For most small business owners, one of the highest level concerns about a website is that it doesn't become another money pit requiring hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in expense to make even the most insignificant of changes to the content and/or functionality.
For this reason, NINTJA builds our sites using a simple content management, open source, software called WordPress. The choice to use this type of software allows our clients to join the 37% of all sites in the world that use this CMS to deliver their message and offerings across the web. Offering strong security with incredible flexibility, WordPress is as simple to edit with pictures and text as most word processing software. This allows our clients to make quick, efficient, and cost-effective changes to their site content with little to no training and without the cost of paying for a technician to "build" the changes desired.
While WordPress in an of itself offers robust and user friendly functionality, the CMS can be greatly enhanced by the use of additional programs designed to expand its functionality. These programs are called "plug-ins" and can be integrated into the WordPress site from within the management site of the website with just a few clicks of a mouse. While configuration of some of these plug-ins may take a level of expertise that some business owners don't possess, once the plug-ins are configured, in general, they are as simple to use as the WordPress platform itself.
What functionality can plug-ins provide? There are literally thousands of "good" WordPress plug-ins available. These days there is almost nothing that can't be accomplished with plugs. Here's some examples of functionality provided by commonly used plug-ins:
- Enhanced Site Security (WordFence, etc.)
- Site Backups and Cloning (UpDraft, etc.)
- SEO Enhancement (Yoast, etc.)
- Automatically force site to use https:// (Simple SSL, etc.)
- Create and manage sales (WooCommerce, etc.)
- Create memberships and subscription sales (Add-on for Woo and many stand alone plug-ins.)
- Create forms to gather contact and other information (Contact Form 7, etc.)
- Optimize site load times (W3 Total Cache, Autoptimize, etc.)
- Many other functions.
Website costs range significantly. The cost factors generally speaking are based on amount of content, functionality, complexity of design.
Content ~ Most small business sites have less than 50 pages of content. This information is generally provided by the small business. The more content required for the site, the more time is required for creating appropriate lay-outs, graphics, presentation and linking, etc. All of these can add cost to the build. However, the more robust the site, often means greater effectiveness down the road.
Functionality ~ Plug-ins can over-come much of the functionality requirement when using WordPress. They range in price from $0 to $100's per year. While many are free, more advanced functionality can carry an annual fee. These fees are generally significantly lower than the cost of having the functionality built.
Complexity of Design ~ The design attributes of a site that may appear very simple and clean may, in fact, require a much more complex system of design than a site that 'appears' to be complex. Many of the things that create complexity are not readily observable to most observers. While complexity does add cost to the initial build of the site, when combined with intelligent design and thoughtful development early in the process, such expense can save thousands of dollars spend in revisions later.
So, what does a small business website need to to do? At a bare minimum, a small business website should be able to deliver helpful information about the business' products and/or services, help a prospective customer or client contact the business, and explain the benefits of the offerings made by that small business. With that said, we would strongly argue that the site should also be able to capture leads, start the conversion process of prospects to customers or clients, and potentially allow converted customers and clients to complete their actual purchase transactions on the site. In an ideal scenario, the site would also be able to create an on-going customer or client relationship for the company with tools such as marketing list enrollment, memberships, and/or subscriptions.