Did you catch our IGTV Live with our Marketing Manager, Emily and Business Development Manager, Luke?
Luke and his team are the first port of call at Spindogs for prospective clients to work through requirements for any project briefed to us from web development through to digital marketing and branding. We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions to get expert answers from Luke. Keep reading to find out how much a website costs, what CMS you should use, if your website is accessible and if you should have an app!
E: How much does a website cost?
L: This is probably the most frequently asked question we receive via our website contact form. The easiest comparison I try to say to people is think of your website like a cake. Do you need a cupcake, a wedding cake or something in between? Obviously both of those are cakes but they do two very different things, they cost a completely different amount in terms of budget and they cater to two very different audiences. If you think of a website in that sense, you start from the beginning stage of ‘what does it need to do?’.
If you have an existing site already it's always a good idea to have a look at what pages the site has, what functionality you have, what does the website do for you at the moment that you will need it to continue doing and think about what could be improved or added.
The other thing to consider when asking how much a website will cost is bespoke functionality. It’s good to determine if your site is purely informational, do people need to go on your website, have a look at what you do as a business, possibly watch some videos, read some case studies or content and then make contact with you. There are more in depth requirements, we work with lots of membership organisations, and their website would have a login area, functionality for people to access webinars and things like that.
When people ask what a website costs, it’s kind of like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’. Our lowest price point for a website is usually around £2.5k - £3k for something really simple, which is fine for some, especially if you are a startup business and you just need a web presence, like a homepage, a text page and a contact page. So you can start really simple and it can go right through to a huge multi national membership organisation who have very specific requirements.
Something that also comes into consideration when costing a new website, is integrations. If you’re going out to different agencies or different suppliers and asking them for costs, a really good starting point is to look at what your current site integrates with. A lot of businesses have CRM, some of them will have email marketing software, Mailchimp or Dotmailer and those are easy things to miss when briefing an agency. For an agency to give you the most accurate quote, you need to consider these things and make sure you are giving all of that information upfront.
E: We work with a range of different CMS (content management systems) here at Spindogs, which is the best? And is there a best?
L: I would say there is always a best but that best is different for every single business pending on what you need from your website. We work predominantly with three different CMS’ at Spindogs, WordPress, Umbraco and Kentico. WordPress is built in a language called PHP, Umbraco and Kentico are built in something called .Net which is Microsoft's framework. The reason we work with three CMS’ is because each of them have their own strengths.
For WordPress, a lot of people know this as a blogging tool, where you might have picked from a list of templates that you can use for a blog or to launch a small business. We take WordPress to an enterprise level, so we design the frontend completely bespoke to our clients requirements and we use WordPress as the backend as the content management system (CMS). This works really well for people who are smaller businesses, who have a smaller amount of content to digest on their website, we commonly refer to those websites as brochureware websites. If you ever hear that phrase, it means that a site isn’t doing much heavy lifting in terms of functionality, there aren’t multiple application forms and multi-step processes and they don’t have huge integrations with other systems. Often these websites have things like a homepage, case studies page, services page, depending on what the business is, and a contact page. Lots of B2B businesses have websites like this and they work absolutely fine for these types of businesses.
One of the benefits of a WordPress site is that it’s much cheaper to maintain over time so hosting with them is much cheaper than if you are looking at some other alternatives from the .Net framework, that’s something for you to weigh up when you are looking at which CMS is the best, thinking about your budget comes into it.
Umbraco it’s referred to quite often as the ‘grown up’ CMS, it tends to be used by businesses who are quite established, have quite specific needs in terms of what their website needs to do, the website is likely to have a lot more pages. Going back to my earlier example, we work with a lot of membership organisations, often these sites have thousands of pages and people prefer the content in Umbraco. Umbraco is sometimes much better at integrating with third party systems that are also in .Net, these things need to come into consideration, if you have a technology stack with your CRM systems that are already built in .Net working with a .Net CMS is going to be a lot easier to ensure there is a smooth handover of content and information between the two systems.
When you move into what I sometimes think of as the top tier, is where you move into a licensed CMS area like Kentico. With CMS like Umbraco and WordPress you don’t have to pay a license fee, if you are working with Spindogs for example you would pay the one off project fee and then you would pay for annual hosting and support. When it comes to Kentico there is an annual license fee which changes depending on the size of your site and your exact requirements, however you then get a lot more functionality out of the box which you don’t get with WordPress and Umbraco.
Kentico can be really good for personalisation, you can do A/B testing where you can test a piece of content and see how it performs with different audiences and this can inform your decisions about what content you use on your website.
Each CMS has their own benefits depending on who you are as an organisation and what you need from a website. There is a whitepaper we have written that is still available on our website about the right CMS for you, this is a good place to start if you are unsure of the benefits of the three CMS’ that we offer, you can read it here.
E: So really it's all based on what the needs of your website are, the needs of your business and then matching up the CMS according to that rather than saying that CMS is better than that one. It really is very much dependent on what your requirements are.
L: Something to be cautious of is that some agencies will only work in one type of CMS, and there is usually a reason for that, like they’ve determined that it is a really good CMS platform and it works for most, if not all of their clients. If you’re a business looking at multiple agencies and weighing up what is going to be the right CMS for you, double check if your agency offers other CMS platforms or if they are only suggesting that one because that’s the only one they offer. It is best to see which is the right platform for you, which one you think will work for you and then find the right agency to partner with who can deliver that for you.
E: There were some new rules put in place last September 2020 regarding accessibility, what is accessibility?
L: I would like to start the answer by saying we have a couple of people in house in particular one of our frontend developers, Tegan, who are absolute wiz kids when it comes to accessibility and Sian who is also in our frontend team, they can give a much more detailed answer to what I am about to give you, but basically it’s an umbrella term that means is your website functionable and usable by people of all abilities. That typically tends to be people who might have a visual impairment or dyslexia, all of these kinds of things you have to consider when designing and laying out your website.
Without going into too much detail, think of what font you would use, what colours you use and how they contrast with each other. You might have gone through a rebrand and have a new colour palette, it might not be massively different but it does differ slightly than what it was previously, it looks lovely but then you check that the new colour green, for example, works against another colour and it fails the visibility check which means someone is not going to be able to read that, using that text in that colour means a lot of people may struggle to read it.
There are 3 levels of accessibility within the common guidelines that most web agencies work to. You can be Single A, Double A or Triple A. Without going into all of them Single A is what we do as a minimum and it makes sure you tick all of the boxes to ensure you’re doing a good enough job of catering to multiple audiences. We work a lot with public sector businesses, like councils and it is a legal requirement for them that they have to be a Double A. As you move through from Single A to Triple A it gets a little bit more strict and a little bit more defined. A good example of a Triple A website would be a .gov website, for example if during the coronavirus you have gone on to request an at home testing kit or something, you’ll notice their pages are pretty much all white with black text, very straightforward and easy to understand, those are typically what would be classed as a Triple A site.
When thinking about accessibility it's good to think about what you want as a standard and who your audience are and how you want to cater to them. But there are simple ways you can think about being accessible, we’ve got multiple blogs and instagram videos where Tegan and Sian give more information about accessibility and I know you Emily, did an instagram reel recently on how you can add captions to your Instagram videos.
I would definitely point people in the direction of our resources and blog sections on our website just to see pieces we have written before on accessibility, what it means and what will be applicable for them. We always work to Single A as a minimum and usually we suggest Double A for lots of websites but this is always done in consultation with our clients and what's going to be the best in terms of what they want to achieve with the look and feel of their website, as this can mean a compromise in terms of accessibility.
E: Moving on to our next question, should I have an App?
L: The first thing I will ask when talking to clients who are interested in an app is, what is the purpose of the app? And what functionality does it do for the audience that the website doesn’t do?
If you go back a good few years ago, every business had an app and you ended up with lots of apps that weren’t offering anything different to what someone's website offered. Once you have created an app they are not cheap and it's another functionality you are paying the upkeep and maintenance for, on top of your website. So I always start off by asking the client what they actually need the app to do, is it something we can build into the functionality of your website rather than costing you more money and replicating twice when someone could access it on your website from their mobile phone.
There are people who come to us who do have something they actually need an app for, we work with some housing associations who look after tenants and their tenants may be regularly accessing the website to do things like log a repair and then check the status of the repair, they may be paying rent or making a complaint, there is regular activity and a reason to always go back to that app, so it makes sense for businesses like this to have an app as there is a reason for someone to download it and keep it on their phone which makes it a good investment.
If you are just replicating the functionality you have on your website then there’s not really a need for anyone to keep the app on their phone. I am always checking my phone and if I haven’t used an app for a month or two months I will delete it as it’s taking up space. It’s definitely a case by case basis with each business but starting point what do you want it to do and could your website do that, if not then yes it’s a good thing to consider then and start scoping out what you want it to do.
The other piece of advice I would give on apps if you are going to speak to Spindogs or another agency or app developer about an app, have a clear idea of what functionality you want it to do, this will help get you further down the road in the conversation much quicker so for example as mentioned above someone logs in, they can make rent payments, log a repair etc. If you have all of the information that the app needs to do, it becomes a quicker, collaborative, creative experience working with an agency together, rather than saying we need an app, but you’re not really sure why you need an app, I’d take a step back and say maybe you don’t really need one, plan it out first and see how it will benefit you and your audiences.
E: That’s really good advice, considering it from a user journey point of view I’ve been on multiple websites, usually clothing ones, where you go on to their website and it says would you like to continue this in our app. This can sometimes throw you off and you potentially leave the website, it’s knowing if you do want an app, can that operation happen on the website or do you need to have the app as well.
You can watch the full IGTV Live here and look out for part 2 of our frequently asked questions coming soon.
If you are looking to update your website, improve your website's accessibility or are interested in a new content management system or thinking of taking a leap and creating an app, get in touch below, we’d love to chat and find out more about your project and how we can help.