You need a new website.
You know your current website is outdated, and a fresh new website might be what you need to help you grow your online business brand and bring in new revenue.
All your competitors are upgrading and you don’t want to be left in the dust!
If you are a small business owner in Australia, you might be struggling with the cost, design, website hosting and development needed for your business website. Why do good websites still cost so much in 2023?
What Goes Into Building A Website?
To build a website, you need to get project managers, writers, designers and developers to come together to bring your vision to life. Here’s what goes into building your website (and contributes to the design cost!)
Before you embark on a new website, you typically plan out your website with your agency or freelancer. This is where you’ll discuss your domain name, what type of business website you want to build, what functionality you need, how many pages your website will have, website design and how much you’re willing to budget for your site.
Your agency or freelancer will take your requirements, plan out the tasks required and make sure they get the designers, writers and developers they need to help them deliver your website within your budget.
A website requires a project manager to plan the website, manage developers, designers and writers that come together to build a website and make sure that progress is on track.
The project manager also provides you with updates and discusses key decisions with you through phone calls, emails and in-person meetings. Around 10% of the cost of a site can be attributed to project management.
Site structure and architecture
Your project manager will plan out your site structure and how your web pages will link together. This will help users to navigate your website better to find the information they are looking for.
Site architecture is also a key aspect of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to help search engines like Google understand what your website is about so more people can find you. Your project manager may do some research here to see how competitors are structuring their website and the links they have.
This also helps with content management so you can plan out what web pages you need to have content for and how they will interlink with each other to help users find relevant and useful content.
You need to fill up your website with content to educate your visitors about your services and the problem that you solve for them. Well-written pages can engage your website visitors, encourage them to keep reading and push them to take the action you want which is usually to make a sales enquiry.
You can hire writers or opt to write the content yourself. Content that is optimised for SEO can rank higher in Google search results and more people can find your website.
Web media includes graphics, videos and images for your website. High-quality media can capture your visitors’ attention and help them understand your services. It can also help you express your brand identity.
You can find stock images for your website or hire a photographer to take photos for you. Video producers and graphic designers can also come in to help you produce high-quality video and graphics for your website.
A web designer will come in to design your website and clearly map out the user experience of your website.
Good web design will capture your visitors’ attention and employ user psychology to persuade your visitors to convert. Your customers should also be able to clearly understand the benefits your service brings at a glance.
A developer will turn your website design into a fully functional website. He or she will also make sure your website has fast loading speeds and looks good on all devices including smartphones and tablets.
Developers may also build custom functionality for your website to help it stand out from your competitor’s websites or integrate your website with your systems so you can automate some of your processes.
While it’s tempting to get your developer to design your website as well, developers tend to focus on functionality and simplicity instead of designs that convert your visitors to customers.
Your developer will usually test your website thoroughly to make sure there are no bugs and pages with errors. This is essential to ensure smooth user experience for your visitors and you won’t risk losing prospects who didn’t contact you because they were taken to a broken link!
Hosting & Maintenance
Every website needs hosting, or a place for your website to “live” so that people can connect to it. Most website hosting providers charge a monthly fee of at least $60 per month depending on your bandwidth and storage requirements and it is recommended that you get dedicated hosting.
If you use shared hosting, your site is usually competing with other websites for bandwidth and resources and may break down if you have a huge influx of visitors.
You also have ongoing maintenance cost including domain name renewal, SSL certificate renewal, website security and any plugins or themes your website uses.
Why Cheap Website Design May Not Be Worth It
You’ve seen the work that goes into a good quality website to make sure it positions your business brand as a market leader, brings in your target audience and converts them to paying customers. A high-quality website is an investment in a sales asset that will generate online revenue for you. Cheap websites are not optimised for SEO to bring in visitors and do not have professional content nor design that convinces your target customer to purchase from you.
Furthermore, a cheap website may require more work down the line to clean up the code, resolve errors and refresh the design so that you can get customers through the door.
You’re probably not investing in a website for it to sit there and not generate any business for you.
How Much Does A Website Cost In Australia?
If you want a website, costings can vary depending on the type of website you need.
Small, simple static business website: $3,000-$5000
If you are a small business with only a few products and services and you’re not looking to significantly increase your sales online, a static website with a few pages may serve your needs. The purpose of your website is usually informational so that visitors can find out more about your business.
Strategic business website: $5000-$10,000
Any small business who wants to grow their online revenue through digital marketing will need a conversion-focused website. The design cost is higher as your website needs to be set up to generate more visitors and persuade them to make sales enquiries.
E-commerce website: $7,500 – $25,000
An e-commerce site requires functionality such as integration with payment gateways, product databases and add-to-cart features which increases your design cost. You may also need to use pop-ups to persuade your customers to checkout or to cross-sell products.
Custom Enterprise website – $30,000+
These are large websites for bigger enterprises that make use of integrations with your business’ backend systems, custom plugins and enhanced functionality such as client portals or custom tools.
Even if you know the type of website you want, the design cost can vary widely. Here are some other factors that can drive up your website cost.
Number of pages
The higher the number of pages, the more content you need to fill them out which typically leads to higher web design costs.
Your developer also has more pages to test and build while your project manager has more content to interlink and structure for SEO purposes.
Custom vs templated design
You can get free website design templates from providers like Wix although they offer a smaller range of templates with limited customisation, and your website may end up looking similar to many other websites.
If you have your developer design your website, you may find that they are a lot more focused on functionality and site speed rather than designing your website to get visitors to convert.
Professional website designer cost may be more expensive and can cost you anywhere between $500 to $10,000. However, your web design will usually be optimised to convert visitors and generate more sales for your business.
Writing your own content is certainly a way to bring your website designing cost down and you can opt for it if you have the time and resources.
However, consider that professional writers often have the skills to employ sales and persuasion techniques to write more engaging pages that generate a higher number of sales enquiries despite the higher cost. You can expect to pay around $300 to $500 per page for content.
You can opt to use stock photography which will make your web design cost more affordable. However, depending on how you use the stock photos, it can make your website look less authentic.
A graphic or web designer can help you choose good stock photos and use them appropriately. Stock photo packages can cost around $200 for 20 images.
Alternatively, you can opt to hire a photographer or videographer to take photos so you have a set of custom photos and videos to repurpose for your website. This can cost between $100 to $2,000.
Getting search engines to rank your website higher so you can get more website visitors is an art and science in itself. 20 years ago, you could throw up a website and sit back while visitors stream in, but digital marketing has evolved since then.
You need to optimise your website content with relevant keywords so that Google easily understands what your website is about, structure your website and interlink pages so search engine crawlers can access them easily and categorise your content, and build authority by having backlinks to your content.
SEO often generates a positive ROI as more visitors means you can get more prospects and sales for your business, but comes at an additional cost to hire experienced SEO managers who can cost between $500 to $2,000 per month.
If you need additional functionality such as shopping carts for an ecommerce business or client portals for a service business, you often need to find a platform that supports these functions or get a developer to code it for you. This adds on to your web design cost.
Here are some examples of extra functionality you may need:
- Client portal – for any service business that needs to provide client accounts
- Gated content – for coaches and consultants
- Ecommerce – shopping carts, product databases and payment gateways
- Custom tools such as pricing calculators
- Web Accessibility – under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, websites need to be made accessible to people with disabilities. For a website to be able to be accessed by people visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments, it will need to be designed with these types of visitors in mind. You will need to make sure your web designer adheres to the the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Additionally, if you are creating an eCommerce store, it would be wise to integrate with third party platforms. If your web designer chooses WooCommerce, for example, these tools will allow you to achieve WordPress accessibility.
Things To Look Out For When Hiring
Here are some red flags you need to look out for when hiring a web design agency or freelancer.
Cheap pricing that seems too good to be true
Make a job post in Facebook groups and freelancing platforms and you’ll be inundated with proposals promising to build you a business website for $500 or less.
As we’ve explained, the process of web design involves many roles and steps and cheap pricing can mean you’re compromising on the quality of some of these tasks. For example, your freelancer may only include 3-5 web pages, skip out on rigorous testing for your website, or use free templates and themes for your website design.
Offshore designers or developers
Working with designers or developers outside Australia means you’re often only exchanging emails. Sometimes, getting on the phone may be necessary so you can clearly communicate your requirements and discuss important decisions about your website design.
If you’re serving customers in Australia, overseas freelancers who aren’t native English speakers may not be able to provide the high-quality content you need to engage visitors. You might end up spending more money later on to redo all the content!
You may have heard horror stories of web designers who took their client’s money and disappeared without delivering the promised website design, or freelancers who became uncontactable after giving you a web design that you want revisions for.
Slow communication may be a red flag that your web designer is at higher risk of pulling a disappearing act on you.
No portfolio or past work
Qualified web designers should be able to show you a portfolio of their web design projects for other clients. If they are unable to provide you with one, this may mean that they are new and inexperienced (which may be fine if you’re looking for a website that is purely informational) or they don’t have a track record of high-quality work to show you.
Lack of detail in their proposal
If the proposal you receive from a website design freelancer or agency does not clearly articulate the deliverables, you run the risk of receiving a website design that falls far below your expectations. An experienced designer or developer should be able to talk about details such as call-to-action buttons and content above the fold.
Tips Before Hiring A Website Designer Or Developer
Have a solid, clear understanding of what you need your website to do
This will enable you to clearly explain your needs to your site designer so he or she can make sure your budget covers all of your requirements.
Multiple revisions can be draining for both you and your site designer and delay your project. If you change your mind about your site later on in the project, it can often be very expensive and time-consuming to re-design your site.
Have a budget in mind (but be open to increasing it)
Let your site designer know how much your budget is so that both of you can discuss what should be included and what you can save a little bit on. This also prevents any unexpected additional cost down the line.
At the same time, be open to increasing your budget if your current budget isn’t sufficient to get all the features and functionality you need out of your online website.
Have realistic expectations
If you want an online website with all the bells and whistles and highly optimised for SEO and conversions, you have to expect to pay a higher cost for it. Digital marketing expertise in Australia is highly valued because of the potential of generating a new source of revenue online.
Be open to suggestions that you haven’t thought of before
Your site designer may make recommendations based on their experience working on similar types of websites for other business owners in Australia.
so you can get a high performing site that can be an asset that generates more revenue for you online.
Spend time doing your research
A website is an investment and you should do your due diligence. Find out what kind of websites your competitors have, top-performing websites in other industries and how much the business website you have in mind would cost to build (like you’re doing now!).
Gather a list of website designers and look through their portfolio and past testimonials to find the best fit.
Your Website Can Be Your Biggest Online Asset
Businesses that advertise online have to continually spend money to make money. On the other hand, a good website can get customers on its own by organically ranking for keywords that your target audience is searching for. Your revenue is not constrained by how much you can spend on advertising and is extremely scalable.
When it comes down to it, a website for your business is not a cost, it’s an investment.
And like most things in life – you get what you pay for. Sure, you can get something super cheap if you outsource overseas, but expect the communication, project management and end quality of your project to be very poor.
Invest in a high-quality website with a reputable, experienced web designer and it can grow your business online in ways you never imagined.