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The $5,000 Website

There is no such thing as a branded $5,000 website.

There is no such thing as a branded $5,000 website.

There certainly exist many people who will design and build a business or nonprofit website for $5,000 or even less for that matter, but in doing this, they are inevitably leaving aside much of the essential stuff that makes a website effective. Among the important things that probably populate the “left out” list are consumer/brand and competitive research, original photography, copywriting, original design application of a brand strategy, integration and training on a content management engine of some kind, etc. Leave out a few of these things, and you can still have a website, but unless you are really lucky, I doubt it will be all that effective.

If you are in the B2B space, a poorly branded website can cost you dearly in lost opportunity. See Invisible Consequences.

If you are a nonprofit organization, a poorly branded website can cost you in a variety of ways including limiting your ability to articulate your mission and thus garner support and justify your funding from whatever sources. See Brand as Defense Against Attack and Brand Impact on CSI Reports.

All the details of your brand expression matter.

All the details of your brand expression matter. Regardless of how conscious your brand consumers are of those details, they are most certainly affected by them, and are responding to them in terms of your brand’s meaning and importance to them. If a website is not built on a strong brand foundation—one that reflects the true assets of the brand—if it is not targeted and does not clearly articulate the brand value in the face of the competition, it will almost certainly underperform if not outright fail to perform.

I was in a meeting with a service business prospect last week. They are a very high-end B2B firm, and they know they need a better website to support and facilitate their sales process. They were collecting bids based on the creators of sites from some of their competitors. When they called us in, they had already received two bids, but were deeply perplexed by them.

The two proposals were ostensibly both offering the same thing in answer to the same request, but one was for $5,000, and the other was for $75,000. How, they wondered, could the same product have such radically differing cost estimates?

If a website is not built on a strong brand foundation, it will almost certainly underperform if not outright fail to perform.

The short answer to this question is that the two bids are not offering the same product at all. I am speculating, but I am almost certain that the $5,000 bid represents little more than a skinned template re-purposing existing art and copy, and that it will be built on the basis of an existing “brand” defined as a logo and color scheme. This is not, to my view, a fully branded website, and it will not support their sales process any better than their current site does. So to spend this money would very likely be a waste of time for them. The client in this case fully understood this. Others may not.

The other bid for $75,000 was, I hope, a from scratch redevelopment of this company’s online brand, and a custom build-out derived from a carefully thought through and fully developed brand concept to be derived through research. The website should, for this money, be re-imagined through the lens of the new or updated brand, and most or all of the brand assets (text, images, design and marketing plan) would need to be recast accordingly. This would justify the price for what will, in the end, still essentially be a high-end brochure.

But what of that $5,000 website? The market for this clearly exists and if you Google “$5,000 website” you have people discussing $5,000 websites as if they were the Cadillac of the web world. I’m sure this is very confusing for people. If $5,000 is really your budget, I would actually recommended that you drop the idea of doing a branded website at all. Put up a Facebook page instead. This is less likely to damage your brand and confuse your brand consumer. You can then spend the extra money for social media or other online brand building activities. This is far better, I think, than spending it on a half-baked, half-branded website.

Just a thought.

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