Taming Your Cost

Taming Your Cost of Development

If you review the development process described briefly on the Process & Cost page, you’ll see that some of those steps are ones that you can undertake in preparation for bringing in the designer. Part of the initial planning process is determining what the client wants the site to look like and what features it should have. You can do 90 percent of that on your own. Here’s how.

Explore what you want the site or publication to achieve? Who is your audience? What do they want from you? How can you serve them very, very well?

Next, find sites for ventures that are similar to your own. Sites that are trying to reach the same people you are. Bookmark them and then study them to determine what you like and dislike about them.

If your taste is representative of the audiences you wish to appeal to, really explore the web to find sites that are very attractive to you. Because nonprofit sites usually must appeal to the constituency it serves plus its donors and volunteers, the graphic appeal should be broad. Bookmark the ones you like. But go further: Look at them and figure out what it is you like and dislike about it. Do this for a dozen or two dozen sites. If your taste is not representative, find someone who is and ask them to do the same.

Study your competitor’s sites. Again, what do you like and dislike about each? What’s worth imitating and what should be avoided?

Don’t forget to ask your staff for their input.

Other areas where costs can be contained:

During the development process, it is very, very common for the scope of the work and the features to dramatically increase. Scope creep and feature creep will add considerably to the cost of the site. When considering new features and online services, ask if it will genuinely enhance your organization and the work you do. Is it worth the cost?

Keep the launch date flexible so that resources don’t need to be expended because of an unnecessarily tight schedule. Provide the content (text, photos, etc.) to the designer on time so that those delays don’t prompt a scramble either.

Also keep an eye out for how expensive the site and its features are going to be to maintained and kept current. Make sure your designer can recommend a good but inexpensive content management system so that the designer won’t be making the unnecessarily expensive content updates to the site.

The most important step to contain your cost may be to hire a small firm or individual. Their fees average one-fourth that charged by large design firms. The lack of overhead and broad capabilities saves you money.

And be sure to hire someone who knows the nonprofit world. Lots of quality photographs, software and other products and services are available to nonprofits at a fraction of the normal cost. Your designer should be very conversant with those resources.