Before you start the design or actual build of your website, there are a number of variables you’ll need to consider. For example, how much are you willing to pay for your website, including ongoing maintenance and hosting costs? What features are absolute necessities, and which ones can wait for a future iteration? Are you aiming for a minimum viable product, or something more robust that makes an impression?
As a general rule, the more advanced and original your website is, the more expensive it’s going to be, which leads to an interesting predicament for most webmasters and entrepreneurs. Should you focus on maximizing your investment by relying on inexpensive strategies, or try to build the best website you can no matter what?
PinnacleART describes this kind of scenario as the competition between value engineering and reliability-centered design. But which one is better for web development?
The Case for Efficiency
As Guerrilla Force explains, it is possible to find an inexpensive web build without taking shortcuts—but is going the more affordable route better?
- Maximizing return. Spending less money on your original web build means you’ll have lower costs to compare to your eventual revenue. For example, if you spend $1,000 on a site instead of $12,000, and you plan on earning a $500 per month profit, it would take you 2 months to make up your investment instead of 2 years.
- Minimum viable product feasibility. Some of the most popular and successful sites in the world have been simplistic ones, built from templates or with a bare framework in mind. HubSpot lists some of the most important features of a homepage—as long as you have those in place, the extra bells and whistles may not be necessary.
- Starting out with a basic design also gives you the option to add morelater. Just because you’re launching your first version with the bare bones doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever—in fact, it’s easier to modify a minimalistic design than it is a complex one, should you choose to make changes later on.
- Lack of differentiation. If you go with an inexpensive design, however, you’ll be following millions of other entrepreneurs. Choosing a basic template or a standard layout will leave you unable to differentiate yourself, which can damage your brand reputation.
The Case for Functionality
On the other hand, spending a little extra time and money could be worth it:
- Revenue and reputation. Fuller, more fleshed-out, more innovative websites instantly make a better impression with users (in most cases). This will improve your brand reputation, ultimately leading to more revenue, more brand loyalty, and more new customers.
- Time investment and risk. As noted by Side Hustle Nation, inexpensive websites are faster to create. In addition to costing you money, it will take time to develop your “masterpiece” website, which could prevent you from getting the revenue you need to keep the business afloat.
- The complete package. Building a website out completely means even your earliest customers will get the “full” brand experience. Launching prematurely with a slapped-together website could compromise your reputation before it has a chance to grow.
Other Variables to Consider
Going into this article, you knew the answer wouldn’t be cut and dry. In addition to the baseline pros and cons associated with each approach, there are a number of variables you’ll have to consider:
- The nature of your business. What kind of business are you running? Is it one that depends on a positive and memorable online experience, or is the website merely a complement to your core products and services? If the former, a more functional website is a must.
- Your target customer. Different customers need different things. Would your target audience be satisfied with a basic web experience, or would they crave something more robust?
- Your budget. Even basic custom websites (unless you’re using a free template) cost thousands of dollars. Your company’s budget may largely dictate which option you choose to pursue.
- Your future plans. Will you be adding more features in the future? Or are you trying to build a finished product right away?
With these variables in mind for your specific business and a better understanding of the options, you should be able to land on a decision. If you’re uncertain, you could go with a hybrid model, taking advantage of the best of both options, or side on the minimalistic end to give yourself more flexibility.