Budgeting for Your Website Project — Considerations Beyond Money

Building and updating websites continues to be a complicated process for practitioners and lay persons alike. Keeping pace with the steady advancement of technology across browsers, devices, and operating systems is challenging. Factors such as cost and process are confusing because these aspects of website creation are constantly evolving, too.

There are many different ways to approach a website project. A small budget does not necessarily preclude the ability to have a professional and elegant online presence. Think of costs in terms of resources and responsibility. The resources you have and your ability to assume responsibility for specific steps in the process can dramatically influence the cost of your project.


For any new website build or redesign, there are four resources* you'll need to consider: 


Every organization has money or it wouldn’t be in business. The amount of money you have is determined by what you prioritize to spend your money on.

You may or may not have technical or design knowledge yourself or within your team. If you don't, you can hire these out, or if you have the time, you could feasibly gain these skills.

The most restricted resource for almost everyone is time. 

Most people are lacking in at least one of these resources. It’s helpful to evaluate yourself or your organization in each of these areas. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being none and 5 being unlimited, ask yourself: How much of each of these resources do I have?


There are five important steps to a website construction or redesign process. Failure to recognize and plan for any of these aspects can derail your project. Don’t let this happen to you!


1) Hosting & set-up

Before you can start building a new site, you will need to set up a hosting environment, purchase domain names, and install any software that may be needed to run your site.


2) Learning

Working with technology requires constant learning to keep pace with change. If you have selected a platform you are unfamiliar with, be sure to allocate time for learning and experimentation. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for frustration.


3) Content creation

The third step, collecting and creating content, is the hardest and most involved. Content is the most critical aspect of your site. In our experience most people underestimate the amount of time and effort it will take to get words and images together for their website. 


4) Design and development

Content development goes hand in hand with designing and programming the graphical interface for your site, since the look and functionality of your site impact how well your words and images communicate the messages you intend to deliver.


5) Maintenance

The final step, maintenance, is one that many people underestimate in terms of importance. Maintenance covers all manner of tasks related to fixing bugs, updating platforms, ensuring compliance with browsers and operating systems, and establishing strong security.

For each of these points, the important question to ask is: Am I willing — and able — to be responsible for this step, or will I need to hire outside assistance?

Breaking down costs for a website build or redesign into resources and responsibilities will help you understand and plan an appropriate budget. For example, if you have a lot of time but little money, you may be willing to assume responsibility for researching and selecting a host service provider, purchasing your domain name, setting up your account, and familiarizing yourself with the environment. These tasks are not necessarily difficult but they do take time and a level of confidence. Or consider this scenario: you are short on time (there's an upcoming event for which you need a new website), and you have a high degree of technical skills and monetary resources. While you may need to spend more money initially to hire a development team who can get the site built and launched quickly, your budget for ongoing support and maintenance would be lower since you have the ability to manage those tasks internally. 

You may not know everything about building a website, but you are the best one to evaluate your level of resources and your willingness to take on responsibility and that knowledge will guide you in the process of establishing a budget that aligns with your needs, abilities, and priorities.

*Four resources model adapted from Website Builder Expert

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Lisa Mullis