Do I even need a website?
The simple fact is, if you’re in business, yes. In this day and age a well designed and highly functional website is absolutely invaluable, and you’ll always regret choosing the cheap option if you skimp on a website. So many potential customers research their potential purchases online before buying that you would be foolish to avoid having a professional and up to date online presence.
So, what now?
So, you’ve made the decision, you want your own website, and naturally the follow up question that occurs to all of us who aren’t blessed with completely bottomless coffers is ‘’How much will it cost?’’And the unfortunate answer to that is that it’s very much a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ sort of question, in as much as there is no definite answer, it’s very much something that you have to come to your own conclusion about.
After all, a website isn’t just a onetime purchase and then that’s it, it’s a series of decisions and continual revisions. But, there are definite guiding principles you can use to determine whether or not the price is right for you. It’s very easy for business owners to feel in the dark about website pricing, as there are so many differing people offering wildly different rates for what appears to be the same thing.
So what can help you square the cost?
Really, the first thing to do is to rephrase the question, it shouldn’t be what is the COST going to be, it should be what is the INVESTMENT going to be, because that’s really a much more helpful and overall beneficial way to look at it, you’re not buying a website so much as investing in one.
It’s a difficult thought to think of investing a sizeable chunk of money in something that is ultimately intangible, as despite how valuable they are to your business you of course can’t actually touch or have any physical interaction with a website, but you have to realistically accept the incredible benefits that a well developed website will bring you, both in terms of the visibility and accessibility of your brand, and indeed the revenue you’ll be able to achieve.
Let’s get the simple fact out of the way first; yes it is possible to design a website for free. And yes, it is possible that said website might just happen to somehow grow popular and through sheer force of luck you would have yourself a successful website on your hands. However the amount of luck required for that is going to be astronomical, and if you’re willing to place your valuable business in the care of such a long shot, then you’re simply not destined to go very far with it.
However if you’re just looking to blog, share random thoughts and ideas when the mood strikes you and not expecting to make any money from it then you can easily get away with free web space and free themes. However if you’re looking to make any money from the website, particularly if you’re looking to make your main living from it, then you need to be willing to invest the kind of money it is going to take to secure you something that is going to accurately reflect your seriousness and committal to your work.
Before contacting anybody!
You need to make sure that you have a clear idea exactly what it is you’re looking for this website to do, you need to have it set in a great amount of detail exactly what you’re hoping to achieve through the website. A web developer will likely be able to help you with this if you don’t have a clear idea on it, but you need to bear in mind that all this extra developmental work will not be done free of charge, and so it will help you mitigate some of the investment if you already have a highly detailed idea of what you want when you’re going in.
So is it wrong to outsource?
Absolutely NOT, web development is a highly detailed and skilful business and the people who do it have spent a great amount of time learning and working to be the best at it that they can possibly be. It makes an incredible amount of sense to outsource such work to them, it’s what they do best, and they’re there to help you, make use of their services. You’ll find it much more beneficial if you focus your time and effort on the actual content of the site you’re looking to build while leaving the technical details to a web developer who understands the business. Remember to make sure they understand marketing as well as graphic design and the actual functionality of the site, as having a pretty and well designed site will do you no good at all if it doesn’t actually make you any money.
How to settle on a developer?
So you’ve decided on a site, and decided to outsource the building of your site to a web developer, you’ve sent out a handful of offers to different people and they all come back with completely different, sometimes wildly so, offers. Which are you going to accept? The cheapest based on minimal outlay? The most expensive hoping that means they’re the best? The middle ground in the hope you’ll somehow get the best of both worlds? It’s simply a matter for you to decide which developer seems to have grasped your ideas the best, who has the most enthusiasm for your project? Who will be willing to go the extra mile in order to make sure your site is the best it can be?
It’s an old but true adage, but you really do get what you pay for. There’s a chance that if you shell out for the cheapest developer who sent you an offer that you’ll somehow manage to have hired an absolute genius with an astonishing sense of altruism, but let’s face facts, it’s unlikely at best, nigh on impossible at worst, so you need to think harder about it.
But that doesn’t mean you should just go ahead and side with the most expensive offer, of course not, you need to weigh everything up in your mind, out of all the offers, who has shown the best overall case? Who has provided not only a seemingly reasonable offer (in as much as they haven’t undersold or oversold themselves) and who has seemed to grasp on to your concept the best? You should follow your instinct and settle with a developer who seems committed to bringing you the best possible service, as the initial investment it will take will be more than worth it in the long run.
So what actually makes up the cost?
So you’ve settled on a developer, and now it’s time to get to work, what exactly is going to factor in to the cost? Well, apart from the skill level of the designer, you yourself will also play a large part in the following ways.
- What sort of site are you looking for? If you want a super simple site with good functionality it’s of course going to cost much less than a highly modern site that has all the bells and whistles on it.
- How are you as a customer? If you’re overly demanding on your developer then you’re almost certainly going to incur further charges for all the extra work.
Don’t be too demanding. The web developer has to make a living, and you can’t expect them to do anything on their own time. It’s no good bothering them when they’re at home with their family and expecting them to indulge you for free.
How should you think of your website?
It isn’t that much of a stretch to think of your website as an employee, or your top salesperson. It’s your virtual face that your virtual customers see and if you have a successful website you’ll be able to reach a far greater number of people than you could if you had a physical store. People expect an actual physical store front to be relatively expensive to rent/purchase and maintain, and yet often seem to think that their virtual presence will just pop up for free. It doesn’t, but even so, comparatively speaking, when you think about the number of customers you have the potential to reach and the number of sales you have the potential to make, even a $20,000 professionally designed website will be a sound investment that will make good returns very swiftly.
After the site has been built?
It’s also very important indeed to consider that after your initial outlay has been done, after you’ve a shiny business website to show the world, that the costs will not stop there. It most certainly isn’t a onetime purchase. You’ve purchased the design of the site, and if you’ve chosen a good web designer they’ll have given you an excellent site in return but you need to think about maintenance costs, as they will be a deeply important aspect of running any website and so will need to factor into your view of its overall investment.
- Domain name, a small cost in all likelihood, but a very important one and one that should not be overlooked.
- Hosting of your site is also incredibly important to consider, which may vary in price but if your business is your main source of income, it would be wise to invest in higher quality services that offer you more in the way of security, protection and backups should technical errors occur.
- Plugins/extensions/apps etc then these also need to be factored in as they’ll almost certainly expire and need updating and in every probability done so by a professional.
- Maintenance costs should also not be ignored, as they will swiftly mount up if you do so, with potentially catastrophic results. It is much better, and cheaper, to invest in regular maintenance and security of your site than have to mop up the results of a disastrous technical error.
- Marketing is also an incredibly vital cost to consider, as just because you have your website built now, doesn’t mean people will just happen upon it by accident, you need to make sure you’re accurately targeting customers and doing so in the right way.
In closing, there is no simple answer to the question of how much your website should cost, but if you’re a professional business owner, money spent in the direction of a professional website is never wasted; only returned.