What Does a Website Cost?
What does a website cost? The question most people want answered first, but realistically you need to know answers to every other question first before a quote can be close to accurate.
A better way of asking is “what’s your website worth to your business?”.
A website’s worth is severely limited if it’s not integrated with your online and offline business. So “building a website” is a somewhat futile process unless the people who build it “know” business well, especially your business.
Think about what you spend in marketing and advertising costs – how much does it cost you to get your print advertising message spot on? And yet so many people think a website costs a few thousand dollars and it will magically start pushing never-before-seen levels of sales inquiry to you. It just doesn’t work that way.
The “smarts” are in the approach and the strategy and the sales process – a beautiful site is useless if it misses its intended market.
And you need to understand this isn’t a “build it and they will come” exercise. After you’ve built the site you will need to continue to work on the business case and measure and refine just like any other ad/marketing medium.
Of course, using a professional firm like Kook means you will get to that end a lot faster than a cheaper solution, but nevertheless you should be prepared to roll up your sleeves for the long-term because there’s no silver bullet.
This is something that is relatively easy to nail down. It will usually be somewhere between $200 and $600 per year and depends largely the amount of traffic your site has, technologies used and hardware. However the big difference between providers is the level, and type, of support you receive.
Do you have a human you can call when there is an issue? Or are you forced to log a support ticket with the hosting provider and wait for a response? What level of support is that ticket sent to? Why is this important? Because if you log a support ticket and it goes to Level 1 hosting support, which is normal practice, you may wait for hours (or even days with cheap solutions) just to have it escalated to level 2.
Do you have root level access to the server? Most hosting is “shared” hosting in order to keep costs down. Shared hosting very rarely has root level access. Why is this important? If your website requires any specific applications to run such as a plugin or additional software, you will be met with a plain and simple “no”. There is no flexibility around shared hosting as it means installing something may disrupt other clients’ hosting and the hosting provider will simply not take this risk. Root level access means you can apply additional software on an individual website and therefore there is far more flexibility in what your website can run. Having root level access costs more due to the type of hosting it requires.
Hosting versus IT
With your “hosting” you are getting things done on the server end of the internet cable that ultimately leads to your PC. If you require help with setting up email accounts on your computer, your hosting company has no responsibility to help. Usually hosting companies will give you a helpfile on how to do it, but any issues outside the norm of how that is set up and you are stepping outside the bounds of what is hosting (at their end of the cable) and into what is IT support (your end of the cable). Find out from your web provider where your hosting support ends and IT support begins.
In much the same vein as hosting support, you can buy a super cheap domain and save yourself a six-pack of beer, and then lodge a ticket when you have a problem – and then wait. Invariably they will blame the hosting provider and you’ll go and lodge a job there only to be told it’s the domain provider’s problem. That six-pack may come in handy.
What software platform(s) will be considered for the project? How much experience have you had in dealing with those platforms? How flexible are they in being adapted to your business? As an example, a “simple shopping cart” is quite often not so simple when your business practices are applied to it. Customer price levels are usually quite complex for wholesalers for example. Applying volume discounts to larger customers’ pricing needs to be programmed unique to your business.
Off-the-shelf or “boxed” or “turn-key” systems usually cannot cope with any unique pricing structures and need to be modified. Similarly they are often hard to change if you need to alter the standard navigation or layout. A seemingly simple issue such as this could render the entire software solution useless.
It is paramount that the platform you choose has the ability to evolve as your business evolves. The import questions are: how scalable if the platform for growth, how easy is it to customise, does it have the ability to integrate with other business systems and what are the likely ongoing costs for the platform (eg security patches).
Balancing big ideas with technology and delivery
When you choose a web company, there are many types of businesses you will find offering web design as a service. At the extremes, you will probably find the creative ad agency or the technical geek.
At the internet’s infancy websites functioned as a glorified business card, designed to simple relay basic information to customers. Now your web presence should be not only this but be built to transfer core information to other internal business systems (CRM, Accounting, POS, etc), push marketing messages to clients (emails, Facebook, etc) and integrate with external marketing engines (eBay, Facebook, Google, comparison sites).
Thus your web company needs to be a creative, a geek and a business analyst.
A creative’s strength is usually in the presentation of your business. This is good for marketing / branding but are often not so strong on technical implementation and systems integration. Technical specialists may give cutting edge solutions that don’t have any relevance to your business’s main sales objectives ie no calls to action, no defined structure and aesthetic design that resembles nothing like your brand or style guide.
What you need is a web company that has a broad range of in-house skills combining the best of the creative agency and the geek and a good dose of experience working with a multitude of business strategies, where they have direct experience in websites that convert to sales and produce the website themselves. They need to know web inside out: search marketing, sales conversion metrics, analytics, programming, design, branding and more. They should be able to rattle off several sites that do very similar things to what yours needs to, even if they aren’t in your specific field.
Some ballpark costings
Basic website: $3000-3500 is the standard five-page mobile-responsive website. Yes, yes we know, there is someone’s brother’s cousin who can do it for $1500, but if you’ve learned anything by reading this far it’s that you need strategy and support as well as “the website”. These are usually “template” sites with your logo and colours used but no specific custom design input.
CMS website (all the tools you’ll need to manage the site yourself) with moderate design and creative input: Rough guide $5000.
Full custom designed solution with heaps of bells and whistles like slideshows, email newletter marketing manager etc. $6500
eCommerce: Hard to nail down as things like freight calculations can be very complex for a broad product range to a wide brown land like Australia. Starting price $8000. You need to ensure you have this planned out by an expert. No use plugging in a WordPress or Business Catalyst site and getting right to the very end to find the Postage plugin cannot be modified to handle your freight rules. That could be a showstopper and you have blown your budget on a platform totally unmatched to your needs. And that’s only one possible showstopper among 100 more you need to consider.
So what’s that worth?
A well-planned website, backed up by great service, is what your business needs. Talk to us and we’ll tell exactly what that is worth to your business.