Sometimes we will receive website requests for proposals from organizations that do not post their budget. This is a problem for us because it makes it very difficult to respond appropriately to the request. Why?
If you think about asking a general contractor to complete some renovations on your house, this is very similar to a website. You can imagine the confusion that can result if the builders thinking that the homeowner wants to have marble counter-tops and hardwood floors when they are actually looking for is more of a sturdy and comfortable kitchen. It becomes an unnecessary dance of guessing at how much money you have, with the new features that you want to see in your home, and trying to make the right assumptions. But without the key piece of information of budget, it becomes very difficult.
Many times clients are afraid that we will inflate their budget when in fact that is not the case. Really, what we want to be able to do is to meet your budget appropriately. There's no shame in having less or more money, it’s just about the approach that we will want to employ.
The truth is that a renovation can expand to meet any budget size, but the opposite is also true. The renovation can also come down to fit the budget. And that is the key. Starting with a shared budget means that we can determine the right feature set appropriate for that level of budget. For example, an e-commerce requirement in a RFP could be something as simple as a link to a PayPal store, or as complex as a full shopping cart and credit card fulfillment right on your website. The dollar value between these two features is quite extreme but essentially they do very similar things. How do we know which one you would like without an idea of your budget?
So, how much does it cost to build a website? For us, we see that a budget of $30,000-$50,000 is an appropriate resource for a midsize organization's website. Yes, you can build websites for less. But the way that we look at it is that websites are created for an organization like yours only every 3 to 5 years. So you need the website to last. Our suggestion is to use an appropriate resource for an asset that will remain for some period of time. By spending an appropriate amount, you can create a flexible framework that can last longer than a simple website will do.
One last point that I would make is that budget is always an issue, but it is not the most important thing. What is most important is that you feel that your builder, or website developer, has the expertise and insight into your organization and that you feel comfortable talking to them and communicating your needs.