Let’s assume you have no website, that you are currently looking for an Internet presence for your new business. You begin researching for possible candidates, local web design and development firms to help you build one—you might even consider learning WordPress or Drupal and even some HTML, PHP, and jQuery or simply find an online paid solution that provides a quick and easy website solution.
With so many options out there, which one is the best for you, your business, and your budget?
The answer to this question is rather simple yet paradoxical: the right option is to build the website that you want, that is best to your business, and that adjusts to your budget. Initially this answer seems absurd—ultimately I just wrote back the same thing I asked. Yet here is where the paradoxical side of it comes to play: most companies and individuals looking for to build a website are focusing on a budget and not on what is best for them, for their business, and that also adjusts to their budget.
Even though a budget is an important element for a web development project, when it is placed on top of the list instead of what is best for you and your business, the decisions that should come first such as what talent to hire and what platform to use are compromised and the final product ends up being quite often the opposite of what would really take your business to the next level.
Let’s now assume you have no website, that you are currently looking for an Internet presence for your new business. Open a Word document and title it “Your Company Website” and, without limiting your ideas to a budget, answer to the following questions to the best of your knowledge:
What will the domain of this new website be?
If you have not bought a domain, jot down ideas you like this domain to be. Some might be taken, some might not, but certainly one will be available. Make sure you pick a .COM as it is one of the top level domains.
How many pages will your new website need?
Some examples are Home, About, Frequently Asked Questions, Services, etc. Create a sitemap with all the pages your site will need and describe what each one will contain, if there will be images, text, or both, and if they have a specific function like a blog, a forum, or a custom idea you would like to explore.
What will the overall design be like?
When we understand that you might not be a web designer, you still have an idea of what the end result will be. Yes? Now ask yourself the following questions:
In what time frame are you looking for to implement the website?
Whether you know what takes to build the site you want or not deadlines are important—they keep things in perspective.
Will you require additional help with branding or Search Engine Optimization?
Often overlooked or thought as separate, branding and SEO go hand in hand with web design and development. Even if you are unsure about everything else you will need such as business cards or help with your company’s local SEO, it is important to at least make them part of the website plan.
What is your budget?
It is now time to think about a maximum you are willing to spend to develop your website. This is often a difficult questions to answer, you have probably never built a website professionally nor know everything that is required to do what you have envisioned to do answering the questions above.
But just as house hunters do, you need to know the maximum amount of dollars you are willing to spend to get the job done!
You have now killed two birds with one stone, hypothetically speaking. With the time you have put to write down all the information about your new site, you have taken the steps not only to help you better envision what the final product will be but also get a document ready for a possible list of candidates that will potentially build the website you want.
Let’s use a story to illustrate why doing this is key.
Our old mascot, Oattie the otter, loves to eat mussels.
He is a civilized animal and wants a local international chef, François Palourde, to cook the collected mussels of the day. He approaches François and tells him to cook them in whichever way he wants—he is an international chef and he surely knows what to do with them. Without a hint of hesitation our fictional, renowned chef cooks the mussels in the best way possible: moules au beurre à l’ail or mussels with garlic butter: I know, yum.
Finally, François presents the carefully cooked mussels to Oattie but, unfortunately, Oattie is not too fond of garlic but eats them anyway as he realizes that, because he was not specific about what he wanted, the expert did not provided something he would have fully enjoyed.
The story above isn’t quite related to web design and development but it clearly illustrates the importance to convey a simple idea—or a set of them—in order to help achieve a desired result instead of letting luck and expertise alone provide the solution which in turn will affect the overall cost to develop a website.
What is key here is that in doing so, in providing organized ideas about your business website, web design and web development companies can then break down the cost per section written on the document to help you decide in what and how you want to wisely spend your budget on. In other words, the steps were taken to envision the best website for you, your business, and to adhere to your budget.
In case the chosen development company’s estimation is higher than your budget, you now have a clear break down of what the entire project will take so those sections that cannot be part of the initial development can be done at a later date.
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