eSites Network Website Design


How much should you pay for a website?

How much would you pay for the interior decoration of your office? If you want to spend just a little you can probably just have it painted. If you want to spend a lot, you could have marble flown in from Italy. If you want a contractor to do the work, you could get it done pretty cheap. Or Frank Gehry could decorate your office for a cool quarter of a million dollars! Similarly pricing a website is based on several subjective factors. But its doesn’t have to be confusing.

Here are some of the parameters on which a website can be priced:

1. Quality Of Work

This is a no-brainer. The better the quality of the work, the higher the price. You can pretty much tell the quality of work when you see it. And no, you don’t have to be a trained designer to evaluate the quality of work. If you see the designers portfolio, you can tell the quality by the way each website makes you ‘feel’. Does the website present a professional, world-class image to you? I’m betting even if you have never picked up a pencil to draw a line in your life, you can separate world-class designer from a wanna-be designer. Of course, the better the designer the more they cost.

2. Quality and type of elements used in the site

A good design is a sum total of great individual elements. You cannot build a great website by using poor quality photographs or poor quality copy. Good designers always use high quality professional photographs for their sites. The copy or the text matter in the website also shows the attention to detail, after all that is what says what needs to be said. The structure of the text, easy to read, etc. are some of the elements of a good copy. Another point to note is the ease of navigation. All these add up in the costing.

3. Automation, scripting and programming on the site

Every website by their very nature has some interactivity written into it. If your website is a functional website which ‘does’ a lot of things – has a shopping cart, runs a survey, allows customers to complete some kinds of transactions on it, etc. – it requires programming. Flash animation uses a lot of man-hours as it is done frame by fame. Programming and Flash translates to man-hours and therefore cost. So how much of it you want in your site directly translates to the cost of the site.

4. Standards compliant

The web is a pretty strange medium unlike the print medium. What is shown to you may not be what you actually get. Translated, the web medium has a lot of quarks that need to be taken care of so the user experience is consistent. How do you check that? Try opening the site in different browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera. Open it on different resolution screens. Try opening it on a IPhone or a Blackberry. A good designer would take care of all these quarks and give you a consistent presentation of the site, but all this will add-up to the cost.

5. Credibility and Professionalism

Besides these, like all service providers, you pay a price for the professionalism and service levels of the service provider. There are fly-by-nighters who will build you a website but leave you with no means to maintain it or develop it further as your business changes. And there are dependable companies that will give you full copies of all the files associated with your website, keep all versions of the site so you can revert to older versions when necessary and make sure you own all the artifacts of your website so you can move to another provider at any time.

Having said this, what is a good price to pay?

Well, the answer is that there is no single answer. You can get a website built for as low as Rs. 500 or for as much as several hundred thousand dollars. In fact you can make the website for free yourself! Its much the same as any custom product or service, you get what you pay for. The better the product; the better the service provider; the more the features, the higher the price.

How to determine a good budget for a website?

The answer lies in your marketing budget as a whole. Rupee for Rupee, the web is a much more rewarding medium than any other. Determine what goals you want to achieve, determine how the web fits in to a company’s overall strategy - a website is basically a marketing exercise, not a technical exercise. Your website budget needs to be determined by your sales and marketing team who have to constantly see how to get more business through your site. Depending on the nature of your customer, you could be spending as little as 10% of your entire marketing budget on the web and as much as 100%.

Rather than trying to figure out the cheapest service provider, first determine your goals, then the budget and then hire a service provider who works with that budget and gives you the best solution.

Website marketing made simple

Here is a simple do-it-yourself recipe for online marketing that can get you better results from your website. Do keep in mind that while its fairly simple to do all the things listed below, it takes a lot of discipline and work to get results. Its not for people who want a lot of constant excitement in their life!

Write a blog

Create a blog for your company and update it at a frequency that you think you can manage in a disciplined manner. If you decide to update it weekly, make sure you do it weekly. Keep it simple and straightforward and in a language your customers use. Remember you are not trying to show them how much you know; you are just trying to show them that there are things that they don’t know about you or your service. Make the articles interesting so people will come regularly to read them.

Post to business groups and forums

One of the easiest ways to increase your site visitors is to post solutions or participate in discussions in online forums. On the web, like in everything else, you need to give before you can receive. So make sure to provide credible tangible solutions so people respect your knowledge.

Every time you write a blog post, make sure you announce it in your business groups and forums. And of course, consistent posting to one or two forums is better than inconsistent posting to a million forums. So choose the forums judiciously which have the audience for your business.

Create a twitter account and broadcast your blog and other news

A twitter post is a succinct message that can be used to convey what you are involved in at any given time. Its fast, quick and to the point. Its also a great way to announce your blog additions. All you need to do is

Title of the  blog entry <address of the entry>;

That’s it. It will get picked up by your followers and retweeted around.

Email marketing

Every time you blog, send out an email newsletter. It takes the same effort to write a newsletter as it takes to write a blog post. So why not combine the two? An email newsletter is a great way to get mind share with your readers. Its active and its genuine. If someone doesn’t like what you are writing they can choose to unsubscribe. Opening, clicking and forwarding your emails are genuine actions of interest and show real involvement. Its actual hard data that you can use to tailor your marketing.

As you have probably understood by now, online marketing is more about frequency and consistency than any great creativity. Sure, you need to be creative enough to create good content for your site. But more than that your consistency is what enables people to remember you and call you when they need what you are selling.

Who Needs Headlines?

Much of website content is written by people who aren’t trained in writing for the web or who are not trained writers at all. A web designer can better consult on basic copy improvements, helping you gain a substantial business advantage.

To sell or not to sell?

The first task is to decide on the function of each section of the copy. Is it to improve navigation of the site? Or is it to sell the company’s products or services?

If the copy is a signpost to content located elsewhere on the site, it should be stripped down to short descriptions and links, summarizing the essence of what’s on offer and allowing visitors to access what they require fast.

If the copy aims to sell, it should “talk” to the individual visitor, and motivate the visitor to continue to the next stage of the buying process — be it a direct sale, an enquiry, a consultation, or a free trial.

The art of selling online

Persuasive, benefit-driven content is essential when selling any product or service, offline and online. But the traditional direct approach is not geared to online selling. Website visitors expect to choose their own path to the information relevant to them when they evaluate a product or service.

That is why websites work best when they marry sales-inducing copy with an element of choice. But even when the sales message is softened, persuasive copy is essential for holding the visitor’s interest, eliciting the desire to buy, and encouraging the visitor to take some kind of action.

Writing headlines that sell

Headlines provide busy visitors with an immediate measure of your site’s relevance and can also help designers unify a website’s look with its voice. A good headline will seduce the site's visitors. It should grab their attention and convince them the information on the page is worth investigating.

Below is a selection of conventional techniques for writing headlines. Use them as idea-starters:

REVEAL FACTS - Website visitors are looking for information fast. The best headlines for the web immediately communicate facts. If you can feed site visitors’ hunger for knowledge, you will be rewarded with more hits.

90% increase in the yield of cotton fiber

USE “HOW TO” PHRASES - People often go online for quick, easy guidance. Headlines like How to…, 10 reasons why…, and 50 top tips for… promise the reader valuable tips, and they help you to highlight the key benefits.

How to be the most respected person in your company.

USE TESTIMONIALS - It’s not easy to gain the trust of site visitors, especially when you have only three seconds to communicate your authority. That’s why messages of endorsement can make good headlines. Testimonials from respected people allow you to do that.

“The best material I have seen at this level” -Mr. XYZ, ABC, Inc.

LEAD WITH POPULARITY - You can gain people’s trust by saying how many other people have benefited from the product or service.

Over one million people rely on eSites Web Hosting

GIVE A DIRECT COMMAND - Commands speak directly to people and help you go straight to key benefits.

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CREATE A NEED—THEN SHOW HOW THE PRODUCT FULFILLS IT - A proven way to position a product is to show how it solves a need or a problem.

Everyone knows showers are more efficient than baths. So why do dishwashers work like baths?

ASK A TANTALIZING QUESTION - By asking site visitors a direct question, you are creating a need for the information on the page. You are also engaging them at a personal level, so the message is more direct, arousing curiosity and drawing wandering eyes into the body copy.

Do you make these mistakes in English?

FOCUS ON THE PRODUCT’S UNIQUE SELLING POINT (USP) - A USP can be a fact about the product (such as sales history, brand reputation, or product origination). It can be a product feature (something the product has that no other product has). Or a USP can be a benefit (something a product does that no other product does)…

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ANNOUNCE SOMETHING NEW - The word “new” is one of the most powerful words in advertising. Sometimes the most effective message is simply to announce the product’s newness.

Introducing the all new luxury wing to our hotel.

ANNOUNCE SOME NEWS - You could use the format of a newspaper headline to make the copy seem more immediate. “Newsy” headlines are effective if the body copy relates interesting research, if the copy release coincides with a timely news story that relates to the message—or if the market has been waiting for the information on the website.

New U-drive compound sweeps up at US Packaging conference awards

USE A CASE STUDY - Case studies prove validity by showing how people have already benefited from the product in the past. They are particularly useful for highlighting success stories, before-and-afters, or for demonstrating the versatility and universality of the product.

We increased our product output by 12% in just under a week by using ABC accessories!

BE FRANK - Headlines that reveal a trade secret or confront a taboo can make the website look refreshingly honest—and therefore never fail to grab attention. Warning: this only works if your target audience welcomes the information, consciously or unconsciously.

Not everyone can afford the Corpex Platinum credit card…

Let the conversation flow (advertising cognac)

Some pointers: body copy

There may be times when you need to revise body copy as well as headlines. Where do you start? First, evaluate the existing copy by asking the following questions:

  • Does the copy get to the point quickly?
  • Is the copy shy about the offer or incentive?
  • Is it easy to respond to?
  • Does the copy overcome every objection to replying, leaving the reader with no choice but to act?
  • Does the copy use simple words?
  • Does the copy use active language (does it address the site visitor as ‘you’)?
  • Is the copy broken down into simple sections and bullet points?

Next, revise the copy based on your answers. Here are a few simple guidelines to get you started:

MAKE THE TEXT REALLY SIMPLE - People read 25% slower on screen, so keep your sentences and paragraphs ultra-short. Highlight keywords to make the messages jump out. If the website is offering something, make sure the offer is simple and transparent—and be clear about what you are asking people to do if a response is needed.

PUT IMPORTANT MESSAGES BEFORE THE FOLD - Anything that appears “above the fold” is immediately visible when the web page loads. Site visitors will use this information to make an instant decision as to whether the site is useful to them—they will only scroll down if you have successfully grabbed their attention and aroused enough interest in the product. Do this by being upfront with your offer and product benefits.

PEOPLE ARE ONLINE TO SAVE TIME, SO RESPECT IT - Website visitors are restless. They spend more time scanning and clicking than reading, and they expect quick progress once they have decided to make an order. Your copy should:

  • Shout the offer—most people are looking for something free, first, or forbidden.
  • Be specific—the first five words must have meaning.
  • Make the news stand out—don’t bury your message.
  • Signal where to go—make the actions visually clear, ensure the click-through paths follow a logical sequence, make sure visitors can go straight to the key information, and above all, don’t ever ask your reader to think!

SPEAK TO THE INDIVIDUAL, NOT THE AUDIENCE. - Try to personalize your web copy as much as possible. Build a picture of your readers. Are they likely to be familiar with the product on offer? Are they likely to be regular internet users? Are they in regular communication with your client’s company? If any of your answers are “yes,” integrate that knowledge into your copy to make your reader feel more connected and understood.

If you don’t know the answers, give visitors a choice of avenues so they can access more targeted information. (You might include things like links to detailed product information, company news updates, and detailed ordering instructions for people who may be unfamiliar with e-commerce conventions.)