This is probably the top question we get asked in casual conversation when people discover we run a web company.
It's a question that doesn't have a black and white answer.
You see, websites are like houses. They come in different sizes, have differing features, meeting various needs of the owner and of course come at different price points. Will your house have 3 bedrooms? A garden? Perhaps even a pool?
The thing we try to make clear to potential clients is that with a website, you may not need all of these things upfront. Go with the essentials, invest time and care in your site, save some more money and implement feature X in 6 months or a year. Your website shouldn't be a one-off investment, it should be growing organically.
Design and development is an investment in experience and time. While it's tough to adequately measure the value of experience, time depends on the complexity of features.
Last year we were speaking to a potential customer about building a store for their business. We were given a rather lengthy feature list of 'must haves' for the site. After some discussion, we managed to narrow the scope to a core set of essentials that the project would need in phase 1, basically a feature set that their business couldn't operate without.
One of the main things for them, as it is for most organisations now, was for their website to be functional on small screens and tablets. We put together a considered proposal on the basis of building out a core platform that could be enhanced with time as needed. The first question we were asked was 'can you do it any cheaper?'. Now that's a fair question in the process of business negotiation but we always give our best price, discounting our services cheapens the value of our work.
We never heard from that prospect again - even to say 'thanks but you guys were a little bit expensive for us'. Then, more than 6 months down the line I checked their website. They'd hired another firm (which happens) but I noticed that at least 3 of the 'core features' from the set we had agreed on hadn't been implemented - and that was only on the front-end.
If the prospect had come back to us and said "you know, if we can cut X, Y and Z from the project - what are we looking at?" we'd have been in a position to say the price would have dropped.
If you're about to engage with a web company, share your budget with them. You'll save yourself and them time in getting the right solution within your budget otherwise you could end up being recommended a mansion when all you have the budget for is a 1 bedroom flat.
We always get prospects to complete our client worksheet which helps us to ascertain budget and requirements. Questions such as, 'Does the redesign need copywriting?', 'Will your site require a system for managing content without us', help to get a general feel for the timing and scale of their project.
Remember, you don't need to move into everything you've ever wanted - you can upgrade the kitchen, convert the loft and landscape the garden further down the line. Having the foundation, walls and roof are the essentials.