Businesses Need to Pivot to Digital to Stay Relevant. Ecommerce Is a Necessity
Today, almost everyone in Toronto and elsewhere seems to have a website or have gone digital. As a business owner, you’ve probably had the conversation more than once about launching a website of your own. However, as always, the benefit needs to outweigh the cost whenever making a business-related decision.
You might be asking yourself, “What can a website actually do for my business” And, equally as important, “How much will it cost?”
In this article, we’ll set your doubts aside by laying out the benefits of pivoting and going digital with a web development and how costs are calculated.
It All Starts with a Business Website
With an estimated 4.6+ billion users worldwide (and growing), the internet is collectively the largest market in the world. Having some kind of internet-facing presence already gives you access to that market.
However, a website stands out when it comes to its versatility and what it could mean for your brand.
A Central Hub for Your Online Presence
A Facebook page, an Instagram account, a Twitter handle, an account on a local Toronto business forum, etc. If you understand the importance of an online business presence, you likely have one or more of these already.
A website can act as an anchor point between all of these portals and reassure users they are engaging with your official accounts elsewhere. While there might be multiple businesses with the same name on other platforms, your website will be entirely unique to you.
An Online Business Portal
More and more individuals, and increasingly more businesses, are willing to (and, even prefer) doing business online. Just think of the boom in the e-commerce industry, which amounted to $3.53 trillion in sales in 2019 and is growing 10-25% every year. B2B commerce in 2019 amounted to $12.2 trillion.
A website can also act as an excellent contact point to offer live chat support or redirect customers to helpful resources. It’s one of the only ways for customers to register an account directly with you. That gives you access to critical consumer data and a constant point-of-contact that can lead to even more monetization opportunities via loyalty programs, exclusive deals, and sales, etc.
Enhance Your Brand
While social media business pages are easy and convenient, they are lacking in brand-ability. Every Facebook business page looks roughly the same with the same layout, ways to post new content, etc. You also share the space with Facebook’s own branding and the market place with all of your competitors.
With a completely unique design and your own domain, a website can be an extension of your business. With the majority of people researching locally online BEFORE visiting in-store, with targetted searches such as “web development in Toronto,” it’s likely the first impression they will get of your brand. And, with your own website, you can make sure it’s a flawless one.
Take Full Advantage of Content Marketing
Having a blog on your website allows you to effectively optimize search engine results while also directing organic traffic directly to your website. In fact, 88% of people that do a local store search visit one within a week.
With millions of people and businesses competing for precious real estate on Google’s first page of results, you need every advantage you can get. However, a blog is also important from a branding perspective. It allows you to tell your story in your own way at a pace that suits you.
How Much Does Web Development Cost in Toronto?
Good question. The simple fact is that it entirely depends on the features and functionality your website requires – as well as your budget.
Also, keep in mind that you always get what you pay for. A freelancer or agency willing to take on your project for a price that seems too good to be true is likely just that.
Let’s not forget that web development costs vary depending on the location of the developer. Web development in Toronto might cost more than web development in a third-world country.
This is due to operational costs as well as the added assurance of being more likely to get a high-quality product with adequate support.
With that in mind, let’s look at the factors that affect the web development costs of a business site.
Pages, content, and design
The most obvious factor is the relative size of the project. How many pages do you need? How much content should go on each page? Will you extensively use multimedia assets (videos, custom animations, music) or mostly text and images?
All of this pretty linearly affects the time needed to finish a website. Websites can range from simple, one-page sites with an email contact form to hundreds of pages that require a carefully planned information architecture.
The intricacy of the design also plays a role. The more beautiful, tailor-made, and intricate you want the design to be, the higher the overall cost will be.
CMS vs. Custom-made Website
A website can either be built using an existing CMS (content management system), such as WordPress, or entirely from scratch.
While the former powers most websites today, it’s also the least customizable. Because the look, feel, and functionality can easily be changed by installing existing themes and plugins, it’s usually the less expensive option. With a simple WordPress site, for example, the owner can likely carry out their own maintenance most of the time with minimal training.
Building a website from scratch takes more work and will deliver a more bespoke feel and give you greater control over features and how they work. That being said, long-term maintenance will need to be carried out by the original team or other professional developers.
E-commerce is generally one of the most expensive additions you can make to a website project. That’s because it’s a multi-faceted problem that will add significant time and effort to the web development process. These are just some of the added capabilities that go into an online store:
- Customer account creation
- Online payment portals
- Increased security
- Databases for handling product and consumer data
- Adding potentially large amounts of products, variants, filters, etc.
Advanced Features and Functionality
A website can have pretty much any feature that any other application or program can have. Some of the most common features most websites today have are contact/email forms, social media widgets and sharing buttons, mobile responsiveness, etc.
However, depending on your business needs, you may need more advanced features, such as:
- E-commerce capabilities
- Live chat or helpdesk tools
- Custom databases
- Profile registration and customer/employee account management
This can also include programming custom integrations with any enterprise applications you might be using, such as Office 365, SAP, etc.
Added and Aftermarket Services
For optimal performance, security, and to stay in good working order, a website should be appropriately maintained. It’s usually best that maintenance is done by the original web developer as they have a more intimate knowledge of how the specific website is built.
Other aftermarket services can include things like online marketing, content writing packages, visual updates, managing hosting, or bug fixes. Of course, all of these extra working hours will cost extra. However, they can save you in the long run by avoiding any major issues or even downtime.
So, What’s the Bottom Line?
Along with a website, there are usually some other unavoidable fees costs. Luckily, these are generally quite small and include:
- A domain: Around $30-$100 per year
- SSL certificate: Around $200-$1,000 per year
- Hosting costs: Anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars per year if dedicated server is required
As you can see, these usually don’t impact the overall cost of a website too much. When it comes to SSL certificates and hosting fees, the more expensive options are only needed when your business starts to grow very large and has to handle massive amounts of traffic.
The upfront costs of developing a website can vary dramatically. However, you can expect costs of around:
- $3,000 to $5,000 for a basic business website using a CMS
- $500 to $2,000 for a CMS website with e-commerce and user accounts
- $1,000 to $4,000 for a custom-built website with a professional design and decent functionality
- $5,000-$10,000+ for a custom-built e-commerce website
- $30,000+ for enterprise-scale websites with advanced capabilities
Hopefully, now that you understand what a website can mean for your business, as well as what goes into developing an effective site, the process seems less daunting. A website is the ultimate online branding tool that will help you:
- Set yourself apart from your competitors
- Be easier to find for potential customers
- Create more sales channels and monetization opportunities
- Establish and even enhance your brand