Natalie Henley

Will Your New Website Design Pay Off?

By Natalie HenleyNatalie Henley

To a lot of CEOs, a website is bit like owning an older car: It’s given you a pretty good run for your money and it does what you need it to do. Sure, the mileage isn’t great – but is upgrading really a top priority?

As you are looking at your marketing strategy for the coming quarters and trying to decide whether it’s time to get a new site, or whether you can get another year or two out of your existing design, here is a website design formula to help you make your decision:

Standard numbers: For many businesses, it’s strongly recommend to consider having a website built on an open source Content Management System (CMS) – for example WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Dot Net Nuke, etc. These sites work well, are easy to scale and typically cost a lot less.

An average cost of this type of design is around $5,000-$15,000. You can use $10,000 as an “anticipated cost” of a website design project.

A word of caution: many companies “know a guy” that does website design out of his basement, or, have a cousin in college taking web design classes who is willing to design your website for a steal. Many of these projects go south quickly, so follow the golden rule– you get what you pay for.

Formula # 1 – Got Content Management? Is it easy to login and make changes and add pages to your website? If the answer is no, try to analyze the last years’ web changes. Most companies that want to actively gain Search Engine ranking should be making updates to their websites at least 2-4 times/month. Assuming 3 website changes happen in one month, taking 1 hour per change, and the typical website developer hourly cost is around $125:

  • 3 hours/month = $375
  • 1 year of web edits= $4,500
  • 3 years of web edits = $13,500

Looking at the numbers, it’s possible that not having your website on a Content Management System can cost you up to $13,500 over a 3 year period.

Formula # 2 – A Conversion Rate Your Mother Would Be Proud Of: This really comes down to a fundamental question – what actions do you want people to take on your website?

Your conversion rate is a simple calculation based on how many “hits” you are getting, and how many of those “hits” take action on your website. Simply put, a conversion is when someone takes the next step on your site – whether that’s filling in a form, signing up for your email program, buying something, etc.  Industry standard conversion rate for companies generating leads is usually right around 1% – for ecommerce websites, this is closer to 2-3%.

If you have no idea how many hits you are getting, or how many of those hits are taking action, call your web developer and make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your website, and that Google Analytics is tracking “goals” (which is also conversions). This program is free and will give you all of this information.

Out of every 100 people coming to your website, if you are driving leads, you should be getting at least 1 lead, and if you are selling products, you should be getting 2 sales. If you are quite a bit lower than these numbers, consider a good website design will easily take you to your 1% conversion. So, if you have a .5% conversion rate (which is where many older website designs are at), a new website design can easily double your leads (or sales).

What’s the value of that? Only your company can assign that value. You will need to sit down and determine whether doubling leads is enough to overcome a $10,000 investment.

Formula # 3 – Planning on Getting to the Top: The last big indicator of whether it’s time to overhaul your website would be whether you want your website to rank in Search Engines like Google or Bing, when your prospects are searching for your products and services. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you want to get that great traffic to your website, you must have a good technical website.

As you start to think about the potential of SEO you should keep in mind that an average website with Search Engine Optimization should see traffic increases by 40% in one year. So, if you are getting 1,000 “hits” to your website each month, a 40% increase means an additional 4,800 hits/year. For lead generation companies, 1% is a good estimate of a conversion rate on a new site design, which is  48 leads off of your increase. Over 3 years, this will be 144 leads. Again, your company will have to make its own calculations of whether this makes financial sense.

Most importantly, for these kinds of results, just a website design won’t cut it. These results are more likely for companies who do an SEO and Content Marketing program after a new website is built. That being said, if your company wants to take on an SEO campaign, your website must meet technical best practices.

Set Goals: A website design project can be a huge undertaking for your organization, so it makes financial sense to really think through the ROI and potential before putting your team through this kind of project. Also, to ensure you maintain those ROI goals throughout the project, it’s important to be very clear with your web development firm regarding the results you are expecting from your website.

Natalie Henley has been in the Internet marketing industry for over 4 years and specializes in the Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search & Social Media Marketing fields. She is the Marketing Manager at Volume 9 Inc. Volume 9 creates custom search marketing campaigns for clients, including a mix of SEO, paid search management, social media, local search marketing and website development for over 100 clients and 200 managed websites. Natalie and Volume 9’s enterprising team leverage search marketing into real bottom line results for their clients’ businesses.  They were recently honored by both the Inc. 5,000 and the Denver Business Journal as one of the fastest growing companies in Denver, and in the US.