Last article we looked at how a custom homebuilder handled my request for an estimate. We learned they don’t have any magic estimating bullet,Guest Posting but can provide a general cost range with planning guidance. We also learned they have trouble servicing potential customers without a budget.This week, let’s look at the different components that affect the investment size of a developed and hosted Web site. There are 4 basic cost types, all with many interdependencies.Cost type 1: Strategic planning, Web design and Web developmentCost type 2: Monthly or yearly Web site hostingCost type 3: Daily/Monthly/Periodic Web site maintenanceCost type 4: Web site traffic buildingLet’s take a look at each in more detail:1. Strategic Planning, Design and DevelopmentA Web site should be designed to accomplish measurable business objectives.
(The operative word is measurable.)The time to compose a strategic plan depends on the number and complexity of each objective. For example, a company might want to use Web technology to help increase first time and repeat purchases, repeat Web site visits, newsletter subscriptions, and overall lead capture. They might want to implement cross-sell and up-sell strategies, reduce call center volume or eliminate administrative support.That’s 9 total objectives, all of which vary in complexity and planning time.On the other hand, a small business typically has one or two burning objectives. They all say, “give me qualified sales leads and ample Web site traffic.” Planning time is, of course, much less.Side note: When budgets are limited, be sure to perform a cost/benefit analysis for each objective and implement those that will yield the highest return in the shortest amount of time. Check out: How to present a case for Web site investments.Once all business and marketing objectives are defined, more planning time is needed to set targets and benchmarks. For example, attract 2,500 unique visitors, receive 100 newsletter subscriptions, sell 50 widgets online and capture 50 widget-enhancement leads per month.This way, you can track your site’s performance at meeting each objective against targets every month and prove whether or not the investment is producing a return. ROI is the only justification for Web initiatives.Next, more planning time is needed to determine how Web technology (coupled with sales, marketing and usability strategies) will accomplish those defined objectives. This ties into interface, database and functionality design, as well as content creation and copywriting.Then, time is needed for design, development (scripting, writing HTML, database connectivity), testing the Web site for performance errors and transferring it to its hosting environment.So you see, the investment size is dependent on the design and development time, which is determined by the strategic plan, which in turn depends solely on the business and marketing objectives.(Objectives) x [(Strategic Planning) + (Design & Development)] = Investment Size2. Web site hostingHosting costs are, you guessed it, dependant on the technology used to develop the Web site and the resources (bandwidth, hardware, software and uptime reliability) used by the Web server. (A Web server is where the Web site resides in Cyberspace.) Dedicated Web hosting (meaning only your Web site resides on the server) may cost anywhere from $250 – $5,000 per month. Some dedicated hosting solutions include all of the hardware and software, Internet connectivity, a firewall for protecting data and managed services such as 24×7 support and daily data backups. Some solutions also include traffic analysis reports (to help track objectives), and the ability to authenticate and transfer credit card transactions. Others require custo