Marketing - Digital - Websites
Do We Need A Website?
Typically, the answer is yes. In 2018, your digital footprint is a wise investment. Your site can range from the basic, which outlines your products and services and how to get in touch, through to a customised client login special fandangled area. It depends on what your business is and who your customers are. For the most part though, a site is a good idea and starting with the basics is smart, such as content that tells people what you do, how to contact you and showcase your brand. But a site is multi functional, and can be your 24/7 sales person, not just a business card, so having relevant content, blogs etc can be useful too.
What Are the Core Elements of a Website?
The CMS – Content Management System
In this context. the definition of a CMS (Content Management System) is an application/piece of software, that allows multiple users with different permission levels to manage the website. You can set permission levels for who can see and do what at many levels, but lets assume there’s only you and its your site – you can create and delete pages, content and functionality.
Common CMS names you may have heard off include WordPress, SilverStripe, SquareSpace, Dropal, Joomla. Or more self-service template options such as Weebly and Wix.
Some things to consider when it comes to choosing a CMS
- What is the site’s primary purpose?
- How easy is it to self-manage the site structure – ease of adding/maintaining and changing site structure?
- Ease of adding blog page or other standard pages?
- Does this CMS have add on features such as email marketing/campaign management.
- How easy is it to access developers for any customisation? Ie is it a common platform and code
Most CMS these days have lots of design themes you can choose from, or for open source CMS like Word press you can head to themeforest, pick a theme and install it. Many of these themes have a couple of colour and font options too, but they are limited. It’s a cost effective way to go though, and even if you’re looking at a customised site, starting with a template and finessing it can be more cost and time effective. Of course, full customised design is an option too, but you’d need a quote from an agency or designer and/or developer as the cost will be dependant on your requirements.
You’ll hear the terms site map, wireframe etc bandied around too. We’re not going to get into the technical side of things, these guys at Evolve sum it up well and you’ll find they answer most of these types of questions here https://evolve.ie/q-and-a/sitemap-vs-wireframe-what-is-the-difference-between-them/.
We have to also remind you that your web design should reflect your brand, aligned colours, fonts and tone too. Every asset you have online should look and feel consistent.
The words, the images, the videos and the plan for these. This is usually the hardest part as it sits with you – the business. The other parts you can outsource, and many agencies will help you design the content plan, but you’ll need to be in the room, and you’ll need to set the high level plan for each part of the site. Each page will need content. Consider – what is the purpose of this page? What information do we need to include? Will we share this information with words, images, videos or a combination? What do we want our readers to do now?
Once you’ve got the plan, you need to source the content. Then it may be up to you to populate it into the CMS. To be frank, this is the killer part. Content development and loading can take a lot more time than expected – so plan ahead for this. Ask around for any hot tips and tricks too, many people have been down this road and will have good insights.
You may need this functionality if you want to sell via your site. A key thing to check is what the payment options are as most of the sites mentioned above offer e-commerce options, then you need to set up a payment gateway to get paid, such as Stripe or Paypal. These often have transaction fees to check them out too.
How Much Does a Website Cost?
A website involves three basic costs:
Site design and development (see above)
The Domain name (also called the URL, you know, the dub dub dub (www) part).
We’ve covered design above, so a bit more about development. The development of the site is the actual "building" or putting the graphics, text, links and codes all together so you have web pages that look good and are informative when you see the site on the computer. This is the largest of the three costs and can ranch in price from $2000 to $200,00.
However, the cost of getting a functioning website is low – you can build a free one on Weebly or Wix. Getting one that works for YOU isn’t always as quick and easy. The CMS functionality is important too, you want a site that can be indexed by search engines, and that you can modify and refine as your business grows. It’s an initial investment for a tool and asset you own and can continue to use indefinitely. It is your 24/7 sales person.
Hosting the site means the website files are put on a large server so anyone can see your content via the internet. Hosting costs vary, but you can expect to pay $10 to $50 per month, based on the website functionality and the hosting provider. Crazy Domains, Umbrellar and Go Daddy are all examples of companies that provide hosting.
Now the domain name is an interesting one. You can choose from so many options now instead of just the good old .com option and its really up to you. A rule of thumb – keep it short, the less key strokes the better, keep it easy to spell, and if you’re only servicing one country then the local .co.nz or .com.au makes sense, and is cheaper than the .com option.
Registering the domain name involves reserving a unique web address where users find your web site (www.yourcompany.com). This is done through a public registry service and the cost is typically $35 per year.
Soswebdesign has a great analogy “I tell clients that getting a website is like getting a telephone. They both have similar cost structures. The website cost is like the cost of the phone and installation. You pay one time and the equipment is yours. The hosting cost is similar to your monthly phone bill — you own the equipment but you pay for the service of being able to use it. The domain name registry is like the phone number — a unique way to get in touch with only YOU.”
They also mention some additional costs to be mindful of too which can include:
- Email services with multiple email accounts.
- Internet marketing services — researching how best to promote your site and get the maximum visibility, drawing more visitors to your site.
- Maintenance services — updating the site continually, making changes, adding pages, delivering web statistic reports, and more.
- CMS – Content Management System
What Type of Content Do I Need?
In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King” (ugh, we really wish he'd said: 'Content is the Monarch' so regretfully, to be true to the quotes, we will repeat the same). Anyway, this essay was published on the Microsoft website. In it, he said“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting". Excellent foresight Bill!
Today's market place is all about great content, and the well-known entrepreneur and digital marketer Gary Vee has built on Bill's catchy phrase to say:
So ... the big old ugly question ... what content do I need? Well ... there's no ONE answer here, sorry team! The BEST content is
Authentic > Original > answers your reader's questions and/or meets their need
You can do the authentic and original part, the complexity usually arrives when it comes to understanding your reader/customer/visitor's needs. The best place to start is developing deep insight as to WHO they are by developing personas, then you can work on understanding their needs. You can get intel on their needs through a combination of these: face to face conversations, focus groups, online surveys and questionnaires, quick polls, stats, and market research.
Persona mapping is a well-known cornerstone of all good website development and content marketing. But if you’re only developing personas when you get to that stage, it is too late. You’ve already spent endless hours and dollars chasing customers who will never engage with your brand or service. Putting it bluntly, the scattered ‘mass market’ approach doesn’t cut it.
If you don’t understand your target market, how the hell do you know how to reach them and how to connect with them, let alone sell your
products to them? Let us step you through how to build yours.
Note: When you checkout you'll be asked for your address, but don't worry we won't be sending you a bill.
How do We Update the Site?
That's a key question to ask really early on when you're evaluating CMS options. If you want to stay hands-on, then having a CMS that's easy to update is key. Also, for maximising your site's visibility in search results (ongoing, fresh content is crucial as are backlinks), and keeping up with this ongoing as Google and other engines refine their search algorithms, having access to the site is smart. Some of the boutique, custom designed, hard-wired CMS solutions can create issues longer term so ask a tonne of questions early on, including the obvious 'how do we update the site"?