The purpose of this article to provide some assistance when choosing a website building company and to identify some of the common mistakes people make. With my role in Business Development, I encounter many different prospective clients with a wide variety of requirements. Many of those who wish to engage us as part of their website project lack the background knowledge required to make informed decisions.
– 1. Requirements gathering.
Each week and without fail I receive a number of inquiries for website design and SEO projects where the prospect approaches us and has no idea how they want their project to work. It's usually a high level idea which resides in their head. It then becomes my job to play detective to try and sleuth around to understand what the prospect is hoping their web project will accomplish.
One of the key challenges with this type of approach is that each website provider the prospect speaks with gathers different pieces of information as they are also playing detective. One of the net results of this process is that a prospect receives a wide range of pricing because they were simply too vague in what the requirements are. They could then make the mistake of ruling out one vendor based on a higher price point, when that vendor was actually offering them a completely different website project.
Taking the time to document your ideas and how you want to engage your audience(s) will provide much more clarity to all parties. As you put your ideas together on paper, it starts to become the projects roadmap and it gives each vendor the same information. At this stage it is more important for the website vendor to understand your business requirements rather than sorting out the technical issues, so lack of a technical background should not be a concern for you at this point.
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– 2. Come up with a budget before you engage.
Understanding the prospect's budget is key to helping the website vendor understand any financial constraints the prospect has. Often times prospects are unwilling to provide a budget range as they fear the vendor will bid up to that figure.
Another common response by prospects is to tell the vendor the prices other vendors have provided. This only tells us what other vendors may charge but provides no indication of what the client can afford.
Providing the vendor with clear requirements and a valid budget range this will eliminate any wasted cycles on both sides. It allows the vendor to determine if the project is a good fit, and to prioritize the requirements if the project can be broken up to the must have functional items and the prospects wish list which could be added at a later date.
– 3. Understanding value & ROI.
For many companies starting out or existing companies looking to gain market share, often times they focus solely on the financial expense of building the website or investing in internet marketing, without focusing on engaging their market and the expected ROI.
Let's look at some examples to highlight the above. We were approached recently by a real estate broker who sells houses and condos in the upscale neighborhoods of Toronto. Based on the high selling prices, the commission per sale can range in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. This individual thought that spending anything over $1,500 to build a website was a very high cost. As the website needs to align with the agents market, people who are prepared to spend upwards of a million dollars or more on a home, there is a disconnect between the agents investment and providing a high impact web experience that will convert a visitor to a customer.
In another case, we have an existing client whom we had built a website for and they now wanted to add Internet marketing to increase their market share. Based on the goals and objectives they were looking to add an additional $1.3 million dollars in sales. When they were presented with the cost to do SEO, they were shocked the number. However, when you evaluate the potential outcome, the client investments in Internet marketing represented less than 2% of the planned revenue gain. In other words, it would have cost them less than 2 cents to make a dollar.
By investing your time on the above points before you contact a website vendor it will help you greatly in your selection process. Thinking about what you hope to gain from the website, your budget, and the value that an upgraded website can add to your business are three integral steps to setting yourself up for a successful website project.
If you are comparing vendors, you will know that the numbers you are getting from the different companies align and are for similarly sized projects within the same scope. While the Business Development representative is available to help answer questions and offer suggestions, having an idea of these things before initiating conversations with website vendors will ensure a smoother process.
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