In this article you’ll gain insight into the variance multiple agencies propose for the budget and timeline to build your new website. It also offers three benchmarks to give perspective on the timeline you should expect your website to take from start to finish based on the scope and available budget.
First, why the large variance in agency proposed costs and timelines?
In almost every instance we are engaged in preliminary talks to build a new website for a prospect, it starts with a general budget and timeframe the prospect has in mind to get from start to launch. The timeframe usually falls in the line of 3 – 4 months on the fast end, but is usually 6 months on average. However, as the prospect progresses through their agency selection set they’re faced with drastic differences in proposed costs and timelines. Some fit within what the prospect or client prefers, but most often agencies ask for a little leeway to add in 1 – 3 months of time and in extreme cases they double the preferred timeline to 6 – 12 months. All of this of course then comes with the agency telling the prospect additional budget is required. So – why?
- Do agencies not understand the scope of work?
- Is the client/prospect not being realistic?
- Was the scope of work not clear enough?
- Does the agency simply not have the capacity, efficiency or experience to move fast enough?
There are a lot of questions that go into giving an answer, but depending on the situation they’re all right in some instance or another. However, I can tell you that 95% of the time it’s scope-related. Most projects start with a fuzzy vision of what you want your new site to be. It’s largely the job of the agency to help you bring that vision into focus and assign a budget to the project that makes sense. Prior to actually initiating a relationship with a client, each agency brings their own perspective on what that ultimate scope could look like. They make assumptions (us included) and base their proposal on either a scope they think is best for you, a scope similar to what they most often work within, or a scope that gives the agency the best chance at winning the project (exposing you to increased risk by way of budget and timeline overruns). And, whether you believe it or not, if you’re considering multiple agencies for a web build, I guarantee you’re receiving proposals that fall into all 3 categories.
The best analogy I can give is building a new house. The scope-based variables that will impact the timeline and cost are going to be based on:
- The size of house you want – is it a 1,500 sq. ft. ranch or a 10k sq. ft. palace in Beverly Hills?
- Is it a model home by a builder who only builds 3 floor plans or is it a fully custom home where you can choose every last detail?
- What geographic environment is the house being built on? For example, if it’s on a cliff with gorgeous views then custom engineering is required to protect the foundation against the risk of erosion or mudslides.
- What varying levels of finishes are going in? For example, stock vs. custom cabinetry, crown molding in every room, custom tiling, levels of granite, etc.
The list can go on and on. The point is each of these components will add or subtract significant amounts of cost and time to the scope.
Websites are no different. The technology platform being built on, the size of the website, the functionality required, and the integrations needed will all impact the timeline and budget.
The Good Stuff – 3 Benchmarks to Follow
The next time you’re planning to redesign your website, follow these three benchmarks to determine what you could realistically expect scope-wise based on your available budget and how long the build could potentially take.
TIMEFRAME SCENARIO 1: 1 – 3 Months
This is your typical small business website. It’s responsive for mobile and includes a core WordPress or a similar CMS environment with maybe one or two plug-ins, such as a blog. It’s a smaller website utilizing 2-5 core design templates with no real dynamic functionality. The design templates are off-the-shelf and skinned by a designer to reflect your brand. Other than Google Analytics, it doesn’t likely have any 3rd party integrations to send data to other marketing platforms (unless those integrations are done using an existing WordPress plug-in, which can create its own problems).
Under $20k and best developed by a small project-based agency or freelance team.
TIMEFRAME SCENARIO 2: 5 – 7 Months
This website is for the lower-end, mid-sized firm. It’s responsive for mobile and includes a semi-custom WordPress or similar CMS environment with several plug-ins such as a blog, case study manager, people profile manager, events calendar, etc. It’s a medium sized website (15 – 30 core marketing pages) utilizing 8 – 12 custom design templates. Functionality may include limited dynamic capability such as presenting the most recent blog content in other areas of the site and having a call-to-action (CTA) manager. It may also include some 3rd party integrations outside of Google Analytics to do tasks such as collect subscriber data or contact form submissions into a CRM or email marketing platform.
$40k – $65k and best developed by either a generalist or specialist agency.
TIMEFRAME SCENARIO 3: 9 – 12 Months
This website is for the middle to large mid-size firm and is strategically aligned against a firms’ marketing and sales requirements. It’s responsive for mobile and built on either a proprietary CMS or highly customized WordPress or similar CMS environment. It contains multiple plug-ins such as a blog, case study manager, people profile manager, various forms of content managers (whitepapers, articles, videos, infographics, research reports, etc.), event promotion and registration tools, etc. It has incorporated multiple 3rd party integrations to enable sending information such as leads and their specific behavioral data into a CRM and automation platform to aid in lead scoring and qualification and also maybe connects to a digital asset management platform to enable efficiency. It’s highly dynamic allowing total user control over CTAs, including the ability to create new CTAs on the fly and the capability to create CTA workflows to guide a buyer’s journey. It also contains fully dynamic content enabling both predictive search capability and intelligence to interconnect related content across the entire site (connect thought leadership to projects; connect projects to people, and back again).
$75k – 100k+ and best developed by a specialist agency with deep categorical experience in both your marketplace and the technologies you use (or plan to use).
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