For professional services and other B2B organizations, it’s essential to have a website that accurately represents both your brand and your capabilities, while also providing a positive user experience. A well-designed website can increase brand credibility, generate leads, and ultimately drive revenue growth.
But one question that many leaders and marketers have is exactly how much they should spend on a modern, high performance website.
Of course, the cost of redeveloping a website can vary for several reasons. The scope of the project, the features you want, and the goals you want to achieve will impact the overall investment. A basic website with minimal features will cost less than a complex website with advanced features such as custom integrations, custom mapping or filtering, and high-end design elements. Also, using pre-developed templates can save a great deal of money, though they may come with performance tradeoffs such as customization, less relevant user experience and brand differentiation.
Also the experience and expertise of your website design and development partner can impact the cost. Working with top-tier designers, industry experts, and developers will usually cost more, but they are also more likely to produce a higher quality end product and positive business impact.
So how much should you plan to spend when developing your next B2B website?
In this article, we aim to cover all the factors that can affect the cost of developing your next website and the top considerations you should acknowledge as you begin the planning process. But first let’s consider some of the reasons decision makers hesitate to invest in a new website.
Why Leaders Hesitate to Invest in a New Website
For most businesses, a new website is a big decision with major financial implications—and there are several concerns that business leaders might have when considering redeveloping their website.
One concern we hear all the time is how a new website may become outdated quickly and how the cost of regular updates and maintenance can quickly add up. Many business leaders and marketers have horror stories from working with the wrong website design partner who set them up on a difficult content management system (CMS) platform. So it’s reasonable to worry that a new website could cause too many new headaches or become outdated too quickly.
There also might be hesitation regarding the time and resources required to plan, design, build, and launch a new website. The website design process can be long, and leaders may worry about the impact that a website redevelopment may have on their day-to-day operations, particularly if they have a limited in-house marketing team. This is particularly true for larger businesses with many different stakeholders, business lines, and sub-brands that want to be involved in the process.
And of course cost is often a primary factor in any decision-making process. Creating a high-performance website that meaningfully differentiates your brand comes at a cost. This is why it’s important to understand the expected outcomes of the website redesign. What are your business objectives and how can a new website deliver a worthy return on investment?
To overcome these hesitations and be able to decide how much to spend on a new website, you need to consider your desired return on investment. Let’s explore this topic next.
10 Ways a High-Performance Website Generates ROI
Any business leader and marketing team looking to invest in a new website will surely be thinking in terms of return on investment (ROI). High-performance websites can be big investments so it’s essential to understand how your website’s performance fits into your business goals and marketing plan.
Below are 10 ways business leaders can expect ROI on a high performance website:
- Improved user experience (UX): A new website with a modern design and user-friendly interface can greatly enhance the user experience for customers, leading to increased engagement and conversions. Improved UX design will keep your audiences on your website longer and create a more memorable experience.
- Increased credibility: A professional, well-designed website can improve the credibility of a business in the eyes of potential buyers or job candidates. Differentiated design and messaging can provide website visitors with a positive impression of your brand and help you stand out from your competitors.
- Better search engine visibility: A new website built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind can help a business rank higher in search results, leading to increased organic traffic and visibility. Not all website design partners can provide this service though. So it’s important to work with a partner who can assess your current SEO strengths and weaknesses and outline a path for improvement.
Moreover, a website built with a strong SEO foundation and methodology will be able to respond and stay ahead of the constant changes driven by Google and any other platforms relevant to your audiences.
- Mobile responsiveness: With the increasing use of mobile devices, it is crucial for a website to be mobile-friendly and responsive to different screen sizes. A new website can be built with this functionality baked in, helping you reach and engage a wider audience. If your website hasn’t been updated in more than 5 years, it’s quite possible that it doesn’t meet today’s standards for mobile responsiveness.
- Better content management: Nothing can spoil digital marketing efforts like a bad content management system (CMS). A website built with a robust CMS can make it easier for businesses to manage their website content and make updates in real-time without always having to go through a website developer for support.
- Improved lead generation: A new website with features like contact forms, landing pages, and conversion pages can help a business capture and nurture leads. For B2B and professional services firms, this is often an underutilized aspect of how their website can support their marketing efforts.
- Increased awareness of services: A strategically designed website can help a business build brand awareness in a way that communicates its value proposition and makes it easy for users to understand the range of services the business offers. Design emphasis on content organization will help guide users to the most important information sooner.
- Better conversion rates: A new website optimized for conversions can help a business turn more visitors into paying customers or leads. High performance websites are built to drive all kinds of users towards a conversion even if they are at different stages of the buying process.
- Improved customer engagement: Features such as live chat and interactive content can help a business engage customers and build relationships with them. Websites that are built with your comprehensive marketing and business development strategy in mind will enhance your customer’s ability to engage directly with you without running the user experience.
- Competitive advantage: In today’s digital landscape, having a professional, well-designed website can give a business a competitive advantage over rivals that have outdated or poorly designed websites.
With all these positive outcomes in mind, how should you budget for a high performance website?
Planning Your Website Budget
As you begin planning your website budget, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take to ensure your process goes smoothly. We recommend you follow these steps to help get the budget planning process started.
Step 1: Build your internal team and assign your project champions
Redesigning your corporate website inevitably comes with many stakeholders. C-suite executives need to ensure the brand positioning is accurately communicated; marketing and business development team members will want to be sure the new website engages users, drives leads, and integrates with the rest of the marketing system; and human resources will want to make sure that the new website supports recruiting and talent retention efforts. You’ll want to identify the points of contact who will provide feedback on these fronts as the website design process gets started.
Although many may be involved along the way, it’s best that you assign a small group of champions who will carry the website development process forward and take responsibility for working directly with the website developer. You want to avoid a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario. So while there may be pressure to include everyone at every stage of the website design process, you’ll get better results if you entrust a small team to go through the process.
Step 2: Assess your current brand positioning and messaging
Websites are the center of your digital marketing and business development efforts. Your buyers not only use your website to find your business and learn more about you, they will return again and again as they consider you as a potential service provider. Therefore it is essential that your brand positioning and messaging is clear and differentiated from your competition. If you have branding challenges, you’ll want to address them BEFORE you start the website design process.
Brand challenges arise in many different ways. From mergers and acquisitions to generational changes in leadership, it is common for professional services firms to reevaluate their brand positioning regularly. As the marketplace evolves, it’s natural that brand messaging and design elements grow outdated.
Do your key messages still resonate with your buyers? Is it time to update your logo? Is your color palette too one dimensional or undifferentiated? Businesses with more outdated messaging and brand elements may need to consider working with website designers who also specialize in positioning and rebranding. These services will add to the budget, so plan accordingly.
Step 3: Define your website goals
Once you have established the overall needs of your brand, you can look back at the list of high performance website benefits. What areas do you need to prioritize? Some of the more common items include the following:
- Improving the visual representation of your brand
- Improving brand integrity with unified positioning and messaging
- Increasing your visibility in search engines
- Improving the user experience
- Increasing lead generation
- Improving the functionality and ease of use of your CMS
- Increasing engagement from job candidates
Before approaching a website design partner, you’ll want to document exactly what outcomes you expect to see once your new website is launched and working. Not all website design partners are equipped to handle all your issues. Identifying your goals earlier in the process will help you rule out design partners who are not prepared to help you meet all your goals.
Step 4: Prepare a list of needed website services and desired features
What features will your new site need? And what services will your design and development partner need to bring to the table? There is far more to a high-performance website than its appearance.
Consider what services your team can contribute. For example, how much new copywriting is needed as a part of the redesign process? Is this something your team can do yourself or will you want your website design partner to support?
Some examples of additional services include the following:
- Brand guidelines and design support
- Keyword research and SEO support
- Professional copywriting services
- Technology integration audit and support
- Review of key competitors’ websites
Next are the features that you’d like to see implemented on your website. For example, if you’re an AEC firm, do you want to include an interactive map that shows the locations of your completed projects? Do you need a sophisticated project portfolio? Custom features or artwork can greatly enhance your website’s quality and user experience, but they will come at a cost.
If you’re unsure about the kinds of services and features you’ll need through the website design process, then it’s essential that you work with a partner who can provide you with strategic advisory—grounded in industry understanding—to guide you in the decision making process. Nevertheless, you can always do a little research yourself to see what other top performing firms in your industry do on their websites. Perhaps there is something worth imitating.
Step 5: Begin researching website development partners and soliciting estimates
If you’ve followed these steps so far, you’ll be prepared to start speaking with potential website design and development partners. You will have outlined your team members, the brand assets that need to be updated, your website goals and expected outcomes, and the services and features you want most.
With all of these assets on hand, you can summarize everything in a scope of work statement you can supply to possible partners. At this stage, you’ll be ready to get more accurate estimates for the kind of services you need.
But not all website design and development partners are created equal. Next let’s explore how to select the right partner for your business.
Selecting the Right Website Development Partner
When planning your budget for a new website it is important to spend time evaluating your potential website partners. Choosing the wrong website development partner can be a major risk for professional services and B2B firms, especially those with a more diverse set of service offerings.
Similar to other outsourced industries, website development comes at every price point and level of quality. Many freelancers and website development firms compete aggressively on price. However we would suggest that price not be your only consideration.
Here are a few questions, aside from cost, that you should consider answering when selecting a website design and development partner:
Are they promising a set cost or monthly subscription service?
Many low-cost website developers aren’t transparent about what you get for the quoted cost. While their fee may include design, development and hosting, each of those activities likely includes shortcuts and tradeoffs that won’t be apparent until you are well into the process. Some, such as hosting, may involve performance or security tradeoffs that you will never see until a problem emerges weeks or months after launch. Others, such as using predesigned templates or themes, can make it difficult to differentiate your firm visually.
A low, set cost is usually an indicator that the provider will take a less collaborative and strategic approach during the website design process. For them to remain profitable, they have to take more control in the decision-making process—in turn providing a service that results in less performance and most B2B firms will outgrow the end product quickly. There may be security issues that being hosted in this manner may raise, as well.
We recommend you search for a website partner that provides a base cost and a very specific set of assumptions about what that fee includes. They should also be very transparent about what factors might change the scope and increase costs. This approach is more flexible, and it is more likely to produce a website that aligns with your goals and includes the services and features you need. Moreover, it will take into consideration how much your internal team can contribute to the process when it comes to things like content creation and migration.
In summary, you want to be sure that you work with a website design partner that is more responsive to your specific needs.
Do they understand your industry and your clients?
Not only will the right partner take time to understand your business, goals, and your target audience, they should have a proven understanding of your industry. Have they worked with other firms in your industry? What were the results of those engagements? They should be able to speak your language and understand your unique positioning.
Do they have the right experience and expertise?
Look for a service partner with a proven track record in designing and building B2B websites. The company should have a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities that come with this type of project. Heck, look at their website. Does it reflect the quality you are looking for?
Take the time to look at the other websites in their portfolio. Find examples of the work that are similar to what you aspire to—and if those don’t exist, they might not be the right partner for you.
Also, ask for references and check out the company’s online reputation. Seek out reviews and testimonials to get a better understanding of their work and the results they have delivered for other clients.
Are they strong communicators?
A successful website project requires close collaboration between your team and your design partner. Look for a company that values open and transparent communication and is committed to working with you every step of the way.
While you are assessing them, ask them to specifically outline their plan for communicating with you during the website design process. Will it be at least weekly? Who will be your point of contact? Answering these questions up front can save you a lot of anxiety later.
What is the expected timeline of the website development?
You want to be sure that your website design partner can give you a specific timeline to complete the project. Ask them to provide a roadmap with key milestones for the website development process.
The questions you ask your potential website design partners can ensure that your B2B website project is a success and that your investment delivers the results you need.
The Cost of a High Performance Website
Now that we have considered what goes into the planning process of your new website, let’s turn to what it will cost.
By this point, you understand that there is a lot of planning that goes into the development of a high-performance website. And building it may include more than the base design and development costs. You may need to rethink your brand messaging, explore your audience behaviors, and even redesign your brand identity. In short, many factors can affect cost.
The following estimates are based on our experience building hundreds of high-performance websites and are informed by our understanding of where the website design industry stands today. Below are four general price tiers that cover a range of budgets and expectations.
Under $40,000 – Functional Template Based Site
There are functional websites that website developers can build for you that are not high performance websites. They can be attractive and present your services clearly, but they are often unlikely to include a foundation of research, strategy, and design expertise aimed at generating new leads or contributing much to enhancing your firm’s reputation. In our experience, new websites that are designed for less than $40,000 will not include many strategic elements that maximize the impact of the new website.
Are these websites functional? Probably, yes. But it is unlikely that they will produce additional visibility in search engines, provide a relevant and engaging user experience to your most important audiences, or showcase attractive calls to action that prompt users to contact you.
Websites designed for less than $40,000 are likely to use inflexible templates or themes that have been used again and again for many firms in your industry—limiting your ability to differentiate your brand and or deliver website features that support your marketing program.
$40,000-$80,000 – High-Performance Website
When you begin working with website design and development partners who offer more holistic and bespoke services, the cost of that website development project will likely exceed $40,000.
At this price range, you can expect to receive dramatically more value, service, and flexibility. You should expect not only to work with top-tier designers and website developers but also experienced advisors who understand your industry and who can guide you through a process that takes into account your brand identity and business goals.
Moreover, additional services like professional copywriting and search engine optimization will be available and customizable to your needs. From the features you include on the website to the services you need for support, website development partners at this price tier will customize your scope of work to maximize the value you receive from your new website.
$80,000-$120,000 – Advanced High Performance Website
Website scopes that exceed $80,000 will take all the elements of the high-performance website listed above and add custom design assets and integrations that take your website functionality to a premier tier of performance and user engagement.
This level of work may also involve a full rebrand of your organization. For organizations that have multiple sub-brands, these initiatives could also include a multi-site strategy, providing a unified backend across multiple external-facing websites.
Over $120,000 – Fully Custom High Performance Website
Engagements over $120,000 includes everything in an advanced high-performance website but also may include the highest level of customized features. You’ll find functionality such as deep integration with internal and external databases, HR and recruitment systems, marketing automation and CRM platforms, extensive copywriting services, sophisticated interactive design elements, custom photography and video, and powerful content suggestion algorithms.
At this higher tier of website development, $120,000 is the floor upon which these sophisticated integrations and advanced customization can be applied. Cost can increase quickly to the mid six-figures as these elements are combined together in scope. With larger website trends moving toward headless CMS and built-in A.I., it’s important for future focused firms to evaluate all of the benefits and costs associated with this level of investment.
Final Thoughts on B2B Website Cost
As we’ve discussed, a high-performance website is crucial for any professional services or B2B business looking to establish a strong online presence and drive conversions. However, creating such a website requires a significant investment, and the starting cost can often far exceed $40,000.
That may seem like a lot until you understand what value you are truly getting for your money. That value might include working with top-tier—often award-winning—designers and developers, experts who understand your industry, and advisors who bring a wealth of experience, skill, and knowledge to the table. They understand the complexities of B2B websites, including SEO, lead generation, customer engagement, and analytics, and they are able to integrate these features seamlessly into your new website.
In the end, the cost of working with partners who can deliver a high-performance website is worth it for one reason: it leads to better outcomes. They will help you create a bespoke website that will not only help you stand out from the competition but will also be more efficient, providing a better user experience for your visitors, generating a steady stream of high-quality visitors, converting those visitors into leads, turning many of those leads into loyal fans, and eventually converting some of these fans into valuable new clients.
Keep in mind that developing a website is longer about building an obligatory online presence! To compete in today’s increasingly digital business environment, your website needs to be findable in online search—and deliver the features and content your buyers are looking for in a firm like yours.
Finding a website design and development partner that truly understands the importance of this connection between website design, business development, and marketing will ensure that your website investment, regardless of budget, will yield positive results and a strong ROI.
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