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4 Best eCommerce Platforms In South Africa Right Now [2020 Guide]

4 Best eCommerce Platforms In South Africa Right Now [2020 Guide]

Many South African businesses shared a collective sigh of relief on Thursday as the Presidency announced all eCommerce stores are allowed to operate under Level 4 Lockdown.

A lucky few businesses can return back to some form of production & online sales. But companies without eCommerce stores are facing the prospect of being left in the dust if they don’t jump onto the eCommerce bandwagon soon.

In this article, we will compare the 4 best eCommerce platforms for businesses in South Africa during the lockdown.

4 Best eCommerce Platforms in South Africa

The most popular eCommerce platforms in South Africa right now are:

magento best ecommerce platform south africa

Magento is an advanced open-source eCommerce platform popular with large online retailers.

shopify best ecommerce platform south africa

Shopify is a SAAS (Software As A Service) eCommerce platform with monthly plans.

wix best ecommerce platform south africa

Wix eCommerce is the eCommerce add-on for Wix, a user-friendly SAAS website builder.

woocommerce best ecommerce platform south africa

Woocommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress which powers 35% of all websites on the internet.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an eCommerce Platform

We are comparing these platforms based on the most important factors for small businesses right now:

Price

Ease of Use

d

Features & Functionalities

Design Customisation

Ownership

TL;DR: If you don’t want to read this shpeel then skip right to the end:

The Verdict

Price

Price is the most important factor for businesses at the moment as cashflow has been tight, if not non-existent.

And there are many costs to factor in, such as set up costs and running costs. These 3 things must be considered when it comes to the cost of these eCommerce platforms:

 

  • Set up cost
  • Monthly fees (subscriptions, hosting etc.)
  • Transaction fees
price of ecommerce platforms south africa

Magento

Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform that will allow you to set up an online shop for free. That being said, there is a learning curve which may not be worth your time, in which case you want to hire a developer to assist you – this will cost additional.

But because Magento is open source, you don’t pay a monthly subscription, however you will still have to pay your hosting fees.

When setting up your online shop you can choose to accept online payments, or direct bank transfers (EFT). If you select the latter, there will be no transaction fee. However, if you want to accept online payments you will need to use a South African payment gateway such as PayFast or PayGate. Both of these providers charge 3.5% per transaction.

Shopify

Shopify is a subscription-based complete eCommerce solution. You sign up online, and without any technincal set up you can start creating your store.

Shopify requires a monthly subscription for you to continue selling products on their platform. They have different packages to choose from, based on what your needs are.

Shopify’s transaction fees get less as the monthly subscription plan increases.

Wix

Similar to Shopify Wix is a subscription-based complete eCommerce solution. You sign up online, and without any set up you can start creating your store. Wix also requires a monthly subscription to use their platform. They have 4 different monthly plans to choose from, offering different features.

Wix charges a flat 2.9% on all payments through their Wix Payments solution.

Woocommerce

Woocommerce is another open-source eCommerce platform which is free to use for setting up your online store. It is free, but using an eCommerce web developer to assist you with the set up is advised.

Since this is a self-hosted solution, you will need to pay for your own website hosting.

As with Magento, Wocoomerce allows you to accept EFTs. But if you want to accept online payments, you need to use PayFast or PayGate.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is very important because business owners want a simple, easy to use online shop that will allow them to sell products and make changes without having to hire developers.

We will cover two aspects of ease of use:

 

  • Setting up
  • Ongoing management

You will need to set up your ecommerce shop before you can use it. And there are things to consider here like the hosting and installation.

When we refer to “management” we are talking admin operations such as adding/editing products, managing orders and shipping etc. And we are also talking about updating or changing content text, images etc.) on your site.

easy to use ecommerce platforms south africa

Magento

As we have mentioned, you can set up a Magento site yourself, but the learning curve is steep and not worth your time. Magento is an ecommerce platform aimed at businesses who have very large catalogues (thousands of products). So the back-end is simple, but there are many different tabs and settings to navigate through. 

Shopify

Shopify is an eCommerce platform designed for small business owners who want a quick professional website in no time. Therefore they have made the platform very intuitive, making it easy for almost anyone to set up a store. It’s fairly easy to edit a Shopify store, in that they have limited what you can edit. There is a front-end editor that allows you to change images and text as per the theme you choose. Shopify is built for small businesses. The back-end is very intuitive and simple to use. 

Wix

As with Shopify, Wix is built for the person on the street. So it is simple to create a website and add your products. Wix eCommerce is also has a simple & easy to use back-end. 

Woocommerce

Setting up a Woocommerce store by yourself is entirely possible after watching a few Youtube tutorials. The most technical and complicated part is really just setting up your hosting domain with a WordPress installation. Woocommerce is the best of both worlds – it has the infrastructure to handle thousands of products and categories, with a simple to use back-end.

d

Features & Functionalities

Other than the standard eCommerce functions, you may want to add extra features to your website like price comparisons or product customisation.

Each platform allows you to add some extra functionalies & features, however it varies from platform to platform.

ecommerce platforms south africa features & functionalities

Magento

Because Magento is an open-source platform, developers from all over the world are constantly improving the platform by adding new features and functions. These are called extensions and there are tens of thousands of them, both free and paid options.

Shopify

Shopify has the Shopify App Marketplace where developers sell their “Apps” which offer the extra functions you are looking for. However, almost all the Apps are subscription-based, meaning your monthly subscription increases.

Wix

Wix has their online store which allows Wix website owners to add functionalities to their site. Most of the Apps to choose from coming with a free and premium option – the former with limited features.

Woocommerce

Because Woocommerce is an open-source platform, developers from all over the world are constantly improving the platform by adding new features and functions. These are called extensions and there are tens of thousands of them, both free and paid options.

Design Customisation

Some website owners want total control over how their eCommerce shop looks. Therefore design is an important factor to consider.

All the platforms allow you to choose from thousands of ecommerce templates and themes. The major difference between the platforms is how customisable that template is.

ecommerce platforms south africa design customisation

Magento

Customising a Magento theme depends entirely on the theme/template you have chosen. Generally speaking making text or images changes are fairly easy, however changing layouts and modifying whole sections can be hard.

Shopify

Shopify’s focus on is more on simple ecommerce management than design customisation. They have some amazing themes and templates to choose from (ranging from free to $200). Editing these templates are easy in that you can change text & images, but customising these templates is near impossible.

Wix

Wix also comes with templates to give you a professional “out of the box” website. But it is their intuitive front-page editor that allows you to edit almost any aspect of your shop. But even with this editor, some aspects of the template or theme cannot be changed.

Woocommerce

Woocoommerce is a WordPress “plugin”, so your shop often takes on the styling of your website. This is why it is VERY easy to turn a WordPress site into a Woocoomerce store. WordPress allows you to really edit every single aspect of your website. It does depend on what theme or template you use, but the design flexibility of WordPress and Woocommerce make it stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Ownership

Website Ownership is a very important factor to address, especially for business owners who may want to upgrade their ecommerce stores or move to another platform at a later date.

Both Shopify & Wix lock business owners into a monhtly subscription, which if cancelled causes the owner to lose their site.

Magento & Woocommerce are open-source platforms, allowing them to be downloaded and installed on your own hosting server – which means you have total control.

ecommerce platform south africa ownership

Magento

Magento is a self-hosted solution – meaning the software is installed on your website hosting server. Essentially you have full control and ownership of the entire website (design, content & products).

Shopify

Shopify is SAAS (Software as a Service), where you sign up with them and you use their platform to sell your products. They provide the hosting, software & support which you are essentially “renting” through a subscription. If you stop paying your subscription they shut down your site. There is also no way to transfer your Shopify website to another platform (like Magento or Woocommerce).

Wix

Wix is also SAAS like Shopify. You are renting your eCommerce store.

Woocommerce

Woocommerce is a self-hosted solution – meaning the software is installed on your website hosting server. You have full control and ownership of the entire website (design, content & products).

The Verdict

There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best eCommerce platform for you. We have focussed on the most important factors to business owners right now during Lockdown.

But after all is said and done, there is one clear winner.

WooCommerce is the best all-round eCommerce platform. It caters for every kind of business, selling any product and with any size catalogue.

Setting up a WordPress website with WooCommerce is easy, and there are no monthly costs other than your hosting.

It gives you the flexibility to design your eCommerce store exaclty as you like, and upgrade it with unlimited features & functions.

Why WooCommerce Is The Best eCommerce Platform in South Africa Right Now

N

Your website is probably a WordPress website, making it painless & cheap to convert into an online store

N

There’s no monthly subscription fees

N

Choose from a wide-variety of designs & styles, which can be customised to your business

N

Add any features or functions to your online store

N

You own your website, content and all products

At this stage we should probably admit that as WordPress development experts, we are a bit bias. However, we have worked with each of of these platforms and experience beats theory any time.

WooCommerce is the perfect option for any business that wants an eCommerce store. And if you already have a WordPress website, it’s even easier to convert to an eCommerce store.

Need an eCommerce Website?

We can help you convert your existing website into a functional online shop. Or we can build a fresh new eCommerce website so that you can sell products online.

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

Don’t let a web designer cut corners at your expense. In this article, we will tell you exactly what questions you need to ask so that you don’t get taken advantage of.

The most common objection we hear when it comes to website design is cost. Often prospects will turn down a quote, in favour of a cheaper one. What they might not realise at the time is that the other developer has probably cut a lot of corners in order to justify the lower cost.

Developing a professional, mobile-friendly and search engine optimised website that generates leads and sales takes expertise and time. Make sure your website designer doesn’t pull the wool over your eyes by asking them these 5 questions.

5 Questions you should ask your web designer before hiring them:

  1. What website platform will you use?
  2. Will my website be mobile-friendly?
  3. Will my website have SEO?
  4. How will you secure my website?
  5. Will I be trained to use my website?

1. What website platform will you use?

This is the most important question to ask your web designer because it will show you whether they know their stuff or not and whether they are charging you correctly.

The recommended answer is “WordPress”. However, any Content Management System (CMS) is advised. There are several reasons why we prefer WordPress but here are a few reasons we recommend a CMS:

  1. Ownership – You own the website and all the files. Unlike Wix or other website builders that own the platform, and all the content on it.
  2. Flexibility – You can customise every aspect of the site without limit.
  3. Functionality – You can have pretty much any functionality you want.
  4. Control – You can make changes to your website, without having to enlist the services of a developer every time.

launch digital wordpress web designer

So what is WordPress?

WordPress is a open-source (available to anyone) content managing system (allowing you to create and publish blog articles). Designers & developers use themes (also known as templates) to style a WordPress site. Put simply: WordPress is the engine that drives the website, themes are the body; the look.

But a WordPress website can be built in a few ways, depending on who is building it, and who they are building it for. Essentially there are three ways to develop a website using WordPress:

  1. Custom
  2. Semi-custom
  3. Template

Custom

Custom WordPress websites the Rolls Royce of WordPress websites. They are very expensive because they require the services of a designer and developer.

The designer will create the look of your website in a design program like Photoshop. At this stage, your website is nothing more than a picture. So it has to be passed onto a developer who turns the design into a functional, working WordPress theme using HTML & CSS code.

Everything (except for the base WordPress functionality) is built from the ground up to give you a very bespoke, high-performance website.

Cost: The cost of custom website design in South Africa is upwards of R80 000 depending on the number of pages and functionality required.

Semi-custom

A semi-custom WordPress website is a more affordable option because it uses a “page builder software”, like Divi or Elementor. Page builder software allows a developer to build the pages visually in a drag-and-drop way. This reduces the amount of coding required to build a site and overall time.

Our web design packages use this method to build websites. Our designers would still create a unique website design in Photoshop. This is then still given to a developer, who then builds the website using the page builder software.

This will still give you a bespoke, high-performance website but in half the time, at half the cost of a custom site.

Cost: The cost of semi-custom web design in South Africa ranges between R30 000 – R80 000 depending on the number of pages and functionality required.

Template

If you get a cheap website quote, I can almost guarantee you that the developer will be using a template.

What is a WordPress Template Site?
A WordPress template is a pre-built website available for purchase online. Experienced developers will essentially build a custom WordPress website for a specific niche, and then package it for reselling. These are known as premium themes. There are plenty free themes out there too.

This is by far the cheapest and fastest way to build a WordPress website because you don’t need a designer or developer. You don’t necessarily even need to have any development experience. Literally anyone can buy a template from a repository like ThemeForest for around $60, install it and voila you have a website.

Sounds great, right? Not quite. Here are some of the drawbacks of template sites:

  • Limited design – other than being able to change colours & fonts, you are constrained by the template
  • Limited functionality – integrating additional functionality can be tricky sometimes
  • Slow & bloated – often these templates come with additional plugins & code that you will never use, which slow down the website performance
  • Regular maintenance – in order for your website to stay pretty, it needs to be updated as and when the developers of the template release updates

This is the most common way for developers to build WordPress websites because they can build the site in a few hours, and charge premium rates for it.

Cost: A WordPress template website design cost in South Africa should cost you nothing more than R15 000 (obviously depending on how many pages & the functionality).

Now I am not saying that either one of the above methods is best or worst, because each of them has their place. You just need to know how your website designer is building your website, and whether or not their quote is in line with the work required.

2. Will my website be mobile-friendly

60% of all internet traffic in South Africa is on smartphones. So your website has to be mobile friendly to ensure good user experience for people on their phones.

mobile responsive web designer launch digital

Making a website mobile friendly is a lot of additional work, even if you do buy a template that is responsive. You still have to test the website on different screen sizes, and manually adjust breakpoints if there are issues.

So make sure your web designer agrees to provide you with a website that works perfectly across all devices, browsers, and platforms.

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to test whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

3. Will my website have SEO?

Having a professional website is not enough. You won’t get any sales or leads from your website if no one can find it on Google. SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of optimising your website in order to rank in search engines for specific search terms.

seo web designer launch digital

This is where we find a lot of developers cutting corners to save time and make more profits because it’s not easy for a layman to know whether their website has SEO or not. Optimising a website for search engines is a very technical and time-consuming process.

Ensure that your web developer includes “On-page SEO” in their quote. Here are some essential SEO tasks that need to be completed:

  • Keyword research (what search terms are people using in Google to find your services)
  • The website should be https://
  • SEO friendly URL structures
  • Each page should have a Meta Title and Meta Description, containing the focus keyword
  • All images must have alt-tags, containing the focus keyword
  • Each page should be optimised around a focus keyword
  • Each page should have at least 500 words of copy, containing the focus keyword & variations thereof
  • The website pages need to be mobile responsive
  • The website pages need to load fast
  • The website should be submitted for indexing upon completion

These are just a few important checks. If you want to know whether your website has SEO or not, use our Website SEO Checker.

4. How will you secure my website?

WordPress is an open-source platform – this means that the code is available to anyone on the internet. It is a big reason why the platform is so successful, because it has millions of users, all working on and improving the software. But, there are nefarious individuals who try to exploit this open-source software for their own gain.

If your web developer does not take the right precautions when building your website, you could be vulnerable for hacking, attacks and malware. This goes for all website platforms, not just WordPress.

secure web designer

Here are some essential security precautions:

  • Installing a security plugin like Sucuri or WordFence
  • Blocking traffic from certain countries with a reputation for hacking
  • Two-factor login authentication
  • Hiding the login page
  • Changing default database names
  • Disabling the default registration pages
  • Long & complex passwords, updated every few months

Your developer should provide you with a detailed description of how they will secure your website against potential hacks and threats.

5. Will I be trained to use my website?

Don’t be held hostage by your website developer. If you want to change an image or upload a blog article you should be able to do that without having to pay someone.

One of the biggest benefits of WordPress is that anyone can learn how to make changes & update the site. Even people who are not technically inclined. You don’t need to pay a web developer every time you want to make a change.

That being said, your web developer should still offer you some training when they handover the website to you. They should provide you with training or tutorials that cover basics like:

  • Navigating the dashboard
  • General website settings
  • Adding, editing & removing menus (navigation)
  • Adding, editing & removing pages
  • Adding, editing & removing blog posts
  • Adding, editing & removing media
  • Adding, editing & removing users
  • Updating the platform
  • Updating Plugins

There are many things that you can easily do yourself, without having to hire a web developer every time.

BONUS: Things to check before hiring a web designer.

Choosing a web design company based on price alone is not advised. Because as I have just explained, the costs are low because they have cut corners. But let’s say that your developer passed the test, here are some additional things to check before hiring them:

Web designer or developer

I have used these terms interchangeably throughout this article for easy reading, but they are in fact two very different professions. Just like a car mechanic and a panel beater both work on cars, they perform very different duties:

  • Web designer – is a graphic designer or artist who is focused on the visual aspect of a website – layout, style, content, user experience.
  • Web developer – is someone that develops functionalities and applications for the internet, using code.

Often when using freelancers or smaller companies, they give you one or the other. It is important that you know who you are working with, so that you know their capabilities.

References

The best way to check whether a web developer is any good is to speak to past clients. Ask the developer to provide you with a portfolio of similar work, and then contact some of their past clients. Ask them how it was working with the developer, did they understand the brief, what were the timelines like etc.

Contract

Do not go into a website development project without signing a contract that protects both parties. The contract should clearly state what the definition of “completed” means. This is absolutely essential to ensure that you aren’t on the wrong side of a bad deal. It should be an immediate red flag if they do not have a contract.

Payment

Most developers require a 50% deposit to start work, with the remainder due before the website goes live. Avoid paying 100% upfront, but also don’t expect a developer to start any work without some sort of payment.

Content

It is expected that you provide as much content (logos, images and copy) for the web designer in a zipped folder or shared drive. But it might not be expected that the developer writes any new content or sources new images.

It needs to be very clear from the start if content creation is included in the website quote. Do they write content for you, do they find images, do they create custom graphics – or are you expected to provide all the content, exactly as it needs to be on the website?

You can reduce unnecessary delays in work or misunderstandings by checking this information in advance.

Key Takeaway: Be Informed

In a perfect world, you would hire a web designer and they would deliver a beautiful, functional website on time at a good price. Instead, we hear countless stories of web designers taking advantage of clients or just not delivering what was promised.

It can be very easy for web designers to hold a client hostage with their own website.

The main cause for this is improper screening and vetting from the client’s side. Website development is an investment, therefore it is critical that you screen your web designer before making a hiring decision.

5 Things EVERY Business Website Design Needs

5 Things EVERY Business Website Design Needs

80% of the websites we design are “redesigns”. In other words, we have to redesign a website for a client, which a previous website design company messed up. So, before you spend money on website design, read this article and make sure that your website has these features.

5 things every business website design needs:

  • Responsive website design
  • Content management system
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Google Analytics & Search Console
  • A blog

1. Responsive Website Design

Responsive web design means building a website that looks just as good on a phone, tablet or laptop than it does on desktop.

responsive website design

It is estimated that there are 22 million smartphone users in South Africa, and this number is growing every day. So the chances are that a large portion of your website visitors will be on their phone.

This is why it is so important to have a mobile responsive web design.

What To Ask Your Website Designer:
“Will my website be responsive for all screen sizes?”

2. A Content Management System

As a business, you want the ability to make quick changes to your website on the fly without having to pay a developer every time. A content management system like WordPress will allow you to do just that.

WordPress the most popular website design platform in the world for a reason. It is an easy-to-use, flexible and powerful platform which will allow you to make advanced changes to your website easily. Here are a few advantages of WordPress websites:

  • Easy to Use
  • Completely Customisable
  • Search Engine Friendly
  • Easy to Manage
  • Safe and Secure

Whether you choose a template or build your website from scratch, WordPress’s versatility and community support is unmatched. Also, responsive design generally comes standard with WordPress which is yet another reason why your website in 2015 should be built on this platform.

What To Ask Your Website Designer:
“What platform will you build my website with, and will I be able to make changes?”

3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

To put it into simple English: Search Engine Optimisation is the process of improving the organic ranking of a website, by improving the structure & optimising the content, images and links with relevant keywords.

Put even more simply, without SEO your website will not appear in Google searches, and prospective customers will not find you.

81% of consumers conduct online research before purchasing. This means that 8 out of 10 of your prospective customers are searching for your services on Google. Is your website appearing on the search results page for relevant keywords? If not, you are losing out on business.

 

SERP anatomy 2020

SEO is a vast & complicated subject which we can’t cover in detail in this article. So if you want more info on SEO then read How to Get Onto The First Page of Google.

What To Ask Your Website Designer:
“Will you do keyword research for my company, and optimise my website with on-page SEO?”

4. Google Analytics & Search Console

Google Analytics is a web analytics software that allows you to any track activity on your website. Without this, you cannot see how many people are visiting your website, what pages they are browsing or how long they are staying.

Search Console is another web analytics software, but this one tracks your performance on search engines. You can see what keywords your website ranks for, and where it is ranking. It will also tell you if there are any technical errors (such as broken links) on your website.

All of this information is extremely important in telling you how visitors are interacting with your website, and how your website is performing overall. Having an active Google Analytics tracking code on your website is also important for SEO.

What To Ask Your Website Designer:
“Will my website be integrated with Google Analytics? Will you add my website to Google Search Console & submit my sitemap?”

5. A Blog

A blog will allow you to write articles, like this one, for your audience. Why is this important?

larger market formula

The mistake many businesses make is to build their entire marketing strategy around the 3% of their target audience who are in “buying mode”. What they don’t realise is that roughly 27% of their audience is online gathering information, and educating themselves on a product or service.

A blog allows you to reach these researching customers, and answer all their questions and concerns. You become the trusted authority in your industry, making people want to buy from you.

More importantly, however, a blog is an excellent SEO tool. By writing blog articles you are essentially creating extra ‘pages’ of content on your website and search engines love this. If you write your content to include related keywords then it increases the chances of your website being found by your prospective customers.

What To Ask Your Website Designer:
“Will you add a blog to my website which will allow me to post my own articles?”

Why your website design needs these 5 things

The perfect website needs a lot of things, but these 5 elements are a great start. They will set a good foundation for your website design and online presence.

  1. Without a responsive design, visitors on mobile phones will get frustrated with your website and leave.
  2. Without a content management system, you will need to pay developer every time you want to make a change
  3. Without SEO, your website will not appear in search engines and you will lose business
  4. Without Google Analytics & Search Console you won’t get valuable data on how your website is performing
  5. Without a Blog, you are missing out on reaching roughly 27% of your target market who are doing online research
Lead Generation: 5 Things All Successful Websites Do

Lead Generation: 5 Things All Successful Websites Do

What do you want from your website? You will probably say “Leads”, followed by a sarcastic “Duh…” whispered under your breath. Unless you are a large Corporation like Microsoft or Coca-Cola, the main function of your website should be lead generation.

But how sure are you that your website is the best lead-generating machine it can be? Chances are that you outsourced your website design to a company, or God forbid – a family member!

How to generate leads:

Here are 5 things your home page MUST do to ensure it does its job at generating leads:
  1. Identify your customer
  2. Highlight their pain points & problems
  3. Provide a solution
  4. Establish why they should work with you
  5. Earn their trust

The order of these things can vary from company to company, but all 5 are needed in some form or another on EVERY page of your website.

1. Identify Your Customer

The most valuable exercise for any business is to create a “Customer Avatar”. Your ideal customer. Knowing exactly who they are (age, hobbies, preferences etc.) is the first step to successful marketing and selling.

Making this evident on your Home page will let visitors know that they are in the right place and that you understand their needs.

Knowing who your ideal customer is, not only allows you to market to them but strangely enough, you will eventually start attracting only these types of clients. Let’s put it down to the law of attraction – whatever you put out there, you will get back.

2. Highlight Pain Points & Problems

Seek first to understand before being understood. You are in business because you solve certain problems for your customers. List those problems on your Homepage.

Once again it will resonate with your ideal client, and they will know that you truly understand their needs.

3. Provide a Solution

Now that you have assured your visitors they are in the right place, and that you understand their needs – give them the solution.

Tell your visitors how your products or services solve their problems.

4. Establish why they should work with you

Let’s face it, there’s probably a ton of other companies that do what you do. Why should people choose you over the competition?

You should have a long list of reasons. Put them on the page! Provide the benefits someone would experience when doing business with you. If your service or product has certain unique features, list those too.

5. Earn their trust

Why should someone trust you with their business? After all, everything thus far is your opinion. And it’s all worthless if there is nothing to substantiate it.

Give your visitors undeniable evidence that you know what you are talking about. Why not you’re your past clients do this for you? Get some great testimonials from them.

Use case studies to prove categorically that you can get results. Add client logos to show-off some of the clients you have done work for.

And what is a good lecture without some homework! When looking at the main service pages on your website, ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Have I identified who the customer is?
  2. Have I highlighted their problems?
  3. Do the services I have listed solve these problems, and has this been explained?
  4. Have I outlined why a customer should pick me over a competitor?
  5. What trust-building elements have been included to corroborate the above

Related Tags:

Website Lead Generation Companies Johannesburg

Website Design Cost: The Definitive Guide [Updated 2020]

Website Design Cost: The Definitive Guide [Updated 2020]

I know why you are here. You are planning to invest in a website, and you are doing your research. Good for you!

Maybe you already have a quote from someone, or maybe you are yet to get quotes. Either way, you want to be sure that you make an educated buying decision.

In this article we will talk about the direct (obvious) and indirect (not so obvious) factors that affect website design cost. 

Table of Contents

People Charge What They Want To Charge

Direct Factors That Affect The Cost of a Website

Indirect Factors That Affect The Cost of a Website

What A Website Costs

You Get What You Pay For

First, Consider Who You Are Hiring

Who you will be hiring to develop your website will determine the cost right out of the gate.

There’s essentially 3 categories of web designers:

  • The Family Friend (or relative)
  • The Freelancer
  • The Agency

Each of these web designers will charge a different price based on things like their overheads, experience and expertise

Second, Understand That People Charge What They Want To Charge

There is no “web designers guild” that controls fair website prices, or suggests pricing guidelines.

there is no website pricing guide

Truth be told, it’s the wild west out there. Web designers will charge what they want to charge.

You would hope that they use some sort of pricing model to come up with fair pricing. But in reality they too read articles like this one to get an idea of what they should charge.

What I am trying to get to here is that higher prices don’t necessarily mean better quality, and neither do lower prices mean poor quality.

Direct Factors That Affect Website Prices

Ok, let’s get down to business. When building a website (regardless of who is building it) there are 3 main factors that affect the cost:

  • Functionality
  • Design & Content
  • Size

At Launch Digital, this is the order of importance. But other designers might think size is more important than design for example.

Functionality

What do you want your website to do? Do you need a simple information website, or do you need to sell products safely & securely online?

The more features and functions you want to add, the more you will pay. Here are some example of functionalities that are often charged for additionally:

  • eCommerce (online shops)
  • Event calendars
  • Memberships
  • Custom calculators (pricing, estimates, quotes)
  • Product catalogues
  • 3rd Party Software Integrations (like CRM & Email Softwares)

Developing custom functionalities is costly, and that is why this is the most influential factor when it comes to website prices.

Design & Content

The design and content of your website is very important. We compare it to how you dress and speak.

Would you hire a salesman that speaks poorly or dresses unprofessionally. I would hope not!

To simplify a complex topic in itself, when it comes to website design you have two options.

template vs custom web design affects website cost

Template Website Design

Website templates are pre-styled website designs that are available for purchase for a few dollars (some templates are even free). Other descriptions for this type of website are “off the shelf” or “out of the box”.

Custom Website Designs

A custom website design, as the name suggests is a bespoke design created specifically for your business and brand by a graphic designer or web designer.

It is important that you know which of these options your web designer will be using. Because template websites, compared to custom websites, are much easier and faster to build, therefore you should be getting a cheaper price.

At Launch Digital we prefer to build custom websites. Having a website that stands head and shoulders above your competitors is worth the extra cost.

Size

It goes without saying that the more pages, categories or products you have the more your website will cost. Most web developers will include a certain amount of pages in their base website package, and anything over that pushes the price up.

It’s important that you find out how many pages are included in your web designer’s base package.

At Launch Digital we include up to 20 pages in our base packages.

Indirect Factors That Affect Website Prices

The not-so-obvious things that will affect the cost of your website are:

  • Overheads
  • Experience
  • Expertise

Again, these things vary from web designer to web designer, but they will invariably factor into the price.

Overheads

I am sorry to break it to you but you aren’t paying for just your website. You are also paying for the “cost” that was involved in building your website.

This includes electricity, internet, phone calls and even cups of coffee! The more overheads, the more the website will cost.

Experience

An agency that has been developing professional websites for 20 years will (and should) charge more than freelancers with a year of experience.

An experienced web designer should give you a better product at the end of the day. They can also advise you better than someone who only does web design as a hobby.

Expertise

Having experience does not make you an expert.

Experience means you have done something a lot. Expertise means you have done something a lot, and you do it well.

website design experience & expertise

Website experts are people who have dedicated themselves to designing and building websites. It’s not just something that they can do.

You will pay top rates for website experts – because they know the value they can offer you is more than just a pretty website. It’s a website that can turn casual browsers into buyers.

What A Website Costs

At this point I just want to reiterate that the website prices below are not based on any sort of science. They are general pricing guidelines based on our experience developing websites for the past 5 years.

The Family Friend

Friends or relatives are generally the go-to choice for new businesses who want a quick and inexpensive (or often free) website.

Website design is not their speciality, it is most likely a hobby, so any money is good money. And if you are lucky to have good family or friends, they might even do it for free.

Overheads

None ~ Low

Experience

None ~ Low

Expertise

None ~ Low

Website Cost

 Free ~ R2000

The Freelancer

Freelancers are often former employees of larger agencies that decided they wanted to work from themselves. And generally speaking they will specialise in a certain area like web design or SEO.

With little business sense in terms of pricing models, combined with the fact that they have minimal overheads, they can afford to charge cut-through prices.

Overheads

Low ~ Moderate

Experience

Low ~ Moderate

Expertise

Low ~ Moderate

Website Cost

R5000 – R15 000

The Agency

“Agency” is a broad term for many different types and sizes of web design companies – from boutique digital agencies, like Launch Digital, to well-established and large advertising agencies like Ogilvy.

What they have in common is that they will have specialised, experienced and dedicated web designers working on your project.

Being an actual company, they will have overheads that need to be covered. The larger the agency, the more overheads. 

Overheads

Moderate ~ High

Experience

Moderate ~ High

Expertise

Moderate ~ High

Website Cost

R20 000 – R100 000

You Get What You Pay For

If you wanted to win the Dakar Rally – would you go to Ford and buy a Fiesta? Why not? It’s a car is it not?

website cost in south africa

Because if you wanted to win the Dakar Rally, you need a light-weight, high-performance, 4-wheel-drive vehicle. A Figo is everything, but it’s not that.

We should think about websites in the same way.

You could go with the cheapest website quote – but will that website add the value you need to grow your business? Probably not.

If you want your website to generate leads and sales for your business (or achieve other objectives) then it has to be purposely designed to do that. This takes experience and expertise.

Investment vs. Expense

A good website, regardless of cost, is an investment.

Think of it this way: If I told you that your website will cost R100k – you would fall off your chair.

But what if this R100k website could generate R1 million worth of business in the next 5 years? Is it worth it then?

This is how you need to start looking at your website – as an asset that will give you a return on investment. Once that is your mindset it will change everything! The entire way you see your website, how you choose a web developer, everything.

Websites are more than just “things” that sit on the web providing people with information. Or at least they should be.

5 Web Design Mistakes You Need to Avoid in 2018

5 Web Design Mistakes You Need to Avoid in 2018

Your website could be costing you business, and you didn’t even know it! Like a salesman who is taking money under the table. Sacrilege. In this post, we will highlight the 5 biggest Web Design Mistakes that both small and large businesses make. We will also add some actionable techniques so that you can fix them!

So what are your Web Design Mistakes?

Just having a website is not good enough

Before we start with what you need to avoid, let’s hop in the DeLorean and travel back a few years…

In the early 2000’s when Google started to gain popularity, businesses saw the potential in having and building an online presence, more specifically, a website. With competition in the online realm being far from competitive, businesses saw a good return from just having a website. They would rank on the first page of Google without much effort. Leads flowed in. Life was good.

Until *he said, as the sky grew dark and the horses neighed* other businesses started catching on. Soon enough, everyone and their next door neighbour had a website. Suddenly the online landscape, once friendly and inviting, became cut-throat and fiercely competitive.

Today, just having a website is not good enough. You need a website that not only “attracts” more website traffic, but one that can convert visitors into sales. These are your top 5 web design mistakes you DON’T want to make.

1. Slow loading times

Website loading time is very important to both users and Search Engines. So much so that if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, you could be losing nearly half of your visitors.

It makes complete sense – people are generally time-strapped, so the faster you can provide them with the info they need, the happier they are. And Search Engines promote websites that have faster loading times for exactly this reason – you are improving the user experience. If you want to test your website loading times, use our website auditor, It’s free.

So what can you do to decrease loading times? If you are using WordPress, install Page Speed Ninja. Just install it, and with one click you can shave seconds of your loading time.

2. Not mobile friendly

If your website is not “responsive” i.e. it does not adjust automatically to fit the device it is being viewed on, then you are losing business. No two ways about it.

Statistics show that in 2020 there will be 2.2 billion people using smartphones. And since we are throwing around statistics, here’s another one: in 2017 mobile devices were responsible for over 50.7% of all website traffic generated.

Welcome to the 21st century – this is how people browse the internet. They need a plumber, so they whip out their smartphone and Google “Plumber in Sandton”. If your website isn’t easy to browse on their phone, they will leave and try someone else.

Search Engines also prefer websites that are mobile friendly – because it improves the user’s browsing experience!

So how do you make your website responsive? Firstly head on over to www.responsivedesignchecker.com and test your website. If it not responsive, it would be best to talk to someone like LaunchWeb, who can convert your website into a lightweight, fast loading, mobile responsive website.

3. Poor design

In our article “Bad vs Good Website Design: Know the Difference” 2 of the 3 factors that we say make a good website design are Visual Design and Usability.

Visual Design is the overall aesthetic and style of the website. More than 90% of buying decisions are influenced by colour alone! If your website has a clean, professional design it leaves a great first impression on visitors and they will be more inclined to use your services.

So how do you fix poor Visual Design? Achieving a stunning Visual Design is easy, here are a few guidelines you can follow.

Usability refers to how easy it is for a visitor to use the website. Is the navigation logical and simple to use? Is the page content easy to understand? Are your contact details readily available? You might have a beautifully creative web design, but your visitors can’t find what they are looking for and so they get frustrated & leave.

Usability Design is like a horse, dangerous at both ends and tricky in the middle. What you might think users like, could actually be sending them away. (I realise now that my horse analogy makes no sense in the given context, but I needed to use it somewhere).

So how do you fix poor Usability Design?Heatmaps and Clickmaps! These tools will show you what users want, care about and interact with on your site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behaviour. Using a software like Hotjar you will get valuable insight into how people are using your site. With this data you can make layout improvements to make it easier for them to find what they need.

4. No call to action

The best way of getting anyone to do something is to ask them to do it. This might sound like common sense – but we all know what they say about common sense. You would be shocked at how many business websites fail to do this one simple thing.

Whilst design & usability make for good website design, to us, a website is useless if it does not achieve objectives! Knowing what it is you want your website to do, will guide your design process in the right direction from the start.

The ultimate goal of your website is to get visitors to perform an action – purchase a product, complete an enquiry form, subscribe to a newsletter, download an eBook. Whatever the action is that you want them to perform, you have to tell them to do it.

How to add more call to actions to your site: Take a look at your site, and just ask yourself “is this page asking me to do anything?” This is done with buttons and highlight sections and clever design.

5. No Search Engine Optimisation

Here is another statistic to warm your coffee: the first page of Google receives 95% of website traffic. If your coffee still hasn’t kicked in yet, this means that if your website is not on the first page of Google, then you aren’t featuring on your customers’ radar.

Basically, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of improving a website to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words and elements on your page (on-page SEO) to the way other sites link back to your website (off-page SEO).

How do I get onto the first page of Google? Well, you can start by seeing just how bad your SEO might be – use our free website auditor to get a detailed SEO report. This report will tell you whether it’s elements on your website that need optimising, or if an off-page strategy is required. Either way, we can help you get there!

Did we miss anything?

Do you think we left anything out? Comment below with some web design mistakes you have seen both big and small company websites make.

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