Website Design: Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO) Really Does Matter

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Overly focusing on “Cost” versus “TCO” can often lead you to make decisions you might live to regret for a while to come! When speaking with a web designer about building your company website, the discussion about cost often overshadows all other conversations. 


Not that cost is an insignificant item in the entire deliberations, but many business owners can sometimes get mislead by how some web developers reference “cost”. If you are about to enter into a website development contract in the short to medium terms, read on to learn everything you need to know about web designing costs, before  you sign on the dotted line.  

Cheaper Is Not Always Better 

We all love a bargain, and are always on the lookout for better deals. That's human nature – every one of us does it. But when it comes to website designing, “cheaper” is often not be the best choice at all. That does not mean that you shouldn’t hold tough negotiations with the web design team; nor does it mean that you shouldn’t bargain for cost reductions for ongoing maintenance and website management. What that does mean though is that you shouldn't just look at the “Initial Cost", but at "Total Cost" of owning your website over, we would suggest, the coming 3 years.

As a business person, you may be intimately familiar with the two terms: “Initial Cost" and "Total Cost" . However, in the online world of website ownership, the two terms may hold vastly different meanings, depending on who your web design company is. And that’s where you could end up making the wrong choice and costing your business the price of 2 or 3 websites.

A 'fly by night' shop will probably quote you a very low fee - €1,000 – just to get your business, while others may quote you twice as much because they're giving you the actual cost of building a business ready, ready-to-go-live website..You will probably be asking yourself: Should I really be paying €2,000 when there is a cheaper alternate available? The answer may startle you.

You could end up discovering that it is actually the “cheaper” web designer that is likely "ripping you off". Here’s why?

1. The cheaper quotes may be just including the bare minimum as part of their quote. Sure, you’ll end up with a functional website – but barely! But once you have paid your non refundable deposit you're in the net and everything there after, even for the basics of a standard website, are extras.

2. The cheap web designers will probably sub-contract out their work to other sub-contractors who then further sub-contract out...resulting in your website NOT being designed by the people you talked to and paid, but by someone that is overseas and doesn't even understand what you need! And that 3rd party involvement is reflected in the product you are delivered with – it's barely up to standard and is not good value for money. 

3. The cheap web design firm may not be including website management or web hosting for the coming year in the price – you’ll need to pay extra for that – and in most cases you don't want to be setting that up yourself. It's much better for your website, your business and for your peace of mind of have that looked after by a professional website team who are experienced in Website Management. A lot goes on behind the scenes in keeping a website live, secure and up to date. It will pay you back a hundred times over to have a professional crew managing that for you. 

The cheap web designers offering means that the TOTAL cost of owning your website will likely    be MUCH higher than what they’ve quoted – it's just that they have left out lots of essential website elements and services and they didn't consult you – they just hoped you wouldn't notice until the deposit was paid.  The best way to avoid this is to sit down face to face with your prospective web design service providers and talk to them about everything, be prepared for the meeting, get all your questions answered and then go with your gut feeling.

4. The cheapest quote companies are just “selling" you a website - NOT offering you a SOLUTION, like the other providers are. For example, they could charge you extra for standard tools, like Google Analytics, which the other developers will include as part of their TOTAL overall solution cost. Or, they charge extra for contact forms, google maps, site-maps, content management system,  content management system training...and the list goes on. You need to get prepared to find out a bit about what each of your quotations actually contains. What is included in each and what is not? The cheapest quote is not the cheapest if it contains half of the essential website features of the other quotes – which you will end up needing in a few weeks or months and will have to pay more for then.

5. The cheap quote websites in most cases not allow you to manage and maintain your own content with an easy to use content management system, resulting in you needing to pay the website developer additional fees each time you want anything changed on the site – and these quotes are frequently significantly higher than the original quote. Ask your website developer to do a demo for you of the content management system they will use on your site – ask them if they can show you how to add pages, add photos, move page sot different sections etc. Now you will know if a content management system comes in your website package and if it's usable.

6. The  web designer for a cheap-quote company often uses rigid “hard code” design techniques, compared to the flexibility offered by the other., more professional developers. As a result, alterations in the layout of pages or new functionality is akin to starting the website again in that it's not a clever , 'reusable', 'modifiable' system – but a badly built, badly coded system and significant costs will be incurred if your new new layouts, features in the future. To deal with this, ask your website designer to confirm in the contract that that is to the case and ask them to explain how to can guarantee that for you.

It All Adds Up! 

Very often, the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of your web design efforts can be significantly downplayed by less professional web developers, in the hope that they can secure your business with a deposit at all costs – and let you find out about all the extras later. However, by the time you go live and realise that you didn’t get what you had hoped (or paid!) for its often too late. You are less likely to switch to another designer – and that’s exactly what they are counting on. You’ll likely end up paying 3 to 4 times, over the coming 3 years, what the other web design companies were quoting you up-front for.

To ensure that you receive best value for your money, have a detailed face to face meeting and discuss the TOTAL cost of ownership with them. Come to the meeting with your questions ready and your notes prepared. Ask questions until you have no more to ask. Ask them to show you an example of whatever they are saying. You want them to show you how they are really delivering a complete solution that will support your business for the coming years, and not just another starter website for a budget price – initially.

If you'd like to discuss your website plans and discuss Total Cost of Ownership to manage your website costs, give us a call on 01 6216866 or .