In my experience, cheap web design is almost always the key component for small business start-ups.
And, while I hesitate to use the word cheap due to its negative connotation, I think it’s safe to say most all small business owners look for cheap web design in terms of cost and not quality. However, I suggest we not get hung up on the word cheap and focus on what we really mean, which is getting the best web design for the lowest possible cost.
With that said, let’s talk about the different components of web design, so you can intelligently discuss your requirements and only pay for what you need.
The Seven Parts of a Business Website Design
Today, many web designers use templates, themes, and layouts to create appealing websites. In some cases, your web designer might start from scratch with a custom layout design, which provides for more flexibility. While a custom website design or layout might sound more expensive, in many cases, it can oftentimes be cheaper because quality templates, themes, and layouts have a $50-$200 price tag attached to them, which will increase your overall cost.
On the other hand, paying for a professionally designed theme or layout can provide for a much more professional look because theme designers are experts in creative design and have spent countless hours designing and refining that one theme, which will save you and your designer a lot of time and expense.
I can only remember one website I ever visited that didn’t have a logo and instead just used text for their name. In this one case, it looked acceptable, but if you’re a business, I highly recommend you invest in one. Logos are used on websites, business cards, letterheads, and other business documents you may want to use and can add credibility when done well. Website logos, in my estimation, are one of the four most important aspects of a good website and should not be overlooked. Here are a couple of points to remember about logos:
- Expect to pay on average between $50 – $150
- The more you pay the more concepts you’ll get to choose from
- Most web designers are not graphic designers and will outsource the logo design
- You may be asked to work with a logo designer and provide the logo when finished
- Consider adding a slogan to your logo
- Be sure to ask for a logo with transparent background for use on/with different color backgrounds
- Be sure to ask for source file, high resolution finished product (.jpg, .png, etc.), and vector file(s)
You might be surprised to learn your content is the least important of your design, logo, images, and content, but hear me out. Have you ever visited a website that looked like it was 20 years old with a horrible design, logo, and graphics? I have and before I ever started to read the content, I left!
Now, I know I don’t speak for everyone, but for me, if your website looks like your 8th-grade neighbor built it, I feel hard-pressed to take you, your service, and/or your product seriously. And, if I think like that, it’s probably safe to say others do too.
On the other hand, if you have a good looking website and can keep your visitor from leaving immediately, then, content quickly becomes king and very important!
Graphics & Images
Website graphics and images are used to support your text in two ways:
- Help illustrate your content
- Help break-up the text to make your content more pleasant to read
You should always look to have several graphics and images throughout your business website. How many you have depends on the number of pages and how much content you have. At a very minimum, I recommend even the smallest website have at least four professional graphics and images.
Keep in mind, professional-grade graphics are not free and may/will require some minor editing in most cases. The reason for purchasing professional images and graphics is they are royalty-free, which means you can use them as often as you like on your website and pay for them only once.
One last thing about images. Let’s define a professional quality photo vs. a non-professional photo. For discussion’s sake, let’s say you’re a professional woodworker and you build beds. Now, let’s say you build beautiful furniture, but you don’t finish (paint or stain) your work. Now, you build this beautiful bed and you take a picture of it in your shop unpainted or stained and you have it sitting in the middle of your shop with tools and sawdust everywhere! That picture isn’t going to cut it. Or, let’s say you delivered it to a house and took a picture of it unpainted or stained, without any bedding on it, and it was a child’s room that was a complete mess. To add further insult to your picture, you take the picture, but didn’t realize the corner of the bed was outside the picture! I think you get the picture, right?! [punn intended]. And, just in case you’re wondering … Yes! I’ve seen it done.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Any web designer worth their weight in salt is going to know a little about SEO. Now, how much SEO you get will be part of the pricing. However, at the very least, you should be getting META Description & Title SEO done for each of your pages in their lowest price offering.
On-page textual SEO is a critical process of optimizing your website’s content (text), so it performs well in Google’s organic search. Ranking highly for search terms, which are known as long-tail keywords increases the visibility of your website and leads to a higher number of visitors to your website. Keep in mind, writing quality SEO content/text for each page is a labor-intensive effort (when done to a high standard) and for that reason and because some clients will write their own content is usually offered at an additional cost.
How much content you have per pages is a variable you’ll have to decide. However, it’s probably safe to say one page of content for a business website should range between 100 – 600 words. The cost of content writing ranges from $.05 to $1.00 per word. If you’re looking to pay the low end for content writing, you should expect to receive content that is poorly written and usually by someone whose native language is not English.
Poorly written content for a business website should be considered a deal-breaker and never done. It will only make you and your business look bad. I would say look to pay no more than $.25 per word until you can afford to pay more to real experts.
One last thing about content writing. Always remember that your content should be written using keywords that you believe will be used by people to search for you in Google. For example, if you sell the cheapest tires in Austin, TX, maybe one of your longtail keywords is “cheapest tires in Austin, TX.”
Just like writing SEO for your content, it’s important you have SEO content added to every image on your website. This will come at an additional charge, but is key to your success and should never be overlooked.
By now, we’re all pretty familiar with contact forms. They provide your visitor with a quick and easy way to send you questions and/or comments and will often provide you with a name, email address, and phone number to reach them. No web design should ever come without a contact form unless you specifically ask to not have one.
Contact forms are great, but Conditional Forms (CF) are even better. Conditional forms are forms that tailor the questions based on the previous answer provided by the visitor. CF’s are great for collecting a lot of good data for website owners who provide a service.
A very simple example of a CF question might be something like “Will your website require a photo gallery?” If the visitor answers “No,” then your form moves on to the next question, but if the answer is “Yes,” then another question along the same lines is presented to the visitor like “How many images will you require?” When the CF is complete and the visitor submits the form, it will be sent to you via email for your review and allow you to call the visitor back with prepared answers to all their questions!
Conditional forms are very exciting when you consider all the possibilities. Remember, the more data you can collect up front, the better service you can provide and the more prepared you will be to answer their questions!
Conditional forms will add a nominal cost to your web design costs but can be well worth the investment. Expect to pay a fee for the additional software required to allow for the CF to function on your website and a small fee for each question you want to ask the visitor.
Now, that you have a better understanding of the parts that make up a website, you’ll be able to better discuss and understand the individual components and work with your web designer to get the most for your business while saving valuable start-up capital.
However, bear in mind when negotiating your requirements that even the smallest websites (5 pages) require at least 40 hours of development time and closer to 60 hours when you consider plug-in research/install/setup, client changes, image searching, basic on-page & image SEO, textual/CSS/HTML formatting, grammar/spelling, testing, server setup, etc. Start adding additional features like a simple MLS system for Realtors and you’re quickly approaching 80 hours for the same five-page website.
Copper Leaf Web Design is a small and very affordable web design and hosting company located in Colorado Springs. With more than 17 years experience in providing small-to-medium business solutions, we’re confident we can work with you to develop an affordable Internet presence that is sure to capture the attention of your visitors and provide you with a positive return on your investment.