What are the top three things someone like a yoga studio owner should consider when looking to hire someone to build their website?
1. Your Budget – can you afford to have a custom site or should you consider a template?
2. Your Requirements – What functional requirements do you need in your site (will you want a blog, photo gallery, rotating schedule, e-newsletter signup, e-commerce capabilities?)
3. Site Management – Will you be able to update your site yourself or will you hire it out? Do you have the option of adding more features to the site as time goes on or are you “stuck” with the design?
What should be included in a website package? At the very least.
- Project scope discussion – this should include site navigation and site functionality requirements, timeline and pricing.
- Site design – this is the look and feel of the site – no matter if you have a template or custom design.
- Installation of content management system on server.
- Development of site – installing template or converting custom design to working site. Site content (text, photos, videos and other media) should be inserted into the site.
- Site testing (checking the site on various browsers/platforms)
- Site maintenance plan – this should include training on site updates as well as documentation on site maintenance and site operations.
Additional items to consider in a website package:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan and analytics integration
- web hosting and email services setup
- e-newsletter design and setup
- social media design and setup
- on-going maintenance and development
Why does having a website make a new studio more successful?
When I started designing yoga specific websites almost 7 years ago, it was much more common to not have a website. However, the most successful studios realized the importance of having a strong online presence. Now if you don’t have a website, you run the risk of not only not reaching potential students through social media, search engines and directory listings, but of alienating your current clients. Students want (and need) to easily access your schedule, find directions to your studio and view your upcoming events.
Your website serves the foundation for everything else you do online – whether you write a blog, upload videos, share photos, sell products or connect via social media. Make sure you own your own space online first – then you can always add on as your business grows.
What is the budget range of a new website, is less expensive better?
Website budgets can really run a wide range. Prices can vary based on developer location, the experience and expertise of designer/developer, and project scope.
You can have a pre-made template installed for several hundred dollars or you can have a custom site built that reflects your brand and your business for several thousand dollars. Larger scale, robust sites (typically studios with multiple locations, ecommerce capabilities and other specific structural specifications) can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Typical small studios or solo teachers that have simple requirements (5-10 pages) can range in price anywhere from $750-$1500. These lower priced sites usually utilize pre-made templates.
Custom sites designed by professional web designers can start at $3000-$5000+. These prices might also include e-newsletter, social media graphics and one-on-one training. More established designers will have greater experience incorporating third-party systems and should be able to recommend and provide functional solutions.
I highly recommend establishing a long-term relationship with your web designer – just like you would your doctor, lawyer or accountant. You should be able to return to this person or agency to ask questions or to add more functionality to your site as needed.
Different designers have different ways of working – typically you will be charged a flat rate for the initial web site design and development. Changes and items outside of the project scope or after the site is launched are typically billed on an hourly basis. Make sure you establish what role the designer will play after the site launch.
Additional costs to consider
(These costs are typically not included in web design packages)
Web hosting ($70-$100/yr)
Domain name ($10-$20/yr)
E-mail marketing programs ($0-$50+ month/ depends of list size)
Scheduling software ($0-$100 month)
E-commerce software (shopping carts, billing software)
How can fitness business owners refresh a stale website without breaking the bank?
Adding great photos is a quick and easy way to add pizzazz to your site. People love seeing actual (not stock) imagery of the community and the studio space. A number of my clients are able to barter with their students (many studios have amateur or even professional photographers as clients) to do photo shoots in exchange for free or reduced price classes. Just make sure to have any students sign a model release!
Adding a slideshow of upcoming events, workshops, retreats or classes is another great feature used on a lot of sites. It’s an easy way to display a lot of visual information without cluttering up the home page.
Think about creating videos — you can do a short 2-3 minute video (even done on an iphone camera) – upload the video to YouTube and add the video to your site. As video becomes more affordable and easy to produce, you will see more and more of this over time. Plus, it’s great for SEO (search engine optimization) conversion.
What are two big no-nos when it comes to expectations of a web designer/developer?
1. Website uptime and email deliverability are the responsibility of your web hosting provider, not your web designer. This is why I highly recommend you purchase your web hosting through a company that provides 24/7 support.
Keep your website hosting and login information in a secure, easily accessible place (for example, a password protected excel spreadsheet or online password program) so that if you need to contact your hosting company you have all of your information ready to go.
2. Not all web designers are developers and not all web developers are designers – be very clear from the outset what your design expectations are and do NOT tell your designer you want to copy someone else’s site — this is copyright infringement. Have a clear contract and set of expectations in terms of timeline, pricing and responsibilities so that both parties are satisfied with the end product.