It went a bit like this:
“How much should I pay for a website? I’ve had a few quotes, and it looks like I can get one for about £500 – is that right?”
It’s hard to know where to start with a question like that, but I had a go…
1. A website is not a ‘thing’
A website is only a ‘thing’ in the same way that a book is a ‘thing’. If you’ve got a lot of words that you’ve written yourself you might choose to get a printer to make them into a book. That’s a mechanical process, and as such is priced as a commodity.
The printer is not responsible for the quality of the content or the success of the book.
Similarly, if you have some words about yourself and some pictures you like and you want to publish those on the internet, there are countless free services to help you, and lots of technicians who will do it cheaply.
Again, their service is priced as a commodity and they’re not responsible for helping you succeed in business.
2. It really comes down to what you want to achieve with a website.
A lot of people get stuck focusing on the nuts and bolts of the ‘how’ before they’ve put any real thought into the ‘why’ and ‘what’. The content is FAR more important than the style and functionality.
The best place to start is to decide who you want to talk to and what you want them to do. If your site’s main goal is to attract leads, you need to make sure your proposition is clear and that you have a definite Call To Action. If you don’t tell people what to do next, guess what? They don’t do it. Then you need a system to track and monitor its performance – just like you would with a marketing assistant or salesperson.
3. Anyone can do it
Anybody can make a website, just like anybody can write a book. However, writing a best-seller takes a lot of skill.
The success (or failure) of your website will be determined not by what software you use to create it, but by your understanding of your customer, the relevance of your message and your skill in persuading them that you’re the only logical choice. Of course, the brand and design are important too, as is where and how you market the site.
So, as usual there’s no short answer. If you’re on a really tight budget, my best advice is to consult an advertising/brand specialist to help you get the messages and content right, then build it yourself or have a cheap (but good) graphic designer/web developer build it for you.
The sites we create usually cost between £2000 and £20,000, but that usually includes brand strategy, planning, key messages, copywriting, design, website build and SEO.
Like the man said – you get what you pay for.