Castles in the sand

Preparing to build your online empire


“I really need a website for my business!” you say.

Not sure how to get started? Getting a quote can be daunting. Much like building a brick-and-mortar location or store, it depends a great deal on how you expect the web space to be used (as a store? an office? a catalog?), the size of the space (you have thousands of customers across the globe already, or you have a small local services business), and the materials that you use. There’s a bit of information you will need to get together in order to determine what your budget will need to look like, but it’s simple if you break it up into bite-sized chunks. First ask yourself:

When do you need your website to launch?

The budget for your website development can vary greatly depending on when you need it by. Remember that flexibility in launch date can translate into cost savings, as well as allowing for more opportunities for creativity.

You may have a fixed deadline, such as specific event, which is driving the development of your website. Be certain to tell the team you are working with as soon as you know what this date is. Ideally, your site should launch before this date to allow for any post-release changes.

Up next:

What would you like your website to do?

Sometimes in order to build a website within a tight time-frame or budget, it is important to prioritize the functionality for your site. Write down whatever features you would like your online castle to be built with, and then sort them based on your priority, like so:

Gotta have it now!

  • Responsive website for desktop, tablet, and mobile
  • Information pages about my business
  • E-commerce for hard goods shop
  • Product walk-throughs
  • Blog functionality
  • Fancy customized navigation that does that special ‘thing’
  • Social media integration
  • Web applications
    • Auction
    • Draw for purchase
  • E-commerce for downloadable products

Gotta have it soon!

  • Web applications
    • Front end custom product builder
  • Recurring purchases and subscriptions
  • Front-end members-only area
  • Member forum

These can wait…

  • Web applications
    • Surveys
  • Multiple sign-in types:
    • Administrator
    • Member
    • Inventory Manager

How much design do you need?

This depends greatly on the functionality you have prioritized. It also depends on you having your ‘creative assets’ ready, such as:

  • your logo in vector or high resolution format
  • written sample content for your website, such as:
    • editorial content
    • product information
    • regulatory information for your industry
    • a blog post
    • etc…
  • professional photography for your website, including:
    • product photography
    • editorial photography
  • any other images, logos, seals, or regulatory images that you need included

If you are missing any of the creative assets, it can cause the cost of your site to increase due to additional work and delay the schedule. If you don’t have these pieces in place, ask your designer if they can provide additional creative services, or recommend additional resources such as a photographer that would be appropriate for your project.

It may seem like overkill to have this information at the ready before you even figure out how much money you will need to spend, but it is a huge time saver in writing the design and technical specifications for your website, and it will enable your service provider to supply you with a comprehensive quote, as well as pricing options built around your priorities, and your budget.

And now for some classic kitties and cowboys: