When talking to new prospects, one of their first questions is usually "How much does a website cost?" and this is a hard question to answer upfront because your website could cost $500 or $500,000. The details make all the difference.
First, it's important to understand that there are two sides to this question: The client wants the best service and 'product' for an affordable price while the agency needs to be profitable and pay their bills. We've had potential clients balk at the price of a project and say things like "How can it cost that much, there are millions of websites just like it". On the other side, we've heard things like "I expected the price to be three times that – how soon can you get started and where do I sign?".
A project's budget should not be pulled from thin air and it should never be based on assumptions. It should be determined only after ascertaining a full picture of the work involved to meet the client's goals and expectations. As a client, if you aren't interested in exploring this with a potential partner, you will never be satisfied with the result. Clear expectations lead to successful budgets, which result in great projects.
As a client, you probably have a list (either written or unwritten) of areas where your current website is lacking. You also have valuable insight into your industry and competition. As you start to plan for your website redesign, let these things will help guide the process. Create a wishlist of website features or objectives. Research the competition or look at other industries for success stories or areas to innovate. You can also embark on a technical audit of your website and outline success and failure points. Oh, and don't forget your analytics. The more information you can provide to a potential partner, the better.
Once you have outlined your goals, gathered analytics, and finalized your research it is time to prepare a project overview document or a formal RFP (request for proposal) that can be delivered to a web design partner. But where do you find the best ones? In this day and age, it doesn't matter if the company is down the street or several states away. Start by looking for web design and development companies who have experience in your marketplace, experience with a specific content management system (i.e. Craft CMS, ExpressionEngine, or WordPress), or one who is simply a leader in their field. Once you've selected a few potential partners, schedule a call and get to know their team, confirm they have the expertise to meet your needs, and discuss how they approach a project like yours. If all goes well, deliver your project overview or RFP and work with them to receive an accurate proposal for your project.
After several calls and emails, you've received proposals for your project from a handful of website design and development companies - how do you choose the right one? Pour yourself a coffee or make a cup of tea and dive in. Make sure each proposal is covering the same 'work' or deliverables. Are any of them including services or features that are of additional benefit (or should be removed)? Are they proposing a fully custom website design or is based on a theme? How do they approach the project? How is their team structured? How will be your point-of-contact for the life of the project? Once you've sorted through questions like these it comes down to who you feel can deliver, and who you can trust.
We approach a website much like a custom home builder approaches his craft. We come alongside you and help determine your needs, goals, the best content management solution, and outline a process that will lead to a successful project. Through this communication, we come to an understanding of the total scope of work and this is how the price is determined. If you are exploring the idea of a website redesign or maybe you are ready to launch your new business, we would love to help you. Let's talk about your project.
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