how it looks on them.
We then ask about branding guidelines to ensure that the new VisionPlus+ website can accurately represent the brand and business all while staying consistent with the colours of the logo and other marketing material that comes along with running a business (fonts, colours, logo’s etc.).
We then ask what Mary and Mark's budget is for the new VisionPlus+ website. We understand that small to medium sized businesses (in the Niagara Region) typically don’t have budgets that are $7,000 +. So a typical website would be about $2,000 - $3,000.
After receiving Mary and Mark's information, we thank them for their time, we give a ballpark estimate for how much their website could run them. We ask if this fits their budget and if they’re interested in continuing
Upon their approval, we create a proposal that fully specifies the needs discussed for the new website. From the technology used in the Content Management System, a complete financial breakdown of what the monthly fee goes to and the total cost of the website design it’s self.
This is what you’ve been waiting for. How in the world we do this and what’s involved with actually creating the website.
We start by doing our market research. We survey people in your primary target market to make sure that the solution we create for your business actually solves the problem your facing with your current website.
If your problem was converting leads into paying customers, we’re going to make sure that our content strategy is bullet proof and engaging your target market to get them to click where you want them to. If your problem was your website looked out dated and you had a high bounce rate, we’re going to make sure that your primary target market is activated and captivated by the imagery used on your website to keep them interested, scrolling and clicking through your website.
Sitemap & Wireframe
We then start by creating a sitemap and wireframe. By creating a sitemap, we can see exactly how each page connects to one another and help us ensure that users can easily navigate the website from one end to the other in two clicks.
The wireframe helps us visualize website page and content flow. It may sound really silly but in-fact this is also used in architecture. Did you think that in outlets, the businesses choose where they want to be located within the mall initially? No they don’t get that option. They submit a request to be put on a list of intended shops and boutiques to be strategically places in certain areas.
Have you ever thought why when you went to your nearest outlet that several niche shops aren’t all with each other? It’s done purposely to create a set of high and low interest areas, you wouldn’t want people crowding one area of an outlet and other areas be barren because they didn’t get the good spots, no, they are strategically placed.
Just like our wireframe, we can define what goes where on the page whether it is a desktop screen or a cellphone, where your eyes look to where your mouse clicks and thumb taps.
The Design Phase
So by now, we’ve figured out who your primary target market is, how they interact with your website, created a plan of action and next up is your high quality design usually done in Photoshop or SketchAPP. This is where we fine tune your specifications, ensure the colours match your brand, the pages accurately represent the visual impact you would like your website to have, where we coordinate the proper imagery to match the sections of content of your website.
We ensure to include the typical user experience with these designs so if your problem of pain was with an e-commerce solution, we’re not just showing you the homepage with one product or item, we will design the user interaction to get to that part of your website, we will show you how the products page could look like populated, what an individual product will look with demo content (such as a pair of glasses) with the title, description, price, a testimonial and a gallery on the page with a call to action to buy now or contact sales.
Once we are 100% satisfied with the design and believe that it not only represents your brand beautifully but also solves your current problems and maybe even solved some problems you haven’t yet encountered. We then schedule a meeting to reveal the design to you. We will explain our rational for design decisions and if you have any suggestions we’d be happy to hear them out and give our honest professional opinion if we feel your idea could work or if it would ruin user experience or not fit with the design decision that has been created to optimize your content flow etc. We’re going to be honest, it’s not that we’re not afraid to hurt your feelings but we’d rather hurt your feelings then let your business suffer because we couldn’t speak up.
Imagine going to a doctors appointment and the doctor is withholding their professional opinion on a medical matter because they didn’t want to have a difficult conversation. You would say that doctor is crazy for not telling you the truth.
This is how we feel about your website. We want your website to have incredible success and if background music when the page loads isn’t going to help you increase sales and conversion rates we’re going to let you know right away.
The beginning of development
Upon approval of the design, we’re going to start by creating an HTML and CSS version of your website to the design specifications we proposed to you. We will create main pages such as home, about, testimonials, contact and any specialty pages such as e-commerce or any other custom pages that are involved with your website.
We then begin to incorporate the content management system. We have our own incredibly intuitive website platform that’s very easy to learn even your grandmother could learn it. It’s hosted on world-class enterprise level servers (AWS) think of it as if there was a Ferrari of web hosting, this would be it.
We have several applications for this platform that make updating your website a breeze. From built-in, easy-to-use Search Engine Optimization, a beautiful slideshow and gallery app, a robust form builder app to create custom contact forms an ever-evolving e-commerce solution and even a members area so you can run a membership website, we’ve got it all.
Populate your website with content
After development, we integrate your website content and work with you to create great content. If you have this already prepared it helps things move along but it’s okay if you need assistance, some people don’t know what they should put on their website. There’s no need to be embarrassed, you’re not the first and definitely not going to be the last.
Testing for responsiveness and usability
After completing the development process we’re not done yet, we still need to preform responsive testing as well as usability testing. For usability testing, we use people of all age ranges and skill levels to preform certain actions of the website. This is a fantastic way to check and see how the solutions we created stack up.
Usability testing refinement
There may be times where we still need to refine one of the solutions because for some reason or another it didn’t preform as intended so we go back and try to solve this problem again. This is why you’re calling the best, rather than us just launching the website with the problems, the $500 website that the other designers probably bought a generic website from template monster that’s not targeted to solve your problems but just look pretty, they probably would have just launched the website anyways and said solve your own problems when times got tough. We preform usability testing to ensure that the problems you had are in fact solved and you don’t waste money.
After we’ve successfully researched your primary target market, created a sitemap and wireframe to plan out your website, we designed your pixel perfect website, developed it, moved it to a world-class content management system, populated your website with the proper content and preformed usability testing to ensure that all your problems are solved, just before we launch, we’re also going to train you and your team on how to use our world-class platform. We’ll go through each application that applies to the functionality of your website teach you all of the in’s an outs, show you where extra documentation is available, where you can find video tutorial if those aren’t enough and if you need more help, you can also reach out to us.
We feel that the success of your website greatly reflects your ability to be able to manage it. We want you to know that we’re here for you every step of the way.
A website like this would cost Mary and Mark between $2,000 - $3,000 due to all of the time and effort we put into creating not only an amazing product but a tool to grow your business.
The next time you have a discovery meeting with a web design agency in Niagara ask them about their process, understand what their offering you. If it’s a website that looks great for $500, leave immediately and call us (289) 696 7280, we’d be more than happy to create the perfect solution for your businesses online needs.
HWD | Principal web designer
(289) 696 - 7280