Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Budgeting for a Website

by John Simms

The following are some of the basic tasks involved in producing a website that will influence the costs.

Domain Registration
Frequency: Annual | In other words: Claiming your website address

This is a fee you will pay annually in advance (sometime 2 or more years in advance depending on the type of domain). Factors influencing the price of your domain depend on the extension you are looking for (ie. a co.za vs. a .com) and the number of domains you wish to register (you can register more than one website address, that takes people to the same website).

Frequency: Monthly| In other words: Facilitates website and email Hosting is the service that facilitates for the working of the technologies used on your website, as well as the functioning of your email addresses (yourname@yourdomain.com, etc). Factors influencing the cost typically depend on the technologies you require, disk space (amount of content) the number of email addresses you need, bandwidth requirements (the amount of content downloaded from your website over a month, for example) and in which country you choose to host your website.

Website Content
Frequency: Once-off or ongoing

A website is nothing without good and effective content, regardless of what it can do or how attractive it is. It is recommended to consider what your content will be before advancing to the design and development of the website. Content includes pictures, media and text. If you want to use a photographer to take photos of your products, purchase stock photography or use the services of a copywriter to assist in developing text content, you may want to consider how they influence your budget.

Website Design
Frequency: Once-off | In other words: The look & feel of your website

A website designer and a website developer are typically very different - one is more artistic and the other is more technical. Using a specialised designer for a more appealing design will usually mean a higher price than if you asked your developer to create a design on-the-fly. If you want to purchase stock imagery for use in your design rather than use your own pictures you need to factor that in. The number of different page layouts you need for your website is another factor.

Website Development
Frequency: Once-off | In other words: The functionality of your website

This depends on the complexity of your website and the different features and functions it requires - are you looking for a few pages with basic information or do want provide visitors with a database of content (such as a product catalogue or business directory). The activities you want your visitors to perform is also a factor (eg. to click on a link that opens their email program vs. providing them with a contact form that captures the details you want from them).

Website Promotion
Frequency: Monthly | In other words: Making sure it gets used

This is an area many companies neglect. Promotion activities on the web include pay-per-click advertising, banner advertising, search engine marketing and email marketing amongst others. Often the key is to have produced a website that through its design, ease of use and content, effectively attracts the qualified visitors and persuades them to purchase your product or service. This can result in less costly advertising and promotion requirements.

Website Maintenance
Frequency: Monthly | In other words: Keeping it up to date

If you're thinking your website is going to do all the work for you, think again. A website can never replace the human element that is required in dealing with new and existing customers. Also, content needs to be kept up to date with what people need. It can be useful to have someone assigned to look after your website and your 'internet customers'. Often this person would also be reporting to you on the performance of your website and indicate any interesting trends that might help you make an informed decision on the development of your business as a whole.

Domain Registration, Hosting and Development are the bare minimum requirements for a website. Remember the more you put in the more you can get out, but also sometimes less is more. Therein lies the art of a website strategy.

About the Author

A member of Eiledon Solutions Web Design: website design, development and internet marketing services in Cape Town, South Africa.