The title of this article is slightly misleading – our website actually cost 70 euros.
The cost in man hours to build and optimize (slightly) was two months part time (my wife would say; “+ nights too.”).
The main reason for this article is to address a niche client. Here on BeBee, I’ve seen plenty of good content relating to optimizing and working on an existing site, but few on buying a domain, setting up a site from scratch and starting an online business. Maybe startup types don’t want to show you the dirt beneath the fingernails, but we don’t mind – our story is universal.
Many articles quote prices for sites in the thousands, but this setup cost has dramatically reduced in recent years. You don’t need dreamweaver or HTML skills. Most templates are “drag and drop.” Professionals will tell you that you cannot build for cheap, still hit your market metrics and SEO targets, while developing your online presence. I would disagree. Here is my exhibit for the prosecution – ad360.eu Its not perfect, but the basic functions work just fine and it will get better in time.
We use some extra tools from Sumo.com to develop the site, but realistically this is an amateur effort.
The subtext here is that potential customers are not going on my site to make a purchase, but to validate the decision to “trust” me as a reputable business person, Cialdini (1984), often after either a phone call or email. Big e- commerce sites work on a similar principle of “reputation management“- adding a shopping cart and catalog function after a buyer has established “bona fides“.
One of the things that should be immediately apparent is that we went for many pages (some would say way too many!). The reason behind this decision relates to how people search for information (keywording) and the many ways people search for digital strategy. As time goes by, I will be able to adjust pages, content and material, to better reflect the needs of customers, search engines and prospective browsers, following this trial and error process.
This brings up another element of modern web design – dynamic responsive design. We are aiming for less text, more clickable imagery and the ability to enjoy a good user experience, regardless of screen size. The same holds true for content, big static batches of monochrome text is outdated. Appropriately tagged images are now just as searchable as text – its the reason why Pinterest works well for SEO.
We kept the search bar relatively clean, basing our design on the theory that “less is more.” We may lose potential customers who don’t scroll down to the site map, but our bounce rate, even now, is well within tolerance.
For our business model, we look to interest a potential customer in up-scaling or outsourcing their digital marketing or media management. We already have a strong social presence, so the next place a potential customer will look to “validate a purchase decision” is at our “home”site. To this end, we developed this site, on a budget.
Customers are smart enough to understand that a startup website will miss some of the nuance and sophistication of a leading brand. We could add click to call, a chatbox feature, pop ups and remarketing functions, but this would mean more capital on “bells and whistles,” rather than key functional tools. So there is the usual trio of cost, scope and quality.
To conclude, a website is becoming a key business tool (you may scoff and say it has been for at least 15 years – but I know plenty business people who have a truly awful online presence, while running an excellent “real world” business). Our current site is cheap, it runs fine, we get traffic, link to sites, post content and, thanks to Mama Google, we are learning how to do it all better, at scale – for far less than the price of a high street office.