A while back, a friend had asked the following: “Do me a favor and take the time to review these website proposals. Afterwards, I would be interested in your opinion as to which proposal best addresses our needs given our current positioning strategy, market thrust and budgets.” The question was asked by an experienced Marketing Manager with a good understanding of the technology involved.
It took but a cursory review to reveal that only one of the four proposals was prepared by an individual with knowledge of the company’s business and market. The others, for the most part, consisted of rambling techie talk that failed to address the goals and objectives outlined during initial meetings. Based on the website proposals we have seen, this scenario is not uncommon.

The Most Common Problems
1. An inability (or in some cases an unwillingness) to present the proposal in language the
prospect or client will understand.
2. Not taking the time to learn at least something about the prospect or client’s business
and market.
3. Neglecting to clearly define how issues beyond the scope of work (primarily
client-requested modifications) will be managed and invoiced. We have seen companies
billed thousands of dollars for AA costs (Author’s Alterations) they never knew they were
incurring.

Our Follow-up
1. We reviewed the proposals and contacted each developer to clarify questions we had.
2. Based on our review and subsequent discussions, we recommended a developer.
3. We then went back and reviewed all content and functionality with the company.
Once the content and functionality was approved as final, we went back to the developer with a detailed scope of work and site map upon which to base his final time and cost estimate.

How Much Should A Website Cost?
We have all seen the TV ads promoting template-based websites where the only cost to you is a minimal monthly fee. For a small business owner with basic computer skills, the approach may be all he or she needs. At the other end of the spectrum, most marketing professionals have seen development proposals for complex websites and/or mobile apps approaching six figures. More often than not, the difference lies in the predetermined scope of work – predetermined being the key word. The more care taken in determining the scope of work, the less chance of additional charges becoming an issue.