Website Development for Startups

Website Development for Startups: The Complete Guide

A study done by Moz in 2019 revealed that the majority of local businesses agree that Google is becoming the new “homepage” for businesses.

Moz Study on Importance of Google and Website for Local BusinessesA point to notice here is that it’s the local businesses that cannot deny the need for a website. Now evaluate your need for a website if your company is a modern-day tech-savvy startup.

Let us share a stat with you as well;

It just takes 50 milliseconds (equal to 0.05 seconds) for a user to form an opinion about our business by looking at your website.

Thus you should really assess your approach, your resources, and your taste, twice, when it comes to developing a website for your startup.

Why is a Website Vital for Every Startup?

Website is one of those basic elements every company should start with when it comes to digitally enhance its look in front of the right audience.

However, this point is often not expounded as it should be and it leads you to see content with headings like; “Website development is dead” leaving you in immense confusion.

Today we’ll look into the need and dynamics of a website, for a startup, from a marketer’s eye. This means only practical uses and core requirements of a website will be discussed which directly impacts your startup for real.

Note: By sharing anything regarding web development for startups in this article, we’re especially targeting modern-day tech startups however all of this information pretty much applies to traditional small businesses as well.

1) You don’t own/control these platforms

Once a wise man said; “Freedom has no price!”

All the digital platforms where you just sign up build a profile and start getting traffic by being active operate on their own terms.

There’s always some risk (if not a lot) of getting banned/penalized with just one malpractice of yours (or not even that in some cases) and you wouldn’t be in control to do anything as a response other than emailing their team.

2) Pay or you won’t get any reach on social

According to a study done by Jay Baer in 2014, as Facebook’s organic reach went down their stock prices went up.

Facebook organic reach declineYour own website, on the other hand, can work independently without any reach decline risks.

3) Social profile won’t display your unique brand image

It’s as basic as it sounds. A Facebook/Instagram page or any social account for your business isn’t portraying your brand’s unique image contextually.

A brand image is far more than just making a grid on Instagram or posting pictures that align with your logo colors.  It means to;

  • Control your brand narrative in front of your audience
  • Send your audience away (to social pages for example) when you want to
  • Customize the design/theme to resonate with your brand position

If you pay attention, all of these requirements can only be fulfilled by…you guessed it right, a website.

Evaluating the Plan for Your Startup Website

Planning any website’s architecture, design, layout or anything of that nature purely depends on the need of the organization.

An NGOs website design would be entirely different than a startup’s design. This is web design 101 stuff. The question is how do you evaluate your startup’s plan in terms of the website?

Here’s the answer;

1) Assess your startup, & define goals

Start by looking at the core of your business. Simply answering the following questions will help you move one step closer;

  • What is my startup all about?
  • What is the way I want people to perceive my startup’s brand?
  • What is that I am trying to accomplish with my startup?

As an example of this, let’s consider; SpaceX and Adobe. Both are very different companies with very different brands and it clearly reflects in their website’s design.

How branding affects website designThat’s how a brand’s image is identified and portrayed in your web design sturdily.

Note: This is a phase you can only get done with, through brainstorming and ideation.

2) Judge your targeted audience

Next is judging your targeted audience. Knowing the people you’re targeting can be helpful to think of the way your website needs to be structured/designed/developed since those are the folks you’d be solving problems for.

But how does a startup know what its target audience wants if not even the first version of your website has been put forward? Or if you don’t have a targeted audience in the first place

There are various tools you can use for those purposes. SparkToro is one of the best out of all those.

Sparktoro Homepage: Audience Intelligence toolAll you have to do is give some keywords that resonate with your audience and it’ll pull the kind of content (articles/podcasts/videos) your audience consumes.

It will help you evaluate what would be your brand’s ideal positioning as per your consumer’s choice of content to plan your website branding.

3) Study your competitor’s approach

Studying your competitors can give you key insights into how your brand and onwards your website’s design/structure should look from a marketing perspective (we’ll jump deeper into the structural analysis in a few minutes).

Keyword research is a great way to identify the problems your audience is searching for the solution for.

And of course, your website should be structured in a way that those problems are solved on the page in the first look or the users are directed towards the solution properly.

You can either do all this research part manually by looking at your competitor’s website and content.

Or you can use a tool like Alexa Audience Interest which does it all for you.

alexa audience interest tool

Planning the Website Development for Your Startup

It’s the easiest to keep your website’s structure/architecture when you’re just starting out.

So it’s important that you get every technical aspect covered and not overwhelmed by elements that are not so crucial (right now) either.

4) Think of Design & Structural Ideas                 

You’d need to develop landing pages targeting specific keywords and set of audiences for various services. These landing pages will serve two purposes;

  • Specifies each of your services on each page
  • Helps you market each service via paid ads or SEO later.

A practical (and much efficient) way of analyzing your competitor’s website architecture is using a tool like ScreamingFrog. Just putting in the domain of your competitor you assess their website’s structure in one look as it appears in a simple tree diagram;

Screaming Frog Website TreeThis would help you decide;

  • How many pages you need
  • What should the hierarchy look like
  • What pages to prioritize over others etc.

5) Define your specific requirements

You have to know your product in and out. That’ll help you know what exact elements you need in your website.

Think, and understand from a consumer’s perspective, what would be needed on the homepage, if you’re looking for the solution to a problem that your product/startup solves?

For example, think of Canva. The product brings you a variety of creative design templates and if you were looking for those, their homepage would have directed you to your solution (their designs builder) in just three steps.

Canva Homepage three step navigationCanva realized that all its user needs on the homepage is;

  • Simple navigation displayed prominently
  • A search bar for user to search any design template
  • A section where the user can pick the design they want

Another example to understand the concept better is that if you own a consulting and advisory firm.

What you are offering is a consulting call/meeting to businesses so that should be the most prominent element on the homepage as a call to action (and of course some good copy above that).

Advanced Process Optimization, a business consulting firm, does a good job of a CTA (call-to-action) regarding this;

Homepage CTA for a consulting firm6) Document all the information/ideas together

Being a tech startup owner doesn’t require you to be so tech-savvy that you build wireframes or design UI/UX for your website however you have to keep all your requirements document.

It doesn’t have to be highly technical. Just put out a piece of paper or use digital tools available; write your requirements with the website and draw a rough design.

You have to put two things in line with this process;

  • An in-depth sitemap of all pages
  • The flow of the pages
  • Key elements you need (on some crucial pages at least)

Till now you must have a clear vision for yourself; what you want, how it should be done etc. Let’s now assess the cost.

Cost Estimation for a Startup’s Website Development

Short answer:

Cleveroad did a massive breakdown of how much does it cost to build a website and according to their analysis the average costs range anywhere from $8,750 to $38,000.

Long Answer:

The answer to this question is pretty much variable and depends on the skillset of the resource being hired, the phases of development a goes through, and the type of website that

Let’s dive deeper into the elements

Website development cost (by types)

The type of website being developed also impacts the overall cost. I.e. is it just a landing page, an eCommerce website, or a business website.

However, if we look at what the range of hourly rates looks like for each, we can get a value.

Website Time Cost (min) Cost (max)
Business website 190-260h $9,500 $13,000
E-commerce 350-750h $17,500 $37,500
Landing page 20-50h $1,000 $2,500

Source: Cleveroad

Website development cost (by stages)

The process of website development breaks down into a variety of stages. Some of those stages are common in all websites.

Stage   Time    Min price Max price
UI/UX design 15-80h


Front end 20-250h $1,000 $12,500
Back end 80-250h $4,000 $12,500
Admin panel 60-180h $3,000 $9,000
Total 175-760h $8,750 $38,000

Source: Cleveroad

Note: None of these numbers are 100% certain. They can go up or down depending on your exact requirement and the resource you hire; freelance, in-house, or agency.

Choosing a Resource for Your Startup’s Website Development

The resources generally available for website development service are either of the following;

  • Freelancers
  • In-House
  • Agencies

Startups initiate at different levels of funding and thus possess different levels of resources. You can go with either a freelancer, hire an in-house resource, or go with a digital agency.

All these resources have various merits and demerits to hire for the website of your startup. Here’s a quick overview of each resource;

Freelancer VS In-house VS AgencyFinal Takeaway

Finally, there comes an additional factor of personal preference that would impact your choice of resource, your budget, and your website requirements.

However, in an ideal scenario, agencies/consultants have seen to outperform building a complete in house team for specified roles.

As a digital marketing agency ourselves it may seem like our approach is biased in this article however many marketing leaders, like Rand Fishkin (Founder of Moz & SparkToro), have in fact come to realize that going with agencies/consultants is a better option for almost every scenario.

Rand Fishkin's Tweet on hiring agencies

If you’re a startup, no matter if boosted with huge funding or not, we’re here to give you an amazing digital platform tailored to your needs in the form of a customized website.

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