Your website is outdated and you need a new digital coat of paint. You’re not alone. Many companies created great sites five or ten years ago that are now showing their age. At the time, they were state-of-the-art. But since then, mobile has exploded, and has actually eclipsed desktop.
Must Haves in Modern Web Design
The first order of business is building a site that looks good on every device. Mobile first means building the site to look great on mobile (literally, building the mobile version first). Responsive means that the design can respond to and change according to its environment, whether that’s mobile, desktop, or some other frame.
Next, take advantage of modern UI patterns like motion, parallax or card layout, along with a clean, flat design and social media integration. Update your content to reflect best in class marketing practices and search engine optimization. According to Social Media Today, the top 3 search results get 61% of the clicks. That’s where you need to be.
Stick to a Budget
Determining a budget for a website build or redesign can be tricky because there are so many moving parts, so it’s helpful to have an idea of the cost and where all your money is going. The absolutely cheapest way to go is sweat equity, building the site yourself using an out of the box solution. In all likelihood, you do not have the time or staff to create the website you want, and prefab packages are quite limiting.
Spend your precious time doing what you do best (running your company or department), and leave the web work to professionals. Depending on the scope of the project, you may invest anywhere from thousands to millions. Take a deep breath. This won’t hurt a bit. Let’s break it down to its component parts.
Essential Elements of a Website Build
Costs for this initial stage vary depending on the amount of information you’ve already gathered. This is a great area to cut costs on your end if you have a tight budget. Before coming to a development company, try to gather and prioritize your site requirements. Collect user stories from your primary users, including your own staff.
You can even go so far as to create a sitemap or hand draw some mockups of your site. Of course, we will clean up your work a bit, but a first draft means we won’t have to spend as much time on those initial details.
Design & Front-end Development
In case you are wondering about the difference between 'design' and 'front-end development,' website design is the actual design of the site, while front-end development is the implementation of the design to create what you'll see in your web browser. Front-end development is sometimes called 'theming' because in Drupal and Wordpress parlance this work is done in code that's called a 'theme.'
Website design and front-end development are one of the more expensive areas of an overall site build, because we often spend a lot of time going back and forth on iterations.
One great way to cut down on design time is to provide examples of other sites you like. Visuals of your design ideas are better than saying, “I want it to feel clean and fun!” Adjectives tend to be subjective. It’s also great to get buy-in from your key stakeholders early in the design process. Once the design is approved, we can get down to front-end development. Front-end development can take as much time as design.
The actual site build is absolutely essential to any web development process. Site building includes vital tasks such as creating navigation, setting up user roles and permissions, and creating content types. The only real way to save money at this stage is to have a very basic site with limited content types and no logged in users, but for most people, that’s just unrealistic.
While your old content may still be relevant, there are a lot of reasons to update. If you are going to rewrite the entire site, that’s a lot of hours in editorial, and then there’s the review process as stakeholders weigh in on the copy. A great writer can boost your SEO and at the same time create relevant, credible content that accurately tells your story and compels visitors to learn more. Budget time as well as money to ace this aspect of website design.
Any customization is likely to be pricier, simply because it might require more time for developers. Customized features include organization or industry-specific needs; for example, an automated tool that collects population data. Most of the time, special features can’t be avoided or cut because they are essential to business, but the more information you can provide and specific required functionality, the better. We can also come up with money-saving ways to provide equal functionality, or prioritize your functionality and create a backlog of features to add when you have more money.
Note that we didn’t provide specific numbers, and that’s because every project should be treated individually to maximize value. What might work for one client won’t necessarily work for you. Before the project gets off the ground, get a very clear estimate of cost. You know your business best.