The below is an excerpt from our recently released free e-book "Successful Website Strategies for Small and Medium Sized Businesses". This chapter gives some great tips on how to determine an accurate budget for your new website, along with some information on how different decisions and features may affect total development costs. To find out what else you need to know to market your business online, make sure you grab a copy of the free guide.
So, you have decided to take the plunge and begin redesigning your company's website. This can be a fairly large undertaking that will depend greatly on the goals you have for your new online presence. Will it simply be a website that shares information about your company, or will it be a robust sales tool that completes online sales orders (e-commerce), integrates with your accounting system, and manages inventory? The difference between the two could mean thousands of dollars.
Below we will introduce some basic questions that you can ask yourself. These questions will help you to discover what you need from your website, and help you decide on a budget for your new online presence.
Are you selling products online?
This is one of the easiest questions to answer and it has a great effect on the overall budget of your website project. If you are looking to sell products online and take credit card information over the Internet this will drastically affect the cost of developing your website. If you are a bricks-and-mortar type company, you may be able to bypass this option for the time being, helping to keep costs down. There is no rule stating that you can’t add it in after you launch, whether that's months or years down the road.
If you are selling your products online, you need to consider the scope of the online application. Will the website need to manage inventory? Will it need to generate sales reports? Will it need to integrate automatically with your accounting systems? Will it be used as a POS system as well? All of these questions will help you define exactly what you need from an e-commerce store, and will help you get accurate estimates from any web designers or agencies when you start the Request For Proposal (RFP) process.
Do you need a custom designed website?
￼Although a website is a complicated marketing tool, your needs might be able to be addressed by selecting a “pre- made” or “template” website. A template website is a site that has already been designed, but has placeholder text and photography that can be replaced with your business’s brand and message. This allows you to save costs when creating a new website by skipping a large part of the design process, but limits you to the constraints of a template, with few, if any, options for customization.
The alternative approach is to create a custom designed website. While this is likely more costly, it allows you to build your website to address your business’s specific goals and needs. Typically, a company will have a unique requirement that needs to be implemented into a website design and will look out of place when forced into a standard template design. A custom web design process will allow you to make sure everything flows the way it should.
Do you need to have content created?
The most commonly overlooked item when creating a new website is the content in the website itself. Ironically, this is the most important part of your online strategy. It does not matter how great your new website looks, because if it is not saying the correct things, in the correct places, your chances of converting a visitor to a customer diminishes drastically.
Having great, well-written, and sharp copy is one of the essential keys to a great website. Do you have the resources within your company to create this content yourself, or do you need your web designer or agency to create this content for you? In addition to written copy, do you have photography and video to accompany it? Most website proposals do not include content creation, and if it is a requirement of your project – make sure to mention it.
If you design your new site with a “content first” approach, you will find that content creation is the first, and most important, step in the design process – so chose your copy wisely!
Do you need any special features on your site?
Many websites are created to provide information about a company, and to provide contact information. However, many others include complicated features such as property listings, or online quote generators. If you have any requirements for your new website that venture outside simply showing content and images, you may be looking at a custom feature that will need to be programmed by your website developer. The more complicated and robust the requirements, the more it will affect the overall budget. A simple online quote generator may only require an hour of development and programming, but a complex property management system that has advanced search features and gives your business the ability to update listing data could take considerably longer.
Most website designers and developers charge based off an hourly rate, much like lawyers and accountants, so any features that would add development time to the project would affect your total budget.
The above was an excerpt from our recently released free e-book "Successful Website Strategies for Small and Medium Sized Businesses". This chapter gives some great tips on how to determine an accurate budget for your new website, along with some information on how different decisions and features may affect total development costs. To find out what else you need to know to market your business online, make sure you grab a copy of the free guide.