With all our years experience, we've noticed that most companies really don't know how much they should invest in their new website, so we decided to help you out! Here are some tips to help you prepare your budget.
It's important to note that we'll guide you throughout the process, step by step, so even if it looks complicated, in reality, it's your provider who'll be doing all the thinking for you ;) . By the way, we've created a simplified version of this text here.
Step 1: Determine your needS
Of course, it's alot easier when you know where you're going! It's the same thing when redoing your website (or any other project as a matter of fact). You have to know what you need. Here are a couple of examples of what comes up often:
- I have to be able to update my website by myself;
- I would like to sell online;
- My website needs to be optimized for tablets and mobile devices;
- I want large images on my website;
- My corporate video needs to be on the forefront;
- When I write a new article, I want it to be posted automatically on Facebook;
- I would like to be able to send newsletters;
- Being well positioned in Google (SEO) is a must;
- I want an online chat on my website;
By having exactly the list of what you need, it becomes alot easier for you (and us!) to find the perfect solution.
Step 2: Check what you already have on hand
When building a new website, you'll need to send lots of information. For anything that you don't have on hand, be prepared to set a budget for it. For example:
- Pictures: If you don't have nice pictures of your products, ideally, you should pay a photographer to take some, or at least plan a budget to buy stock photos;
- Texts: It's one of the most important elements for your SEO; if you don't have texts that are built for the Web (and to help you perform well in Google), we'd recommend you plan a budget for it;
- Videos: Nowadays, you often see videos in headers or even in backgrounds. If you don't have any and you want one, you'll have to plan a budget for it also.
These are often the things companies forget about it when planning their investment and they end up increasing the cost of your new website.
Step 3: Prepare your preliminary investment
Once you have all that information in hand, you can start analyzing approximate amounts for everything you need. By following these guidelines (and by having your provider's hourly rates), you'll be able to get an idea of what you'll need to invest:
Here are the 3 options available:
- Buy a template
You can plan around $100 for the initial purchase and maybe 10 hours to adapt it to your company. This is a pretty good solution for smaller budgets because it offers a great looking website for a low cost. The problem is that there will probably be thousands of websites exactly like yours and, once you pick your template, you're stuck in that mould. You'll be limited in the additional modules you'll be able to easily add to your website.
- Build a custom design
Plan around twenty hours for the home page and maybe an average of 4 hours for each additional page. After the design, you'll need about the same time for to convert it to responsive HTML (adapted for tablets and mobile devices). The advantages are that you'll have a totally unique website custom-built for you and for your specific needs. The disadvantage is that it takes more time to do, so costs more.
- Prepare the design in our bloc system
Our latest technology allows us to prepare the design directly in our system, and everything will already be optimized for tablets and mobile devices. So you get a custom-built website (that you'll even be able to change easily yourselves) for a fraction of the cost. The advantage is that you have complete control over the design, so development time (and costs) are cut way back, and you even end up with a responsive website that's totally unique. The disadvantages are in the limited amount of animations available (for example, seeing the text gradually appear when you scroll down). For the costs, you can plan around 15 hours for the home page and 2 hours for each additional page. There are absolutely no HTML conversion costs whatsoever!
Programming your content management system (CMS)
A large chunk of your investment will be in the programming of your content management system (CMS). The wider variety of things you have to manage, and the more complex they are, the more you'll have to invest. Here are some guidelines to help you plan your budget:
- Simple modules
Simple and standard modules take around 4 hours to develop and integrate in your website.
- Complex modules
Some modules are more complicated (like managing your products for an e-commerce website) and can vary from 8 to over 30 hours if we need to manage dynamic characteristics, delivery costs, taxes from more than one location, etc.
- Small details often forgotten
If you really want to be able to manage every minor detail (for example, your package categories or the list of your providers), you should plan around 2 hours for each of these modules. It might seem negligeable, but if you have 10 modules, it ads up!
SEO (optimize your website for Google)
Besides planning some time on your side for a little research, you'll have to plan some time for SEO development if you want good results. The very first step when building a new website has to be linked with your SEO, because if you want to be high in Google, everything has to be thought through right from the start (not at the end of the project). If your provider doesn't talk about SEO right from the start, change provider...
If you want great results to have an even better return on investment (ROI), plan a budget for:
- Search scenarios
To have good results, you have to have good scenarios that tempt viewers to visit your website. In a perfect world, each and every page would have it's own scenario, but the reality is that, most of the time (to lower costs), only the most important pages (each page of your main menu) have a specific scenario built for them. Knowing that, you can plan maybe 2 hours for the first scenario and 30 minutes for each one after that.
- URL Rewriting
This is something really important to have on your website, so make sure your new website has it! Although the costs are really at a minimum (a couple of hours at most) and they're sometimes already included in the development costs, what's important is making sure that the work is done (more than its cost).
- 301 Redirects
If you already have a website, this is probably THE most important point. If your provider doesn't do your 301 redirects, your positioning in Google will go way down as soon as you put your new website online. For the cost, it depends alot on how your previous website was structured. It can either take a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. On average, you can plan maybe 2 to 3 hours for this.
- Website optimization
When you build a new website, often the optimization part is already included. That being said, if you decided to enter the content yourself (to save costs), or if you want to take your old website's content, you should be planning some time to re-structure your content to respect today's good SEO practices. You can plan maybe 15 minutes for each page of your website.
After your basic expenses, there are some additional costs you should plan:
- Web Hosting
All your website's files have to be somewhere, on a webserver. We call that web hosting. You need to plan around 15$/month for this.
- Costs to send newsletters
If you have a newsletter, you'll have to plan a monthly fee to send them (it's like a stamp for your paper mail). You can plan 10$/month for a couple hundred e-mails to 75$/month if you have thousands and thousands of e-mails.
If you don't have your texts that were built for the Web, you should plan some time to pay someone to write it for you (and maybe for the translation also). It costs around $125/page for writing and 25¢/word for the translation.
The cost for photos varies widely, but you hardly ever get anything for under a couple hundred dollars. You can also purchase stock photos at around $10 / photo.
- Online chat
Most companies are able to use a free version of an online chat tool, so you just have to plan an hour to add it to your website. But if you have more than one department that needs to use it, you can plan maybe between $15 and $30 / month.
Bonus step: Plan some time with your provider
Most of the time, your provider will start by asking you a couple of questions about your project (on your needs and what you already have on hand), so having that information on hand will save you some time.
During your discussion, your provider will probably ask you some very specific questions to help plan his quote. Don't forget, the more information he has, the more precise his quote is going to be, so don't hesitate to give as much information as you can! Here are some examples of what a provider might ask you:
- What are your product characteristics? (it allows your provider to see the complexity of the module you'll need to manage your products and it will have a direct impact on if it will cost a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars);
- Do you already have a PayPal account (or something else) for your online payments? (if not, you'll have to plan some time to get your banking information they'll need to open your account);
- With which keywords would you like to come out first in Google? (even today, it's crucial because knowing exactly with what you want to come up with in Google, we can structure your website accordingly for that purpose);
- If you have a newsletter, what exactly are the information you'll like to send your customers? For example, your latest news, a couple of products, your promotion and a link to order your brochure online.
Of course, just like in every project, the more complex it is, the bigger the investment (because it takes more time to build). Don't hesitate to mention the budget you have planned to your provider because, even if the perfect solution is too expensive, he'll probably be able to find a solution that's adapted to your budget. That way, you'll both save time!