I have been building websites for over 20 years and I have encountered many business owners who were paying too much money for their websites. I was able to help those that used my services to reduce their cost and increase the effectiveness of their websites. I hope to shed some insight into this problem so that you can hopefully avoid being a victim.
Businesses may pay too much money for their websites when their ignorance of the technologies involved are exploited, management uses unqualified personnel to manage a website project and maintain the website, or the business owner inadvertently causes the website project to drag on for months unnecessarily, among other things.
Using Unqualified Staff For a Website Project
I experienced one company that needlessly spent over $500,000 for a website that not only didn’t work but rather made things worse with regards to the problem it was supposed to solve. The reason that this company spent that much money on a failed website project was that they allowed an unqualified manager to lead the project. By unqualified, I mean that this person was not an IT professional and knew virtually nothing about IT or website design. This person, unfortunately, was also not versed in project management practices, which doomed the project from the beginning.
I cannot express it enough that you should only use qualified personnel to manage a website project. If you are a business owner, then don’t appoint your cousin, brother, daughter, son, friend, to manage an IT project if he or she is not qualified, especially if they are not familiar with IT, as was the case with the company I mentioned above. If the people managing a website project are unqualified, then the project can easily go over budget and exceed the timeline.
One of the most damaging practices to a website project budget and especially timeline is when the business owners become integrally involved with the design and development of the website during its development. The example I use is the building of a house. Imagine if every week you changed something about the house while the contractors are building it. Not only would the project take much longer to complete, but it would also cost more and there are plenty of opportunities for things to go awry due to the many changes made during a short period of time. I have experienced this phenomenon on several occasions over the last 25 years.
The best thing that you can do is to sit down with the website developer and talk about the website that you want. Tell them what you envision the end product to generally look like (even if you can show one or more websites that you like as an illustration). Tell them what features you want, what things are important to you, and more. It is also very helpful that you explain your industry to the web developer so that they get an idea of the context of the site.
This is very similar to getting a house built. You meet with the developer and pick a lot and model of the house you want. Shortly thereafter you’ll meet with the design group to select colors, sink types, kitchen appliances, etc. If you begin to change your mind regularly during the build, then you will surely jeopardize the timeline and budget for the building of that house. The same applies to the website.
I find that sometimes people do not realize that there is work in developing a website. It isn’t something that you can just throw together. For example, I give much thought in how I position things, colors used, and other design elements when developing a website. Web developers typically see the site in their minds long before it is actually built. We have everything worked out in our heads, which is then expressed in wireframes or a mockup of some sort. When changes are made regularly during the design and development, then that throws everything off.
So, to avoid spending more money than you should for a website, be sure to establish what you want in as much detail as possible before meeting with the website developer. Don’t worry about the technology, just give them your wish list, ideas, or anything else you can to help the web developer “see” what you want.
Too Many Visual Effects
Another thing that causes a business to spend more on a website is insisting on aesthetic components that really may not matter. What I mean here is that you may want a floating this, and moving that, with videos, sliders, scrollers, popouts, and much more. However, those things may detract from the effectiveness of the website depending on the industry. People sometimes think that a “pretty” website with a lot of visual effects will make the site better. However, that is not necessarily the case.
Consider Amazon.com. That website is very simple, though it is full of stuff! There is some technology going on in the background that determines what products to present to you, however, the site isn’t full of visual effects. It is rather simple. Why? People go to Amazon to shop and a shopper typically is not interested in looking at visual effects, but rather to find the desired product(s) they want to purchase. Amazon attempts to make that process as easy as possible.
So don’t think that a lot of bling will make your website better. Anything that your website has should contribute to the goal of the site, whether that is to convert visitors to customers, get an email address, get someone to call, etc. Everything on the site should have a purpose and not be merely unnecessary aesthetics, else you will spend much more on your site.
Here is something that business owners may do that will cause a site’s development timeline to become much longer than first projected. That something is content dribble. There must be sufficient content on a website that markets your business, church, or service. This website comes from the business owner, not the developer. The developer may not know the details of your industry even though they may have built sites in that industry. For example, I’ve built many sites for churches and solo entrepreneurs. However, all businesses are different even in the same industry and web developers cannot simply make up content. We need content from you such as a list and description of your services, information about the company, etc.
If you take a long time to get the web developer the content needed for your site, then the site will drag on and possibly cost more. It will most likely increase the timeline. Give your web developer the content for your site promptly. This includes the requested information, images, videos, etc. The web developer has established a timeline and schedule for working on your site. If you take too long to provide the content requested, then the timeline for your site would have to be reworked by the developer. So, provide the content for your site quickly. The sooner the better.
Develop Your Own Requirements
I was working with a company several years ago and the person in charge of the project assumed that the website developer would tell them what they needed. In other words, this person thought that the web developer would develop their requirements for the site. That is like going to a car dealership and expecting the sales person to tell you what vehicle you should purchase. Do you think you will be presented with the cheapest solution? I doubt it, especially if they are making up the requirements for you.
Instead, make up your own requirements and make sure that those requirements will be met. Don’t allow the web developer to talk you into something that is presented as a “must have.” Ask questions to determine why you need that feature or component? Everything about the website should be based on your requirements, not the wishes of the web developer.
Therefore, one of your major tasks to control the cost of a website project is to meet internally to decide what the website should be, what it should look like, and what functionality it should have. View websites of your competitors to get ideas. Don’t allow the salesperson to talk you into the premium model, when the deluxe or standard will do the job.
However, the most common reason that people spend too much on their websites is that they are being bamboozled, i.e., deceived. They are told that they need SEO services, maintenance fees, database fees, domain management fees, etc. Unfortunately, business owners are unaware that they not only may not need all the sited features but that they are paying too much for what really needs to be done.
I’ve encountered business owners who were paying far too much for website services and getting very little to no service at all. How is the business owner to know if something is happening? Even if they notice that they have no way of monitoring the work that is purportedly being done, they may be told that they need additional services to accomplish the desired goal, which means more money.
Let me say that not all web development companies are deceitful. However, even if you use an honest web development company, you could still spend too much on a web project for the reasons stated previously. The more work the company has to do, the more it will cost you.
What are small businesses to do to ensure that they get a website that will help the business and that it is maintained properly? There are three choices.
- Educate yourself on website technologies and web development so that you know what needs to be done, even if you don’t do the work. You will know if a company is trying to deceive you into purchasing something that you don’t need or something that is useful but at an exaggerated cost. However, what business owner has time for this? You want to focus on your business, not the tools you use within it.
- Hire IT staff. This is more of an option for larger companies than small businesses, especially entrepreneurs. Though having someone on staff that will handle your technology is good for business, it is in many cases cost prohibitive.
- Contract a company or person that you trust (or learn to trust) to help you get what you need so that your website contributes to the prosperity of your business at a fair price. This is where Reggie’s PC Resources shine. We help businesses grow by implementing internet technologies at a fair price and no fluff.
We’ve been helping companies and entrepreneurs use internet technologies for over 20 years. We do our best to educate you appropriately on what we are doing, what services are included, and what components the website will include—based on your requirements.
Contact us right away if you want a great website that helps your business grow and for a fair price.
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