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What's The Cost To Create & Manage A Website?

Congratulations! You’ve realized the value of investing in a successful responsive website built with the most current technology. A properly built and well organized website will drive traffic to your business, gain you followers and reinforce your great brand reputation with your current customers.

Consideration of end-users, ease of navigation, visual aesthetics and user experience are all important when planning the design of your website. Just as important is making sure the content on your website not only reflects your brand, but is optimized for those little “web crawlers” creeping around reporting dutifully back to the search engines!

Website Design and Development

But a high-quality website is so much more than design, optimized content and cutting-edge development—when gathering bids from web design firms, pay attention to the details in their proposals. An “all-inclusive” web design/development agency worth their salt includes:

· Website warranty

· Ongoing SEO services and analytics

· Post-launch maintenance and support, to include continual monitoring for plug-in updates, domain, hosting services and subscription renewals, etc.

All of these “add-ons” are necessary, and well worth it, to ensure your website is still “findable” after six to eight months on the world wide web. Too many businesses make the mistake of thinking that after their shiny new website is live for all the world to see, everyone who happens to surf the web will magically land on their business’s site, and love it as much as they do!

You’ve made a major investment in your website—grow that investment even more by making sure you include comprehensive website management services after launch.

Website Warranty

Website warranties don’t need to be five-page documents that read like a Supreme Court decision, but it is important to make sure they include the basics:

· What’s covered (debugging, functionality adjustments, etc.)

· What’s not covered (pre-existing viruses, errors caused by hosting system, issues with non-supported browsers, etc.)

· Terms (warranty timeframe; standards, laws and governing regulations adhered to, etc.)

Ongoing SEO Services and Analytics

A live website needs to be optimized for search engines and its analytics monitored (most popular page views, click-through rates, time spent on pages, bounce rate, etc.) on a continual basis. Who better to provide these services, than the firm that designed and developed the website?

SEO strategy can be applied to any existing website, but the advantages of including SEO and analytics services from the start of your website design/development, is that the individuals doing the work are already familiar with the overall content of the site, the personas trying to be reached, and the strategy behind the navigation structure that was devised in the design process.

And admit it. After your website is launched, you want to be involved with the “fun stuff” in keeping it fresh and relevant (i.e. rotating visuals, feature content on the homepage, etc.)…you don’t have the time to commit to making sure the “back end” of your site is working at its peak performance level with continual monitoring and SEO tweaks.

Post Launch Maintenance and Support

Websites are not like refrigerators where you plug it in, and you don’t give it another thought for the next 10-12 years (if you’re lucky!). Attention needs to be given to all the things that run it:

• Third-party widgets and plug-ins;

• Domain and hosting subscription renewals;

• Browser updates/conflicts;

And more!

A “one-stop shop” mindset when shopping for a web design firm will ensure a streamlined process from design to development to launch, and beyond.

But if you didn’t, and your website is already live, idly sitting amongst the millions of other sites collecting virtual dust because no post-launch management has been done, don’t despair! There are firms that can perform SEO services to your existing site, and maintain it on a retainer basis.

In the first two-four months, there will be much more “heavy lifting.” An initial audit will be taken of the site, to check for bugs, obsolete plug-ins, etc. as well as any SEO (or lack thereof) opportunities that are in place. After the initial discovery, keywords, metadata, alt text, and other SEO tactics will be applied and adjusted accordingly until the metrics and analytics are showing measurable results from the initial updates.

The Bottom Line

So…what does it cost to manage a website? A talented web development team that:

• Understands your overall goals

• Incorporates SEO strategy into the design/development process

• Provides the documentation of what’s included in their process

• Has an established reputation

• Is available and responsive for ongoing post-launch updates

• Provides understandable, easy to read metrics and analytics reports, and can explain what they’re showing over time

If you are looking for a web design firm that provides the “one-stop shop” experience outlined here, check out Watermark. We would be happy to speak to you about your website needs. We also offer monthly retainer SEO and analytics services to those of you who already have a website, but are missing the post-launch pieces to make your website work to its fullest potential.