It’s one of the most frequently asked questions that we get, and one that gives far too many fresh produce marketers the heebie jeebies from days past: how much should a new website cost?
Brace yourself, because you may not like the answer: it depends.
I know, that probably doesn’t feel helpful to you in this moment. But stick with me and hopefully I can break things down in a way that helps you to think about a new website differently and in a way that better allows you to figure out what the right amount is to spend on it! So let’s start with understanding something important about websites:
Are websites tangible or intangible?
When going to buy a car or a house or a hot tub (like the one Megan asked Dan’l if we could build in the office last week) - you know what you're going to get. The end product is physical - it’s tangible. Some professional services can even provide a somewhat of a tangible end result, like getting cleaner teeth. So much of what we do as marketing professionals however, is intangible and therefore much harder to put a direct price tag on.
At DMA Solutions, we sell our time and websites, while producing what you could argue is a tangible end deliverable, takes time to create. A lot of time. The creation of a professional, high performing website is a service and not an off-the-shelf product.
What this means is that the cost of a new website can vary greatly depending on any number of factors from how it is built, to how many pages it has, to unique and custom functionality like interactive recipes or animation.
If an off-the-shelf, one and done product is what you are looking for, there are tons of services available to build a website at a set price. There are even pre-set templates you can purchase and plug your content into. For some companies, a templated approach might make sense and save a great deal of money. But for the vast majority of fresh produce brands seeking a website that will elevate their presence to both trade audiences and consumers, a custom-built, one-of-a-kind website is going to be what delivers the best results. So what happens when your executive leadership team wants you to get it done for as little spend as possible? Let’s talk about that next:
The problem with bargain hunting when it comes to marketing services
You have a choice between two services for your next teeth cleaning treatment: “The Luxurious Smiles Salon” or “Beverly’s Budget Dental.” One of them might save you a great deal of money - but which one would you feel most comfortable giving your business (or your teeth) to? Or let me give you something a little more intangible, like legal services. You could hire the team at Lawyers R US and save yourself some money, but you may not get the highest level of service, attention and expertise when it comes to solving your problems. As a result, the outcome of your legal woes may not make you a happy camper either.
You see where I am going with this. The same thing can be said of websites. The bottom line is that the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. Go with a bargain website and you may find yourself frustrated in a year or sometimes sooner with plugins that “break,” or pages that stop working or even security issues with hacks and vulnerability (your IT team just perked up to say “no thank you!”). And this does happen - we’ve seen it time and time again. Sometimes a bargain is great if you are going into it with the mindset that your new site is a short term solution to get you over a hump, but what if I told you that it might end up costing you more money in the long run? It could! So how do you decide what you actually need to spend?
How to decide what to spend on a new website
When we host a new website discovery call with a client, we’re often asking the same set of questions to help folks who aren’t sure where to start put some specific thought around their new site and what it needs to look like.
What does your website need to be able to do?
Maybe all you need is a simple website with your company story, a page for each of your products, and a contact us page. Or maybe you also need a recipe section. Or a blog. If so, how many recipes? Do you need any sort of special filtering? What if you want to have a customized interactive map of your growing regions, or animation/movement as you scroll? Is your head spinning yet with ALL of my questions? We know it can feel overwhelming, but taking the time to create a detailed brief outlining everything you want to include on your website and what sort of features you imagine it will have can go a long way in creating a starting point for you. Start by taking a look at other produce brands’ sites or even look outside the industry to get a feel for your likes and your dislikes and start making a list. Whoever is creating the new site will find this SO helpful to understand what you are looking for.
How soon do you need your new website?
Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are websites. On average, most of the websites we build at DMA for fresh produce brands take about 6 to 9 months. Some of the larger sites can take a year or more to build. Does that mean we can’t get you a new site in 4 months or less? Not necessarily, but what it means is that you may have to sacrifice some things that you want in order to meet your desired timeline. The good news is that if you want a site up and running more quickly, it means you are essentially going to be looking for a temporary fix - something that’s going to cost less right now because it’s going to have to have a lot less content if it’s going to be live by your deadline. It might not even be what you really want if it’s a quick fix, which means you may not be saving money in the long run. How important is that to you? If you are truly ready to invest in the website that you want to be able to have for the next several years, we recommend planning your timeline accordingly.
How much work are you willing to put in?
We often have website clients ask - how can we cut down on some hours in order to save money on this project? One of the best ways to do that is if you are willing to put in some of the work on your end. This could be in the form of writing all of the website copy, uploading all of the recipes or blog content, or being trained on how to update other aspects of the site. You will have to ask yourself how much you value having professional expertise to take the time to do certain things for you that you may simply not have time to do, or even help you make those things better. The more you need and value someone else’s time and expertise to support you on the project, the more you can expect to spend potentially.
How much CAN you spend?
With all of our years building websites for fresh produce companies, we understand having a predetermined budget in mind is a challenge, but having an idea of what you would be able to spend up front can make the subsequent conversations so much easier. We build fully custom websites, which means that we are typically able to create a custom solution for you based on the answers to all of these questions above. Knowing how much you can spend will help us identify for you the things you can realistically have now and the things you may not be able to have - right now.
If you’ve gotten this far, you might be saying “just give me the number, Mackenzie!” I wish it were that simple, but I'll bite. Depending on what you want, expect to spend anywhere from $15k - $100k+ on a new site. I know, a big range. Like I said, it really boils down to so many different factors, so answering the questions above for yourself will help you arrive at the right budget sooner. If you think you’ve spent too much on a website, ask us. We can tell you whether you did or whether you got a good deal. And if you aren’t sure whether or not you need a new website, our essential website audit service is for you!