There can be confusion over website pricing at all levels of budget and experience, so we thought we'd put together a 2 part guide on what to pay for your website. In part one (this bit) we'll be looking at what you need out of your website and what it's going to give you, and in part two we'll look at options are different budgets.
So, where are you with your website - what do you need from it and what is it going to provide?
A high/increasing number of consumer transactions
At this level you've perfected an inexpensive consumer product or service which is easy to see online. You have a marketing budget which is a good fraction of your annual turnover (because it works) and you need to perfect the process of buying things on your website so that it's easy and repeatable. In theory you'd like to remove all friction from the process, so people can buy without typing or clicking. Graze.com has achieved this nicely..
Your website is going to go from strength to strength and possibly provide 100% of your annual sales. It's going to find new customers, make them repeat customers and advocates, keep in touch with them, and sell to them again and again.
A high/increasing number of business transactions
Businesses are staffed by people, so be very cautious if you think you can get away with making your website less easy to use than a consumer website! But you may have cornered the market or you may rely on a steady stream of customers fed into the website by other parts of your business. At the other end of the spectrum you will be competing for a share of a large market in just the same way as a consumer site. Viking stationery is a good example of this. Being a business to business website, though, it will usually have a smaller market than consumer websites, and it may have to work harder to sell, for a variety of reasons including high cost price/low volume, and staff turnover within your customer base.
Your website may provide a significant proportion of your annual turnover. It should also attract new customers and keep in touch with existing customers.
This kind of website is similar to the scenario above. It may offer various transactional functions such as membership/event purchases. But it often has a limited market, so once it's cornered the market it doesn't always need to try as hard to woo customers. However, you still need to keep up with the times and offer a great service to members, because if you don't, your members will certainly complain and quite possibly look for alternatives.
Your website will attract and retain members (i.e make money), but also save money through reduced paper administration in your office.
A corporate website for a consumer company whose business is transacted offline
This could be Coca Cola or something much smaller. It may be a information website so that people can, in effect, "self-serve", or it may be marketing focussed, running competitions and games, and creating new interest which inevitably leads back to the product.
This website and your other online activities may not keep you in business, but it probably attracts a significant number of customers to your product and saves a ton of money on customer service.
A corporate website for a b2b company whose business is transacted offline
This could be a website for a company as big as Boeing, or it could be the one you're on now.
While it may not bring in all the business or transact any of the business, it can do a lot of work. People who are in the market for your product may increasingly search for it on the web, so your website can be a powerful marketing tool. It can offer customer service, and it can even have a password-protected customer area to offer specific customer service.
Information only, or peripheral services
There are a lot of very different websites in this category, so it's difficult to generalise, but quite often these websites may mean the difference between retaining and losing customers. So they can be crucial to your business success.
Now read: what you should spend!