This is one of the most commonly asked questions in our industry, and one of the most difficult to answer. Given the current landscape of DIY web-builders, potential clients can find it difficult to understand why a site can cost what it does. Where does the budget go?
Here is an example of a typical enquiry for a website:
“Hi there I am looking for a website to be built for my company – Company A.
6 Pages –
Able to update it easily Social Media Links Mobile Friendly First Page on Google What would a rough cost for this be?
Many thanks, Person A”
On the surface it may appear that we have all the information necessary to build a quotation, but unfortunately this barely scratches the surface. Building a successful website requires a lot more thought than the number of pages. So hopefully I’ll break down here where the issues with this kind of request are:
1. We don’t know anything about your company.
In order to produce a design that truly reflects your business and markets itself to the correct visitor we need to understand your company. Are there existing brand guidelines or are we required to produce some?
Some businesses only require minimal styling in order to make the product or service really shine, others require custom illustrative styling which takes a lot longer to plan, perfect and achieve.
2. How much control do you require over the content?
There are a number of different CMS platforms that can be used to allow the site owner to keep their site updated. Some of these systems, such as WordPress or Joomla! are open-source but can be very time-consuming to develop with.
Our preferred CMS at the moment is Perch, which is not open-source, but is very powerful and can be used to add and remove pages, incorporate a blog, gallery, and events calendar among other elements.
But with editing your own content comes great responsibility. If you need to be able to edit absolutely everything then the complexity of the layout must suffer to accommodate this. It also means that top-level navigation must be carefully planned in order that the whole site doesn’t break if you add a new page.
3. You have told us what pages you need, but how will the content flow? What information does your visitor need?
We like to really think about content strategy at NEC as it underpins the entire website. The site should be planned out like a visit to Disneyland, with each visit mapped out from start to finish.
If you can pre-empt what your visitors are likely to look for then your chances of converting them into a customer are much higher. Ultimately your site is to be designed and built for your customers, not you, and we can help you figure that out.
4. Mobile Friendly
Responsive design is the most exciting thing to happen in the web for a long time. But it does come with a time and cost implication; everything we design must be entirely flexible, content hierarchies must be carefully planned out and typography chosen with care.
Browser and device testing also begins to take a central role, with so many different platforms we have to rigorously test all functionality to ensure maximum compatibility over them all.
5. First Page on Google
Now here’s a request. SEO is a completely different animal altogether, and it isn’t always a cheap one.
Every site we build has the basics of SEO built in, but in order to achieve consistent search rankings a strategy needs to be put in place for SEO and marketing your website online. Building the website is not enough, but we can help you to put together a plan which suits your budget if necessary.
So as you can see, that one email is really the starting point for a much larger conversation, one where we can really dig deep and find out the intricate details of the project in order that we can produce the best possible website within the available budget.
Once we have asked the right questions we can work out the appropriate budget and then if necessary, work out where there may need to be a compromise on the spec.
So how much does a website cost?
It really is dependent on the specifications required. Our average client projects usually fall between £3000 – £15000, but very complex sites can go beyond even that. But when you consider an agency for the job of producing a site for you, you are paying for their expertise. It is almost certain that there will be a cheaper agency out there, or a freelancer who promises the world for very little money. Just always be aware of the playing field, shop around. The fewer questions a potential supplier asks the more alarm bells should be ringing.
At StudioNEC we’ve always prided ourselves in trying not to turn people away based on price, carefully adjusting the spec to suit the available budget. This methodology works well for our clients; it can be possible to put together a simple holding page with branding, basic contact information and some standard service/product information for less than you think.
But just remember… Web developers have to eat too.
About Bob Gentle
I'm the MD at NEC. I work with clients on strategy and digital marketing and lead research and development in this quickly evolving area.