Setting a budget for your website

Setting a budget for your website

If you have never been involved in a website project before, you probably won't know what to expect in terms of cost. Some of the questions you might have include:

  • What is the average cost to design and build a website?
  • What features will that include?
  • Will that cover the needs of all our stakeholders?
  • How much extra would we need to pay for a top of the range site?

For a web agency, these questions can be tough to answer because the price range for designing and building a charity website is remarkably broad. You could spend anywhere from £1,000 to £100,000 (and beyond) although the low end of this range would probably only be suitable for the smallest organisations with modest feature requests.

We understand that revealing a budget is always a sensitive subject (especially for the British!) but contrary to what cynics might think, most web agencies are not looking to find out your maximum budget to squeeze as much money out of you as possible.

What they are looking to do is to get a realistic idea of the type of website they can deliver for the available funds.

How buying a website is like buying a car

Turning up at a web agency and asking them how much a website costs is like visiting a car showroom and asking how much a car would be. The salesperson won't be able to provide a clear answer until they know your approximate budget. Only then can they walk you over to those cars within your price range and narrow down your options based on the kind of features you are looking for in a car.

Likewise, we recommend revealing your budget as early on as you can in the web design process. It may be nice to look at the Ferraris and Porsches of ther online world but if you can only afford a mid-price saloon, everyone's time will be best spent talking about getting the right make and model for your needs.

Along with your budget, you should tell the agency everything you will need your website to include (online donation facility, link to existing systems and databases, e-commerce function, etc.)

We suggest you consider holding a stakeholder meeting to address this and work out your priorities – your 'must haves' and 'nice to haves!'

Thinking beyond a website

At the same time as thinking about your budget, you should decide how much you are prepared to spend on site maintenance and digital marketing services going forward. For example, to make the most out of a new blog, you may want to outsource content creation. To improve your visibility in search engines, you might decide to invest in search engine optimisation or PPC advertising. All of these ongoing costs may affect how much you are able or willing to spend on designing and building your website.

Ultimately, your decision should be based on expected return on investment. Ensuring that your website has all the features you need to enable your digital marketing activity to bear fruit will give you the best possible chance to succeed online.

Why pay anything for a website?

You may be wondering whether a 'free' website builder like Wix or Squarespace would serve your needs just as well as a website designed by an agency. As you might expect, these types of sites are very limited, especially when you consider the complex needs of a charity website. They often include hidden costs and are also built on proprietary platforms which will lead to problems if you decide you need to move your website at a later date.

A customised site built on an open source platform by an experienced web agency is almost always the best option for any charity or non-profit organisation.

To summarise, setting a budget for your charity website involves a balance between what is possible and what you can comfortably afford. Be clear with your chosen web agency on your needs and approximate budget from the very start and you stand the best chance of getting the most ROI from your new website.

Topic: Project management

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