When someone contacts me for information on creating a website, usually their very first question is "What is it going to cost me?".
sorry, I'm usually this silly. ;-)
I can completely understand why folks want to know the cost right away. After all, I've been running small businesses for much of my adult life - first as a massage therapist, and now as a freelance web designer/developer. I know how hard it can be to get things done on a small budget, while still paying your bills and having a bit of money to take home at the end of the day. Sometimes it's a struggle and it's always hard work!
However, like a lot of items you invest in for your business, the cost really depends on what you want and need.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post explaining the basic structure of a website. I compared it to building a house - you have the frame, the decorative details, and the extra 'added value' features. So, think of building your website as being similar to building or buying a house.
Here in Toronto, you can buy a home for around $300K, but for that price point, you are likely looking at a tiny condo in a less desirable neighbourhood. You can spend a bit more, say, $400K and get something a bit bigger with more features - maybe a small garden, a finished basement, or central air (or all three if you're lucky!). The more you are willing to spend, the nicer your house will be, and the more 'features' it will have - more rooms, nicer fixtures, pretty garden, great neighbourhood...
When you sit down with a realtor or mortgage broker, the question isn't one of "what's the price of a house?" but rather, "how much can you afford to spend?". Then you look for the very best house you can that is within your budget (but not necessarily spending your entire budget) and has the features that you require. You may need to compromise on location or 'bonus' features in order to get what you want at a price you can afford.
While building a website isn't the same cost as buying a house, the process is pretty similar. A website is the online 'home' of your business, the place where people go to find out information about your products and/or services, what makes you unique and how they can get in touch with you. It should properly reflect the personality of your business (and you!) and be compelling for your potential customers to read. You want people to be able to find the information they need quickly and for the design to complement this information, not distract from it.
This is where a professional web designer comes in. Our job is to talk to you about your needs and budget and see if we can come up with a plan that works. Web designers don't just write the code that forms your website but also spend time on design, marketing and research. What you're paying for isn't just a website, but our expertise in creating a beautiful, modern design that will help you reach potential customers and assist in making your business successful.
Below are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine what you need in a website, which will help determine your budget.
- Is this a brand new website or a redesign? A brand new website will often cost more, because there is no 'base material' to work from as a starting point.
- Do you already have photos, logos, and other business images prepared?
- Do you want a blog, or a content management system (CMS)? A CMS allows you to change the content of your website easily, but also generally costs more upfront to get it installed and working properly for your site.
- Do you need to sell products on your website?
- Are there any special features you want? This includes things like photo galleries, pulldown menus, and integration with online ads.
- Will you need help creating website content?
- Who will update and maintain the website once it's live?
Just like with buying a house, the question isn't really "What does a website cost" but rather, "What can you reasonably afford?". Then you build the best website you can within that budget (but not necessarily spending your entire budget - a very important point!).
If you're looking to build a website or have one redesigned and would like to discuss more about pricing, you are welcome to drop me a line anytime (firstname.lastname@example.org), or just leave a comment below. And if you think you might want me to build your website, that's great! I am currently accepting clients for Fall 2014 and you don't have to be in Toronto to work with me.