Less Stress With a Professional Website
Stressful. Creating your own website can be absolutely stressful. Drew, from Escape Plan Marketing, has been crafting professional websites for over 25 years and knows this all too well. As Drew and Michael have previously discussed in Season 1 of Marketing Rocketfuel, crafting your own website for your mid-sized company costs both time and money. On the other hand, It also costs money to enlist a professional to do it for you.
In this episode of Marketing Rocketfuel, Drew and Michael discuss both the process and the process of a professional website from start to finish.
From Start to Finish: Professional Website Production
For a mid-sized company, defined as having revenue ranging from $1 million to $50 million per year, it can require a significant amount of time to create a professional website. On average, it can take up to 60-120 hours to create a website for a mid-sized company. The going rate for this service is $150/hour. Using that math, a professional website can cost you around $10,000-$20,000.
While that may seem like a hefty price tag, It’s important to remember that companies that produce professional websites are that: professionals. You are paying them to provide a service, capturing your entire business in a digital format. These developers will design your website to be unique to your business and what it’s about. For example, professional website developers will want real images from your business. They will not be using stock photos to plug into your webpage as you do when using a DIY website builder. This means that they will need to actually come to your business to get these images, as an example. Therefore, you should have an expectation for a high-quality website to go with that increase in price.
Phase 1: Discovery
The most important and overlooked part of the website-building process is the discovery phase. The discovery phase is when the website builder begins to date your business, so to speak. The developer gets to know you and your product. This phase could and should last about a month. The discovery phase lays the groundwork for the builder to know your business, what it has to offer, and what sets it apart from the competition.
What’s My Role?
Therefore, what you do in this process is as crucial as what the developer does. For starters, understand that this does not happen immediately. You won’t be able to look at your webpage in the next week and see it totally revamped. The behind-the-scenes work takes time in order to create a successful web presence. In addition, come prepared with what you want. If you start adding expectations after prices have been set, you can expect to have an increase in the price. This can also create tension between you and the professional website builder.
As a business owner, you need to know the nuts and bolts of your business. If the website developer begins to ask you questions about your business that you are unsure of, it may not be the right time for you to have a professional website. There may be items in your business model that need to be addressed before you are fully prepared to pay for a professional web developer. You can always develop your business plan and revisit using a professional web developer in the future.
Phase 2: Pre-Production to Production
After the discovery phase, you begin to transition to the production phase. During this transition, you and your designer will begin to map out the copy and content of your site. A professional copywriter makes the difference in whether your product sells or doesn’t. As Michael points out, there is a difference between website content and website copy. Content includes anything from images and graphics to videos. Copy is specifically the text that goes on your website. If you have carefully planned your page out during the discovery phase, you will know what text aligns with your graphics and exactly where they should be placed.
In addition, it is also important to know the technical aspects of your website. Knowing which images act as a button on your page to take you to another link versus images that don’t is crucial. It’s also important to know, If you are selling a product, how you will link to your e-commerce area.
Another aspect of producing a website is using a search engine optimization tool. Good copywriting needs to correlate with your search engine optimization or SEO. If you have great copywriting, but no one can find it in a google search, the copy is useless. Website professionals know how to use tags and description lines to generate leads to your website.
What’s the Next Step?
After you have generated a lead to your page, it’s key to think through what is the next step for your customer. Does your customer fill out your contact form and then receive a thank you acknowledgment? Or does your customer get an email? Who in your company will receive the lead? You have to think through the entire site. The homepage is not the end game. When someone navigates to another page on your site, what will that page look like? What content do you want them to be directed to? You need to plan out all the steps and routes that your site will take.
Website Quality Assurance
Conducting quality assurance testing is essential to making sure every hole is filled on your webpage. No one wants to have a webpage that has missing content or blank space where an image should be. To prevent this, it’s a great idea to have someone you trust navigate through your site. Even the most detailed developer can miss something in the production process. Have the trusted person search your page on a mobile device or different social media forums. Many times people will forget to link their social media page to their website. Those links end up being broken. If your site isn’t designed to also be used on a mobile device, it can be super frustrating to a customer. This is often the first contact they have with your site. Make it a positive experience in order to keep them, not deter them. When you make an investment into a professional website, you don’t want to have any loose ends. This can be very frustrating for people trying to search and learn about your business.
Phase 3: Post Production
Every website must have a host that houses the website. In order to understand website hosting, Drew likens it to leasing a store front. When you own a physical business, you may lease a physical space for your store to be housed. The owner of that space is responsible of making sure that all of the equipment, like plumbing or lighting, works. However, the actual stuff in the store, such as your products, are your responsibility. It is exactly the same way for a website host. A web host has the job of making sure that your website is up and running. However, it is your job to keep things posted on the site.
Your website also has to be able to work from all over the world. While you may own a local mid-sized company, you may have traffic coming from all around the globe. Websites are served up as fast as possible from the location that is closest to them. A website host will put your website on what is called a Content Delivery Network (CDN). If something happened to the closest location, then your website is fine because it is being served on the Content Delivery Network in other locations around the world. Paying for hosting privileges is a necessity when building a website.
Every good machine needs regular maintenance. It is no different with your professional website. Maintenance ensures that your website is always up to date. Keeping your website maintained will help keep hackers out of your site. It will also make sure that it is always optimized for the best experience for your users. Providing website maintenance will ensure things don’t break as time goes on.
Once your website goes live, your website developer submits changes to the search engines. A professional web developer will track your analytics of who is using your website and how much traffic it is getting. This is why Drew values transparency. He wants his clients to see their analytics and be educated about the analytics of their business page. Michael points out that analytics can answer questions like “is my website visitor doing exactly what I think they’re going to do?” By having these numbers in black and white, they can then answer that question and help you determine if you need to make a change or not.
Ongoing Webpage Content
Therefore, if you want to rank anywhere on a google search, you have to keep your content up to date. Leaving old pricing sheets on your webpage is sure to move it to the bottom of the barrel on a google search list. Using two and three-year-old references makes your site become irrelevant in a hurry. A professional website developer can help keep current, up-to-date content posted to keep your search engine optimization closer to the top of the list. Your website will evolve as your time and business evolve. Staying fresh is essential to driving customer traffic to your site.
Michael also states that you don’t need to count out your regular, faithful content as you add new content. Make sure to have content that is also “evergreen.” This is content that does not change and is seen as a reliable source. You want customers to be able to refer back to your webpage and view you as an expert in your field.
With that said, keeping content up to date is key to the search journey of your customer. A customer journey has 3 steps. There is first an awareness of a problem. Then, the customer begins to consider a solution. Finally, a customer then makes a decision about which solution they are going to choose. As your post-site launch happens, make sure that your social media pages like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter have images that are current. By aligning images and content from your social media sites and your webpage, you have now crafted a total web presence. Your web presence can say a lot to the customer about who you are as a business, both good and bad.
Don’t Forget Your Fans
The marketing on your webpage should not be solely to attract new customers. Michael adds that there must be content that appeals to the loyal customer as well. You not only want to acquire a new customer, but you also want to reinforce to a former customer that they have made the right choice by choosing your business. This will, in turn, keep them as recurring customers.
What to Expect From Professional Website Agencies
Depending on what you enlist your agency to do, you can expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars a month to several thousand per month. Drew says that his company tends to provide services that range from $3,000-$7,000 depending on the level of service. Some agencies are able to provide services at a lower cost for smaller businesses.
Have 3-5 people give you honest feedback about your website. If they didn’t know you, what would it tell them about your business? The truth can hurt, but don’t be afraid of it. The objective eye that sees the good and the bad can help set you apart in the vast internet space.
Want to Know More on This Topic?
Be sure to like, subscribe, and comment on our Marketing Rocketfuel channel. Need more information from a professional website developer? Reach out to Drew at Escape Plan Marketing for a call and free marketing audit!