Web development: How can startups budget for it?
You know your website is going to be a valuable asset for your business in the future, but how do you decide how much to spend on it before it gets off the ground? Many businesses struggle to work out how much to invest in development and design, but with some useful recommendations, you can set up a budget appropriate for your needs.
How much is enough?
You don't want to spend too much on your website, but you also don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the finished product by spending too little. The answer to “How much should a business website cost?” might as well be “How long is a piece of string?” Every business is different, and so is its budget. However, by examining the functions you'll need your site to serve, you can start painting a clearer picture of the potential costs.
Start with the basics
There are some flat costs that all websites must incur, such as the domain name and basic web hosting. For a small site with only one domain and reasonably light traffic, this should be no more than a couple of hundred dollars each year. This will increase somewhat if you hit a much bigger audience than expected or have a download-intensive business, but these costs will remain relatively low and a small percentage of your overall budget.
Put in the time
The main cost is sure to be the design and development time needed to complete your website. For a decent-sized business, this can take 60 hours and upwards. What's more, if your site needs additional graphics, to be optimised for all platforms and mobile devices, a content management system or any other extra functionality, you will need to factor in extra time for this too.
Seek plenty of proposals
Be very clear about everything you want your website to offer – this is the only way to ensure you get what you want. It's easy to assume that adding a little chat function here or some e-commerce there will be cheap and easy, but it may actually completely blow your budget. Compare proposals and discuss options with your potential developers to see exactly what you can expect for your money.
Think about maintenance
Another big cost to consider is the amount it will take to maintain your website on a day-to-day basis. It may be that it's worth your while to spend extra from the outset on a user-friendly back-end design that will allow you to make changes in-house, rather than signing up to a maintenance contract that could cost you thousands every year.
So what do you need?
A simple new website for your startup may cost less than $5000, but as soon as you start adding extras and building in ways to future-proof your design, you can easily expect three or four times that cost. The biggest question you need to ask yourself is how quickly you plan to be able to afford a redesign and just how complicated your site needs to be.
Kick-start your website’s development with a budget that won’t break the bank. Some simple planning and research will help you achieve one that’s both realistic and affordable.