When you’re thinking about a budget for your web project (whether with Chaos To Clarity or another company), you should factor in the 4 distinct phases of creating a successful web presence: web strategy, content creation, website / blog design & development, and maintenance.
Websites, blogs, social networks, social media—there are lots of options these days and developing a strategy for your business or professional web presence is essential to success. You need:
- A web presence strategy that takes your goals, audience, and market into account.
- A web project plan that fits your available time, skills, and budget.
- A content strategy for sharing your story and message.
Developing a web presence strategy, project plan, and a content strategy can feel overwhelming. Having input from web professionals early on can make your life easier in the long run by providing a reality check on feasibility and cost as well as giving you a basic understanding of what to expect as you go forward.
A compelling brand story and shaping your message for the Web promotes and legitimizes your business, organization, or professional reputation. Your web presence let’s people know what you have to offer, sets you apart from the competition, and makes sure people can find you when they search the Web. Your content (text, images, video &/or audio) should shine and adhere to search engine friendly practices. As you connect with your audience by sharing your brand story and message, it’s important that your content be search engine friendly as well.
Website Design: Template vs. Custom
Start with your business needs, and then think about what you’d like to be able to do with your site, how much it needs to look a particular way to reflect your brand, and how much you are going to invest in your web project. You should definitely consider what your target audiences want and expect on the Web as well as taking a look at your competition.
A template can give your website a stylish professional look, but you have less control of the functionality and look of your site than a custom design. Your content will have to conform to the template’s features and presentation—but quality content will shine through on any site. Life is all about trade-offs, and if your budget is limited a template site might be the way to go.
A custom website design, on the other hand, allows you to have much more to say about how your site looks from the beginning to the end of the design process. A custom solution allows both designer and developer a lot more flexibility—which can translate into unique marketing and branding solutions based on your strategy. A custom designed site also allows the creation of unique features. If your clients are web-savvy they also may appreciate a custom design and be more likely have a good perception of your business if your site has a certain level of sophistication. Or they may not even care—there’s no substitute for knowing your audience. Again, template sites offer cost-effective solutions and custom designs give you the most control over your look and features.
Your website will requires attention to keep it running smoothly whether it runs on software, such as WordPress, or it needs its code updated to deal with changes to web browsers. Plan on at least a bi-annual review or you website. If your website / blog is critical to your business then consider yearly maintenance plans.