You’ve heard the talk of increased data privacy and the POPI Act, but how ready are you as a small business for compliance? The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) began to take effect in 2020, but businesses officially have until Thursday 1 July 2021 to get their infrastructure compliant.
It is important to be aware of the ways that the Act affects websites as well as the potential consequences of non-compliance. Any business operating in South Africa is legally obliged to comply with the regulations contained in the act. Regardless of where your website is based, if you process personal information, it’s time to get compliant.
Here are 5 things that you need to know about your website and the POPI Act.
1. What Is POPIA All About?
South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act are new laws that regulate the Processing of Personal Information. “Personal Information” broadly refers to any information relating to an identifiable, living natural person or juristic person (companies, CC’s etc.).
This includes, but is not limited to:
Contact information: email, phone, address, etc.
Demographic: age, sex, race, birth date, ethnicity, etc.
History: employment, financial, educational, criminal, medical history, etc.
Biometric: blood type, etc.
Opinions of and about the person.
Online identifiers such as email addresses, IP addresses, cookies, unique identifiers, search and browser history and location data.
2. Information Processing Must Be POPIA Compliant.
“Processing” refers to what you “do” with the Personal Information, as well as how you go about obtaining the information. This includes collection, usage, storage, dissemination, modification and destruction. Some of the obligations under POPI are to:
Only collect information that you specifically need.
Use appropriate security measures to protect it.
Ensure it is relevant and up-to-date.
Keep only what is needed, so long as it is required.
Allow the subject/owner of the information to view it upon request.
3. How Does The POPI Act Affect My Website?
POPIA gives consumers the right to protect their data and privacy, gain insight into what data is collected about them (for example, the use of website cookies) and request that their information be corrected or deleted.
4. What Happens If I Am Not Compliant?
Unfortunately, there is no round-about route. If your business is online, you should be asking:
Do I collect information from my users?
How do I become POPI-compliant? How do I stay compliant?
According to Kyle Torrington of Hello Contract, presenting an “incorrect document to your users means that you are knowingly not complying with the POPI Act.” Not only is this illegal, but could damage both your business’s image, result in a hefty fine or worse!
Failure to comply with the new regulations by the deadline on 1 July 2021 could result in a maximum of 10 years in prison or being charged with a R10 million fine by the Information Regulator.
5. So, What Should I Do?
Despite the deadline for change knocking on our doors, it is nothing to be feared. The Act is a mere formalisation of the privacy principles that already exist, and South Africa is swiftly following suit from the likes of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN).
We’ve Got You Covered! Privacy is important, and when implemented correctly, Privacy Policies benefit website owners as much as their users. They enable businesses to understand consumer behavior to improve their marketing. And it meets the rights of consumers to have their privacy protected.
Need A Web Expert? At Launch Digital, We help established businesses by transforming their websites into lead generating machines and creating online marketing campaigns that result in more customers than they can handle.
When it comes to good website design, there are three principles you need to consider:
Visual Design (does the website make a good first impression?)
Usability (is the website easy to use and understand?)
Objectives (what is the purpose of the website?)
This article will show you how great websites combine all three of these principles.
1. Visual Design
48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business. (source). The facts don’t lie – the design of your website says a lot more about your business than you think!
It’s all about first impressions. If your website has a cluttered, messy or outdated design people will think that of your business. Our primitive brains form lasting opinions about things way before our rational mind can kick in.
The foundation of good website design lies in the visual aspect.
I have a headache just from looking at this.
Good website design leaves a lasting positive impression with visitors. Immediately it will be easier to turn that visitor into a lead or sale because they feel comfortable on your site. They haven’t been assaulted by a combination of Comic Sans & bad clipart.
🤬 Visual design that annoy visitors:
Flash! Google and Firefox have disabled the flash plugin on their browsers due to a ‘critical’ security flaw, which means your once-awesome FlashTM website no longer works… anywhere. You can read more about that here.
Background music! Background music should be reserved for elevators and holding whilst on the phone to Telkom. It interferes with a person’s browsing experience. Don’t do it.
Too many colours & fonts! Your website is not a Where’s Wally book! Don’t confuse your visitors with a myriad of colours and fonts, giving them a migraine as they try to find the “Contact Us” page.
Cluttered pages. Besides just looking bad, cluttered pages are confusing and require the visitor to put in a lot of energy to find what they are looking for. Too much of this and they will leave your website.
Long paragraphs of text! Remember when we spoke about short attention spans? People want quick answers, they do not have time to dissect large paragraphs to find what they are looking for.
Bad quality images! Images that are pixelated (low resolution) will make any website look cheap and amateur.
One last point: The biggest design mistake you can make is using a “free” website builder. Whilst you think it might save you money – it will actually cost you more money in the long run. Read our article: Free Website Builders are Killing Your Business
If we had a loaf of bread for every time we had to tell a business that the website they designed does not look great, we could start a successful bakery. Ok, enough about what makes a bad website – let’s talk about good website design.
😍 Visual design that delight visitors:
White Space. Use space to your advantage in a website – it will allow you to break up all the information on your site into digestible chunks. Using spacing effectively can also help to place emphasis on important sections & content.
Less is more. Try not to use 5 different fonts and colours when one or two will do. When in doubt, simplify.
Consistent design. This is a big one and it applies to spacing, fonts, colours, everything. Ensure that you carry one design theme through out your website.
Creative but not distracting. It’s tough to reign in creativity but sometimes you have to. If you want large illustrations or decorative sections on your page, you need to balance it out with that white space we spoke of earlier.
High-quality images. Nothing annoys a visitor more than badly formatted images with poor resolution. If you have lots of images on your site, ensure that they are the correct size so that they display well.
One thing to note is that good website design is something that changes with the times. Design trends change, and it’s up to you to stay with it.
Usability is the result of your UX/UI design. Your UI (user interface) is the physical design of your site – i.e. where buttons or menus are placed etc. UX (user experience) is whether a person enjoys or hates interacting with your website. Really simply; usability is how a user interacts with your website.
You might have a beautiful web design, but if your visitors can’t find what they are looking for they will just get frustrated & leave. Therefore bad UX = bad Usability. Conversely, you might have a really average web design, and if the layout is logical and the content is clear visitors will have a much better experience on your website.
Improving usability really comes down to understanding your customer. How do they think? Are they technologically inclined? Do they understand the services you provide? Do they prefer speaking on the phone or sending an enquiry?
Knowing your customer means you can design a website that will really engage with them. Businesses fall victim to the mistake of creating a website that they like and not a website that their customers will like.
This is a website that we designed for Gas Grid. Call to action buttons stand out, letting the user know to click on them. A large form on the home page to encourage quick enquries.
Let’s look at a few ways you can improve your website’s usability.
Improving your website Usability:
Add a USP. A unique selling proposition is generally a one-sentence statement that explains your business & services to a visitor. It sits on your homepage, above the fold so that it’s the first thing a visitor sees. It let’s them know what you do and why they should stick around.
Establish Information Hierarchy. This is arguably one of the most effective UX design principles. It means arranging & prioritising the content on a webpage so that it does not overwhelm visitors, but rather slowly educates and intrigues them, keeping them on the site.
Guide visitors with colour. If your overall website colour scheme is green then consider using an orange or red to highlight buttons or important areas where you want visitors to take action. If your website looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, your visitor has no chance of knowing where they need to go next!
Simplify Text. Keep the content on your site limited to headings sub-headings, short paragraphs of text, bullet points and lists. People want answers and fast, they aren’t going to stop and read long paragraphs. The easier to digest, the better.
Simple navigation. Your website must be easy to navigate so visitors can find what they are looking for without wasting time. Don’t add endless menu’s & sub-menus – limit menus to 1 sub-level only. If your website is really information-heavy (i.e. lots of articles, pages etc.) then consider using a sidebar navigation menu. Navigation is probably the most overlooked aspect of website design. Users will abandon a website if the navigation is not intuitive.
But all of the above is worth nothing if you don’t understand who your customer is, and how they would browse a website.
Whilst design & usability make a good website, to us a great website is one that achieves objectives! Yes, I did say that you should be designing your website for your customers, but actually, you need to design it for your business objectives.
Knowing what it is you want your website to do, will guide your design process in the right direction from the start. Whenever we start a WordPress web design process with a client we follow this order:
Objectives. What do you want the website to achieve?
Usability. Who will be visiting this website? What are they looking to achieve?
Design. What does the website need to look like, to achieve the above?
This is truly a recipe for success. Follow this process with your own website and you can’t go wrong.
Good Website Design: TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read)
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your website. A clean, professional website will promote confidence & trust in your audience. Simplicity is the name of the game – when in doubt use fewer colours and fewer fonts. Try to balance creative design with simple page layouts. Stay up to date with the latest design trends!
Understanding your customers and how they interact with websites will allow you to craft a pleasurable website experience for them. Prioritise content on your pages so that the most important features or benefits sit near the top of the page. Add intuitive navigation to pages so that visitors can easily find what they need.
And finally, determine what it is you want the website to do, and let that be your guiding light throughout the entire design process. Design with the end in mind!
Bad websites are cluttered & confusing; indicative of companies that can’t communicate efficiently with their visitors. Good websites achieve objectives through a combination of great visual & user experience design.
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 is an advanced open-source eCommerce platform popular with large online retailers.
Shopify is a SAAS (Software As A Service) eCommerce platform with monthly plans.
Wix eCommerce is the eCommerce add-on for Wix, a user-friendly SAAS website builder.
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:
Ease of Use
Features & Functionalities
TL;DR: If you don’t want to read this shpeel then skip right to the end:
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.)
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 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.
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 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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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’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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 is also SAAS like Shopify. You are renting your eCommerce store.
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).
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
Your website is probably a WordPress website, making it painless & cheap to convert into an online store
There’s no monthly subscription fees
Choose from a wide-variety of designs & styles, which can be customised to your business
Add any features or functions to your online store
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.
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)
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.
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:
Design & Content
At Launch Digital, this is the order of importance. But other designers might think size is more important than design for example.
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)
Custom calculators (pricing, estimates, quotes)
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 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.
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:
Again, these things vary from web designer to web designer, but they will invariably factor into the price.
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.
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.
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 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.
None ~ Low
None ~ Low
None ~ Low
Free ~ R2000
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.
Low ~ Moderate
Low ~ Moderate
Low ~ Moderate
R5000 – R15 000
“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.
Moderate ~ High
Moderate ~ High
Moderate ~ High
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?
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.
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:
What website platform will you use?
Will my website be mobile-friendly?
Will my website have SEO?
How will you secure my website?
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.
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.
Flexibility – You can customise every aspect of the site without limit.
Functionality – You can have pretty much any functionality you want.
Control – You can make changes to your website, without having to enlist the services of a developer every time.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
Without a responsive design, visitors on mobile phones will get frustrated with your website and leave.
Without a content management system, you will need to pay developer every time you want to make a change
Without SEO, your website will not appear in search engines and you will lose business
Without Google Analytics & Search Console you won’t get valuable data on how your website is performing
Without a Blog, you are missing out on reaching roughly 27% of your target market who are doing online research