We get asked a lot what people should be paying for a new website. And, we usually say, "It depends." We’re not intentionally being vague; pricing is based on the scope of the project. The more complex you want your website to be, the more expensive the total bill. (That being said, I'm also of the mindset that if you treat your website as your best paid salesman, you will reap the rewards.)
If your company is in the market for a new website and aren’t sure where to start as far as setting your budget, you’ve come to the right place. Here is an abbreviated version of what we go through with companies as part of our Blueprint process.
1. Establish the purpose of your website.
This might seem straight forward, but I often see brands just jump into a website project without really thinking about how the website fits into the overall business. Have a loose plan for what you want your website to do.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want it to capture leads?
- Are you selling advertising space?
- Is it just a brochure site (hopefully not)?
- Does it need to integrate with certain software?
Be sure to keep your objectives at a "30,000-foot" view. For example, rather than saying "we want an events calendar, blog, and member portal," keep your list focused on business objectives like "we want to generate more leads and reduce call volume."
2. Determine if you need a custom design or theme-based design.
Everyone always wants a custom design, but that doesn't always match what they actually need. Determining early on if a theme-based (preset design) design is a better match for your needs, then you might be able to lower your costs and the time invested in the project.
3. Create a list of "must have" features and "they would be nice, but not necessary" features.
This helps us understand what is most important to you. As we get into the planning process, often things that seemed like "must haves" become not as important when looking at the big picture. Establishing the purpose of your website will help you determine these "must have" features.
It's important to remember that just by eliminating something from your "must have" feature list that it doesn't mean that you can't add it in later. Your website should continue to grow and mature as your marketing and business strategies evolve. It's not uncommon for us to end a planning process with established phases on how the website will evolve.
4. Be a bit flexible with your budget.
Everyone always has a number in mind when starting the planning process. Be up front with your website partner if there's a specific budget that you can't go over. By being transparent with this information, we can guide through the process and advise on the things we would move into a different phase.
That being said, we might uncover something during the Blueprint process that we highly recommend, but it might push your budget a little bit higher. We don't recommend things that you don't really need. (We’re honest like that.)
Keep in mind when going through a website development project that what might seem simple and standard can actually be the most complex component requiring extra attention, thus requiring a larger budget.
5. Do your research.
Ask other companies what they have paid in the past. Investigate different agencies. Keep in mind that every website and agency is different, but this should give you a general idea of what to expect. Also keep in mind that the size and nature of your organization plays a part. A local two-person flower shop has very modest needs and should talk to smaller "boutique" agencies. A larger nationally-focused B2B company would want to talk to larger agencies.
6. Account for more than just the original project budget
A website project is typically a set fee that you pay one time, but there will be additional costs as you move forward. You will likely have monthly hosting, maintenance and support fees to think about as well.
When thinking about ongoing fees, I would even carve out an amount in the annual budget for website enhancements. After all, you might have a new component that needs to be integrated or maybe a slightly different marketing strategy that requires some updates to your website. These updates are likely not included your monthly hosting fees.
7. Consider your team's availability with the project.
A website project can be demanding on a marketing team. There's content, design approvals, testing and a lot of meetings. If the team doesn't have the bandwidth to take on a website project, then you'll need to rely more on your website partner. This will impact the budget, but could help you keep your sanity and keep the project moving faster.
Bottom line: our advice is to not just set an arbitrary budget. Rather, think about what your business objectives are first, prioritize them, then set a flexible range that you feel comfortable working within. Then, you want to work with your agency to create a plan that pins down the budget as you move priorities on and off the list. Oh, and if you’re looking for an agency, we’d love to chat with you!