Tips on Budgeting for a Website
Brandon Schmidt | Jan 17, 2019
Websites can be a large expense for any small or medium sized business. To make your money last longer, follow this advice for budgeting and controlling costs on a website build.
There’s a lot to consider when building a website for your business. Aside from the expected upfront costs of designing and coding the website, there are monthly costs to maintain and run the website, along with any planned updates and additional functionality you’d like to add in the future.
It’s wise to consider these questions and factor your answer into the cost of building and maintaining your website. Use these answers to guide you in selecting and hiring a website developer. And make sure to follow our advice on the most common issues that make websites go over budget.
9 Things to Consider when Budgeting for a Website
Do you have existing content on your site or does it need to be rewritten? Will you write the content in-house or have your web developer write it?
If you write content yourself, you will save money on the costs of your website, but it will put a greater burden on you and your team; plus, creating content in-house may stretch out the timeline for your project.
2. Design & Branding
Do you need branding help?
If you have an established brand with web-ready assets, that will save you time and money during the design phase. But if you need a brand refresh, a completely new brand identity, or help creating new brand assets, be sure to include that in your budget.
What do you want your visitors to do on your website?
There are hundreds of options and functions you can add to your site. Some options make the website stand out – like animated or interactive elements. Other functions allow your website to meet your business goals, including enabling visitors to purchase products (eCommerce), schedule services, apply for a job, view past projects, pay a bill, read geo-targeted content, and receive a customized quote.
The only limits to these options is your budget and schedule. Prepare by creating a list of what you want the website to do in a prioritized list. A good website developer will help you understand what functionality you can afford with your budget, and plan for future/Phase 2 updates to address any other functionality you cannot afford at this time.
What software does your website need to connect with?
A common request we receive is for the website to integrate with other software or databases used by the company. This may be a product database for eCommerce sites, career postings with their HR/recruitment software, email signups with their email marketing platform, or form submissions with a CRM/sales/appointment scheduling software. In recent years, we’ve seen an increased request for connections and integrations with the most popular CRM and marketing automation softwares, including Salesforce, HubSpot, and SharpSpring.
The cost and scope of these integrations will depend on the platform, the level of familiarity your website developer has with the platform, and the complexity of your integrations.
If you are not currently using a CRM or automation system, but are considering it in the future, be sure to let your developer know ahead of time. They may be able to adjust how they code the site to make it easier to add these integrations at a later date.
5. Landing Pages
Will you be running paid traffic to your website once it goes live?
If so, you may want to consider building specific landing pages for your paid search and digital advertising campaigns. Paid landing pages often have unique design elements, like limited navigation elements, additional forms and CTAs, and may need to be tailored to the traffic you are driving to the page.
6. Photos & Video
Do you need updated photos and/or videos for your website?
When you build a website, you’ll want to include high-quality images and videos of your company, your team, and your services. If you are a seasonal business, you may need to plan ahead to get the photos and footage well before your website project starts. In an ideal world, your website designer would be able to work with your photographer/videographer to coordinate the shots needed for the new site.
Where will you host your site?
Where you host your site can have a direct impact on your site’s speed and performance. Depending on your platform, security features, and number of visitors, expect to spend $50-100 per month on hosting.
Will your team want to make website updates?
Once the website is built, you and your marketing team will want the ability to make updates to the site, including adding or removing team members, adding specials, and updating blog posts & case studies. A user-friendly CMS like WordPress makes this easier, but you will still want training from the web developer to learn how to make changes.
9. Ongoing Maintenance & Updates
Who will maintain the website?
Websites are no longer static entities that get updated every few years; consumers expect fresh, updated websites that have the right information on them. On the front end, you will want the ability to add new pages, update services, and adjust content on the site. On the back end of your website, you’ll need a developer who can update plugins, your website software, and the underlying code that makes everything possible.
What makes a website go over budget and past your deadline?
When partnering with a website development agency, you want to keep your project on-budget and on-time. Here are the 5 most common issues that can derail your project, as well as tips to avoid it.
1. Additional functionality
Adding functionality to a site will require more time for the design and development stages, as well as the cost of any service or plugin to make this happen.
2. Custom content
If you are adding several new pages, or need your existing content reworked, this will add time and costs to your project. Some companies save money by trying to generate content internally, but it will still need to be edited, optimized, and formatted before being placed into the site.
Costs will depend on the number of products, the complexity of the product database, and the amount of information you want displaying for each product. WooCommerce is a robust eCommerce platform for WordPress; more complicated eCommerce sites may require a custom solution.
4. Multiple design revisions
The design phase of a website is where a website budget can be quickly blown. Asking for multiple design options or providing unclear or unhelpful feedback can create multiple design revisions, which will make the website build process longer and more expensive. To make the design process easier, provide plenty of examples of what you like and don’t like from other websites. When providing feedback, make sure you and your team are on the same page and agree with the feedback.
5. Scope creep
When you sign a contract for a new website, you and your web developer should be in agreement as to the scope of the project, including the number of pages, how many designs, general functionality, and timeline. Over the course of a web project, it can be easy for you to add additional requirements – including adding new pages or additional functions & integrations. These surprises that occur within the project can make the project last longer and incur additional charges. In many cases, if these changes are not mission-critical, it is recommended to include these in a Phase 2 post-launch project.