It’s about the time that a prospective client gets that sheepish look in his or her eye that I know one of my most common questions is coming: “How much does it cost to build a website?” It’s an important question, but of course, the reason for all the sheepish looks is that everyone knows there is no such thing as “a plain old website.” Unless you have a pretty clear vision for the site you need, prices for web development can be harder to nail down than a frog’s tongue.
That said, here’s the secret I get sheepish about: For almost every site I quoted, there are only three factors that really matter. Let’s dispel a bit of mystery, shall we?:
1. Does your company already have a fully developed, strong, targeted branding style? If it doesn’t, you already know what I’m going to say.
If you’re not sure how strong your logo and the elements of your design style are right now, try out one of my branding pow wows. They’re relaxed, fun roundtables to take an honest look at where you stand and where you should aim. For now, just text or email me to ask about the next one; I’ll get a regular schedule going later this year.
2. What features and functionality does your website need to have? If you’re not sure, then take one step back and try this question instead: What are your goals for the website? How does it fit in with your marketing plan? If you’re still not sure, it may be good for us to sit down to do some quick marketing strategy and assessments. That way you’ll have a better Crisp Point to steer your goals toward!
The features you need—a blog, integration with QuickBooks, a gallery or portfolio, the ability for non-tech-savvy people to change parts of the site, a custom video, an opt-in page with members’ only area, a shopping cart, multiple contributors independently managing multiple calendars—each influence two things: First, they affect the underlying technology the site needs to be built on. That will change the sets of tools at our disposal. Second, the choice of features affect how many work hours it will take to build your site simply because there’s more or less to set up!
If you’re on a budget, you don’t necessarily need to build all the functions out right away, but we still need to know what your future plans. We’d like your site to grow with you!
3. Who is providing the content for the site? Once we have the site ready to show off your stuff to the world, where does that supertastic show-off material come from? Who will write the text for the various pages? Who will write the first few blog articles or the descriptions of your inventory items? Who will provide photography of people / products? Will those photos be polished or will they need retouching? What about the other incidental graphics that go into a site to break up text or to make a more Crisp Point?
We’d be delighted to produce as much of your site’s content as you want us to. Many clients like to send us their own drafts to get started with, which is an awesome middle ground. A few clients produce tip-top content all on their own, and we can just run with it unchanged.
If you know the answers to these three questions, it will go a long way toward squaring in on the costs to launch.