November brings a new look to PCRepairs.com. Our site has moved to the same development model that we use for the majority of our clients. Realizing that cost is the main driving factor behind the choice of your website, we followed the same rules for ourselves. This is our first hand case study for an affordable website for a small business.
The premise for the website is that WordPress, Templates and Plugins allow for a fast, cost effective website with the functionality you need to present a usable site to your customers.
- The website must be built within 1 month, using no more than two people. (One for Technical, one for Content.)
- A total budget for the website must be under $3,000.
- Maintenance of the site must not increase workload more than the time it saves to have web-based customer service.
- The website must be optimized to easily be found on Google.
- The website must add value in time and convenience for existing clients.
The Web Server:
Our project starts out with a simple hosting package. This adds no up front cost, but does add a monthly fee of just under $20 a month. The Managed WordPress Hosting option allows users to have a WordPress site up and running, without worrying about any of the underlying server technologies. Basic hosting, backups, firewall and even underlying server updates are all included.
The next step is to look for a template that will have the look and feel you’d like. A custom made website will cost tens of thousands of dollars. Lower cost websites often come from web developers that sell as custom websites, but are just tweaking templates to match your requirements. The lowest cost option is to get a template yourself, and make sure you have the tweaking ability, or if you prefer, just pay to have it tweaked to match your needs. For our affordable website, we went with the last option.
Doing some searching around there wasn’t a template that quite met our needs on any of the WordPress Template provider sites. Since we found a simple affordable website template that looked like it fit the bill, we went that route. It also shows the budget and timeline have enough room in them to meed virtually any needs a client may have.
Having chosen a $99 USD template that met our goal, it was time to get it converted to WordPress. $249 USD and 10 days later, and the complete template was converted to WordPress. It even came with a rather complete set of tools to make changes to the layouts, or add variants of the template pages for the rest of the site. During our conversion time, we focused on the plug-ins that we’d use for a complete solution. We also used the time to put together some of the content that would appear on the final product.
The plugins added to the WordPress site were:
- Security to keep the site secure and displaying what we want it to display
- Anti-Spam (a serious consideration for any website that allows users to post directly to it)
- Caching for performance
- CRM for sales and client tracking
- SEO so that potential clients can find us
- Client Access Portal for a unified communications point
- Helpdesk for tracking all client tickets and incidents
- Project Management to keep clients up to date on works in progress
- Estimating and Invoicing to give clients a full financial interface in the portal
- E-commerce for sale of hardware and software
- Payment Gateway for accepting payment via Credit Cards online
- A few other plugins just to make managing and monitoring user comments and feedback easier
Of the plugins used, most were free. The paid plugins totaled $120 USD for the permanent licensed ones, and $99 USD annually for the subscription ones.
As always the hardest part of putting up a new website is coming up with content that is valuable enough for clients and potential clients to be worth their time. This is where the bulk of the time will come in, but the up side is that you can easily change or add content to a WordPress website.
The Final Product:
Our final site launched with over 50 pages, 27 Plugins, and full support for all aspects of the interaction with our clients, e-commerce support. All in the costs are roughly $600 USD and $20 USD a month for managed hosting. (About $800 CAD.) Also about 14 hours of Technical work done, which at an average basic billing rate of $125/hour would put the total budget for the project at under $3,000.
Since content is best served coming from the business owners or staff, it is not included as an overhead project cost. The amount of time spent coming up with content varies greatly from person to person, and business to business. There are resources online for outsourcing creative content. Our experience has been that the best results come from the people that know the business best.
Our $3,000 website came in fully functional in every desired area at launch, and compared budget-wise to one of the lower quotes received for a “custom” website which consisted of the first page only. Also custom work for the quote is based on customization of a template, and all content has to be supplied as it was with our case study website.
Our final site will make it easier for our clients to get answers any time they want, anywhere they want. Also it provides valuable information to them in an easy to use, secure system. The site lets them interact with out staff on non-critical issues in a way that saves time. And it even streamlines estimates, billing and payments producing a consistent experience for our clients while reducing our associated costs. Overall it adds value for us and our clients, at a price that puts the ROI within the year.
If you’d like to see how we can help you get an affordable website that makes life easier for you and your customers, Call us today!