<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Ignite Your Site: June 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Planning and budgeting for a website...

As a web development company we are asked the same questions many times over about websites. However, there is one thing that always comes up and that is "how much does it cost?". It's probably one of the easiest to answer, and hardest for clients to comprehend! Everyone wants an exact answer, even before they've put much thought into what kind of website they want. So this post is intended to help people get a more accurate answer based on their website project.

Planning out your website
You may not think that there is very much to plan, but you'd be wrong. Building your website is probably one of the most important things you'll do for your business, outside of closing a sale. A website today is no longer a luxury it's a must have. Without a website, you are like a car salesman with no cars to sell. So planning your website is more important then it has ever been.

The first step is to decide what it is that you want your website to accomplish. Are you looking for a website that is purely informational, or one that sells products, or rather one that is more of a sell sheet of your company that gets visitors to contact you? Once you have this figured out, things start to lay themselves out a little more.

If you are creating a website that sells products online, you now know that you have to think about what type of shopping experience you want your customers to have. What extras you think would add to their shopping experience like email a friend, or save to favorites, etc. Each type of website will get you thinking about things that you should have in yours. A good thing to do is look at what other websites are doing and "borrow" ideas from them. Hey, if it's working for another site why not have it on yours? Don't go crazy with extras, but be sure you really think and plan out what your site will have and do.

This plan doesn't need to be an exact step by step process of how the website will function. Rather, this should be more of a bulleted list of things you would like to have on the site. You can break it out into Must Have Pages, Must Have Features and Would be Nice Pages and Would be Nice Features.

Budgeting for your website
The next thing to do after you've really thought about and planned out your ideas about the website, is to setup a budget. Figure out what it is that you can realistically afford to pay for your new website. Obviously the more you have the more robust your website will be able to be. That doesn't mean that a less expensive site won't be effective, it just means that it may not do as much as another site.

When you are budgeting, remember that a website is meant to be your 24 hour a day, 7 day a week sales person. It is always out there for people to view and contact you from. So with that in mind, would you pay a sales person $500 for the year? It's not that you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a website, but $2,000-$8,000 for a good website should not sound unreasonable. The more features and pages you want, the more money you should expect to budget.

The final step in planning and budgeting
Once you've made your plan, and figured out your budget it's time to get some quotes. This is important because now that you have a good idea of your plan, and how much you can afford you can feel more confident in receiving practical quotes from vendors. Don't be afraid to let them know up front that you have X amount in your budget for the website, and you'd like them to give you options based on leaving out certain things from your plan to play with the pricing. So for example they might come back to you and say for your plan as noted it would be $X, but if you left A and B out until a later phase, it would be $X. Then it's time to pick your vendor and build your website!

Remember: The more prepared you are, the more realistic the quotes will be and the more likely the end product will match your desires.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Is traditional SEO worth it anymore?

I'm currently in the process of reading a book about Google Adwords entitled "Winning Results with Google Adwords" by Andrew Goodman. One of the things that came up in the start of the book was whether SEO, the traditional one site method, is worth the investment.

Is SEO worth the money?
Now I'd be inclined to say yes, but I'm going to hesitate there. SEO has become such a large industry that it would be hard to give a sweeping answer either way. When speaking of SEO there are the traditional on site methods such as keyword optimization, copy optimization, title tags, etc. Then there are the off site factors like link building and social media generation.

As the book notes, some if not all of the practices of traditional SEO could really fall under good usability. These are things that you would want to do regardless of whether the search engines existed or not. Having a good title tag that describes your page is just smart no matter what effect it has, and the same goes for page content and calls to action.

So what part of SEO is worth the money?
There definitely is value in "SEO" which should probably be referred to as SEM or search engine marketing, or website marketing to be more precise. Building good quality content and distributing it to note worthy blogs is a great resource for driving traffic to your website and hopefully boosting sales. The same can be said for twittering or having a facebook page. These are all resources that without some know-how can be a little overwhelming to tackle.

Then what is the answer, is SEO worth it?
I think we need to stop thinking of SEO as "being #1 on the search engines". We need to start looking at SEO as a form of marketing, just as it was meant to be. Sure going through the site is a good idea to make sure it's up to par, but if you are paying a company a monthly budget to "maintain your SEO" you are wasting your money (that is unless they are maintaining your PPC campaign, doing link building, twittering, etc). But if all they are doing is generating a report that shows you where you are ranking and "tweaking" your site accordingly, please stop the contract you are getting very little if anything in return.

Your monthly payments should be going towards services that you can track and monitor and can see what type of ROI your are getting. Link building for example can be directly tracked and monitored with a variety of tools. Your SEO/SEM expert can show you what they've done and how that has impacted your traffic and hopefully sales.

Remember: You get what you pay for, and if you are paying for "maintenance" you might want to figure out what is being maintained.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

We're back!

Sorry for the time away from the blog folks. We had a large project in-house that was taking up a lot of time amongst the entire staff, and unfortunately the blog entries suffered because of it. However, we're happy to say that starting this week we're back to the normal schedule and plan to have regular blog posts out each week.

We're also working on some updates for the website portfolio so we can show you some of the work we've been doing.

Thanks again for your patience and understanding during the past month or so, and we look forward to providng you with some thought provoking, informative blog posts and also look forward to your comments.

Ignite Media

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Website Packages Now Available!

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