How much does it cost to create a website? As a web developer, I often hear that same question over and over from business acquaintances I get into contact with. Some would like to build a business website, thinking that it is a cool thing to do. Others would think that building a website is much like typing a thesis paper on a word processor and therefore it should be easy and cheap. If you were to answer that question, what would your response be?
Three hundred thousand Pesos? Fifty thousand? Five thousand? One thousand? Just a cup of McDonald’s hot chocolate?
Any Web Developer worth his salt and who has been in the business of developing websites — or Web Applications for that matter — is aware that the first question raised above is actually incomplete. It doesn’t even give you a hint as to the nature of the project. So any figure you that you will come up with based on that question alone is in fact meaningless. But, on the side of the customer (the one asking for a price quotation), it is a good way of spotting the kind of web developer you are talking to – whether an amateur or a real professional.
“Hey Carlos, if you don’t come up with a figure right then and there, how will the client know if he will hire you to do the project or find someone else?”
Thanks for asking and you have a good point. First, I don’t regret losing a client who doesn’t know what he is about to do. If I should be working WITH a client, I’d like to do it with someone who awards a project not on the basis of price alone, but on the benefits he will derive in knowing that he is working with a real problem solver. Second, as a web professional, I always make it a point to remember that I am also a consultant. It is my job to dissect what my client’s real needs are and offer a few suggestions. It could be free during the initial stage, I’d be glad to do that. Just because a client wants a business website doesn’t automatically mean that it is the perfect pill for him to shallow.
“So Mr. Consultant, how do you proceed?”
If you are new to Web Development Business, read carefully. I am about to share some priced possessions that I’ve been keeping in my treasure chest of wisdom learned from being a practicing web developer and software consultant. I am assuming here that you are dealing with a client who relies on you for guidance in showing him the right way to develop his website.
Here are the five points to remember:
1. Determine The Kind Of Website
There are different kinds of website as there are different kinds of businesses and people who patronize them. Ask the client if it is a personal website, not-for-profit website, political, porn, etc, etc.
2. Determine The Purpose of The Website
Here is where most clients would fail to provide a convincing answer. Some of them just want to have a website without knowing if it can help them or not. If it is a business website, ask them if it is going to complement a store that already exist in the busy street corner.
3. Determine the Audience or Users
Is it for exclusive use of select company employees and affiliate only? Is the content open to the public? Who will consume the business articles?
4. Determine the Features and Modules To Include on the Website
Knowing this is crucial for it will give you a rough idea about the number of hours you are going to spend in implementing the critical components of the website. This is also a nice way of pointing out that not all websites are created equal — some are complex, others are minimalists.
5. Determine The Technology To Use
Some small businesses will not care about the kind of Web technologies and tools you will use to implement the website. But, some are so specific they only require IIS Server, or ColdFusion, or Oracle. This is also important and will contribute to the price of the project.
To Quote or Not To Quote? That is the (Final) Question
Of the Five Points mentioned, you should pay close attention to the last two. Make notes. That is where the real work lies.
The first three may not cause you to think in terms of code-to-money conversion, but they are auxiliary to the crime you are about to commit. Sorry for the sloppy idiom, but what I am trying to say is that those three points would help you assess the client’s level of seriousness in implementing his online experiment.
Finally, I would say that the best project price quotation is one that doesn’t come from the mouth, but one that is put in writing with a signature on it. Send a detailed proposal after a formal interview with the client and see if there is a chance of doing the business.