Pretty much every business person I talk to hates his or her website. After a redesign there’s usually a six-month to one-year honeymoon period and then the website gets stale. But just as most business-owners hate their websites, they are also overwhelmed with the thought of taking on a redesign (or launching from scratch). The biggest question looming over many business owners’ heads when it comes to the website is, “How much is this going to cost me?”
And like many things, the answer to this simple question is, “It depends.” I recently got quotes for a client from eight website developers and got prices back that ranged from $1,500 to $80,000. And keep in mind that I gave each developer, all of whom were based in Connecticut, the exact same set of specifications for the site. Imagine if you went to buy a loaf of bread at one grocery store and it cost $2, but at the next store in the next town it cost 50 times that amount.
Of course, bread is a commodity and websites are customized. So that’s why it makes it so hard to compare from one vendor to the next. Here are my recommendations on how to make sense of these wild cost differentials.
If you are just starting your business out, use an online service like Weebly, Wordpress or SquareSpace and build the site yourself. If you don’t have the time or the tech experience to do it yourself, you might have an employee who can, or you can always contact me!
If you are an established business, then you probably want something more customized and complex than what the above services can offer. In that case, you’ll want to work with a web development company. Try to look at local companies that are a similar size to you revenue-wise and find out what web developers they used. You can ask the business owners or you can simply go to their websites and scroll to the bottom of the page. The web developer is often listed there.
What I’ve found is that most web development companies have a customer sweet-spot. If, for example, a web developer works mostly with banks and hospitals, that developer is going to charge a premium because those types of clients are sophisticated, have big budgets and have a lot of security requirements. If a developer works mostly with small mom-and-pop businesses, it will likely have a more affordable price, but might not have the expertise to take on more complicated customizations. The number one thing that tends to drive up a website's cost is integrations. Anytime you need your website to talk to another website, whether it be for ecommerce or custom relationship management purposes, you are going to see an increase in cost on the development side.
From your research, get together a list of three or four developers and get quotes from them. Try to provide the developers the same information so you can get an apples-to-apples comparison on price.
If doing all that homework sounds daunting, then again, you may have an employee do it, or you can always call a consultant like me to manage the process.
I'm Christina H. Davis and I'm the founder and owner of Hall Davis Marketing Strategies. Learn more about me on my LinkedIn profile.