Building a Website is Similar to Building a House

Getting an estimated cost is also similar.

Your website should not be like every other website. So, when you request an estimate from a development firm, it may help to think in terms of having your dream house built and that you will be speaking with both an architect and general contractor…

Hello, I’m interested in building a new 5 bedroom, 3 bath home, with a two car garage and magnificent kitchen. How much do you think that will cost?”

At this point it would be outstanding to get an accurate cost & schedule, start building, then pack up your belongings and make the move in several months. That may be possible… if you are looking for a cookie cutter house with a basic floor plan, default fixtures and plain design.

However, for anything more, you’ll need an architect to help you uncover your lifestyle goals and home vision before your contractor can begin the building process. If you’re fortunate they may even be able to work together to really understand what you are looking for.

They may begin with simple questions like…

  • Where do you want to build your house?
  • Do you already own the property?
  • How many people will live there?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want to entertain large groups?

They may even ask more detailed questions, like…

  • How old are the people who will live there?
  • “What are your interests? Crafts, gaming, family movie nights?”
  • “When do you expect to move in?”

With answers in hand they could plan the best way to accommodate your needs and preferences – by defining which features can be included and how each space functions – based on the budgeted labor, materials and permitting costs.

The same can be said for a conversion focused website.

If you just need a simple online presence, there are plenty of very affordable web site builders to help create a low-cost website.

However, if you understand your website is at the center of a larger online marketing ecosystem; and that it can be so much more than an online brochure – potentially your top salesperson attracting the right leads and converting them into customers – then you won’t be surprised to know we have many more questions looking for answers.

Like building a home, these answers will need to be researched and discovered before a plan can be mapped out to make your online presence more effective. Which leads us to…

Phase 1: The Most Important Phase of the Project.

1. Research and Discovery

This phase is foundational for the remaining five phases. Before the first phase begins we would have an initial conference call to ask several clarifying questions (just as an architect would) to see what site redesign objectives need to be met and determine whether we are a good fit for you.

Questions like:

  1. What specific business goals are you trying to achieve with the site redesign?
  2. Have you determined what market niche you want to connect with?
  3. Have you discovered what makes you different from your competitors?
  4. What is your current website’s conversion rate from visitor to lead to customer?
  5. Have you clearly defined and documented buyer personas?
  6. Have you clearly defined sales funnels?

Once a good partner fit is determined for the project objectives, we move the process forward by sending you a phase one budget for approval. This will include the cost for research, strategy development and creating a “blueprint” or proposal for the ACTUAL website development & online marketing integration (see phases 2-6 below).

Upon approval, we would begin the real work of learning about your target market, doing an audit on your existing website content and uncovering any problems or weak spots you may currently have with your existing online marketing. We would decide how to attract, engage and convert the right audience with the right content and when to deliver it at the right time in the right channels.

This ecosystem will include tools like blogging, email marketing, social media, SEO, centered around your conversion focused website, which will include sales funnels.

At the end of phase one you will receive a second proposal for phases 2-7. It will define the “how” and “where” resources need to be spent, as well as what you can expect in terms of costs to “build out” our recommended online strategy.

Essentially this first phase is all about creating a blueprint so you’ll be ready to build. In fact, you could take this blueprint to just about any agency, and they would have a clear idea of what they were bidding on as well. (Not that we think you should do that… but you could.)

Phases 2-6:

Armed with your architect’s specifications, you now can begin work with the general contractor to build your house. Though no analogy works perfectly, we could describe the remaining phases as follows:

2. Content Development

What and who do you plan to put in your house? Based on your target audience, (determined in phase 1), existing site content will have been audited for usefulness and new content can be created or supplied. Phase 1 would outline what kind of content needs to be produced based on the marketing strategy and budget.

3. Interface Wireframe & Design

This is your actual floorplan (these rooms are here, this is the kitchen layout, powder room is over here). Essentially we’re creating a “skeleton” or  wireframe to determine the priority, or hierarchy, of each piece of content and feature, as well as where it will display on the page. Once defined we can then “skin” it – design the look and feel of the layout based on branding guidelines.

4. Interface Development & Tool Integration

Time to frame the home. Let’s build this thing! Once the interface design is approved it is turned into actual website templates. In addition, all 3rd party services, (e.g. email capture forms, credit card processors, etc.), as well as plugins, (e.g. image galleries, contact forms, events calendars, etc.), are integrated and designed to match the new site look and feel during this phase.

5. Site Population & SEO

Let’s move your stuff in and see how it fits! We’ll create the actual pages and populate them with final approved content, (e.g. text, images, videos, PDF’s, etc.). Menu structures are developed and linked. Keywords and phrases are added for Google snippet preview, page title, meta tags and image tags.

6. Training, Testing & Launch

Does the tub leak? Do the appliances work? Does your car fit in the garage? Can your toddler reach the bathroom sink? This is when we test for bugs on mobile and desktop platforms, then deploy for public viewing.

Are We Done Yet? What’s left? 

Ongoing Sprints

If you were just moving into your house, you could take a break. Not so with a conversion focused website. This is when we begin testing how effective the site is live! This is when you can ask your customers what’s working for them and what isn’t. These ongoing sprints are used to get feed back from your audience, see what’s working well and what can be improved, and keep your site optimized to grow business. You can read more about it in our Growth Driven Website Design post.