How much does a website cost?

How much money do I need to make a website? I get this question more then I care to admit. From the perspective of the inquiring person, this is a very legitimate question. It’s one that is not that easily answered, but I’ll give it a go.

When the question is asked, I usually return it with another question: “How much does a car cost?”. This always gets a little chuckle, but it also hits home as how complex the question is. Do you need a few pages? Do you need interactive elements? Does the website need a shop? You can keep asking questions until they get red in the face but I suggest you stop at only a few.

To keep them in that train of thought I ask if they need a car or will a bike work? Maybe they need a bus. This will open up the discussion of wheter a website is the correct medium or if an email, a flyer or just a good old paper letter would fit the purpose.

Strategy

Before you can think about the cost, you need a plan of attack. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who do I want to reach?
    • Where can I reach them?
    • What do they need to know?
    • What would trigger them to come to the website?
  • Once you are talking to your audience, what do you do then?
    • What do they need to do in order for this website to be a succes?
    • How do you know when it does what it needs to do?
  • When the visitor has done everything you need them to do, what’s next?
    • How do you get them to stay?
    • How do you get them to return?
    • How do you use them to get your message to similar potential readers?

Those are only a few of the questions you need to ask before moving forward to the practical side of things.

Practical

When you have written down all of the above, you can start thinking about what you will actually need to do before moving forward. There are three main parts of any digital project. (I’ll get into this in a future blogpost)

  1. Content
  2. Technology
  3. Reach

When you have mastered these, you’ll have a succesful product.

So, the first to do is make a schedule of what you want to communicate and when. This way you’ll have an idea of how much content you need to create and what you will need to do to make it. Different content has different pro’s and con’s, lead times, costs, etc.

Next, it will also have an impact on what platform you will choose. The technology part is where you make the decision of what the content will do and where you will put it.

The last part is about making sure someone gets to see it. It’s no use making the perfect site and locking it up in your closet. (or is it?)

What’s next

But wait, there’s more. A website is never done! You need to update the information, interact with visitors, make sure the technical part is functionning and so on. So even when you have created a good working site, you’ll have to set away some of you budget to keep it running.

Conclusion

Like a car, a website has a few small functions that will get you from A to B. Like content, visuals, interactions and a way of attracting and keeping your audience. This can be the Skoda version that will get you from Amsterdam to Berlin in a day. But if you want to be there in an hour, you might want to invest in a jet engine, some booster rockets and a comfy pilot chair.

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