Planning a new website? It’s not just the cost of designing and developing it you’ll need to budget for. We asked our community of Web Design Companies for advice about all the elements you’ll need to consider and budget for.
We’re going to use the idea of a ‘new-build house’ as a metaphor for your ‘new-build website’.
1. Domain (AKA the address)
Purchasing a domain name is an essential part of owning a website on the internet. Your domain is the website address that will lead visitors to your website.
For example, our domain name is www.whichwebdesigncompany.com.
For many companies, their domain will be the name of their business. You purchase the domain name online from a certified domain registrar, and usually pay for it on an annual basis (although purchasing several years upfront sometimes results in a discount).
Things get a bit trickier if someone already owns the ideal domain name you’re after. Could you get something similar? Picking a different domain ending might help – not everyone needs a dot com these days – .net .org .tv .ninja .london – there are lots of possibilities!
If you’re really determined to get the exact address you want, you can try and buy it from the current owner. Be careful though, this could get expensive.
2. Hosting (AKA the land)
Once you have your domain name, you then need to pay for a space in which to ‘host’ your website. In our house analogy, the hosting is like the land your house is built on.
Websites live on special computers called servers. When someone wants to visit your website, they type your domain name into their browser or click on a link to take them to it. Their computer communicates with your web server, allowing them to view your website.
A web host provides the technology needed for your website to be viewed on the internet.
It is important to choose the right host depending on the services and features you require for your website. File storage, backup and technical support are all services that can come with hosting so make sure you’re getting what you need and always research before you buy.
3. Design (AKA the plans)
Web designers are the architects of the online world. The creatives who can dream up beautiful looking websites can also apply technical knowledge to ensure they will be functional and meet your business objectives.
By the time you have committed to work with a web designer you will have already discussed the project in significant detail. The design stage is where the designer brings your joint vision to life. Mock-ups and visualisations – often known as wireframes – will give you the first glimpse of your new website.
This will give you a clear idea of how your content fits with the design and help you plan and produce your branding, visuals, calls to action and copy.
Once the design is agreed between you and signed off, the build can begin.
Design and development often go hand-in-hand and are taken care of by the same company. Some web designers are also developers.
4. Development (AKA the build)
By now you’ve probably spoken to your designer A LOT. You’ve agreed a budget, a design, functionality, content, pages, images and more.
Don’t forget to agree on deadlines too (just as you would with builders in your home).
Building a website from scratch can take time and requires a lot of specialist knowledge. Setting milestones and regular opportunities to review progress can help prevent mismatched expectations and keep communication open.
Unless previously agreed, do not expect your Web Design Company to provide the content for your website. Speed up the development process by having key items ready such as a high-resolution logos, suitable images (that you hold copyright for or are copyright-free), videos and written content for all the pages.
Once the build is complete, make sure both your web designer and yourself have tested, tested and re-tested the website, on different devices and operating systems, to make sure it will work as it should for all your visitors.
5. Ongoing Support (AKA the maintenance)
Congratulations! Your new website has gone live.
However, a bit of TLC can go a long way in keeping your website up-to-date and performing well for your business.
Your Web Design Company will now have detailed knowledge of your business and website and can likely advise on what sort of ongoing maintenance and other work your website would benefit from.
This can range from regular content updates to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), traffic monitoring to security and software updates, troubleshooting problems and server maintenance.
You’ll also need a marketing plan in place to make sure people find your website. SEO can help your site rank well in search results but there are lots of other things you can do to direct people to your business online, through listings, community websites and paid-for advertising.
Once you have an idea of which services are important to your business, you can decide if a custom support plan is right for you and what other services you might need to buy in.
Most Web Design Companies will offer ongoing support for a fee. Otherwise, you may have the necessary expertise to handle these elements internally within your business, or simply prefer to pay for one-off updates as and ad hoc work when needed. The choice is yours.
As always, wherever you start your website journey, we urge you to do your research. Take the time to browse impartial reviews on WWDC, research your choices and always ask questions.
You can also browse businesses recommended by our Web Design Companies.
If you want more advice on budgeting for your website then take a look at our article, how much does a website cost?
Or, if you’re struggling on which Web Design Company to choose, we’ve got some advice for you there too.
Many thanks to Ste Woods of eVolve Web Consultants, Gareth Gillman Web Design and Adam Godsall of A Design Day and all our Web Design Companies for sharing their expertise and giving us feedback to get this article right.