It’s the New Year which means you have some hefty goals to accomplish over the next twelve months. Maybe one of them is updating your ancient website, which has been looming over your head for a while but you’re not sure where to start.
Even if you don’t go through an agency, the biggest task ahead of you for a website project is how to budget it correctly. To do so, you need to understand the factors that are involved, from the technical aspects such as hosting to how you hope align your website with your upcoming business goals.
Do You REALLY Know What You Need?
When you are trying to set a website budget, one of the first things you need to consider is the end goal. What are you trying to accomplish with the new website? A website can have many roles within your company from mere validation to lead generation and increased sales. Refreshing or launching a new website can be a great time to get on the same page with other departments if you have not done so already. Discuss what the overall goals are for the company and what each department is doing to help accomplish this. This will set the landscape for how the end-product can help keep all of the goals aligned. What are some of the technical aspects you need to consider? Are you going to be hosting it yourself? Do you know how to choose a hosting provider or setup a server?
After identifying how the website will be used will help you understand how you should develop your website. There are a few options you can choose from:
There are a lot of services out there than can help you create a website in minutes. They use drag and drop features to easily lay out your website and populate it with content. If you have a limited technical background and are working with a lean budget DIY builders like Wix or SquareSpace can be a good solution. Keep in mind though, because they are drag and drop, many of these builders lack any true customization which can be limiting. Some may find the layouts to not be aesthetically pleasing and can become frustrated over the experience.
This refers to a content management system ready to go out of the box. WordPress is a great example of this, as it is easy to use while still giving you a wide variety of custom features. From themes you can purchase and customize to getting nerdy with the CSS and actual code, WordPress and packaged CMS can be a great choice. We would recommend working with a web developer or agency to design, develop, and configure your website which can affect the budget based on their hourly requirements. By doing so you can get the most out of the platform with the ability to update and maintain the website easily after it is launched.
If you are a content powerhouse or large company a custom CMS could be a better option for you. Rather than fitting with the confines of other platforms you are able to build yours from the ground up. This is definitely much more technical and would require a skilled in-house creative team or an outside agency to assist you.
Are You Being Realistic?
Two things that can kill any website budget is the timeline and your perspective as a client. You can’t expect to get a Bentley for the price of a Honda. Websites also do not magically happen overnight.
If you want your website designed, developed and launched correctly, there are some aspects to stay mindful of.
If you want a website that has been well-thought out, designed around your audience and possesses engaging content and aesthetics you need at least three months. This allows the various teams to acquire the information they need, create designs, revise based on your feedback, and do quality assurance prior to launch. Timelines are also based on the correspondence with the point of contacts, which means if something is on your end for review and it’s been a week, the project will start losing momentum.
We all want the best of the best but what we’re willing to spend ultimately determines what we can walk away with. We always suggest creating a wish list, which compiles everything you want in a website and more.
Part of the Areli Group’s Discovery process is comprised of an exercise combines attributes from the MSCW method and a traditional SWOT Analysis.
MSCW Method: (Must.Should.Could.Would/Wish.) During the initial call, we will discuss what your website must have, such as content keypoints, basic functions etc. The ‘should and could’ categories cover features that would strengthen the end-product, including micro-interactions, modals, and more. The ‘wish’ category is purely conceptual, but the discussion alone can help an agency like ours truly understand your full vision for the company in the years to come. You can find an example of the MSCW method here.
SWOT Analysis: When you are taking the time to consider how you can improve your website or overall brand, try doing a SWOT analysis. Pick three or four of your competitors and review the following:
Strengths – What does each brand (including your own) do well? How is each using their content, positioning their brand, and connecting with their audiences? What are they doing that you could be doing as well?
Weaknesses – Whether their website is hard to navigate through, or the content leaves you confused take note. You can use your competitors’ weaknesses as a list of thing you can do better on your end-product.
Opportunities – Once you’ve identified the weaknesses of your competitors you can start to outline potential opportunities for your brand. If your competitor lacks educational content on their site, you can list ‘engaging, educational pieces of content’ as a goal. This way your end-product can offer more value than what your competitors currently have.
Threats – I always consider the threats section as a list of ‘Things to Keep on Your Radar.’ This can include upcoming campaigns, partnerships, social strategies and more based on your research. To me, this section helps put you in the mindset of, ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst.’
Here’s a good example of a SWOT analysis template that you can use.
From there, you can select the top priorities, which should be features or functions you must have to launch. Consider everything now so you can work through all of the kinks, and reflect on if this project can be done in phases.
Cutting Corners Never Works
As you put the finishing touches on your requirements lists, always remember – Cheaper is never better. Why entrust your six figure company’s website to someone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind?
Working with your in-house team can limit the overall perspective while cheaper agencies and overseas solutions can remain one-dimensional if they’re not considering your overall business. The cheaper the price tag, the less questions they will ask, and the result will be misaligned, and not worth the money you potentially saved.
When It’s All Said and Done
Ultimately it is up to you to set the right budget for your website project. By creating a brief of your requirements and goals you can start asking the right questions to get buy-in from the decision makers. Remember that your website is an asset to your company and should never be undervalued. Working with creative agencies that take the time to understand your overall business goals can be a great solution if you lack an in-house team or just want some outside perspective. Be careful of working with overseas development teams though, we personally have had to rectify and fix many projects that had become misaligned from the client’s needs due of the lack of consideration from them. It’s better to work with a team that has your best interests in mind, from start to finish.