Personally, I’ve been involved with building websites for more than 15 years. Some on our team could add five to ten more years on top of that. And, over those years I’ve heard many of the same questions, over and over again. So, I thought I’d talk through a few of them. If you’re thinking of redesigning your website, these may very well be the questions on your mind right now…
For many, this is the first question out of your mouth. Even before we talk about what you’re even looking for. It’s like saying, “I want to finish my basement. What’s that going to cost?” to a contractor before you even tell him what you want to do with the basement. Converting your basement into one big room for a giant playroom will involve a lot less time and money than a “man cave” that includes a bar, theater room and bowling alley!
The same is true for a website. You can get a website built for less than $100 if you’re okay with the level of site you’ll get with that investment. For us, a website budget could range from $5,000 to $50,000 – quite a range, but just like finishing a basement, it’s all in the details. Do you want granite countertops and marble floors or would you be okay with something more basic?
100 percent of the websites we build at JoltCMS involve a content management system (CMS), which is a web-based tool that allows anyone to be able to manage/update their own website. We utilize a couple different CMS tools, depending on the needs and budget of the client. No matter which CMS we implement for a website, the goal is to provide full flexibility, while at the same time offering a solid design structure and foundation, making it easy to add/update/delete content, pages, photos, forms, and more without “messing things up” visually.
Unlike the “Field of Dreams,” if you build it, they won’t necessarily come! In order to be “seen” by Google and other search engines, you have to pay attention to several components – too many to list here – both on the site itself and outside your website. I go in to more detail in another post about “Common Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Questions.” But, going back to question #1 again, building a “cheap” site doesn’t usually involve much focus on SEO, because doing it the RIGHT way does involve time.
The being said, even a basic website should be designed with search engines in mind. The way a site is built can have a huge impact on its “search friendliness.”
I hate to keep giving the answer, “it depends,” but it depends! For simpler websites that don’t involve intricate details and comprehensive database integration, we typically suggest a timeframe of 45-90 days. For those sites that do require more, the project could last six to nine months, or more. At JoltCMS, I would say our typical website takes around two months.
This question usually comes AFTER we’ve created and agreed upon the base structure of the website, and many times even after the design is complete or the site is done. It happens all the time. I’m not sure if it’s “cold feet” or what, but usually people are very confident that the site is heading in the right direction right up until it comes time to launch. What I find is that people are used to their old site – no matter how good or bad it was. “Comfortable” is not easy to step away from. But, what we find far too often is that in the past, the best way for someone to communicate a new or “important” message was to put it on the home page!
Your home page is THE MOST IMPORTANT page of your website. It’s an old stat, but I read a few years ago that you have about eight seconds to capture that visitor who just landed on your website for the first time. It’s like reading a billboard as I drive by at 70 miles per hour – if it’s going to hit me, it needs to be short and sweet and to the point. Your website home page also needs to be focused and easy to read. The more it becomes a repository for every random “important” message, the more difficult it is for the visitor to figure out what they should be paying attention to.
Trying to narrow this list down to five wasn’t easy. I’ll come back soon with some more common website questions.