Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Founders Series where we get insights and analysis from founders of various different companies in the tech industry.  David Buivid is a co-founder of NYC-based boutique branding and interactive design firm, The Smack Pack. He has extensive operating experience with startups, brands and bands having established a number of businesses starting when he was in college.

Getting started on your new website or updating one that has worn out its welcome should be a very exciting time. The possibilities are endless. You have a blank slate! You’ll aim to attract new visitors, convert leads into customers and grow your business. A well planned website and solid digital strategy is an undeniably valuable tool that will help further your goals.

When beginning to document your goals, you will have to determine the project’s budget or range. Building a website is, in many ways, similar to building a house. Looking for a mansion that will be featured in Architectural Digest, or will a cozy ranch-style layout fit your needs? How many bedrooms? Where does the garage fit in? Planning is the most essential step in launching a successful, in-budget web project. Below is a list of steps that you will want to review in order to start things off on the right path.

ASSESSMENT STEPS

1 – General Overview: What Do You Want To Accomplish?

Continuing with the house analogy, both the contractor and the client need to understand the scope of work before any type of estimate can be produced. What is the intention of your site? Will it be a showcase site for your offline business, or will you capture leads and make direct sales? Does it make sense to log data from visitors, and do you require a back-end admin page so that you can update the site on your own in the future? Stick with overarching business objectives and you’ll be on the right track. Don’t worry, we’ll help you nail down the specifics.

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2 – Determine Your Essential Requirements.

Now you can start to prioritize some of the details for your website. Preparing a prioritized list of desires will come in handy if we need to eliminate some items in order to meet a specific budget. Often we find that critical work is completed as “Phase 1” of a project, with secondary items and our additional suggestions being worked in during “Phase 2”.

3 – Do Some Research.

Find 2 or 3 firms that appear to offer a similar set of services. What do you think about their websites? Does the way they position themselves resonate with you? If something smells fishy, trust your instincts, there are far too many disreputable “firms” out there. If you are looking for a small shop for a small project, there are many great ones out there. If you dealing with a broader, B2B or consumer-focused national site, you’ll want to speak with the larger guys, or a “BIG little” agency with established relationships for supporting services such as marketing and strategy.

4 – Plan For The Future.

Never forget that the web is constantly evolving and you’ll want to allocate some resources for ongoing maintenance and support. Ask your prospective partner agencies how they handle upkeep. Will they offer a monthly, quarterly or yearly package that guarantees you access to their team when you need it? Do they simply charge by the hour after the initial work is complete? Each will have its own method, so make sure you at least broach this subject early on. Don’t get stuck with something that isn’t properly equipped for the future.

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5 – Make An Informed Decision.

Professional firms need to understand what you have allocated for your budget (i.e. How big is your dream house?) in order to delver a sensible and accurate proposal. Without an upfront discussion of budget they will be unable to consider the best approach to meet your needs during our proposal process. Remember, if you follow these guidelines, keep your budget realistic, and focus on actively accomplishing the business objectives, you will be prepared to succeed.

GENERAL BALLPARK

If your business will put a lot of marketing effort into the website (drive traffic via ads, lead generation, etc), expect to spend up to 30% of your yearly marketing budget for the initial buildout. Want numbers? To take a robust sales-oriented website to market you could be looking at $27,000 – $110,000. It’s a big range, but if you don’t understand why, you’ll have to re-read this article!


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