We are often asked this question
When any company or organization is considering if they should invest in a new website, or update the one they have, the cost is one of the biggest considerations. We will cover some of the answers we typically give and other factors we usually don’t discuss with clients.
Money, Time & Skill - The three currencies you should know about
If you are going to invest in building a new website, it is going to cost you. Most people know that websites have a monetary price tag. But there are other resources (currencies) that are factored in that many people aren’t aware of. They are TIME and SKILL. Website design requires skill that comes from hours of study and practice. Any website you see that is well designed performs well on searches and offers ease of navigation has been built using techniques and know-how that don’t come intuitively. No matter how you build your website, your project is going to cost you dollars, skill, and time. How these currencies balance out in your project depends on who is building your website. When it comes to website design, there has to be a harmonious balance of these resources that work for each individual business or organization. It does not look the same for all and this is a pivotal decision point for business owners in particular.
Any time I am considering a new project, one of the first things I look at is what resources I have on hand. Often I will already start planning, or alter a plan based on useful resources I already have. An example is when mechanical work is needed on my truck. Fortunately, I have the skill to do most of the mechanical work that is needed on my, almost classic truck. It’s why I choose to drive older trucks. Chalk one up for SKILL. I know how to work on trucks. TIME is another factor. I used to have a lot of time on my hands a few years ago. But things have changed. I find that I don’t have the free time I used to. We own and operate a horse ranch, Outten Ridin’ Ranch in another part of our life. I jokingly (but seriously) state that we work eight days a week. So put a cross mark through TIME. Money is of course the last resource to look at. Because time is often in short supply, I often don’t get to tap into my skill resources. Me, I begin to know how I will take on the next mechanical project based on my time resource. If I don’t have it, I can’t use it. So even though I have the skill, the biggest resource I will have to tap into is MONEY. I’m going to have to pay someone to work on my truck. I have a great garage that I rely on because they do great work and charge a fair price.
Time, Skill, Money - the Pillars of Web Design
Website design with the purpose of strengthening a business or non-profit is a weighty matter. We often design websites for clients who heavily rely on the performance of their website to bring in revenue, make their jobs easier, and grow. With such reliance being placed on a website, you understand the load our clients put on them. Anyone knows that to sustain weight over a long period of time, you need good support that holds up under the weight. These are PILLARS. Time, skill, and money are these pillars. When it comes to the cost of your website, the size of each of these pillars will vary. Will Skill and Time be your biggest pillars? If not, then is it likely Money will be your biggest pillar.
Skill in designing websites is something that must be learned. Website design is very technical and artistic at the same time. The technical aspects include the code used to design them. Websites are written in a language called HTML (hypertext markup language). It is the language that web browsers understand that is used to visually display a website. Another common language is CSS (cascading style sheets). CSS helps provide style, design, and certain functions to a website. Other technical aspects of web design include proper use of title tags, mobile responsiveness, and layout, achieving functionality, media compression, SEO (search engine optimization), and website speed performance. The artistic portion involves branding and color themes, layout, graphic design, good use of textual content, and tasteful use of media.
There are many do-it-yourself online website design systems that tout you don’t need any skill at all to build your website. To be honest, some of them are actually pretty good. They are good because they provide the right combination of tools needed to build a decent website. The question is, do you know how to use them? Some of the popular web-building platforms offer templated designs to start with, but also allow you to customize them with HTML and CSS. They also allow you to properly design the architecture of your website by use of title tags, image ALT information, and textual content. But again, if you do not understand the concept of these more technical aspects, you are stuck with the basics of the template with no real way to customize your site for performance and needs. But, if you do have the know-how to use these tools, then skill is going to be a strong pillar in your design – as long as you have the time.
Time is simple. You either have it or you don’t. Time is also a resource that has to be accompanied by another resource. In other words, you can have all the time in the world to build a website, but if you don’t have the skill, then you are still coming up short. The exception to this is if you are willing to invest time in developing your skill. In this case, we are talking about numerous hours dedicated to learning the principles of web design and all of its best practices. We are often contacted by clients because they simply do not have the time to devote to a website project. They are busy running their business or organization. They don’t have the staff that can be dedicated to a website project, so they have to rely on someone else. It is just like my example of mechanical work. They may have the skill, but no longer have the time. We often redesign existing websites they have previously built that are actually well-built. They simply have grown or changed as an organization and their website needs to change with them. They just don’t have the time to do it all again and so enter a web design agency.
One of the biggest influences on how much time is needed on a website project is a skill. The more skillful you are in web design, the less time it takes to achieve your goals. Most web design agencies are good at what they do. They have become practiced in applying the necessary practices in sound web design so that it becomes second nature. In other words, we don’t need much time figuring it out! For you, if you have a vast amount of time along with the skill needed, time can be a strong pillar for your project. The next question is – how much is your time worth? Only you can decide that.
In the absence of time and skill, this is likely going to be your strongest pillar supporting your web design project. It probably goes without saying that if you do not possess any of the resources we have discussed, your web project will remain on your future to-do list until that changes. However, money is what most prospective clients are thinking about when they ask the question of project costs. What most don’t understand is that the direct financial cost is better understood when you can properly assess the value of all of the resource pillars that are needed. Regardless of who builds your website, all three pillars are absolutely necessary.
Simply look at what a web design agency charges for a website project without understanding the value of Skill and Time, you will not appreciate or understand the fees they charge. My mechanic is a good mechanic. I gladly pay what he charges because he is more skilled than I am, can do the job way quicker, and allows me to focus on the things I need to focus on while he is working on my truck. For me, it is a no-brainer. For some who have attempted to build their own website but simply could not come up with enough time and skill, it is much easier to understand the value a web design agency brings into your corner.
When it comes to money, there has to be a justification that comes from the concept of return on investment.
Dollars spent must come back in dollars earned and multiplied. Often times we encounter people who don’t want to invest in professional web design and either try to do it on their own or, rely on someone who is considerably less skilled or practiced to do an effective job of it. In the end, thinking they have made a better financial decision, they ended up wasting what resources they did spend on something that did not achieve their goals. That is unfortunate and frustrating. We see it all the time because there is literally zero return on their investment. Our goal is to partner with our clients to be a part of a success story and not just another mundane expense. We take joy and pride in seeing our clients do well after we have had a part in their success. We bring considerable skill and experience to the table and for that, we do charge a fee.
But the results are tangible.
• When before they had a website that did not have any traffic – they now have a website that is heavily trafficked and bringing in leads and prospects.
• When before they had absolutely no visibility, they are now found by people who never knew they existed before.
• When before they were not able to sell products or services online, they now have a thriving online store.
How much does a website cost? If it is done right, by the right people – very LITTLE if the results help you achieve your goals. So perhaps the better question is: How important are your goals?