Why you need to budget for your website project

How much should a website cost? Pricing your website project depends on so many factors that you need a starting point. And setting a budget is the best way to find it.

In truth there is no correct answer to the question of how much a website should cost.

Everyone who builds websites has their own approach, and their own unique pricing structure and set of costs. Some designers include things that others don’t – content being a good example.

So if you take your website project outline and ask ten different designers to quote on it, you are guaranteed to get ten different figures, and those figures will vary wildly.

There’s only one way to get around this, and that’s to set a budget for your project.

And this is why, when you contact us, one of the first things we’ll ask you about will be your budget.

Asking about your budget is NOT a trap

Like many transactions, what you can have depends on how much you have to spend.

People are often afraid that if they tell us how much they have to spend, we’ll pocket all of it, whether we need to or not. That’s understandable. Some people may behave that way, but not us, which is why we publish guideline pricing on our website.

When a web designer asks your budget, it's NOT a trap
Don’t listen to him. When a web designer asks your budget, it’s NOT a trap

But if we’re going to work with you, our relationship will be based on trust, and a lot of the time you’ll be relying on us to make the right decisions.

If you give us your specification and budget and we think it’s too much, we’ll tell you. But in practice that doesn’t happen often.

However, most of the time when we ask for a budget, knowing that figure early on not only gives us an idea of what we can achieve but also how we can achieve it.

Knowing a budget allows us to find a solution that fits it. And if your figure isn’t realistic, we’ll tell you, and look at ways to break the project down.

Why budget is important

Your budget is your starting point for your website project
Your budget is your starting point for your website project

On his blog, Californian web designer Mike Monteiro covers the topic of budgets with a well-told story drawn from a childhood visit to a car showroom with his dad. You can read it here.

Like Mike, we often encounter awkwardness when we ask about budget:

He says: “This question tends to make people nervous. I’ve had clients flat out refuse to tell me, with the explanation that if they disclose that information I’ll just tell them that’s what the work will cost.

“That’s partially true.

“I’ll tell you what you can get for that amount. Then we can talk about whether you actually need that much design or not. But most of all, what that number tells me is how to guide you toward the appropriate solution for you, and to stay away from solutions that are outside of your price range.”

How budget dictates the project – an example

Say you own a holiday rental cottage or a self-catering accommodation and you come to us for a website.

Booking and Appointments system
Booking systems are popular, but not everyone’s budget will go that far

These days, potential guests expect to be able to check availability and book through your website, and its essential to provide a means of doing that.

If you have the budget to do this, it’s possible for us to create a complete booking system, with availability and payment, on your site, which is the best solution. But if your budget doesn’t come up to the mark, then we can look at ways of integrating your site with one of the many third party online booking services.

Set up costs for these are lower, but you’ll probably pay more in monthly charges and fees on each booking – though at least these won’t be up-front costs.

Failing that we can set up an enquiry form with a date picker so potential guests can at least ask about availability.

The first solution is most effective for many reasons, and is likely to bring more sales as guests can book immediately without leaving your site, but if your budget doesn’t cover it, there are other ways we can achieve your goal.

It sets the tone for our relationship

Building a business website or e-commerce shop should always be a collaborative process between client and web designer. And that requires trust and transparency on both sides.

We have a tried and tested system, perfected over more than 150 website projects, that gets great results for our clients.

People hire us for our knowledge and experience, but also our honesty. If we think your ideas won’t work, we’ll explain (in plain English) why, and propose an alternative. That kind of relationship requires trust.

Since we write content for you, we’ll need to understand your business and customers and work with you to find the best solution.

Being upfront about budget at the start clears the air and sets the tone for the project.

If you have no idea how much your project should cost

If you don’t know how much your project will cost, we can work with that.

In fact, if you’ve been shopping around, it’s highly likely you’ve had lots of different prices.

People often tell us they have no idea how much their project should cost, so they are afraid to put a figure on it.

That’s why we publish guideline prices for web projects here on our website.

But one thing we can’t do is come up with a quote on a specification when we have no idea of your budget.

Here’s why we don’t do quotes for website projects

Every project we work with is different, and therefore every website or e-commerce store we build is bespoke, using open source software adapted to your business needs.

For web projects we generally work on fixed price as clients prefer to know what their final costs will be.

Yet fixed price projects require a detailed specification so everyone is clear what’s included and what’s not. We can’t price something so specific without a some idea of what will be involved and how long it will take us.

You're getting a tailor-made solution for your budget
You’re getting a tailor-made solution for your budget

While some projects may be similar to something else we’ve done, your requirements will be different from those of any other client and it takes time to a) establish them and b) translate them into a workable web project.

But remember budget also dictates how we approach a project, and if we don’t have that information, we’re flying blind.

Like the car salesman in the story earlier, we may spend several hours putting together a specification for a £4,000 website, only to find the client only has £800 to spend.

That means we’ve wasted valuable time and we’re no nearer a solution.

Asking us to quote means we’re having to guess a budget that will be acceptable to the client, which is crazy.

You are making an investment

What people often forget is that a website is an investment – at least it is if it’s done right.

It’s not like advertising, where once your ads have run you’re left with nothing.

Directly or indirectly, your website should bring you money, whether it’s new clients or more of the kind of clients you want, or whether it’s an e-commerce store that brings in tens (or hundreds) of thousands in sales.

You are speculating to accumulate, and if you want a successful website, there will inevitably be a cost involved.

We're going to need a bigger budget meme

Your business depends on Google, and Google only ranks websites it considers to be high quality. Your website needs to be easy to use on all devices (including mobile phones), it needs to be fast to load and above all it needs to fulfill your customers’ needs.

Those things don’t happen by themselves, but if you get it right, the rewards can be great.

So when we (or anyone else) ask you about your budget, it’s not a trap – we’re just trying to work out the best way to serve you.

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