Your Online Multi-presence Part 3
The price is right…or is it?
by Anna Marie Piersimoni
With prices that can range from a few hundred dollars to five or six thousand, how can a “newbie’ judge the value and budget for it?
Well, try comparing it to a wedding banquet. How much does that cost?It depends on whether you’re serving filet mignon and cracked crab or pigs-in-a-blanket. As with a banquet, the price of a website goes up as you add features and sophistication, be it design or function.
First, you will incur an initial expense to register your domain name and set up with a hosting service to “store” your web site. At approximately $10/year, the cost of registering your domain name is very inexpensive and hosting averages range $10-15/month. That amount can fluctuate according to how much content and traffic your site is generating, which is not a concern at the beginning.
A word about domain names: what is a domain name ? a quick definition In most cases your practice and your own name is your “brand” and that should be your domain name. If you provide a unique service, you may want to consider to register a name that reflects it. In any case the domain name should be simple, short, easy to remember and very relevant to that service.
So what will it cost, anyway?
- How will the site and its pages be designed and produced?
- Who will update the content and technical functions?
- What is the ongoing cost of creating graphics or buying stock images?
- What marketing costs are involved to drive traffic to the site?
Most of the above mentioned inexpensive blog applications are very simple to use and the content can be entered without the help of a technical professional. You can easily have tabs for sections like About, Mission, Services, Contact info and perhaps an actual Blog. There are now many attractive pre-designed themes. Think of a theme as the “wardrobe“ of the web site – the page layout, fonts, colors, patterns, etc. Then you simply add content and update on a regular basis using an editor that is as simple to use as Microsoft Word. As with anything cheap or free, there are limits. These include limits on number of pages, changing colors, fonts, size or shape of text areas, etc. And, particularly with free themes, your “look”may show up on other web sites, tainting the unique appeal of yours.
Be Ye Web Designer or Therapist ?
Many of these limits can be overcome with a designer – and it is worth it to invest in a web designer or developer so that you can concentrate on what you do best – therapy.
Fortunately, due to the proliferation of these applications there are now a number of “hybrid” designers who specialize in customizing these applications, so that you can add a level sophistication to the site and still have control over your day-to-day content management.
One very worthy expense is in the area of online marketing. Some of these applications, like WordPress, have functions for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), to offset the cost of using a professional. But setting it up and really “using” it will require time –yours or someone you pay.
If your budget can handle it, it would be wise to point your dollars first towards professionals who can offer a strategic approach, marketing insight and optimization skills, rather than flashy design. Animation and fancy graphics often slow down the performance of your site and search engines do not read the embedded text in it.
Once you have established a website, the next task will be to increase your online visibility. Your website will ultimately become the hub of activity that is linked to multiple social networking sites that draw people back to your site. If you build it, they will come, but only if you utilize effective online marketing to attract individuals to your site. The use of keywords, SEO tools, and social networking will be discussed in future posts.
Anna Marie Piersimoni is an independent consultant in multi-platform media production and marketing. She is a former Director of Internet Communications and a video and broadcast television promotion producer.