The Process of Website Development
The process of developing a new website — or redesigning an existing one — involves a natural progression:
Determine whether you really need a website. (See sidebar.)
Analyze the larger arena and your audience. Where do you fit in the larger picture? What sets you apart? Whom do you serve? What do they need from the site?
Define the site’s goals and scope: what is the site intended to do; how elaborate does it need to be (see Taming the Cost); how soon; how costly?
Come up with good solutions. Determine the range of content. Create the site map, design the look.
Design the prototype. Finalize the graphic design, create a style guide, mock it up. Refine it again. And again.
Build and test the site: coding, optimizing graphics, scripting and pouring in the well-written content which has been provided on schedule. Test and correct.
Have someone seriously proof every bit of the content and test every link. Then proof and test the corrections. Then again.
Launch. Final check then release on time. Explore promotion options. Announce the site’s debut or redesign.
Evaluate and maintain. Fine tune as needed.
Adopt a system for easy, inexpensive maintenance and sustainability of the site without the ongoing involvement of the designer.
Estimating the Development Cost
The cost of designing and developing webpages is very much in line with the development costs of designing a professional brochure, annual report or other business publication. It’s not surprising because both use similar skills with the same intensity of effort. Based on the time usually involved, the initial design alone costs a couple of thousand dollars. The creation of the working web page to be used as a template costs several thousand more and then the creation of all the individual pages averages around $150 – 300 per page. A site with more than 30 or 40 pages will see economies of scale, although often a site that complex incorporates more sophisticated interactivity and other functions.
There are, however, ways to keep the costs down.
For very small or young nonprofits, we can at least offer some guidance about approaches to help you get an inexpensive website.