How much does a website cost?

I want to tell you today about the hardest question that I get asked all the time.

“How much does a website cost?”

Asking that question is like asking “How much does a house cost?” The answer, of course, is: it depends.

The factors that affect the price tag on your website include the size of the website and the functionality the site includes. A one-page informational site with no interactivity or dynamic features is at one end of the spectrum, and a large site with many unique pages and layouts with eCommerce functionality, inventory management, and automated marketing tools represents the other end.

Your website can be a profit center rather than something that consumes cash, but only if you know how to be a savvy buyer.

What to know before you ask for a proposal

Here’s a series of questions that you as a client may expect to be asked during the discovery process before a proposal can be delivered. Having answers to these questions ahead of time will go a long way towards coming out of your first conversation with a web developer or agency with a clear, actionable roadmap for the future.

  1. What does your company do? What are the products and services that you offer?
  2. Who are the decision makers for this project?
  3. What are your main reasons for needing a (new or overhauled) website?
  4. What does success look like for this project? For instance:
    • 20% increase in leads generated over 6 months
    • 30% increase in membership/booking/purchases in 12 months
    • Reduce administrative tasks time spent by 15% in 3 months
  5. Is there anything about your current site that serves the business well? If so, why?
  6. What are the top 3 reasons your ideal customer will visit your website? For instance:
    • To purchase product(s)
    • To get educated about products
    • To get your contact information
    • To check prices
  7. What about your competitors– who are they? What are they doing that you think is working?

Once you’ve received a proposal, how can you determine whether the developer (or their team) really understands and cares about the information you’ve uncovered in the discovery phase?

Reviewing your proposal

Here’s some questions that you can ask yourself as you review a proposal:

  1. Does the developer or team respond in a timely fashion to your questions? Is the writing in the proposal clear and professional, or does it lack punctuation and have errors?
  2. Is the problem or challenge that your business faces accurately described in the proposal? Do they show a clear path to solving this problem? Or do they compare your challenge to a previous project they’ve done that doesn’t really match your situation?
  3. Are they proposing using tools that will lock you into using their vendor or their team until your site is rebuilt?
  4. What is the timeline for completion of the project? What tools will be used to manage the project?
  5. Do you feel overwhelmed by technical jargon? Is too much time spent on exactly how or with what tools things are going to be done? Or does the proposal help you understand what problem the developer is solving, and why the proposed solution is best?