30 Apr 2019

What Does 'Digital' Cost? A Quick Method Of Getting A Ballpark Web Development Quote.

If you are a marketing professional, then you have to deal with budgets. If you haven't had much experience with digital projects it can be a bit of a chicken and egg situation to figure out the cost of what you need done: you need a budget to create a project so you can get a brief together to get quotes. It is common when dealing with marketing professionals that they make a guess at how much a project will cost and for the most part, this is based on experience. If you don't have this background of experience there are a few ways you can go out to the market to attain an idea of costs that will better prepare you from a budgeting perspective.

Can you get a quick quote for your website project?

Usually, yes. If the project is something someone has attempted before, particularly if it is a content site, then this shouldn't be a problem. However, if you are wanting to create a completely new system that has no clear parallel out in the market, it may be hard to really lock down what the investment may be.

Why you should get a quick ballpark

If you haven't secured a budget up-front or identified the likely cost, you may end up misstepping on getting the outcome your business needs. We commonly work with companies that may have had a website or project developed 5-10 years ago. In these situations, the company has developed and matured, however, their expectation of costs for an increasingly sophisticated digital solution does not keep in step with their new market position. This is particularly common in organisations that have moved to industry leadership in the time since their first digital steps.While you may have previously invested in a website for $10,000, 5 years ago - are you looking for the same quality? These days you will get a more feature rich solution that will give you further longevity. Manage internal budget expectations. The sooner you get a ballpark in your planning phase, the better you can provide signalling to management and finance about the anticipated costs. The last thing you want to do is go through a request for proposal journey, choose a great digital partner that you are very excited about, only to be overruled for budgetary reasons. The most painful thing as an agency is to go through this project requirements phase, be tentatively selected, only to find out that you have only won the right to be presented as an option to get the budget approved or to be knocked on terms of expense only.

How do you get a quick ballpark?

Simple. Scan the market for a provider that produces the sophistication and quality you are seeking. Then start a conversation with them, explaining your situation and your responsibility in the decision-making process. Your digital team should be able to explain pricing ranges with a few key pieces of information:

Key question: Who are your competitors?

Your market will define the degree of investment needed and the sophistication of the solution required. For example, insurance firms require a more sophisticated solution than a local accounting firm.Providing the vendor with a couple of examples of who your direct competitors are and defining the industry leader will provide a quick gauge to a tier of cost.

Key question: What is your market position?

If you aren't a current market leader and don't perceive your business innovating in that direction then it doesn't make a great deal of sense to be dreaming about a cutting edge solution. What is important is to craft a solution that matches your current or aspirational future. To ensure that you are not building walls that will inhibit growth. If you do wish to gain market leadership - this will involve an investment to be able to stake a claim to that position. The key is doing something new, disrupting common formulas and giving your client/customers something they learn to need.

Key question: What is your strategy in the market place?

How do you want to use the website to get where you want to be? Will you use it as:

  • A credibility check - common in B2B companies

  • A way to set the first impression as premium providers

  • To show thought leadership

  • To execute on an SEO strategy

  • To drive paid inbound traffic

Key question: Do you have examples of similar solutions?

This is by far the quickest way of getting a good estimate with the provider you are talking to and can allow you to get a ballpark after a quick check. For every client, we engage with we always seek to find comparable solutions if they are available.

Key question: Can you show me examples of the design sophistication you need?

This is a good start to get a quick benchmark of the style you like. Some, like single page websites, can be simpler than a resource website. Similarly, a traditional corporate style site is simpler than a dynamic interactive site.

Things that are easy to estimate

Most content websites are relatively straight forward to estimate

  • Content websites

  • Secure content sections

  • Basic form workflows

  • Information presentation systems

Things that cannot be estimated without exploration

Integrations. Scoping integration is one of the most likely components of a project to be problematic. This is due to unknowns, lack of documentation and support requirements.

Heavily dynamic functionality. Heavily dynamic solutions have a lot of moving parts, like custom workflows and processing logic.

Deep custom functionality. If you have complicated functionality.In particular, the problem with deep custom functionality is with capabilities that are compounding in complexity rather than additive.

Projects that have no parallel. References are the ultimate shortcut to getting a price point. If there is nothing that currently represents what you need then it can be difficult to understand the complexity of the solution.

Tell us what you think! If you would like to talk to us about this article, drop us a line on greg@lamb.com.au.

Greg is the Managing Director of Lamb Agency, a digital agency focused on creating industry-leading websites.

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