Welcome to the new year! While it may not be the beginning of the financial year, it’s still an opportunity to get some perspective and consider what kind of year you plan on having. For instance, if your website feels conspicuously old-fashioned, a revamp could revitalise your online presence.
The cost of a website can vary dramatically from project to project. The old truism, ‘You get what you pay for’ applies to the web as much as anything else, but that doesn’t mean throwing money at a project will make it great, and neither does it mean a low-budget website will be inevitably bad. Knowing how to assign budgets to different aspects of the project could be the difference between a competently constructed website and an exceptional one. Here are some of the tips from our years of experience in working with client budgets.
What are your objectives?
Knowing exactly what you want your website to accomplish will help enormously with the creative direction of the project. There are different approaches a design agency will take depending on what you want to achieve, be it a better SERP ranking, greater lead generation or just wider awareness. Audience goals and brand strategies can be developed for attaining specific objectives, which in turn means more efficient use of time and budget spending.
Do you have a plan?
Having a detailed brief and a timeline for a project is great but not essential, as it’s something your agency can help with. Often, our clients come to us with an objective and sometimes an idea, and we work with them to develop creative ideas that can shape growth and deliver unique brands that stand out. If this is your approach, it’s important to budget appropriately. We’ve been doing this a long time and we will always scope and cost a project before starting it. If you’d prefer to go in with more specific ideas of what needs to change/be included on your website, try performing a website audit, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses.
Are there any design necessities?
As we mentioned earlier, there’s no real need to have an idea of what design would work best for your campaign – a good agency will have experienced creatives that can offer you the best design for your strategy. But there might be technical aspects to consider, such as which content management system (CMS) your website will be run on. Will your website be going through a complete redesign from the ground up, or will designers be working within your current site structure? All of this has an impact on the development process and timescale. At Dusted, we’ll be sure to iron out all these details early on to avoid confusion later on in the project.
Do you have a content strategy?
Often overlooked by companies as something that can be sorted out later, a plan for content is essential. Do you know who will be in charge of writing the content on your website? Your agency might have a content department who are able to write the content for your website. However, you may want to have some things written in-house, or you might want to keep some copy as it is on your existing website (if applicable).
Also be sure you’ve established whether you will have a full content strategy in place, as this will need to be accommodated for on the website. Are you planning to have regular blogs hosted on your site? Perhaps you want a Twitter widget on your site? We usually encourage regularly updated content such as blogs or a news feed due to the positive effect it has on SEO. These features can eat up time if only considered later on in development.
Stock photos or photographer?
Where are you hoping to source the images for your website? This choice makes a difference to the overall costs of a website. You can rely on stock images that tend to be much cheaper, or you can have a professional photographer. The advantages of the latter include tailored photos specific to your website and campaign, as well as full ownership of the pictures to be used however you see fit. If getting the images just right is of utmost importance, then you should seriously consider budgeting for a professional.
However, using stock photos doesn’t necessarily make for a flawed experience – using them in creative ways can complement a website, ensure pages are on-brand, and convey the correct message. If you’re working with a tighter budget, a smart designer can make the best of stock images to complement your brand.
Are there any essential functionality features?
Lastly, it’s very helpful if your agency knows what kind of functionality your brand needs for its website. Is there a requirement for your users to download media? Or is there a need for activity tracking and private login areas for your site? Functionality is often the key definer that establishes the costs of building a website, particularly if your site is an e-commerce site. You might have a long list of functions you would like to include on the site, but if you’re working to a strict budget you’ll need to think about a ‘minimal viable product’ (i.e. the essential functions) first. Designers and developers can prioritise those, and then offer you as many of the remaining functions as possible.
Of course, you might not know which functions you need for your site or perhaps you would like to properly manage your expectations, and that’s where we can help. Agencies like us are in a position to get you the most bang for your buck, and that means offering you the most important functions specific to your objectives.
Those are our recommendations for managing your budget in the development of a new/updated website. If you’re interested in knowing more about what you can expect with different budgets, or just curious about how much the development of a website could cost you, feel free to get in touch and we’d be glad to talk about it!