“What does a website cost?” It is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from clients, peers, and employees – and one of the most difficult to answer. But perhaps the best way to answer this is to explain how we go about figuring this out for each and every client.
Lots of companies and individuals can build a website – design, write, code, set up hosting, etc. We do this, too. But it’s only part of a much bigger picture. At envisionit, we strive to create experiences that greatly improve our clients businesses and deliver the highest possible value to their target audiences. A website is a massive extension of your business – and in many cases it is your business.
With that in mind, the answer to this question can be achieved by considering four key ingredients: expectations, effort, experience, and results. Breaking these down into specific questions and then desired outcomes ultimately results in a defined value for your site and a compared cost for the services needed.
Think about your site andyour business. What are your expectations? What do your consumers expect and want from your site? How about your employees? Do your company’s current goals and objectives match up with what your consumers need, and how is this translating to your website currently? You might have an opportunity to triple your revenue, mend your brand, generate global awareness, improve your company’s operations, and reach a massive and active audience. But don’t overwhelm yourself – keep it simple to begin with. Focus on coming up with a few key goals for your site; such as generating more leads, launching a new brand, or improving the delivery of a service or product to your consumers. Whatever you come up with, make sure these goals hold great value for your business and consumer base.
Simply put, what kind of physical or mental power is needed to achieve these goals or overcome certain challenges? And does this effort equate to a value greater than its cost?For example, a neglected brand or new product entering a saturated market may require a more sophisticated interactive strategy in order to reach desired outcomes on the web. If your goal for this brand is to continue its life for years to come, the investment in effort may well be worth it. Likewise, we’ve all heard of the website or social media campaign that crashed because it was too popular.These great, often cost-effective ideas can explode into an immense expenditure after the fact, if all outcomes aren’t carefully considered and planned for. Paying for that due diligence and proper planning upfront will save plenty of effort later. The key is to assess your situation, understand any challenges and assumptions, and identify all risks.
Specifically, I’m referring to two very different things – 1) the desired user experience of your site; and 2) the experience of the team that will eventually take over the site we are building.
Let’s face it: If your content, service or product stinks, users will not come back to your site. Equally important is the experience surrounding that content. If users can’t figure out where the content is that they came looking for, it won’t matter how good that content might be – they’re already frustrated at this point, and will likely leave the site. The time and energy placed on the user experience that surrounds content, products or services is tremendously important and often underestimated by new clients.
Your team’s experience
All websites must be maintained and improved. The level of investment that’s made in the infrastructure of a site has a direct impact on the site’s overall value and, in turn, the value of your company – including brick and mortar. Who in your organization will be maintaining the site, and what is their current skill set? How invested are your internal stakeholders, and what type of site contribution strategy will work best to manage their expectations? Operationally, what type of processes and methods of organization are needed to pull this off effectively? The right agency will be able to help you navigate and plan for these scenarios. And while a greater monetary investment upfront could be required they should be able to tailor these solutions in a way that saves your company time and money in the long run.
Many companies celebrate the effort and outcome of building the site itself, and for good reason. However, in order to achieve continued success you must define the desired results before launching the site. And once the user data starts rolling in, you’ll discover great things are happening that you couldn’t anticipate. Likewise you will be off the mark on other benchmarks. But don’t panic – the key is to continue to set goals, refine, and reset again. The right agency partner should be excited and passionate about exploring these topics with you. Expect lots of smart questions. And the more prepared you can be, the better the outcome. Taking the time to carefully consider each of these four key ingredients before meeting with your agency partner will result in a highly productive and satisfying engagement for you and your team, as well as a more accurate scope of work.