I have seen this question posted on many forums, how do you know you are paying the right price for a website? Is $500 reasonable, is $10,000 too much. Should I use a free tool? Should I be getting lots of quotes? The right price will always depend on your needs and more particularly those of the audience you are targeting.
Before you can determine the right price for professional website building, you need to think about a number of important elements. (If one of those is whether you need it or not, check out this article on the ‘Top reason to have a website’).
Development is not where you start
Businesses have a terrible habit of nose-diving into a project without giving thought to the strategy. It’s a word which scares many or is deemed irrelevant to some, but the truth is it is critical for every business. Without a strategy, you are potentially doing a disservice to your business and wasting money. A website will not work for you if it is not thought through from a marketing perspective first.
Think about your brand positioning and the audiences you want to target. Plan the site around addressing each audience separately.
Your website is the first engagement most people will have with your business, so if you don’t get it right, they will go past. Work with a marketing professional first, don’t go straight to developers. It’s no different to getting a house built; you can’t go straight the carpenter without an approved plan.
What about making sure it looks good?
Don’t fixate on the price or you will lose sight of what you need to achieve. All websites are not created equally. Don’t be fixated on looks either, they are essential, but not everything.
Initially, a website is about providing information to potential and current customers. Then it is about functionality – what could benefit the customers and what your business wants to be able to do online. So before you start thinking about how much, ask yourself what is needed?
Of course, you should explore the designs which suit your business brand and particularly those of your audience (remember the site is for them and not you). You have to decide if a template is practical to work from or if something more tailored is required. The lower the price, the less involvement of any real designers. Remember just wacking your logo on a site, does not mean the branding is automatically correct.
You need to pay for a good designer because templates rarely make your business stand out and often fail to give your brand the edge it deserves.
There are two more absolutely critical things you must consider before you settle on the price in professional website building. Who will be responsible for the content and who will manage the project. Simply, the less you pay the more onus there is on you to handle these critical tasks.
Content matters. There are lots of elements you need to cover on the site and as I said at the start, think about them strategically. Don’t blindly write or copy what others have done. Think about using the right language, which may need to vary on different pages depending on the audience you are targeting.
Images and photos fall under the banner of content. Who is providing these and making sure they are sending the right messages about your business?
For a website to really work well for you, content should be something you think about adding regularly. If you go to a site and it looks like the business has not done anything on it in months, it leaves you with a sour taste. If you can’t tend to your own business, how can you help me?
Then there is the account management. Do not underestimate this process. Working with developers means understanding their language, while also pushing them to keep things on brand. Like a building site needs a foreman, your website needs someone who understands the vision and will keep it on track.
Now when you ask the question, how do I know I am paying the right price for a website, consider who is taking care of all the elements I mentioned? Think carefully about this in two ways:
Firstly, is there a value in hiring an expert to guide my site to another level?
Secondly, whatever work you or your staff take on in this project will be taking them away from their core work roles and responsibilities. It very often can create a false economy. Instead of generating new business or fulfilling the needs of current clients, they are doing something you could hire an expert to do.