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These days, every man and his dog are building sites.
What You Need To Know When Getting A Website Built, And What Makes Us A Little Different...
There are many web design agencies, and many that offer marketing services. Unfortunately most come at web design with a ‘marketing second’ approach.
Building a website in today’s world is actually very easy. Almost anyone can do it. And here lies the problem… almost anyone does do it. Unfortunately, most do it very badly or use simplified technology (such as online website builders), that lack the flexibility and power for proper digital marketing.
Digital marketing needs to be considered first. This way we can ensure that the website is designed and built in a way that will meet the demands of the marketing strategies used to promote it once finished.
How important is this?
Why Your Website Must Convert
Well, as a business we never set out to provide web design services. We are marketers. But here was the problem… digital marketing only works well if the website is designed correctly – and just about every website we saw was not.
If we are doing SEO, then we need to ensure the platform is designed and optimised for SEO, if we are doing affiliate marketing, we need to ensure that we can use the best affiliate tracking systems, if we are designing special promotions, the platform needs to be able to handle the technology behind those promotions… You get the idea.
But most importantly, the site needs to convert.
If your website does not convert, you lose the majority of your potential sales
“If you think good design is expensive,you should look at the cost of bad design” – Ralf Speth
A Cheap Website Is False Economy
Bottom line, if someone comes to your website, we need to get that visitor to take an action (purchase online, call you, fill in a form, or visit you etc), and ultimately to become a customer.
Just looking pretty is not enough.
Despite most websites being developed by professional web agencies, surprisingly, few are intentionally designed to convert.
At EthicallyMAD we design sites with a ‘marketing first’ approach. We identify what the objectives for the website are, what the intended marketing strategies will be, and then design the website accordingly.
This is not to suggest that we think that aesthetic design is unimportant. Just we do not believe in compromising conversions for the sake of design.
If you don’t take the marketing first approach to design, then you will struggle to make any of your online marketing effective. You will pay more for clicks on Google Ads, struggle to rank well in the search engines, and ultimately get a lower return on all your advertising costs.
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We see examples all the time of business owners who have built their own website – and, with the very rare exception, it was a very bad idea.
I know, with all the low cost drag and drop website builders on the market today, it can be very tempting. But there is far more to designing a website than simply coding it.
Your website is the cornerstone of your marketing, and can make or break the success of any advertising or marketing you do.
Try cutting costs on your website, and you will pay dearly later. Professionals designers are professionals for a reason – they know what works, and what does not.
(Plus most business owners take far longer than an experienced web designer, and if they were to pay themselves an hourly rate for the time it took them, it would not only be less effective, but more expensive too.)
A very basic website can be created in just an hour or two – if you use a basic platform with cookie cutter templates, and rush it. (Which is exactly how cheap web designers can be cheap.)
However, to do a really good job takes time. We can spend anything from a few days to a few months, depending on the size of the project (most are a few weeks of full time work).
Technically it only need to take one person, but this requires a jack of all trades (and master of none).
There are a range of skills needed, including: design, coding, server admin, copywriting, search engine optimisation, management, and marketing strategy.
In short, a professional team will always outperform an individual. Also, as many of the tasks can be done simultaneously a team will not only deliver a better result, they will also do it in less time.
(And, as the total number of hours it takes is the same either way, there need be no difference in price.)
A good agency is a team of professionals, each with their own specialist skills. It is both unfair and unrealistic to expect one person to create the result that an agency can.
Using an agency can not only build a better site, but also save time. An individual, by definition, works alone. And agency can have multiple people working simultaneously on your project.
If you were to try and hire multiple specialists yourself, you would only waste more of your own time. A web design agency also has the advantage of having existing systems and processes in place, and know how to work with each other to get you the best result.
Long gone are the days of coding a website from scratch using nothing but HTML. Today there are many different platforms available that reduce the technical skill needed to manage a website.
Many of these solution, such as SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly and Shopify are SAAS solutions. SAAS platforms (Software As A Service) are usually fast to setup, but require higher monthly fees (so often cost more in the long term). They are also more limited in what can be done with them.
Self-hosted solutions are tricker to setup (especially if you don’t know what you are doing!) but give you far more control and are generally cheaper over time. If setup well, they can also be just as easy to manage for the site owner.
For more information on this question, take a look this article on ‘Which Is The Best Website Platform?‘
Without taking a look at your project, it would be impossible to say. You can get a website for free, or pay just a few hundred dollars for one, or can you pay well over a million. It all depends on your needs, how much you already have in place, which platform you will use, and how skilled your team are.
To give you a ballpark figure though, our sites typically sit at between NZD$3,600 and $13,500. (It usually takes 100-150 hours to do a thorough job.)
This will be different for every business, however there are a few key elements …
1) A clean conversion based design. This is to ensure the site looks good, and performs well (ie makes you sales).
2) A solid technical foundation. This is to ensure your site is stable, secure and runs fast.
3) Good structure, including an easy to navigate layout, and having the right content (such as privacy policies, a physical address, phone number etc.). This is important for your site’s quality score, and will affect your position in the search engines and the price you will pay for clicks from Google Ads.
4) Speed optimisation. Your site speed is critical for both your sites quality score (see above) and your conversion rates. Even a 1 second difference in load speed can affect sales by as much as 50%.
5) Good copy, i.e. the text on your website. Writing is easy. Writing well is not, and requires a professional if you want to increase engagement, deliver your message concisely, and maximise sales.
A well designed website can help your business in multiple ways …
1) It can help get you better returns on your marketing (online and offline). Any visitors to your website will either take an action or not based on what they read and their overall experience.
2) It can allow you to sell products online through an e-commerce solution. Selling online helps reduce overheads as you typically won’t need a sales person, or other expensive overheads.
3) It can help you automate more of your business. Not only can a website be used to sell products, it can be used to take bookings, capture prospects details, answer questions, help provide support and even deliver your products or automate the ordering process to a fulfilment centre.
It is a sad fact that most business still only see their website as little more than an online contact card, and so do not utilize its potential.
It depends, but in many cases, yes.
Consider a car yard … two salesmen, both dressed in the same suites (think design), selling the same inventory (your product or service), to the same prospects (your site visitors). Yet one will do well, the other no so much.
The difference? What was said, and how they said it (content and tone).
Good copywriters are not cheap, and so if you have very few visitors to your site then it may take a long time to get a positive return on your investment. However, if you have a high ticket item, or a reasonable amount of visitors to your site, good copy will pay for itself in now time.
Whatsmore, it will keep delivering again and again. Unlike a good salesperson, you only pay for copywriting once. (So, if you can, do it right the first time.)
It is estimated that one in four of ALL websites are built on WordPress. Of those most are built pretty badly – others are excellent.
WordPress has the potential to be one of the best solutions for a large majority of business, but only if it is setup well.
Many people have had bad experiences with WordPress (poor usability, ugly design, bad security, etc.). However, WordPress is also one of the most well supported, flexible, and scalable solutions available.
With the correct setup it is far more powerful than SquareSpace, Wix, Shopify or any other off-the-shelf site builder. It can also be made to be just as user friendly, and can be made to work with just about any design or layout you can imagine.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of WordPress sites we see are not setup well, which is why so many people have had a negative experience with WordPress, and why its reputation has suffered.
If you are unsure which platform to build your website on, get in touch.