How much should you pay for a website?
1. Quality Of WorkThis is a no-brainer. The better the quality of the work, the higher the price. You can pretty much tell the quality of work when you see it. And no, you don’t have to be a trained designer to evaluate the quality of work. If you see the designers portfolio, you can tell the quality by the way each website makes you ‘feel’. Does the website present a professional, world-class image to you? I’m betting even if you have never picked up a pencil to draw a line in your life, you can separate world-class designer from a wanna-be designer. Of course, the better the designer the more they cost.
2. Quality and type of elements used in the siteA good design is a sum total of great individual elements. You cannot build a great website by using poor quality photographs or poor quality copy. Good designers always use high quality professional photographs for their sites. The copy or the text matter in the website also shows the attention to detail, after all that is what says what needs to be said. The structure of the text, easy to read, etc. are some of the elements of a good copy. Another point to note is the ease of navigation. All these add up in the costing.
3. Automation, scripting and programming on the siteEvery website by their very nature has some interactivity written into it. If your website is a functional website which ‘does’ a lot of things – has a shopping cart, runs a survey, allows customers to complete some kinds of transactions on it, etc. – it requires programming. Flash animation uses a lot of man-hours as it is done frame by fame. Programming and Flash translates to man-hours and therefore cost. So how much of it you want in your site directly translates to the cost of the site.
4. Standards compliantThe web is a pretty strange medium unlike the print medium. What is shown to you may not be what you actually get. Translated, the web medium has a lot of quarks that need to be taken care of so the user experience is consistent. How do you check that? Try opening the site in different browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera. Open it on different resolution screens. Try opening it on a IPhone or a Blackberry. A good designer would take care of all these quarks and give you a consistent presentation of the site, but all this will add-up to the cost.
5. Credibility and ProfessionalismBesides these, like all service providers, you pay a price for the professionalism and service levels of the service provider. There are fly-by-nighters who will build you a website but leave you with no means to maintain it or develop it further as your business changes. And there are dependable companies that will give you full copies of all the files associated with your website, keep all versions of the site so you can revert to older versions when necessary and make sure you own all the artifacts of your website so you can move to another provider at any time.
Having said this, what is a good price to pay?Well, the answer is that there is no single answer. You can get a website built for as low as Rs. 500 or for as much as several hundred thousand dollars. In fact you can make the website for free yourself! Its much the same as any custom product or service, you get what you pay for. The better the product; the better the service provider; the more the features, the higher the price.
How to determine a good budget for a website?The answer lies in your marketing budget as a whole. Rupee for Rupee, the web is a much more rewarding medium than any other. Determine what goals you want to achieve, determine how the web fits in to a company’s overall strategy - a website is basically a marketing exercise, not a technical exercise. Your website budget needs to be determined by your sales and marketing team who have to constantly see how to get more business through your site. Depending on the nature of your customer, you could be spending as little as 10% of your entire marketing budget on the web and as much as 100%.
Rather than trying to figure out the cheapest service provider, first determine your goals, then the budget and then hire a service provider who works with that budget and gives you the best solution.