This is a complicated question which, unfortunately, doesn’t have a straight answer. How much does a house cost? That question is just as unanswerable because it leads to a new series of questions. Which neighbourhood? How many bedrooms? What are the dimensions? What other rooms do you require? What other features? Websites are much the same and website development cost is more about your business and your budget than it is about some pricepoint. Also, each aspect of a site (it might be a component or a feature) has a value range depending on which options you want to include. A price for a complete site is usually built out of a series of parts. How do you know which options to choose?
There are fundamental questions about your business and your goals that you need to answer first, before any estimate can be given.
- What goals are you hoping the website will help you achieve?
- How does the website fit into your overall marketing strategy?
These questions can help you nail down how much of an investment is beneficial for you for a new website. Let’s unpack these questions a bit.
Websites are powerful. They can perform numerous complex functions. Which functions are helpful to your business? It’s simple to throw together something similar to competitor websites in your niche. The trouble with that strategy is that you have no idea how well your competitors researched their website development beforehand. Are the features they chose actually helping them? How much money is worth spending on features you need? Without a clear set of goals, this question is impossible to answer.
Goals are like arrows, they give you direction and help you know you’re on-track. Once you have some goals created, we can sit down and look at ways a website can help you achieve them.
Simon recently realized he had a natural eye for photography. He decides to start a business.
But how does he go about it? He has no investors or budget or previous business experience and he can’t afford a brick-and-mortar storefront, but he knows there are free website builder apps and that some people sell photography services online. Great! He’ll create a website!
Where to begin? He sees an ad for extremely affordable website hosting on TV and signs up right then. He doesn’t know much about websites or hosting, so during the sign-up process he chooses the default options, opts-in to any add-ons that sound useful. Once the hosting is set up, he creates the free domain name that is included in the package. That was fairly painless. He logs in to his new website hosting panel and quickly discovers that he is in over his head. Thankfully he finds a one-click WordPress install link. He clicks that, waits a few minutes and, Phew! He logs in to his new site.
Many more problems begin to arise. His website says it’s insecure. He hasn’t even added any content and it’s already slow to load. He doesn’t know how to create a navigation menu. Why are there posts and pages? They look exactly the same. He installs a new free theme and finally takes a stab at adding content by creating a new post. After a month, he still can’t find his site in Google search results. His potential clients can’t figure out how to find the information they need on his website and he’s hardly getting any business. He begins to doubt his photography ability because his business isn’t really taking off.
He posts to social media asking friends for website help. There is almost no response. He begins to look into professional website help but every option is incredibly expensive.
How do so many people even get websites?
Simon needs to do some groundwork before tackling his website project. Some education on how to start a business would help him begin to move in a direction that leads his business to success. He kept his website development costs within his budget but there is almost no return on his investment.
Jane is a counsellor. She is good at her work but also doesn’t have previous business experience. Knowing this might be an issue, Jane hired a business coach.
Business guidance has enabled Jane to open a clinic and get some initial clients. It’s been operational for awhile, but expenses are increasing and Jane needs some new clients.
In order to pay her expenses and have a livable income, she needs to bring in 100K per year or $8500/month.
Each client pays about $150/session.
She needs to sell about 60 sessions/month to achieve her annual income goal.
Right now she sells 40 sessions/month.
How can a website help her sell those extra 20 sessions or make up the difference in other ways?
Jane has a much stronger foundation and a professional website developer can lay out some strategies for helping her to achieve her goals. As a result she will have a much higher return on her investment. This means that instead of website development costing her, her website will make her more money.
A website is no substitute for a good marketing strategy
The strongest businesses use the marketing techniques that show the strongest returns. All marketing avenues should be considered: print, social media, radio, TV, YouTube, word-of-mouth, booths at events, and websites. Websites shouldn’t be seen as a default or a one-stop shop marketing tool.
SEO can play a valuable part in marketing your business, however, it isn’t everything and not all businesses benefit in the same way from SEO. SEO is a marketing tool. Like all tools, it works best if used in the right way for the right purpose.
You need a plan.
In Jane’s case, she wants to sell 20 counselling sessions. What’s the best strategy for her? How will she know if her marketing efforts are paying off? It’s simple, right? If she sells 20 or more sessions.
What about Simon? How much is he charging for a session? Are client’s willing to pay that amount for his services? If he books 20 photography sessions, is that enough? How about 30? What cost for website development is affordable for him? That’s a lot trickier to answer when he has no information or research to base any decisions on. Once he invests in a website, it will help his business, but because he has no plan in place, he’ll have no idea if the website could be helping more or if other complimentary strategies like print marketing or event booths would be of any benefit.
Website development costs as much as you need it to
In the end the cost of website development is all about your business. What stage are you at? What is your budget? What are your goals? What are your dreams? How can a website help? Contact me to set up a project discovery session, that can help you discover how a website can help your business and what budget range you should be considering.