CASE STUDY: Reducing Your Web Development Costs and Timeframe
It does not matter what you do, you need a website of your own to give the people you deal with confidence that you are real and serious. Developing a website can become quite expensive if you approach it the wrong way and the development time frame can really blow out.
The following “GolfandBiz” Case Study highlights how to cut your website costs and development timeframe PLUS some of the pitfalls and gyrations which you can experience when developing any new website.
This project started as a collaboration with three other parties, with one being assigned as project leader for the website.
What was required / agreed was a simple website which caught people’s attention and encouraged them to look further … and hopefully make a golf tour booking.
- The project leader liked two commercial “golf” design templates available on the Internet and decided to acquire these (@$67 each) as a starting point.
- He finally settled on one and, in conjunction with our web designer, went about producing an initial site using that template.
- The designer struggled with the design template so modifying the graphics and the CSS took several days. (It looked fantastic in its original format but the graphics and panels did not convert well to a wider format).
End Result: A website shell which had no impact when some dummy content was included PLUS lacked a vital element – i.e. an opt-in area where people could get more information, make a tour inquiry or booking, etc. (The design template did not facilitate this.)
Total Development Cost (excluding content): $134 + 3 days designer time trying to modify what turned out to be a very rigid design.
With all the mucking around deciding on templates and making necessary changes, we ended up being 2 weeks behind schedule and launch was now just 3 weeks away. Nonetheless, we decided to scrap this website and start afresh with myself as the NEW project leader.
- At the time (February 2010), we were developing the More Than Templates and decided that this site would be a good way to test what had been produced.
- Our designer was asked to produce various header options for the new site.
- Within 24 hours, we had a complete website “shell” in place – unique header and footer, style and various page templates. [Most of the 24 hours was allocated to design of header/s and footer alternatives.]
- At the same time, we had full opt-in facilities and a working Member Area where we could place subscriber-only content – something which the original design template did not address … all in just 24 hours!
End Result: A website shell which had impact (even with dummy data) plus everything which was required and hence resounding approval from all stake holders.
Total Development Cost (excluding content): More Than Templates ($97 if we had to purchase it) + 24 hours designer time allocated predominantly to creation of graphics .
Yes, we reduced the time frame. However, the key difference was that we ALSO had a fully functional Member Area within this time frame.
There was no scripting required for addition to an external design template or adding and testing of a Widget if we had used WordPress (which was the wrong tool at that time for the job). It was set up instantly by More Than Templates.
Once in place, we set about creating completely new content. This was always going to be the hardest part of this site so we set ourselves a target to have it ready one week before launch. Deadline met!!!
- In December 2011, we converted the website (and business) from a “golf tours” service to an “events support” service.
- Writing of new copy took 2 days – actual technical work to make all changes took less than half an hour. [Page templates were already in place so this was purely a copy and paste exercise – i.e. no different to what would have been the case if we used WordPress.]
End Result: This site without any marketing attracts visitors every day. Average page view is 3 per visitor.
Design Flexibility – if you are trying to get impact, then ensure whatever tool you use can be scaled and allows you to present your content effectively. If you are developing a general website such as the above, then variety in your page formats is VITAL. (Blogs are different as you are presenting articles, not sales messages and so the rigid design with a fixed side menu right across the site is acceptable.)
Functionality – every website should have a mechanism for capturing visitor names / email address. If your content appeals, then the viewer will want more. If you don’t have a mechanism for getting their details, then you have no way to start and continue a dialogue.
Costs – it does not matter which tool you use (a design template, WordPress or More Than Templates), the REAL cost of any website is in your content.
Timeframe – go with the tool which minimize the amount of time spent on technical issues so that you can focus your time and budget on content.
This was the first real test of the More Than Templates scripts available for free download.