I have been asked this question many times and I pretty much always say the same thing. It depends on how you would like to use your website in your business. Now this may sound like I am dodging the question but just hear me out.
A website is essentially a blank canvas that you do pretty much what you like, but most businesses use it to either market or sell their products and services in some form or fashion.
How big a role your website plays in your business really has to do with how much time and money you want to devote to it. I often advise my prospective clients not to invest a lot of money into a website until they have a specific goal in mind.
Websites can take up a lot of time and the idea of you just building a website and the people will come is a myth.
Many business owners have unfortunately had such a poor experience with their first website that they never want to do it again. The frustration comes from feeling like they wasted valuable time and money on a site that isn’t doing anything for their business.
Go Beneath the Surface and Dig Deeper
What I often find when I run into this situation with prospects and clients, is that if we dig deeper we discover that the designer they worked with before didn’t push hard enough to find out what they wanted to use the site for and in turn just gave them something so they could get paid.
Look, you can have the most up-to-date, beautiful website in the world, but if you don’t integrate your website into your overall business, even if it’s just for marketing or for sales – then you essentially have a glorified billboard that won’t do anything for you or your customers.
Launching a website with no goal or plan is like saying you want to finally loose those last ten pounds. You join a gym, sign-up with a personal trainer and then you never go back. Instead, you just sit on the sofa in your apartment and wait for the pounds to come off. Are you going to lose the weight this way?
Most likely not, but does that mean the personal trainer, classes and equipment in your gym were no good? No, it just means you didn’t use them. The same holds true for a website, it’s only useful if you actually use it.
So what does this have to do with the cost? Everything – it doesn’t matter whether you spend $500 or $5,000 you need to ask yourself what do I want my website to do for my business? Then plan accordingly, I know people get tired of hearing it, but it’s the truth.
Find the right people to work with you and schedule time to work on your website during your day. If you are just starting out and you are too overwhelmed by all of the choices out there, you may want to start off with a basic informative website.
This gives all of the pertinent information about you, your products and/or services. It should be no more than 5 pages and can start from about $500 for a basic installation to up to $2500 on average for a custom designed site.
These are not agency prices however. Most agencies even the small firms of 4 to 5 people won’t even consider a website for less than $15,000. It just isn’t cost effective for them to do so, but they should be able to refer you to one of their “subs” who most likely is working with a small business owner like yourself already.
For more complicated jobs, like an ecommerce site or for custom social media and email templates, these projects typically start at around $2,500 and go up from there depending on the “scope of work”. The more complex it is the more work there is to be done and the more you will likely pay.
In any case, you want to make sure that whomever builds your site, that they set it up on a reliable and well-documented CMS like WordPress or Drupal. This will give you a great foundation to build upon and the flexibility of being able to move your site fairly easily, without having to start from scratch which can be costly.
Now I’m sure by now some of you are wondering about those free themes and templates out there. Well, I have nothing against them, until you ask me to try and fix them. The time I have spent in the past trying to clean-up mistakes made by clients who tried to go it alone and code their own site, is more than twice the time I would need if I had coded the site from scratch.
Suffice to say – the less you pay for a website, the more work you are going to have to do yourself. Plus, even if you manage to find a theme or template that you really like, what good is it to you if you don’t know how to use it? It’s like buying a really expensive car before you even learn how to drive. This is what I mean about “planning accordingly”.
Websites aren’t cheap and you want to make sure that you get started off on the right foot. Don’t be afraid to do a little research and reach out to a few designers and ask for a brief consultation.
A professional designer, should be able to answer your questions fairly easily or if they aren’t able to help you, at the very least they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Question: What’s the one thing you would like to be able to do with your website? Share your comments below.
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This post was updated on July 2, 2020.