The number 1 question we are asked is “How much does a website cost?” And our answer is: “it depends.” if you were willing to put in a little sweat equity, companies like Squarespace, Wix, or GoDaddy can help you get a website up and running for about $20 a month. These can be a great option if you just want to have a presence on the internet.

We think the question should be flipped. Instead of asking how much a website with all the bells and whistles will cost. Ask how much website you can get for your budget. How do you determine your budget for a website? We’ve discussed the Small Business Administration statistics in a previous video but I’ll recap:

Businesses under $5 million should be spending 7 to 8% of their total revenue on marketing and advertising. To make those numbers real, a business that does $500,000 would budget $35-40k per year. A $1 million company would budget 70-80k. And a $2 Million company would budget $140-160k. 

That is not to say you should spend all of that on your website. You have to measure your requirements, your budget, and the part your site plays in your overall marketing plan to decide what percentage of your advertising budget should be spent on a website. 

Once you have your budget, partner with a company that can work within that budget to get you the functionality you need to grow your business. I know you probably think that we are crazy. The truth is, if you are trying to build a business, you need to be investing in marketing strategies that generate business. Properly marketing your product or service helps create the necessary awareness to increase leads and accelerate sales. Here at Blue Fish, we think a website is the foundation to a successful marketing and advertising campaign.

If a $20 a month option is not going to fit your needs, then you would want to involve someone with a little bit of web development experience. You could pay someone to install WordPress and a theme. They could have you up and running for as low as $500. This is no slight to WordPress as it is used to power some extensive websites like Huffington Post, CNN, USA Today and more. The ability to buy a theme and quickly enter in some content makes it a viable solution for some small business owners.

The next step up would be to engage with an agency that is going to build you a semi-custom or completely custom website. Starting around a few thousand dollars, you can get a website that is customized with your colors, images, and content. At this price point, you can use a more robust Content Management System. We like to use Craft or ExpressionEngine for our sites. These are CMSs similar to WordPress but with a lot more functionality that means it will be easier for you to update and manage the website. They are extremely powerful content management systems that you will never outgrow.

The truth is, depending on your requirements, you can spend millions of dollars on a website. At this scale, you are paying for custom interactions, specific needs for gathering information, user workflows where you have ultimate control over what a user sees and experiences on your site. All these requirements mean that the agency has to spend more time developing a solution, however, those details may be precisely what your organization needs.

One thing to consider is the primary function of your website. Is your site a small business brochure? Or does is it need to be a full-service website with a support section, member logins, areas for account info, e-commerce with payment processing, or more?

You'll also want to consider integrations with outside systems. Are you integrating a form for email newsletter sign-ups? Or do you have methods for checking when someone abandons their shopping cart and additional functionality for targeting people that are visiting your website? Are their custom integrations, like a realtors website would have with the MLS? Or integrations with strategic business applications like Salesforce? All those integrations take additional time to develop, adding to the cost of your site.

We know our answer of “it depends” is not what most people want to hear; we aim to help you see how a website for a small restaurant would be a different price than a site for a company with lots of requirements and integrations for external services.

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