You stare at the quote on your screen, incredulous. “Am I being swindled?” you wonder. “How can a website cost this much?”
If your developer could say anything to you at this moment, it would probably be this: websites are expensive. They require time, effort and a specific skill set to set up, and if you want one that is tailor-made for your business, it may cost you a pretty penny. This does not mean that you have to resign yourself to paying a fortune. Websites may be expensive, but there are ways of minimizing your costs by avoiding extras and unnecessary features.
Begin by asking yourself the following questions (and always assume that more work = more cost):
What do you want your website to look like?
Build your dream website in your mind. What does it look like? Is it minimalistic, or do you want something that meets world class design standards? Will you be supplying images to the developer, or will they have to source them for you? Perhaps your developer offers in-house photography services. This is a handy service, but one you should expect to be additionally charged for.
A minimalist design
A design heavy style
What can your website do?
A basic website with your contact information will take much less time to set up than an online catalogue with payment services. E-commerce is not a simple thing, and unless you are already well-versed in it, your developer will need to guide you through security options, shipping, payment processes and more.
A simple one-pager
A complicated website
What does your website say?
Your website needs more than fresh design and beautiful pictures – so will you be supplying the content, or will you rely on the developer to create it for you? Again, this is a service you should expect an extra fee for. Outsourcing will save you time and effort, but it won’t save you money.
How does your website work?
Do you want to be able to add content and images to your website yourself, or are you happy to let the developer do that for you? The answer to this question will rely heavily on your own technical proficiency. Having your developer update your website saves you time and ensures that the job gets done correctly. Now is also a good time to consider how you will be communicating with your developer. Meeting in person every time you need an update can cost you a fortune in consultation fees. Explore alternative forms of communication like Freedcamp, Dropbox, Skype or good old-fashioned email.
Can anyone find your website?
There is really no point in having a beautifully designed website if no one can find it. Talk to your developer about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and consider linking your website to platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. There may be a fee involved, but you’ll be happy you paid it when clients are streaming to your website.
When do you need your website?
Nothing that is done quickly is done cheaply – and if it is done cheaply, you can be assured it is not done well. A short deadline may force your developer to outsource in order to finish your website in time. Avoid this situation if you can, as outsourced services will be for your bill. Plan ahead to minimize both stress and costs.
Who is building your website?
It may seem like an obvious statement, but different companies often charge different prices for the same services. There is a reason why your cousin is charging next to nothing to build a website at his kitchen table – and if your instinct is to be suspicious of a price that seems “too low”, you should trust it. Companies that are new to web design will take on almost any project in the hope of gaining experience, and will often lure customers with a too-good-to-be-true quote. Consider what you are really paying for, and whether you are comfortable with someone using your project as a learning experience. On the other end of the spectrum, you may be baffled by an astronomical quote from a high-end, reputable company. Keep in mind that bigger companies employ more staff and have larger profit margins to cover. Paying them a small fortune will not ensure that your website will be finished any quicker either, as bigger companies are often also busier companies.
A quotation will tell you a lot about a company, so take the time to compare a few. Keep looking until you find your Goldilocks quote – not unreasonably high, not suspiciously low, but somewhere comfortably in the middle. Keep these questions in mind and speak openly with your chosen developer about your expectations. Your website is one of the biggest, most important investments you’ll make in the future of your business. Find a web developer that understands this, and you’ll be set for success.