The Complex Price Tag of Websites

How much should a website cost? The complaint we hear repeatedly from companies shopping for websites is that there seems to be no clear cost structure or continuity. There is no other essential business tool where the price routinely ranges from free to $25,000. How does a business know what to pay, who to pay, or what they are paying for? Here are a few good questions to ask:

What parts of the website development are you contracting for, and what are you responsible for doing yourself? Consider the elements it takes to create a successful website and which members of the team can do them well: messaging, content creation, usability design, graphic design, hosting setup, email setup, programming, browser testing, launch, user training, and maintenance. (For an eCommerce site, add process development, gateway integration, and inventory management.)

Who will be creating the content? Are your target audiences, marketing messages, leveled content, and calls to action already well-defined? Or will you need your web company to help develop these? Is this something the company can do?

What does the site need to do? Do you have a list of requirements, both immediate needs and future desires? To make the most of your initial investment you need to choose a format and platform that can grow and change as necessary. Even if you don’t change, the web does. And you can certainly start small, but may soon want to take advantage of the ways your website can decrease human effort at your company, like with online education and e-commerce.

Who will own your website and content? Free is not free. If you choose a “free” website platform, be sure to read the Terms of Service carefully. You may find a clause entitling them to use your content. Also check the contract of any web development company to make sure that you will become the owner of the design, tech, and content you commissioned.

What is the track record of your possible vendor? Even if you plan to maintain the site yourself, you should know if you will be able to go back to the site’s creator in case of trouble. The rapidly-changing skills required for web development means that smaller companies drop support in areas of the business all the time. Or they might move on in their technology, and no longer support yours.

Do you know your liability for information gathering and e-commerce on your website? When data theft affects a very large company, you hear about it on the news—and you can bet that insurance policies and margins will pay for the damage. It’s harder for smaller companies to absorb such a hit, so make sure you do a little research up front to protect yourself.

Who will be doing the actual work on your website? Subcontracting is a reality, but it’s your right to ask who the actual workers will be, where they are located, whether you can access them directly, and what kind of insurance covers their work on your behalf.

Need help navigating the ever-changing, complex world of websites? Let CLC guide your organization onto the right path.