3 Things You Can Do To Make Website Development Less Expensive
We put websites within financial reach for businesses of any size, even sole proprietors. So we know a thing or two about developing websites on tight budgets. We often work with small businesses who understand they need a new website to grow their business, but question whether they can afford it.
The answer is: Yes, you can afford it. Websites have never been easier, faster, and cheaper to develop. Websites can also go horribly wrong if you don’t have an expert assisting you. Many folks are trying to do their own websites these days, with mixed results.
Some of our clients have come to us asking to revamp a Squarespace or GoDaddy website, and we have to break the bad news that those services are only set up to take your money… they’re not actually website development platforms. They’re more like fancy, standalone Facebook pages with little flexibility. And all your content is very hard if not impossible to extract from their closed systems. WordPress runs most websites on the Internet for a reason. It’s cheap and easy to use, and extremely flexible.
Our speciality is in using all the WordPress tricks we’ve learned since it launched in 2003. Back then, we were programming our own content management systems from scratch. Today, we quickly build inexpensive sites that require little if any maintenance, yet can be expanded in the future to include any feature a growing business might require.
So let’s get right into it and share the three key methods we implement to make sure websites can be produced inexpensively.
1) Organize and prepare all the content yourself
One of the biggest time-sucks in website development has nothing to do with the website. Many clients come to us to build a site, but really they need us to sort through a bunch of their content and organize it into something that can be presented on a website. More often than not, there are many pieces of content missing that need to be produced before the website launches.
Our advice: Don’t start developing a website until you’ve thoughtfully organized all your content, and produced new content to fill the website as needed. A typical client will come to us with a folder full of assets (photos, videos, text) and ask us to build a website from it. We will first need to spend an hour or two talking to that client just to understand what each asset is and how they would like users to experience their content on the website. In doing so, we inevitably think of assets they want to include but don’t have, as well as assets they were thinking of including that they’d rather leave out. Often, there’s a real lack of text that needs to be addressed. Many clients underestimate how important it is to have lots of text on a website to ensure they spend time on the website, and also to perform well in search engine results.
We recommend doing a brief consultation to go over the asset situation mentioned above. After that, you have one of two options. One, you could hire the developer to organize the assets and create the new assets you need (not all developers do this, but we do it all). Two, you could organize the assets yourself, produce the needed additional images and video, and write the needed text. Or you could hire a freelancer, or find someone in your organization or social circle to assist with these tasks. Any way you slice it, producing the assets yourself is going to be the cheaper option, and the more content you need to have produced and processed, the more money you can save by doing it yourself.
2) Be a minimalist
We often start website development by asking: What’s the one thing we want visitors to do if they only do one thing? Usually there’s going to be a pretty simple answer: We want them to contact you to do business, or to purchase something from your website. This is capitalism, after all. We want visitors to make you money. Sometimes, in the case of a non-profit, we want them to take other actions… but even then, non-profits still gotta pay the bills.
Often it’s enough to build a website that does that one thing you most want people to do. We recommend getting a website up that accomplishes your primary objective, and then coming back in future development cycles to start adding the functionality to support secondary and tertiary visitor objectives. The great thing about developing on WordPress is that it’s easy and inexpensive to add functionality at any time.
You should also be a minimalist in terms of design and content. Only include what’s absolutely necessary. Stick with conventional website design to ensure your visitors innately know how to navigate your site and find what they need. The days of website-as-art-project are largely over (unless you’re making “neens”). Today’s visitors are most likely to be viewing your website on a mobile device, which has limited screen space and navigation options compared to the desktop-focused web world of yesteryear. Today’s visitors want what they came to get with as few twists and turns as possible. Make it easy for them. Make your website simple, literally.
3) Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
This is one of the most tried-and-true aphorisms in website development, but it bears repeating if you’ve got a small budget.
This advice comes from real-life experience of working with clients who have very high standards and expectations, as they should. We don’t fault clients for wanting their website to be perfect, and we certainly strive to reach that lofty goal.
Musicians work to make their songs perfect, but inevitably when it’s recorded and released, they will hear things they would have rather done differently. Ditto for authors, performers, and creative types of all stripes. Creative work is never really done, it’s just that one day you have to set it in stone and release it, and can never look back.
Luckily, a website has incredible flexibility to be modified after release. It can be tempting before launch to tweak every pixel until your site looks like it was made by a tech giant, but remember: They have nearly unlimited resources and you have a shoestring budget. An inexpensive website doesn’t have to look any less professional, but it’s likely to have some rough edges.
Look at your website as a constant work-in-progress that never needs to be set in stone. Even if you only revisit website development once a year, you will always have a to-do list of features you’d like to add, content you’d like to create, design tweaks you’d like to make, analytics you’d like to review and respond to.
The ultimate strategy behind an inexpensive website is to build the minimum you need to start accomplishing your goals, and then evolve your website as your business grows and you get feedback from visitors.
If you’re in the market for an inexpensive website, our help is just a click away.