form-and-function1Design used to be front and center for websites. Not anymore. Of course a luxury brand needs to woo viewers with premium visuals and exclusive eye candy, but for most brands, especially in B2B, the site needs to perform a business function.

Part 2 of this extended two-part blog article is focused on design choices, features and technologies.

If you missed part one, you can view the article here

 

Choose the right level of design

The design or user-interface (UI) of your website is a crucial aspect to be considered when budgeting. Choose the optimal design approach that fits the expectations of your customers and matches your budget. For instance, for many B2B businesses, design is not critically important, so a basic “template” website using a WordPress theme will do. On the other hand, for B2C companies who need their brands to stand out, they require a completely unique and high-end design. Each has its own price tag, pros and cons.

Option 1. Template

Custom-designed websites aren’t right for every business. Many businesses are turning to CMS solutions, such as WordPress and Drupal (open systems), which have a large variety of affordable themes that are designed to suit specific industries and applications.

Going this route can significantly lower the price tag of your website by reducing the amount of design and development time needed. The cost of a professional website theme or template can range anywhere from CHF 10 – 150. Consider the fact that you still need to hire a professional who can customise the theme to fit your corporate identity, install the template to the CMS, adapt or add new features (if all the features you need are not already built in) and upload content (text, images, videos, etc.).

If you’re on a tight budget, a start-up, or need to stay as ‘lean’ as possible, then using a professional theme may be a good option.

A few things to consider:

  • Make sure the theme fits with your business type (i.e. business site, magazine, e-commerce, etc)
  • Is the template built for mobile devices (i.e. displays optimally on different divides like an iPhone, tablet or desktop)?
  • Determine whether you will be extending your theme with additional functionality and features in the future. It can be very difficult and expensive to adapt a theme later on.

Recommended sources for professional themes:

Option 2. Custom

Businesses who need a completely unique presence online should consider a custom design. A custom design means that it is designed and programmed from scratch. Choosing this route will require more initial investment but may save money in the long run if your business requires scalability. It also provides you with a website that is precisely tailored and moulded to fit your business and customer personas’ exact needs.

Prioritise features

The types of features and functionalities you choose for your website can make the difference between a CHF 5’000 website and a CHF 100’000 website. Below are some example features to consider for your website. Think about what features align with your customer personas’ needs and business goals. Also, prioritise the features into groups (core, nice to have, maybe later). With this approach you can scale and add features in a lean and agile way.

  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Social media plugins
  • Blog
  • Email marketing
  • Form
  • Membership/password protected area
  • Internal website search
  • Database integration
  • Booking system
  • Events calendar
  • E-commerce funcionality

Manage content

A website is never done. A big part of the work is the constant development of content. Your website will need someone to manage the content (usually through a CMS) to keep it up-to-date and fresh.

When planning, decide who will be responsible for the content management of your website and how much time it will require. If you would like to outsource this work to an agency or freelancer, then you’ll need to budget for the cost associated with ongoing maintenance of your website. If you want to keep it in-house, make sure you know if you can get training and CMS documentation from your agency and how much it costs.

You’ll also need to consider what CMS to use. There are several free options including the most popular WordPress or paid systems that provide much more features and integrated online marketing tools such as HubSpot.
wordpress-logo-2           drupal_reflex

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Don’t let your website become a billboard in the desert!

Now you’ve got your new shiny website, but you forgot to include a budget for marketing (whoops!). This is a common mistake companies make preventing them from ever realising an ROI from their site. Just because your website looks pretty does not mean it’s going to attract visitors and turn them into qualified leads and new business.

If you need your website to be more than an online brochure, the key is to turn your website into a business growth engine for your organisation.

billboard-in-desert(Combining no value with no visibility is deadly for any website. image credit: unurth.com)

Your website needs to perform and fulfil many different functions. It needs to attract visitors,educate and convince them to buy or contact you. It also doesn’t operate on an island and needs to be well placed to fit with the social and interactive nature of the web. Consumer behaviour has changed and today’s buyers are much more educated, have access to 24/7 website content, reviews and information. Consumers want valuable information and not to be sold to, so your website needs to utilise content to earn their trust and attention.

Questions to consider for budgeting:

  • Where do most of your new clients come from (e.g. website, word of mouth, print ads, referrals, etc.)?
  • What is the percentage of sales generated from leads coming from online vs. offline?
  • What is your current marketing budget (% of sales per year or amount per month)?
  • Do you currently have projected sales goals?
  • What has been, or do you think will be, the biggest challenges with marketing or growing your business?
  • Do you need help in generating content for your marketing (blogging, ebooks, videos, webinars, etc.)?
  • Have you ever worked with any kind of consultant/agency? If yes, what type? What were the results?

Activities to consider for budgeting


  • Blogging
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Content creation (blog articles, ebooks, videos, etc.)
  • Content localisation (translations)
  • Social media community management
  • Pay-Per-Click and search advertising (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Facebook contest campaigns

Conclusion

Budgeting for a website is no easy task. Due to the subjective nature of websites, it can make it very difficult for businesses to compare different website offerings. Make sure when you do get an offer, you clearly understand what is being offered and have a strong plan for manage and market your website after launch.

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clint-marketing-eventClinton Hailey –  with 10 years of international experience in online marketing and strategy development, Clinton’s main role at Versio2 is to help transnational companies better connect with their customers and grow their markets. After graduating from University of Colorado, Clinton went on to co-found the first Versio2 in Tallinn, Estonia. Clinton sees Versio2 as a catalyst for change in the way businesses market their products and services worldwide.   

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Clinton Hailey

With a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Colorado, Clinton developed a strong entrepreneurial drive and passion for digital marketing. 10 years of international experience with online marketing and strategy development enables Clinton to help transnational clients better connect with their customers and grow their markets. He sees Versio2 as a catalyst for change in the way businesses market products and services.
Keep up with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.