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I’ve developed and worked with a number of websites over the last couple of decades. Some were enterprise sites, others were midsize or small sites and one was even an ecommerce site. In every case, we used a website development agency or a code writer to develop the wireframe for the site.

Developers build the box that holds the content. But the content is what drives the site’s value. Content needs to flow in a way that properly educates your reader. Readers want to quickly and easily find what matters to them, and find links that help them to hop around to pertinent data or to dig into details. Quick, easy, and informative navigation is critical or you’ll lose readers. You only have seconds to capture a prospect’s attention, so your site wireframe needs to ensure that it’s easy for prospects to find what they’re looking for.

When developing a site’s wireframe you have two choices: to do it on your own or to use a developer.

I’ve looked at a lot of homegrown sites. Their quality varies but too often they look and sound homegrown, which undermines your buyer’s sense of your professionalism. If your site doesn’t look current, sound professional, and isn’t well laid out, then how can you expect a prospect to feel confident that you’re the right choice to manage their risks or to spend a lot of money with? Look at your site from your buyer’s perspective. Ask yourself how many types of buyers do you have or want. Is the information that these buyers would want to know on your site? Can they quickly and easily find it? And is it organized in layers of depth and detail?

Unless you know how to manipulate a website template, can find a template that will do exactly what you want it to do without any coding, know where and how to get good artwork, and have the time and skills to develop your SEO and your content, you may want a little help. A site developer can be a small company that codes or an agency. You’ll need to determine whether you will write the content or someone else will; in which case: can you all communicate and work together?

 If you reach out for help, it’s so important to educate your developer on your business and sales goals before setting pricing, timelines, look, or a feel for your site. Developers generally don’t understand our industry! With a small developer you’ll be working directly with their whole team. With an agency you’ll be talking to a salesperson. Behind this person is a project manager and in the distance are the coders.

It’s easier to communicate with a small company and their pricing tends to be lower than an agency with overhead. Their downfall can be a lack of experience; and there will be bugs to fix. With an agency, meet your project manager and your coders before you sign anything. I’ve not worked with an agency yet that hasn’t come back saying, “Well, that will cost another so many dollars to do,” even if it was in the initial discussions! Don’t sign a sales proposal; work with the team to get a detailed scope of work to be done based on conversations. In fact, approach any designers with an outline or written request for work. I also recommend that you put some money aside for ideas that will pop up as you develop your site, as they will.

 Your costs depend on many variables: number of pages, sections, depth, custom work to be done to whatever template is used —and yes, they use templates — the size of the agency, who writes the content, and whether you have ongoing SEO support, which I recommend. You’re looking at between $5,000 to $15,000 for a small site and $15,000 to $40,000 for midsize site. A good site is a 24/7/365 sales tool, lasts for five or more years, can be edited and expanded by you as you grow, can be viewed on handheld devices and can support apps. So divide your site’s cost over the number of years you’ll use it to determine your investment.