How Much Does A Website Strategy Cost?
TL;DR: You wouldn’t start constructing a new house without devising a plan, would you? So, why should your website build be any different?
Suppose you want a high-performance website that delivers highly qualified traffic, leads, and sales for your business. In that case, you must purposefully build a specific website strategy to help you meet your goals before you launch your next website redesign project.
Budgeting on a website strategy, however, can be a bit confusing and somewhat overwhelming for most businesses, especially if you’re working with an agency. Don’t worry, though, because that is precisely what this article will help you understand.
Design and development, and even QA & testing, take precedence over strategy in most website development projects. But why is that?
For one, the strategising phase is never the most exciting part of any project. It requires plenty of resources and time commitment to see tangible results compared to other project phases.
The big question, though, is, how important is a website strategy, and more specific to the agenda of this article, how much does it typically cost?
If you’re planning on working with an agency, this website project necessity probably has left you wondering one critical thing, how much is a custom website strategy going to cost your company on top of what you’ve already budgeted for the website design and development itself?
By the end of this article, you’ll have all these questions answered, with a clear understanding of the significant factors that affect the cost of a website strategy and can make smarter budgeting decisions for your website redesign project.
What Is A Website Strategy? 🤔
Put simply, a website strategy is a thoroughly devised plan to achieve a particular set of goals and objectives for your site. An excellent website strategy takes multiple aspects into account – your prospects, customers, employees, and search engines.
The modern business website can’t just look good to the eyes; it needs to perform and provide usability features that warrant a joyful navigational and purchasing experience and repeat traffic.
Contemporary buyers complete 60-70% of their purchasing decision primarily through online research before ever reaching out to someone in the sales department.
That means you need a custom-built website strategy for your specific goals and business objectives so that you can nudge your qualified web traffic into taking the intended conversion actions to turn them into leads and sales.
A website strategy can help you to define your website goals, objectives, target audience, and key messaging. It can also help you to develop a website plan and budget for the subsequent phases of the project.
If you are planning to invest your time, energy, and budget into a website rebuild, an effective strategy is the integral first step in the right direction. It will ultimately act as the guiding truth when making all development, content and design decisions after firmly entering the project.
🧐 It’s All About The “Why?”
Building a website is an ongoing process, as you constantly try to improve it by adding more features or changing certain aspects. A redesign comes into play when these little optimisations and tweaks are no longer enough to keep the website up-to-mark.
However, when a business decides to undergo a redesign, it’s often based on feelings of staleness or to outdo specific competitors. Little thought usually goes into why these changes need to be made in the first place; and if they’re even required!
Make no mistake, a website redesign is a massive undertaking from a time, resources, and cost perspective. So, you need to be 100% sure that the “why” of the website rebuild is crystal clear for everyone involved, directly or indirectly.
The critical thing here isn’t just getting things done because everyone can build a website, but to rebuild a website that outperforms its predecessor and brings the expected value, you need to be fully aware and confident of why the rebuild is the only course of action.
If you are clear on the why of your rebuild, you’ll be able to articulate your vision to your development agency, bringing forth the results you expect.
What Should Your Website Strategy Include? 🧾
Most agencies will undergo a thorough and streamlined strategising process at the start of a website project. This will include some form of discovery identification of goals, creation of a site map for your new site, an audit of what currently is and isn’t working, visual preferences and inspirations and so on.
However, the key outcomes of the website strategy will always be an in-depth analysis and documentation of the technical scope and specific requirements and features of the website.
When agencies offer a website strategy workshop, here’s what you can expect:
- An intensive hands-on, collaborative experience lasts from a few days to weeks, while the end-of-phase deliverables from these workshops will vary from agency to agency. But, you can expect a project plan or a requirements documentation of some kind after the conclusion of the website strategy process.
- In addition, you can also expect further sub-deliverables constituting the primary strategy documentation, including:
- A breakdown of needs assessment
- Competitor and audience analysis
- Specific recommendations based on your company’s current state and future objectives
- Documentation of features and functionalities
- A rundown of the scope of works
- A tentative design, development and launch timeline and associated proposed budgets
Website strategies are generally packaged and priced as the first stage in a traditional website development project. Then, they are executed in either a half or full-day website strategy workshop or a separate multi-week website strategy project.
🗺️ Your Very Own Website Blueprint!
In our case, we present the website strategy process as the Website Blueprint. Our Website Blueprint process is the entry point to your new website. Through the initial engagement, we fully understand your business, identify the desired results and then establish a carefully throughout action plan that supports the vision of how you want your website to function upon launch.
Further, we conduct hands-on brainstorming sessions with your team that facilitate knowledge sharing and ensure all stakeholders are on the same wavelength.
Ultimately, by the end, we develop your strategic and comprehensive Website Blueprint and demonstrate your website build’s full scope and complexity, ensuring there are no surprises later on.
Factors Affecting The Cost Of A Website Strategy 💸
You need to be aware of the different aspects that drive the overall website strategy costs up and down to make the right decision for your company’s upcoming website development project.
Website strategy costs can vary depending on the size and complexity of your website, as well as the level of customisation and specific technological implementation you require.
👨💻 Template Build Vs Custom Solutions
Most website strategies will generally fall into two types: off-the-shelf solutions or fully custom solutions.
Off-the-shelf solutions are typically the most cost-effective option, as they require little to no customisation and can be implemented quickly. For example, think of a template website with standard features powered solely by plugins built on a CMS such as WordPress.
With these kinds of website development projects, the strategy phase will be shorter and less budget-intensive as the website is relatively simple in terms of project scope and stakeholder requirements. As a result, investing heavily in collaborative strategic thinking and planning is almost unnecessary as it is overkill.
Technically inferior and less scope-intensive website strategy events can be an excellent choice for businesses with a limited amount of complex strategic needs for their upcoming site build.
That said, keep in mind that these bootstrap strategy phases are often very short, so you’ll rarely receive strategic recommendations beyond improvements to what you already have. This can be detrimental from a value extraction point of view, as you won’t get the most out of your agency’s strategising expertise.
That can be deemed acceptable for most template builds but not for intermediate websites that fall in the grey between template and custom-build and require some tactical planning.
On the flip side, fully custom solutions offer tremendous flexibility and control but also come with a higher price tag. Think of a website built on a custom CMS integrated with multiple business systems via automation and data synchronisation.
Sophisticated website projects with complex requirements, including multiple data integrations, backend portals, and implementation of intricate digital technologies, such as Augmented Reality, can tip the scales considerably and turn the website strategy phase into a mini-project of its own.
These projects require extensive research, analysis and stakeholder engagement to ensure all bases are covered. Thus, it is imperative that the project is wholly understood and everyone is on the same page to avoid disruptive surprises later in the project.
Furthermore, inadequate scoping and strategising can lead to incorrect or insufficient scoping of how long it will take to design, build, test and launch your new site, and that’s a costly consequence all on its own. This can also pave the way for scoop creep to rear its ugly head, potentially throwing the project and stakeholder relationships into turmoil.
While you may minimise additional upfront costs by cutting corners on your website strategy process, it’ll eventually end up hurting you in the long run as you’ll be forced to constantly make site-wide tweaks and modifications to optimise your new website, which will be underperforming due to inadequate planning and scoping.
🤝 In-Person Vs Remote Collaboration
You need to work closely with all project stakeholders to expect to create a full-proof website strategy document.
From a budgeting and logistics perspective, in a website strategy process, collaboration can be implemented in two ways: In-person workshops or remote meetings.
Before you compare these two, it’s essential to understand that one is not inherently superior to the other, as both fit specific needs and situations. Furthermore, not all businesses operate the same way; for some, one mode of collaboration and engagement is more suitable and feasible.
Planning Travel & Accommodation
In-person workshops can be expensive to plan and execute, especially if they involve travel. However, remote meetings are typically much less costly to carry out, plan, and implement.
If the meeting participants and stakeholders come from out of town, then hotels may need to be booked and travel arrangements made. This can add high costs to the event. In addition, holding the event in a central location can make it difficult for some participants to attend.
On the other hand, remote meetings eliminate the need for travel and accommodation, making them more accessible and cost-effective. Remote sessions offer the advantage of being more flexible and cost-effective. Furthermore, they easily enable more people to participate since there is no need to travel to a specific location, and the meeting can be accessed virtually.
Another critical consideration is the format of the workshop itself. For example, in-person workshops may be more conducive to hands-on learning, while remote meetings may better suit presentation-style learning.
When deciding whether to have an in-person or remote website strategy workshop, it all comes down to the preferences of the company and the partner agency.
Another consideration is the level of interaction and engagement between participants. In-person workshops allow for more opportunities for informal networking and side conversations, which can lead to greater collaboration and creativity.
While still interactive, remote meetings may provide a different opportunity for spontaneous interaction. Remote sessions are excellent and, in some cases, can be as efficient, if not more, than meeting face-to-face because they save time and money for your business. However, there can be certain drawbacks, too, like needing help to see each others’ body language or responding instantly when something needs quick attention.
With many businesses cutting costs and moving towards a remote working culture, in-person meetings are becoming less popular. This is even though they lead to better collaborative gains than catching up online or on video call platforms like Google Meet or Zoom.
Finally, the project team’s size and composition should be considered. For example, in-person workshops may not be feasible if the group is large or spread out geographically. Remote meetings may be a better option in this case.
When deciding between in-person workshops and remote meetings, there is no right or wrong answer. The best option will depend on the specific needs and goals of the project. Whatever decision your agency chooses will ultimately impact the overall cost of the strategising process as a whole.
⌛ Project Timeline
Website projects with a significant time crunch, i.e. a designated launch date, will have very little wiggle room concerning scheduling.
In such cases, it might be best to use the time available for strategising as effectively as possible by condensing the entire process to minimise the toll on the overall project timeline, thereby reducing cost whilst still retaining the overall value of the strategy process.
The idea is to save as much of the time and financial resources for the most intensive phase of the project, i.e. design and development, to ensure the project is completed on time, as missing the launch date is not permissible. This is because the design and development portions of the project will exhaust the timeline the most, and it is essential that the team has a large enough buffer to complete their work comfortably to avoid high-pressure situations, which can be detrimental to the end quality of the website.
Projects with a less stringent timeline allow for a more flexible and interactive strategising phase. However, they might be more expensive due to the stretched-out nature of the schedule and the more significant time and resource commitment.
🎭 Not All Agencies Are The Same!
Each agency will have its way of executing the website strategy phase and thus will charge for this service accordingly. The cost of conducting the website strategy process with an agency will depend on the size, experience, type and reputation of the agency you’re working with and the level of service required.
A full-service agency will offer the most comprehensive services, encompassing strategising & documentation, website design & development, hosting, and ongoing maintenance.
This comprehensive approach will typically cost more than working with a smaller agency or freelancer. However, spending more, in this case, is a good thing, as liaising with a full-service agency can provide peace of mind knowing that professionals and experts are handling all aspects of the website.
On the other hand, working with a smaller agency or freelancers will be the more suitable option for businesses on a shoestring budget. These service providers can often design and build a quality website for less money. The tradeoff is that you will have to take on more responsibility for maintaining and updating the site or finding additional providers for those specific services.
How Much Should Businesses Budget For A Website Strategy? 💰
As a ballpark figure, website strategies typically start at around AU$5000 and can go up to AU$25,000 depending on the different factors we’ve gone through. However, if we had to pin down one specific factor over others, it ultimately comes down to the scope or technical complexity of the project.
As a rule of thumb, complex website projects require a significant strategising commitment, as there are more risks and expectations involved. Conversely, more straightforward website projects can get away with a less intensive strategising phase if the required features and functionality are adequately scoped out.
Nonetheless, no matter how much you spend on a website strategy, know that with a proper website strategy, you can be confident that your website will ultimately become an effective tool for achieving your business goals.
It all starts by laying down the perfect groundwork for future success, and a well-thought-out and planned website strategy is just that and possibly more.
Is A Website Strategy A Must-Have? 🆘
Most definitely, especially in this day and age!
Regardless of the size and scope of your new website, you need to understand that you’re about to embark upon a process that is much more than just design preferences and aesthetics. Yes, a website needs to look and feel good, but a great website needs to have the perfect blend of stunning design and intuitive user experience.
To provide a fantastic web experience to your customers and visitors, you need to plan, strategise and brainstorm before commencing development. Only after devising the perfect action plan will your developers be armed and informed to turn stakeholders’ vision into reality.
With technology rapidly evolving, businesses are starting to see the value of a high-performance website and consider it almost like a team member.
Now, think about it for a second, you wouldn’t add someone to your team without doing a prior background check and thoroughly vetting the individual, right? So, why should your website be any different?
You’re about to make a significant investment in the future success of your company and spend a large portion of your marketing budget. So you must eliminate as much guesswork as possible with a period dedicated to strategic planning and technical scoping.
Cumulatively, investing in a website strategy will give you a more accurate picture of the time and resources required to help you reach your website goals and also provide an excellent opportunity to work alongside industry experts in the form of an augmented agency team.
Closing Words: Plan To Relish Later! 😎
A high-performing website doesn’t just look great; it works for you, perhaps better than anyone could! Your dream website should be your best sales resource that builds trust with your ideal prospects and consistently adapts and evolves to your business’s ever-changing needs.
A great website is like a fine wine; it’s never “done and dusted”. It just keeps getting better!
You’re most likely reading this because your current website may not achieve what you’ve set out to do, but we want to help you change just that and get the maximum return on your investment.
Our team can help you build a website that caters to your specific business needs, addresses your target customer’s specific pain points and, most importantly, facilitates the constant generation of high-quality traffic, leads, and sales for your business. Not to mention, you can (and should) have your website synchronised with your other systems, such as your CRM and ERP, so everything just “works as one” as it ideally always should!
Before we can dive into the exciting stuff, we need to sit down and strategise. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s have a chat 😄
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