Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade you’ll have heard about the WordPress Content Management System. It powers somewhere in the region of 25% of all websites, online. Latest estimates put that figure close to 80 MILLION websites, by the way. We’ve been working with WordPress, building websites, sales pages, e-comm sites, online courses and membership websites and even custom online marketing mechanisms like Loyalty programs and stock management systems, using WordPress since 2007, so it’s really second nature to us. It’s a fantastic, but flawed system.
WordPress Website Design Costs
Of course, if you have heard of WordPress, you’ll know it’s what is known as an “Open Source” Content management system (CMS), meaning it’s absolutely, 100%, always and forever, free. Also worth noting you can get WordPress themes which install into WordPress for as little as $0 up to $100 for ultra-premium themes. So you can get a WordPress website for your business for free, right? Wrong. There is an important range of differentiations to make here.
1) The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not technically the same company, though they did start out that way and their interface is fairly identical. The difference is that WordPress.com is a hosted platform (“software as service”) with very limited appeal to serious marketers. Functionality and flexibility of themes and feature sets are not really controllable (you basically have to live with what they allow you and that doesn’t always add up to a marketable platform).
WordPress.org on the other hand is an Open Source CMS with an enormous community of developers behind it, creating and managing plugins, code and software for the community. This is the CMS you need to use for your business website as it is endlessly flexible and provides marketers like us a real, viable way to create custom websites that serve the owner (business) in marketing, generating leads for the business and converting (and remarketing) to prospects.
So, while you can basically get a ‘free website’ without more than $100 outlaid, and install it in likely no more than 5 clicks, why in the world would you (should you) pay a company like ours an average of $4-6k to ‘build’ you a WordPress website? Is this whole thing a scam!? How could we ever justify that price for a WordPress website? Outrage! Lol.
The truth is probably pretty obvious, but in the interests of clarity, I’ll outline it all here so you can move with your best foot forward.
Is Building a WordPress Website Simply Choosing the Right Theme?
First, a ‘website’ is not just choosing a theme, or an aesthetic. Sure, some of the WordPress themes you can purchase for $59 come with demo content and look superb out of the box (we do actually use a select few of these for the basis of clients’ websites, as well as semi-custom designs). However, more and more, in every industry and niche, having a ‘nice looking website’ simply isn’t nearly enough to ensure that your website is a lead-generation magnet for prospects and new customers, or that it competes (and wins) against your competition. And I’m guessing your competition is pretty stiff these days, am I right? How to beat your competition with your website, you may ask?
In fact, if you watch my free “Pillars of online marketing” training series on my Youtube Channel, you’ll discover that this aesthetic aspect is little more than 1/5th of what you actually need to have a successful website for your brand.
Aesthetics form the first ‘pillar’ of online marketing, so of course you need to make sure your site looks attractive, clean and engaging. But after that, how do people interact with your website? What is their impression of your brand and its’ highly individual story?
The truth is that, in behind the aesthetic first-impression people are met with, you must (MUST) have a succinct, fluid User Experience (UX), User Interface (UI), Conversion Strategy, traffic generating strategies, fulfillment mechanics, analytics and funnel systems in place on your website to appropriately siphon visitors (traffic) into “buckets” from those who are:
- Not interested and never will be
- Not interested now but could be in the future
- Interested right now but need more convincing
- Interested right now and want to buy now
So what do you need in order to do this? You need a funnel. A funnel is a strategic, automated sequence of pages, communications and deliverables which engage with your prospects and place them in the appropriate ‘buckets’, as above. It’s basically a segmentation approach that your website should automate.
Each visitor type might have a very distinct, custom user flow through the website. So those in bucket 1 will leave and never come back (and that’s ok!), those in bucket 2 will want to be added to your marketing list so you can build trust for when they are ready, those in bucket 3 will also need this, but perhaps more of a proactive prompt to purchase through a strategic email sequence, and those in bucket 4 will need to be provided with easy steps to buy from you right now.
So how does this all happen? Hint: it’s not by magic. It’s strategic down to the nth degree. We start out with the process we call “Strategic Systematic Deployment” when building out our strategy and work our way through each component in a pragmatic, logical way. Here’s the exact process we follow to build the ideal WordPress website for our clients (or even our own agency website).
STAGE 1 – Due Diligence.
We get to know the clients’ brand, the products/services, the messaging, the competitors and the marketplace. We offer website design for so many industries that this is an essential component to our process and how we set up sites for success from day one. By interacting with your brand we begin to understand your ideal client type, your products/services, and from there we can retro-engineer the ideal mechanisms to engage appropriately with each of the client types.
STAGE 2 – User Journey Mapping
(UX, UI and Conversion Strategy). We create a unique journey in ‘sketch’ format for each audience type (e.g. those in the buckets above). This is really a skeleton outline of how they will interact with the site, and a step-by-step mapping of where they go, dynamically, when faced with specific decisions or Calls to Action on the site. This MUST be custom to be successful for the client site so this is why a ‘stock theme’ is not nearly enough.
STAGE 3 – Wireframes.
From the ideal, optimized User Experience & user Interface, we plot out content blocks with strategic precision. Why a message should go here or there. Why a button should be placed here as opposed to there. This process plots out the pathway to success on your site and the great thing is that using WordPress.org we can build absolutely anything we desire. Hence a custom process coming to life through intelligent design and programming.
STAGE 4 – Aesthetic Design.
So hang on, aesthetic design is the first impression people are met with, but it’s the 4th stage in the process!? Yes, that’s correct and it’s important it’s done this way (assuming a custom aesthetic is required) so that the aesthetic overlays onto the UX/UI and conversion mechanics, and not the other way around. We start with the brand identity, color palette and existing assets, if these are present. This is key because on the website we need to create a consistent messaging and voice for the brand as this will lead to faster trust, better engagement and higher conversion rates, when visitors interact with the site.
This process can be done A) custom (blank canvas), B) Semi-custom (utilizing a premium WordPress theme but customizing key pages on the site like the homepage, to match our custom UX/UI) or C) “stock” (i.e. taking a premium theme and living with its’ in-built UX/UI and populating the site with client content.
STAGE 5 – WordPress Website Development Service.
We take the approved aesthetic designs, built onto of the custom UX/UI and Conversion strategy and bring it to life in the development room on a staging server. Of course, we normally use WordPress and build the site on that CMS, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. This can be done using a stock WordPress Theme or a fully custom website design but it can also be created using other platforms (e.g. Shopify). This process can therefore take anywhere from 3-4 days to many months depending on the complexity and functionality involved in the site, and is ultimately one of the major reasons that a WordPress website can never just be as little an investment as $59 for a theme, rather it takes weeks to form a tailored approach for your business, your customers and ultimately your success, online.
STAGE 6 – Mobile Optimization, Testing & Migration to Final Server.
When the desktop version of the site is set, mobile optimization will be mostly done already but this is also the ideal time to fine tune mobile optimization for multiple devices. All sites should be either responsive (i.e. they shift form and layout to best display the site for any and all screen sizes and resolutions) or a separate mobile site should be built (e.g. Amazon.com). Once that’s done, we test all the links & performance of the website (e.g. image sizes, load times) and push the thing live on your desired end server. It’s an oddly exciting and rewarding process for us!
STAGE 7 – Analytics & Refinement
The bit that most people leave to chance is one of the biggest mistakes they make in online marketing. Without an analytical approach to your online assets you’ll be doing everything blind. Every decision you make post-launch in terms of improving your website should be guided and informed by strong analytics (and the analysis of those analytics, by someone who knows what they are looking for). The sad truth is that most web designers, marketing companies, in this day and age, do not understand how to approach analytics, draw inference from them, or indeed strategically adapt their approach for future performance.
Only by looking at user behaviors on your website, for instance, can you measure the changes you make when compared to that initial baseline. Change some text here or there, add a video in this spot, a call to action button here or there… All those things should be measured so you can ensure you never regress from the point of launch.
*You’ll also have to factor in hosting costs and website security. We recommend WP Engine or Liquid Web for most uses and would genuinely recommend you stay away from companies like GoDaddy, 1and1, Bluehost, Hostgator and Network Solutions. These companies offer little support, poor security and website performance and are often the sites we see getting hacked, penalized in SEO and lose visitors.
In Conclusion – WordPress Websites Need Us 🤗
… And THAT’S why we charge between $4-6k+ on average for a website. The process detailed above involves multiple layers and strategies that most ‘website designers’ simply are not aware of. The psychological approach to marketing, the essential nature of a fluid, frictionless UX/UI and even a conversion strategy. Those things take time, expertise and crafting to ensure they work for the client in creating a lead-generating home on the web. And if you ignore one or other, well, the website simply won’t be as successful for your business as it should be.
Add to that, the importance of ensuring your website uses a consistent brand messaging and voice that reinforces your Brand/product benefits in a way that is conducive to building trust and that’s a pretty tricky thing to achieve as you can probably imagine. Which is exactly why experts like us have continued to thrive in the marketplace over the last decade, because there just aren’t that many of us around.
Hopefully this helps lay out the features a successful website should have and why a good WordPress agency can make the world of difference to your business if you go the semi-custom or custom route.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below for us and make sure to visit the Youtube Channel for more free training.