How much should I spend on a web site?

I get asked this question a lot. Exactly how much should you spend on a web site?

I had one client who, after giving three different web developers the same brief, received quotes for $10,000, $35,000 and $115,000. For the same brief! He asked me which one was a good price, saying he wanted to go with the $10,000 one because it looked good value. My question to him was ‘how do you know it’s better value? Just because it’s cheaper?’ Once we started looking at the issue of value, the $35k proposal gave him the best bang for his buck. So he went with them.

And that’s the key word in this discussion: value.

My view is this: the money you spend on a web site shouldn’t be seen as an expense. It should be seen as an investment. That change in perspective gives you a different look at your web site. If you were to invest $10,000 in a company, you’d do your homework and work out if you would get your money would perform. That’s how companies (and Government departments and Universities) need to view their web spend – how can we make this perform?

This change in thinking not only gets you a more cost-effective web site, it also helps you ensure you’re making it a living, breathing part of your business.

Some businesses (but more often government), think that throwing money at a web site suddenly makes it great. I’ve also just talked to a client who has spent $100,000 on a web solution that is patently not working for them.

For me, that answers the question about whether good web sites cost you lots of money.

Now the other end of the spectrum. It’s an oft-repeated conversation in the web development world to hear a prospective client say ‘why would I spend $10,000 with you when my 17-year-old nephew can give me a web site for $750?’ Or ‘why would I get a developed in when I can do the job myself on Wix?’ The same reason why I don’t pay a high-school accounting student to do my taxes. Or give $20 to a 10-year-old to paint pictures to hang in my lounge room. You get what you pay for and this is especially the case on the web.

Yes, there are free web tools out there to help you produce a site for no cost, but it can look like it if design/development isn’t your thing. Please note: I’m not advocating that free = rubbish. I coached a small business (they make recycled jewellery) about setting themselves online. They have a store through eBay, a presence on Facebook and take sales through Paypal. Cost? Nothing. But that’s only working for them because their audience is already in those spaces. My advice to them wasn’t to do that strictly on a $$$ basis.

So how much should you spend on a web site? It’s not an easy question to provide a blanket answer – but I do know this. You need to spend as much (or as little) as you need to in order to achieve what you want to achieve. And then you need to give it every chance of working.

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