All website owners want to get their sites built cheaply – as well they should – and there’s no reason to pay more than you have to (including paying nothing at all if your needs could be serviced by a Facebook page, Instagram account, or a WordPress.com blog).
However, there are some common questions that arise when businesses begin shopping for a new (or renewed) site:
- “How much does a website cost?”
- “What’s the cheapest way to get a website?”
- “Will you build me a website for $X?”
These questions are symptomatic of people who don’t know why they want a website. Because of this lack of strategic clarity, they look at their website as an expense – often resulting in a badly executed site that doesn’t meet anyone’s goals.
The Problem: Viewing Websites as Cost Centres
Wanting to get a “cheap website” is most people’s common-sense starting point, and a lot of marketing pushes you in that direction as well.
Unfortunately, thinking of your work online as a cost to minimize, rather than as an investment to optimise, will inevitably work against you. The reason is that you’ve forgotten about the return from your efforts online: what you get back for the time and cost. All the sacrifices you make (having your neighbours kid design your site, implementing half-hearted solutions, applying a “it works for now” attitude) reduces the value of your site, to you or anyone — not just its cost. If you think only about cost you’ll end up with something cheap that brings in no value in return: you’ll waste whatever money (and, more importantly, time) you do spend on your site.
The Solution: Focus on the ROI, Not the Cost
No matter what your needs online, you can’t be thinking solely in terms of cost. Instead, you have to be thinking in terms of maximising the return on investment (ROI) — whether the value and costs are financial or otherwise.
Many businesses need complex solutions: full-featured e-commerce stores; customer surveys, portals and collaboration; or even complex web interactions like booking systems. In any of these cases, a focus on minimising costs results in a low-quality solution that does not generate sufficient return.
That’s not to say that you should spend your hard earned unnecessarily, and the first step is to assess your needs. Blogging, connecting on social media with help from True North Social, sharing video or audio content, setting up landing pages — much of this can be done with minimal financial outlay (although it may cost you in time). Some needs (like uploading a YouTube video or starting a Twitter account) simply cost less money to meet online than others (like creating an online e-commerce store). In any case, you still need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing — what you hope to get in return, and what that’s worth to you.
What Are You Investing In?
Thinking of your online presence as an investment can quickly change your view of the trade-offs you make during the development process. For example, the typically rigid free website builders might not be great from a ROI perspective if there’s good reason to believe you’ll want to use your site in a new way someday: starting over from scratch will put you at a strategic disadvantage. Many low upfront cost solutions can have hidden long-term costs, such as charging additional fees or commissions to enable additional functionality.
So the first thing to have in mind when you approach web developers is: What broader goal are you trying to accomplish with your website? Every investment you make in your website should add value. If that’s not the case, you need to head back to the drawing board.
Another important and essential thing to manage is to know what is your work plan so you can know in what to invest, for example the distribution of your product, you can have a delivery service or use the pick and pack fulfillment services SC to ship all around the world, fast, and with the best guaranteed service.
What returns will your website generate, and when? Will it increase the number of new customers you get per month? By how much, and what are those new customers worth? Will it help you promote your upcoming event, and expand your reach? What’s that readership worth to you? When you understand that your job is to leverage your investment in your asset (your online presence) to generate returns, you’ll start to think more strategically, and you’ll make better choices.