It’s a tricky question. With so many options out there, how much SHOULD you pay for your website? $500? $15,000? $30,000? While every website has different requirements, which affect the time and skills required, we can at least give you some insight on what your mindset should be while looking into a new website.
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The Barbecue Mindset
I need a barbecue to cook burgers in my backyard on weekends. I don’t need the biggest fanciest barbecue; I’m just cooking a couple burgers for my friends on Saturday afternoons. The $199 unit should do just fine as my requirements are really quite simple.
This is a perfectly acceptable mindset for purchasing a barbecue because fire is fire and both the cheap and expensive barbecues will cook your food more or less the same. But this mindset is NOT the way you need to think about your website development project.
The Investment Versus Expense Mindset
You wouldn’t apply the same strategy above to hire a sales person would you? $20 an hour spent on someone who doesn’t generate anything for you is money wasted. When you hire a sales person for your company what is more important is the revenue he or she generates for the business — and the quality of clients he or she brings in!
A website is exactly the same.
When you shop for a website development company, make sure you look at it not as a cost but as an investment. If you think in terms of investing in a sales tool, you may be inclined to ask a very different set of questions.
Things To Consider When Hiring A Web Development Firm
Here are some things to consider when choosing a website development firm or individual developer:
1) Is the person developing your new website just a graphics person or do they have actual marketing experience? Remember, it’s their job to make a website that SELLS, not just looks pretty.
2) Does the person building your website have website analytics experience? Is your website based on “design standards” or actual study of visitor behavior? It’s not just about pretty colors, it’s about psychology and data driven decisions.
3) What does your developer know about website conversion? Do they know what conversion is? Do they ask questions about what the goals of your site are? Can they explain which elements on your homepage will convert visitors into customers? Drill them. Ask them to explain to you how the website will convert. This is the key to your success.
4) Look at the prospective web development company's other client’s websites. When you look at the website portfolio do you understand what the company does and what action you’re supposed to take next in 3 seconds or less? Is it easy to navigate? Does it load quickly or is it a slow moving flash website?
When you have all of the right elements working together, spending $10,000 – $20,000 on a website makes perfect sense because it has been expertly built by a company with experience and data behind it to yield a positive return on investment. Sure – you can go and buy that $1000-$2000 website – but that rarely comes with the process and experience necessary to drive traffic and convert it into paying customers. And afterall — isn't that why you are building a website in the first place?
And remember, in today's world – your website is often your top sales person.
Dead on – value based pricing or tiered levels are definitely the way to approach web design pricing. By nature they’re built to deliver solid services no matter how far the client wants to go.
Can’t forget the value of social capital either. Experience suggests that building technology is really all about building relationships – get the client involved from the very beginning so they see how much investment really goes into a solid design, and so they ultimately take ownership of their brand.