The world of web site design is extremely diverse in it's options. And the reality is that there is not one option that is right for everyone. I will give a few cases here that explain general situations that will hopefully help you understand how much you should spend on your web site.
- Sue wants to start writing about something she is interested in (her family, cooking, her awesome new book that she wrote, or maybe even her new invention!) so she wants to put up a web site. In this case I would tell Sue right away that she should probably head to wordpress.com or blogspot.com to get herself a free blog so that she can start writing. Or she could even just start by creating a facebook page and writing occasional posts on her page and find out how many fans she can get. A blog is a great way to share an idea, information about a product, or to just get the word out about what you are working to accomplish.
- Bob has a plumbing business and wants to put up a brochure site (basically a web site that serves as a brochure for your company, a presence on the web but not much more). So he may plan to have a home page, about us page, and contact page just to allow people to find out a bit about what he does and how to contact him. I would ask Bob two questions at this point: 1. Do you know how to function on a computer? (i.e. do you have a facebook account and know how to join groups, post photos, and participate in discussions) and 2. Do you have any money for a web site? If the answer to #1 is yes and #2 is no then I would recommend Google Sites as it allows you to create a great little brochure site for free or maybe Wordpress if you think you can handle it. #1 is yes and #2 is yes would lead me to recommend finding someone (like Yooweb) to build a Drupal, Joomla, or Wordpress site for $500 - $1000 dollars as this will usually look more professional and custom to your company as well as provide some tools for editing content when needed without the help of the company in the future. If the answer is no for #1 then I would immediately suggest that Bob should expect to spend at least $700 on his web site or that if he doesn't have that kind of money he should work on his computer skills.
-Cost? Free - $1000
- Dan is ready to take a step up in the marketing world with his business and wants to be able to move his business online by selling several products on his web site, blog about his company, and have the ability to manage it all right there on his site. Now we're getting into the exciting (and dangerous) level of web site creation. Frankly, wordpress, facebook, and blogspot aren't going to cover all of the functionality this guy is going to need and if Dan really wants to make some money on this web site he should expect his web site to take some sort of investment. He also doesn't just want to do it all himself as he probably isn't the expert in web marketing, SEO, and web development. Dan should expect to spend at least $1000 for his site and possibly more if he really wants help marketing the site.
- Barbie is on the board of directors for her fashion company that now wants to create an online community of people who want to be models. They want people to be able to register and have their own profiles where they can share pictures and other information about themselves so that agents can find them and they could potentially get hired. They also want these people to be able to pay a membership fee to subscribe to special content to give them tips and tricks on what they can do be better models. They are also selling beauty products on their site that they promote as being able to help these people be the models they've always dreamed of being. So we're talking about a full on community site where potentially hundreds, maybe thousands of people could be visiting daily. In today's world with Open-Source content management systems like Drupal much of this can be done with software that has already been developed but some may need some custom programming. This is where the real expensive prices start kicking in. For a site with no custom programming (all the software needed to provide the functionality you need already exists) then you should expect to pay no more than $5000 but as soon as you start delving into the unknown (nobody has already done it or they haven't shared their code for how they did it) then we're looking at thousands more dollars. For a site like this there probably wouldn't be too much custom programming but you should expect some (we can help you know either way) bringing you up to a price of at least $5000 and maybe up to $10,000 or more. If you try to find somebody that will give you a better price than that they are either cheating themselves (doing a lot of work for you for free) or you simply wont get a quality product.
- Steve is the owner of a major corporation who plans to start the next online wonder. (hasn't been invented yet) This is going to be the greatest thing since Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Steve better find a dedicated team of web developers and in fact he should probably be one himself so that he can make sure that the developers that he hires are legitimate and don't create something that looks great on the surface but has a lot of broken bones inside (lots of people have been scammed this way). This site needs dedicated full time work from multiple developers and should not normally be hired out. You're looking to pay full time salaries for some awesome programmers ($50,000 - $100,000 each).
Something you should notice about these cases is that they really build up from one to the next. If you're just starting you should probably consider starting at 1, maybe skipping to 2 if you feel like you have the money. Once you're ready to sell something online move to 3 and possibly 4. Obviously 5 is a rare case and most of you wont venture there, and I don't recommend it unless you are very confident in your knowledge of what already exists on the web and in your idea. If you do plan to move up in the chain we recommend getting a developer (we can do it!) to move your site to Drupal as soon as possible as it will be able to get you all the way up to the top, even through the 5th step if you make it there.
Good luck with building your web site and let us know if we can help!