6 ways to manage the biggest cost factors of a website project
All you want to know is “What is a realistic budget?” yet all you keep hearing is “It depends on...” so let’s look at why.
There are two key factors that will have the greatest influence on the ultimate cost, and therefore the investment you need to make in your website. These are scope and risk.
In simple terms, what do you want the website to do and how will it impact your business? Consider the following questions:
- Do you need a basic, brochure site designed to be a ‘shop window’ to your business?
- Or are you after a fully functioning e-commerce site or event management system?
- Perhaps you need an enterprise level, back office solution for thousands of people to use to carry out the day-to-day business processes that keep your business running?
- How business critical is the website to your overall operations?
- What sort of data handling and storage requirements do you have?
- What legal implications affect your website?
- Does your site need to handle a lot of traffic and/or data quickly?
- Do you need 24/7 uptime?
- Do you need uptime monitoring?
- What if the something goes wrong?
Your answers will dictate whether you’re looking at a build that will take a few days, a few weeks or several months of development time.
Generally speaking, the bigger the solution, the more it will cost, so if you think you might be restricted by your budget, you should think about;
- What is your 'minimum viable product'?
- What are the 'must-haves', 'should-haves' and 'nice-to-haves'?
1. Write a clear brief
Writing a project specification isn’t an exact science so it’s important to work with your developer on this. When you’re defining the scope of your site, keep in mind that the more functionality you require to meet the needs of your business, the more testing and maintenance will be required both during the build and after. This typically also means that more ‘unknowns’ will become apparent as the build progresses.
2. Use your developers’ expertise
If you need a lot of functionality from your site, speak to your developer. It’s not unusual to find the things you thought would be costly or complicated, aren’t that bad from a developers’ perspective.
3. Focus on your priorities
Of course, you want your new website to be feature-rich and give the best user experience. However, if budgets don’t allow for that, get busy prioritising. Make sure that your highest priorities will be met first to ensure your site is earning its keep from launch day. Then have an agreed plan to achieve everything else in a programme of phased delivery.
This approach allows you to update your site to meet latest standards, i.e. ensuring your site is responsive for mobile formats, and ensures that you have a site that is working for, not against, your business.
4. Beware of scope creep
Make sure you know what will happen when those ‘unknowns’ start to make themselves known! A reputable and skilled web team will have advised you to expect this and will have planned for it up front. Less experienced teams may rely on praying that the specification is 100% perfect, or blindly driving on, delivering what's in the specification even though it may not be quite what you want!
5. Ensure your site hosting is up to scratch
Consider things like uptime and performance. A basic site with a thousand visitors a month will have very different hosting requirements than a business-critical system with thousands of visitors every day.
6. Reactive or proactive support
If you need a very high-availability site, you may need uptime monitoring, and 'self-healing' scripts set up, or you could need a 'load balanced' system.
Where performance is a key indicator of success, consider whether you need a certain amount of time each month secured for website analysis or to check that your site is meeting expectations. Or perhaps you want the peace of mind and security of knowing you have a web team at the end of a phone, available to help whenever you need them.
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