As the principal of website design firm, I receive numerous calls with the immediate question, “How much does it cost to build a small business website?” This is like asking the question, “How much does a house cost?” You can’t answer a question like that without more information and discussion. In order to determine a price for house, you would need to know what the client is looking for—the desired number of bedrooms and baths, location and square footage.
Once the key questions are addressed, a price range can be determined. This is the same idea with a website. Many people think I can answer the website question immediately. Unfortunately I cannot. Two major issues come up when discussing website cost—marketing objective and functionality.
What is the purpose of the web site? The answer can’t be “I need one because every other business has one.” Here are some questions to address-
- Who is your ideal customer? How is the website going to communicate to your customer segments?
- What is your unique value proposition? Within 3-5 seconds a website visitor needs to know what you do and what makes you different.
- Do you want your website to be a lead generator, an online store or just a credibility piece? Many businesses do not want “the masses” to find them online because they target a very specific client.
- What is the call to action? What do you want website visitors to do once they visit your website? Are they making a purchase, downloading a whitepaper, contributing content?
Once there is consensus on the marketing objective, you can start determining the website tools needed to help reach your objective. Theses questions include-
- What do you want your website to do?
- What tools will your ideal customer value?
- How do you want to engage and inform your audience?
- Do you want your website to have a “clients only” portal?
- Who will be managing the content
When discussion web design with an agency, the marketing objective should always be discussed first. This will establish the foundation for the tools/functionality needed to meet the overall website objective. Normally, with the information gathered from a single exploratory discussion, an estimate can be determined.