How can I save money on my website?
Focus on planning.
Nowhere is the adage “time equals money” more true than in web development. Your budget translates into a certain amount of time that our designers, strategists and developers can spend creating or improving your site.
So saving time is saving money.
We have a lot of ideas about how to do that, but let’s start with the three that really make or break a budget.
#1: Prioritize the most important features
Does that sound obvious? About 80% of software features are rarely or infrequently used. So start by identifying the critical features of your site and making those work for your users - that’s where your value is. Once these mission critical features are perfected, you can think about whether your secondary features are worth the cost. The best way to save money is to avoid paying for work that you don’t really need.
#2: Plan twice, build once
It is far more cost effective to spend extra time planning a feature and to build it out in phases, reassessing and tweaking as we go, than to get to a finished product and try to change what was already built. Nothing will eat your budget faster than making significant edits to existing features. Our agile development process is designed to get your feedback early and often by building and reviewing the site in phases, but we need you to make that a focus for your team as well. Dedicate time to reviewing drafts and getting feedback from all decision-makers throughout the process to avoid needing costly changes later.
#3: Content First
Clients often want to work on content development while we are building out their site. That’s totally fine. The problem comes when you don’t plan your content before we build. Your site is basically a frame for your content. Every design decision is made with your content structure in mind. If you change it after the frame is built, it no longer fits. Reworking the site to fit your new structure can be exponentially more expensive than doing it right the first time.
And some other ways to save money:
Yes, this was one of the Big 3 above, but we see a lot of money wasted through poor planning so we’re going there again. It is critical that your team spend time before the build to internally define strategic objectives, functional priorities and desired aesthetic. We are happy to help you with this phase of planning, which we call the Discovery Phase, but there is almost no way to build a site that meets your goals and maximizes your budget without these key pieces of information defined up-front. Without extensive planning, you’re going to violate pretty much every other rule for saving money on your build.
Figure out who your web team is. If you don’t have a team already responsible for this, put one together. Figure out who your decision-makers and stakeholders are. Who needs to review designs and prototypes to give feedback? Who needs to give approval? Building a whole site that your boss’ boss’ boss hates isn’t a good career move.
Have a web team ready? Pick a single point of contact. Let that person be the link between your team and ours. They will become an expert on the project details and ensure smooth communication. We will do the same on our side - our account manager will coordinate with all of our internal teams and with your client contact to streamline communication, saving time and money.
We are going to need feedback from you and your team to get your site just the way you want it. If you give it to us bit by bit, it takes far more time and is much more expensive to implement.
Get that web team together. Get those decision-makers together. Go over the deliverables we sent you and put together consolidated feedback from your team. You may not all agree at first - you may have to argue, or vote, or bribe - but if you bring us consolidated rounds of edits for each deliverable, we will save you a lot of money on your build. And it will save you a lot of time compared to going back and forth with us and your team with piecemeal changes.
Like buying a car or a house, the fancier the model, the more it costs. Same deal with web development. Here are some common upgrades that can eat a substantial portion of your budget. Sometimes the cost is worth it, when it is a critical feature of your site that brings value to your site visitors. But it is important to understand what you are paying for and if there are simpler, more-cost effective alternatives.
- Complex visual elements/design, Animations
- Custom forms and features (registration/donation)
- User areas (forums/members section)
- Dynamic/personalized content
- Third-party integrations
- Advanced security/accessibility
We use open source as much as possible to save you money on your site. This means that we use free, existing code as a foundation. Most of the time this is a great system. We can give you hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of functionality, and you pay a small fraction of that to customize it for your needs.
But since we are working with an existing foundation, that rule of planning before you build is a bit tougher. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to undo the existing code in order to make a relatively small customization.
This is another example of where prioritizing and focusing on the 20% of features that are critical to your users makes the difference. Letting us know which details are must-have and which are flexible means that we won’t spend unnecessary time and money on tiny details that aren’t really that important to you or your site visitors.
If you’re already a client, you’ve probably heard the oil change analogy from us before, but it’s true! Making sure your site is up-to-date with security and code updates means that there are fewer costly bugs and problems. It also means that when you need to make a site improvement, we can focus on that work instead of needing to bring your site up-to-date before we can even start.