Julia is a very experienced product manager who has managed products for private sector companies such as Sony Music and Expedia as well as public sector organisations such as Surrey Police and small startups too. Deciding to adopt a more rural lifestyle away from the City, Julia joined Real Life Digital to work more closely with a diverse range of clients and projects, and to minimise her previous 2 hour (both ways!) commute into the smoke! When Julia's not defining, refining, pretotyping, and keeping us tightly focussed on our deadlines, you might find her touring the world in one of the many bands she sings and plays with, or at home in her recording studio bashing out some choons.
What’s a realistic budget?
See that piece of string over there?
Ok, we're being facetious - but the answer to this question can be vastly different for each and every project. The 2 key things that will make the largest impact on the cost will be scope and risk. Lets break these down:
- This can be the difference between delivering a 5 page, basic brochure site, which could be designed and built in a matter of days, to a fully functioning e-commerce shop or event management system that could take a few weeks, or even an enterprise-level back-office solution for thousands of people to continually use in their day-to-day business processes, which may take several months to build.
- The size of web projects can vary dramatically depending on requirements (see the first part in this series about your business requirements - if you've done your homework, you'll already know approximately where you are on this scale).
- The bigger the solution, the bigger the costs - so you might want to revise that part 1 again and get to the real nitty gritty of what you need. What is your 'minimum viable product'? What are the 'must-haves', 'should-haves' and 'nice-to-haves'? It's possible that the web team you're working with can release your basic site, with enough features to start returning on your investment, until you're ready to take that to a second phase of development to accelerate things further, and it could still be a vast improvement on what is there today (which could be doing you more harm than good, if it's not responsive for mobiles, for example).
- The thing to bear in mind with scope, is that the more functionality you require in order to fulfil your business needs and your brief, not only will there be more to build, but also more to test and to maintain. There will also be a larger amount of 'unknowns' that will surface once the build commences on your project. A good web team will advise how best to handle this, and will plan for it up front rather than praying that the specification is 100% perfect, or blindly driving on, delivering what's in the specification even though it may not be quite what you want (trust us, on a complex set of requirements, a perfect specification is impossible - there will be questions and refinements that come up, and so there should be!).
- However - if you do have a long list of requirements, then speak to your web team, as what seems complex to you may not actually be complex to them, and vice versa.
- How business critical your site is, how robust it needs to be, and how complex you need it to be will all dictate the risk level - you need to ensure that you have the appropriate level of planning and support to mitigate those risks.
- There's also uptime and performance to consider - the sort of hosting you may need for a fairly basic site with a thousand visitors a month will be very different to the sort of hosting you'll need for a business critical system that has thousands of users a day.
- For a very high-availability site, you may also need uptime monitoring, and 'self-healing' scripts set up, or you could need a 'load balanced' system (where, if one server goes down for any reason, another jumps in immediately to take its place, all seamless to the user).
- You may also want the security of having a web team at the end of a phone, available to help whenever you need them, or a certain amount of their time each month secured for some website analysis, to check that your site is performing how you expect.
So it's clear - both these factors will have the biggest effect on the cost. That and of course finding a web team who you feel are the right team for the job (see part 2 of this series), and whose daily rate seems reasonable to you for the value and skills they provide.
But there's a third key piece you need to consider which will put that cost in context. The all-important 'ROI', or 'Return On Investment'.
The question should really be, "How long will it take for me to see a return on my investment?"