The web development industry has changed rapidly over the last decade, with new trends emerging all the time. And the relationship between web developers and their clients evolving everyday- whether it’s designing a website from scratch or updating an existing one to make it to the top of Google’s search results page.
Before we get into that though, let’s back up a bit and take a look at what web development actually is.
Web development is an umbrella term used to describe a spectrum of services that ranges from custom design and application development for shopping systems and news sites, to SEO services, content management system (CMS) development, mobile site development and much more.
In layman’s terms, web development is the creation of websites and generally encompasses:
- Web Design
- Ecommerce Web Development
- Content Management Systems
- Web Support and Maintenance
All of these services fall under the digital marketing sphere because they are useful tools for outrunning your competitors online.
When thinking about creating your own website or hiring someone to help you out it is important to understand what hard and soft skills are necessary to successfully bring your website to life.
As a small business owner, you may not have the skills required for web development, and that is okay!
This blog will look at the four different web development services that are bound to bring great performance results for your website.
Table of Contents
Websites for Small Businesses
Websites are an essential factor to a small business’s online presence. Websites act as the central spot for information about a company, such as location, contact info and product/service listings—along with any branding information which helps determine a company’s style and personality.
Websites are also customizable, which makes them a better choice for small business branding. While creating a company Facebook and Instagram page is important these pages only include a businesses’ logos. Only websites can be tailored to match the brand colors and design scheme that you desire.
Identify your marketing objectives
So you’ve decided you want to create your website, now what?
The first step to creating your website is figuring out what you want to achieve with this new tool. Unfortunately, this can’t be done by a web developer or agency. We can certainly help coach you through it and give you different suggestions or functions that we can include into your website, however this is something that is personal to you and your company.
So, here are some things to think about before starting that conversation with your Web development agency:
1. Know what you want your site to do
Here are some example questions to get your wheels turning:
- Do you want a platform for showcasing services or products?
- Will the site play an integral part in your company’s operations?
- Is it important that clients can make purchases and schedule appointments?
2. Research the design style that will best suit your needs
The easiest way to do this is to save websites that you like and jot down what you like about them – references are worth a thousand words! You have no idea how much this will help you and your web development team.
3. Start thinking about the content you want on your website
How many pages are you thinking you will want? Will a Home Page, a Service Page and an About Page be enough? What will you want to include in each page?
4. Decide what you want your domain name or web address (URL) to be
For a lot of small businesses the most important part about creating a website is the domain name. Essentially how people will find your business online.
The best advice I can give small business owners when thinking about their ideal domain is to come up with a few options/variations of what their ideal url will be. This is because the more common the domain name the harder it is to get.
All of these things are things you should be thinking about even before you begin reaching out to web developers. Coming prepared to the table with other websites that you like and ideas that you have is important to helping your developer bring your dream website to life. The more information you give them the more personalized your website will be.
Solution #1: Web Design
Web design in particular is an art form that takes considerable time and effort to master. It’s not just about slapping some colors together or pushing a few buttons on a template, but requires creativity as well as a keen knowledge of the latest web technology trends.
If we were to use an analogy to explain Web Design, one might compare it to skin (I know that’s weird, and I am sorry). Like Skin, Web design – provides the framework for your website, which is what people see. In addition, its also functions in holding a website together, which is important when we talk about things like UX and how Google ranks you.
Web Designers are responsible for developing the organization’s visual identity and user experience. It is their job to make sure that your website’s layout and visual design appeal to your target audience and that they are easy to navigate.
Web Designers must have a strong understanding of typography, color theory, graphic design principles, user experience research methods and good web development skills in order for their content to be successful on the internet.
Your website should not only look pretty, but should also run smoothly for its users.
Having a well designed custom website is not just about making it easy for people to navigate your website, but also about making it easier for Search Engines, like Google, to rank you positively.
Technical optimizations to rank on Google
Google uses over 210 factors to rank sites, each page getting rated according to Google’s Algorithm evaluation of authority and usefulness.
A good Web Designer will always be thinking about how to optimize your website’s architecture, website speed and responsiveness as well as user experience, all of which are factors that Google takes into consideration when evaluating your website. To learn more about Search Engine Optimization and how it is crucial to your website’s success check out this blog we wrote.
Solution #2: Ecommerce Web Development
According to Deloitte: E-Commerce will account for 75% of all digital commerce sales by 2023.
If you’re a retailer, ecommerce web development is crucial. You know that having an online shop has become the norm in our society and it’s only going to get more difficult for retailers to not offer e-commerce features if they want their business to succeed.
Think about how much time we spend on our phones these days – ecommerce is a big part of that. We’re checking the weather, we’re watching videos, or we might be scrolling through social media, and “bam!” you are hit with a targetted ad for a product that interests you and the next thing you know it you are online shopping again (If you want to learn more about Pay-per-Click advertising you can read more here) . The internet has completely modified how we shop today and having an e-commerce site is every small business owner’s way of tapping into that market.
It’s not not just about the sale itself, it’s also about the convenience and accessibility to your products.
Ecommerce set up
There are many things that make up an ecommerce site however, the big 3 are:
The Ecommerce Website Design
Similar to a normal website, the ecommerce website design dictates what your site will look like, how it is structured, and how your clients and Google interact with it.
Ecommerce Web Hosting
Ecommerce web hosting is not just any old web host, it has specific features and functionalities that cater to ecommerce sites specifically, such as scalability.
Selling on Ecommerce vs. Marketplace
This is a question I get asked quite often and believe me when I say it’s one of the most important and best ecommerce questions to ask!
The biggest difference comes down to hosting. Hosting is the business of providing computer infrastructure (servers) for hosting websites.
Etsy and Amazon both provide platforms where sellers can set up online stores. The host in this case is Esty or Amazon.
When you are building your own ecommerce website you still need to have someone to host your website. However, there are plenty of other ecommerce platforms like Shopify, and Wix that go above and beyond to allow business owners to personalize their website and be as creative as they wish. Something unfortunately, Etsy and Amazon are not known for.
To learn a little more about these differences check out the blog post we wrote, Shopify vs. Etsy: Small Business’ Choice of 2021.
Ecommerce Shopping Cart and Payment Gateway Integration
This is the process of connecting ecommerce stores to an online payments gateway, that allows for customers to make payments through the website and the business to receive payments directly to their bank account. It’s a relatively simple task that can provide benefits for both customers and businesses alike.
Solution #3: Content Management Systems
Content Management Systems (CMS), also known as Web Content Management Systems, re the software systems used to create and control web content.
They are used by website owners and content creators to easily share online content with the world.
Content can consist of text, documents, images, multimedia and videos. Content is published and managed using a web-based interface which allows for easy updating of internet-based information.
Content Management Systems can also be used on both static and dynamic websites, the difference being that Content Management Systems enable page structure to be created by the user (vs. Web developers) allowing for more expressive and useful content creation.
When we refer to content we are usually referring to blogs, vlogs, info graphs, ebooks, how-to’s, you name it. The benefit of having content like this on your site though is that content is great a establishing a personal brand, and driving traffic back to your site from search engines.
Content can be published continuously with no limits and can also be delivered in various formats, thus allowing for cross-device compatibility which is great for SEO.
Content Management Systems are sometimes part of a hosting plan, which means that there is no additional monthly cost to use them (depending on the host company). Content Management Systems also have interactive features such as polls and surveys making it easy to ask visitors questions and gain customer insight.
They often go even further and include comment moderation features, allowing you to block spam or offensive comments, and can be easier to use than standard blogging platforms.
Solution #4: Web Support & Maintenance
So you’ve built your website and launched it, but somewhere down the line something happens and it is not working as it should. There might be some changes that need to be made or updates that must occur in order to achieve higher profit margins.
These tasks are not always quickly attended to even though they are crucial. This can be due to a variety of reasons: lack of technical expertise, the company is busy with other matters, or simply because it feels like too much work and is put off as a low priority item in comparison to more pressing issues.
Nowadays there is an endless list of things that can be done to increase the effectiveness and functionality of your website. However, after having been neglected for months or even years, there is a high risk that whoever decides to take on this important task will be faced with a series of technical problems which are not only time-consuming but also hard to resolve.
In some cases the solution may require the assistance of an outside expert.
If your company has the resources to tackle these issues without external help, then this is great. However, if it does not have the necessary technical expertise (or time) to handle such matters, it might be advisable to look for outside help!
One of the best reasons to hire a professional to create your website in the first place is so that they too can help you when the time comes to make any updates or necessary changes.
By hiring an outside company to create your website you will end up saving time and money. Here are some benefits of hiring an outside company to create your website:
- Experts will deliver an issue free website and are on call to help resolve any minor or major issues that may come up
- Experts will be able to anticipate any major web problems before they arise, solving them easily and increasing website functionality.
- Site maintenance and support is handled quickly and correctly.
- And most importantly you get to focus on what you do best – running your business!
If you have gotten this far in the article and have had no issues with your website, amazing! But if you are smiling at how much you relate to what I am describing, then maybe it is time to reach out to someone for help.
You might have guessed that I work for a company that sells website maintenance and support services, however this is not entirely about praising SomneoX’s ability to solve our clients digital issues, but rather an attempt to shed some light on how important it is to have an expert by your side when undertaking website management.
Okay, so I’ve gotten you this far. We’ve looked at all the services that are included within Web Development, but how much does it cost to build a website?
A website starts with an idea and ends with a finished product, so the answer to this question depends on what you want your website to do. Some websites are simple and serve only one purpose, while others have many moving parts ranging from social media integration to live chat support. To get a better idea of what it costs to build a website, let’s look at some of the common requirements for building a website.
Here are some of the most basic website features and their prices:
- $50 – $500+ : A basic single-page personal/business website with an email address, contact form, and brief information about what you do. These pages can be created quickly using free or low-cost website builders like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and WordPress.
- $500 – $3,000+ : A small to medium business website maybe with an online store and / or blog. These websites are typically built by professional developers and start at about four pages and include some custom graphics.
- $1,500+ : A mid-size ecommerce website with a backend and inventory management system. These websites have increased functionality and require more time to develop.
- $5,000+ : A large ecommerce website for high volume or custom products requires an experienced developer who can provide the necessary infrastructure to support the influx of traffic, and a strategy in place to bring in sales.
- $10,000+ : Although this price range is out of reach for most small- and medium-sized businesses, some websites do require custom applications or databases to support features like live chat, YouTube integration, or a membership site. It is best to hire an experienced developer at this level since it requires more time and in-depth knowledge of the project to deliver a high-quality end product.
The best way to know how much your website will cost is to call a professional and get an estimate. This is the part in the blog where we revert back to the first point we talked about, identifying your marketing objectives and company needs!
We can not stress enough how important this part is in not just getting the ball rolling on your website, but also making sure that everyone is on the same page about what your website needs to have, what it should look like, and how you hope to use this new tool.
Having a website is crucial to any business, especially when some challenges exist that can make or break your future sales (like an unforeseen global pandemic). Websites are powerful tools that can help you gain an edge over your competitors, but also help ground you in this digital economy.
Once you’ve understood how a website can help you and your business, the next step is figuring out how you are going to bring your website to life.
Understanding Web Development and the services that it entails is vital to making the decision about whether or not you have the time and know how to make it happen on your own. As well as understanding and valuing the work that your web development team will put into your website in order to make it work for you.
If you enjoyed this blog and thought it was informative shoot us a message and let us know, we love connecting with other entrepreneurs online.
If you are still lost and are needing a bit more guidance about what is your next step, give us a call or shoot us an email. We will be happy to chat and help you figure out how your future website can help you and your company SOAR!