Potential clients contact me sometimes saying that are planning a website and what will it cost to build. Often the “quote request” has only a one or two sentence description of the project.
Can I build it? Probably. I have built and worked on hundreds of different web sites with all kinds of programming functionality.
If I don’t know the specifics of the project though, it makes it impossible to move forward with providing realistic cost for web development.
Sometimes, thye provide me with a link to a website (or just a website name so I have no idea where to access it) and say “I want a site like this, what will it cost?” Often I have never heard of the site, and therefore have no idea of the features or functionality that needs built in. If there is user registration, then much of the functionality is not even available for me to review.
Review the website development questionnaire I have posted below to help develop a website project plan, then get in touch to discuss details.
Just like you want a professional web developer to build a great website for you,
I want a “professional” client that has put effort into planning their website
so they they can communicate what they need.
The success of your project depends on how well thought out it is,
and how well you can communicate the project requirements to me.
Ballpark Estimates for a Website
I get it, sometimes you simply don’t know where to start. Getting a “ballpark estimate” to build your website is not a starting point. I guarantee you the end cost of your website will not be within the range of the ballpark. It may come in higher or lower, but it would simply a guess based on limited information. Because of this, I will not provide a ballpark web development pricing.
Website Development Questionnaire
I have built a website development client questionnaire to will help me understand who you (and/or your company) and your website project needs are. Obviously, the more details you provide to me the better cost estimate I can provide and the more smoothly the website development process will go.
Tell me about you.
- What’s your name?
- Are you a company or individual?
- If a company, what is the nature of your business?
- Where are you located?
Tell me about your web project. (Don’t just answer yes/no, elaborate your answers)
What is the purpose of your website?
- To share information about your products and services?
- To generate new customers?
- To provide information to you users? (news ,events, blog)
- To sell something online
- To create an online statup
Do you need a new website built? If yes:
- Do you have a domain name yet?
- Do you have web hosting service yet?
- Do you have a logo designed or do you need one created? Can you provide the original files?
- Do you have a web design that just needs coded or do I need to create a web design for you?
- If you need the website designed, send me example websites that you like – overall or just elements of a page, colors you want to use…
- What will be the purpose of the website? ie Informational, database website, ecommerce website, WordPress development
- What type of users will be visiting your site.
Do you want to redesign or rebuild your website? If yes:
- What elements do you like and want to keep on the current website?
- What elements do not work?
- What new elements and/or functionality do you want to add to the redesign?
- Does your current web hosting company meet your needs in terms of quality, security and customer service?
- Approximately how many pages will your finished website be?
- Do you have content written or do you need help with this?
- Do you have images to use or do you need to use stock photos?
Features and Functionality
Beyond text and images, what will your website do?
- Will user have to register and log in to do something?
- Will you want to be able to manage content yourself on the website once its built? (Content Management System like WordPress?)
- Will you need eCommerce integration?
- Will you need custom web forms like quote request forms or contact forms?
- Will you need a search engine in your website?
- Will you need a blog on your website?
- Will you need a database driven website? If yes, where will your data come from? Will you needs scripts to import it, tools to add/edit it…
- If you are building a website from scratch with a unique idea, provide as many details of the features and functionality.
eCommerce Website Development
- What will you be selling? Product – physical products to ship, or services, virtual products to download?
- How many products will you have? If a large e-commerce site, how will products get into the database? Will they need to be imported from a source, or data entered manually?
- How will you accept online payments? Credit Card (Do you have a payment gateway yet?), Paypal, Stripe, check…
- Will you need to collect tax? (What location are you shipping from?)
- Will you ship internationally?
- What shipping carrier will you use?
- How will you calculate shipping charges? Flat rate, free shipping, based on order total, calculate through your shipping carrier API?
- Do your products have unique options/requirements like depending on the size they cost should change, or custom message needs added, photo needs uploaded to apply to the product….
- Do you have any special requirements to the flow of how the shopping cart should work ie does the checkout have to be on 1 page vs more than one page?
Web Database Development
- Do you need a data driven website?
- Do you need a content management system (CMS) to be able to edit the content without the help of a web developer?
- Will you be open to using open source software (like WordPress if it fits your project’s needs?)
- How will data get into your database? Do you have electronic data for me to import? Will you data enter the data? Will it be populated by user input?
- What types of admin tools do you need to manage content?
As you develop your website plan, defining a website budget of what you intend to invest in the project is necessary. Depending on your budget range, I will make different recommendations of how to approach the project. Having a budget of $5,000 vs $15,000 will have an effect on a website package that I recommend for you. Sharing your approximate budget will enable me to provide an affordable website solution for your needs, and save me time having to guess what will work for you.
Provide me with links to your competitor’s websites to help me better understand what you want to accomplish.
Search Engine Optimization
- Do you have a plan to market your website?
- Have you done keyword research already, or do you need help with this?
- Do you know what SEO is, and do you plan on putting effort into it during the first phase of this project? (Honestly, not addressing SEO is equivalent to a brick and mortar “build it and then will come mentality”. If you don’t optimize your website for keywords, users are not going to find you in the search engines.)
- Do you have a code/backup plan?
- Will you want ongoing code maintenance for security and updates?
- Will you want ongoing maintenance like content updates and/or adding new pages?
A website is a work in progress. Its always evolving as your business grows.
Do you have a long term plan or features or functionally you may want to add “down the road”?
Communicating this in the beginning of a project can help to make integration of it later much easier.
As you can see, there are a lot of website development questions to consider for successful website planning. Really, this list is the “tip of the iceberg”. The more you think about it, the more complex your ideas will become (and the better your website will be). I will continue to add to this list as time passes. Take these website development questions to come up with a website plan. Then follow up with me to calculate a cost to build your website. (An actual cost, not a ballpark)
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