At Cyberpunk we receive calls all the time where the conversation goes something like this… “Hi! I’m looking for a website. How much does one cost?” For us, that immediately raises a red flag. Asking for the cost of anything without defining what that something is or does usually means that the person doesn’t understand the actual value of what they intend to buy. While they understand that what they need is of some particular value, the particulars are almost all unknown. Since the web is still a relatively new industry, many business owners are unclear of what this shiny new product should actually be doing for them. With many definitions out there, the actual one is simple and rock solid.
What Your Website SHOULD Do?
The answer to this is very simple. Any good website generates definable collateral. How we define this collateral varies from scenario to scenario but in many cases the type of collateral is the same. The 3 most common forms of collateral are:
- User Information – In the form of email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, etc.
- Traffic Patterns – This can be collected with something like Google Analytics and is responsible for telling us how users behave on the site
- Financial Transactions
As you can see, these three forms of collateral are fairly obvious and all relate to one another. Now that we know what a website SHOULD be doing, the question becomes HOW should it be doing it. While there are many different and appropriate answers to this question, the simple non-technical, non designer, non marketer answer is this: a website should entice its users to perform a convertible action. This is usually defined in a few different ways:
- Navigating to a specific page
- Watching a video
- Filling out a form
- Buying a product
These goals can be accomplished through many different services both familiar and vague: design, branding, story telling, copy writing, etc. However no matter what you are looking to buy into, the goal of what a successful website does and how it does it, remain the same. Its all starting to make sense now, isn’t it? So wait… How much is it supposed to cost again?
We’re getting to that 🙂
Understanding Your Target
Now that we have a clear understanding of what a website should do, your audience comes into play. In a recent article I read, there are a crazy amount of ways you can cook an egg and designing a website is no different. With every business, clear and concise communication is required with employees, partners, vendors and your consumer base. Understanding your audience and their online goals goes a long way in creating a site that will connect with them. This also goes a step further in defining what kind of features your audience will need to have an awesome online experience. Let’s think about several business types and some simple goals that their audience might want to accomplish online:
- A yoga studio might need a schedule of their classes and a way for students to register and pay for those classes.
- A church might want to have members be able to download sermons
- A tax preparation firm might need to have the current year’s tax form accessible for download.
- A high end telecommunications company might need a way to sell their products but only authorize and not capture credit card transactions.
Each business has a different set of requirements and therefore a different set of features. That being said, we’re getting closer to understanding how much a professionally made, custom website costs.
Understanding Cost Variability
There are many, many different agencies out there and website builders available. We see ads on Google all the time for $595 websites and $10,000 minimum websites. That’s a huge range especially for small businesses and for startups. Knowing where and how much to spend is still a hard question to answer – even at this point. Fortunately, this is where we get to the answer. While there is no actual number regarding how much you should spend on a website, the right number aligns with what features support your business goals. At Cyberpunk our websites start at $3,500. This number is for basic websites that have the following standard features:
- A simple and clean design based on proven design principles
- A site-map based on keyword research and not standard pages
- All site traffic is properly tracked
- A blog with automated content distribution though a mailing list, and social media channels
- As many conversion points setup through the site as possible
We’ve arrived at this number because we’ve found that the previous features are the bare minimum that enable ANY business to be successful online. We’ve also found that businesses we help become successful online, give us repeat and new business. All-in-all its a win-win scenario.
So from the looks of it, there’s no REAL number regarding how much a website should cost. But regardless of that, knowing what a website should do helps us understand that maybe a $595 website while inexpensive doesn’t actually help us in many other ways than “getting a presence online”. A website should be a business asset and all business assets at the end of the day help bring in more revenue.