“I Want To Build a Website Just Like Google – But Simpler.”
Establishing Realistic Website Budget Expectations.
Every week we get several inquiries from enthusiastic entrepreneurs that start with, “I want to build a site like … Amazon, or Google, or Evite, or Match or Facebook or eBay.” The list goes on and on. Each of these entrepreneurs wants to take aspects of one of these archetypical websites and add their own “unique” business twist to create a new business. It’s hard not to be inspired by these web behemoths and see a universe of possibilities if it were just “tweaked to do this or that”.
Unfortunately I have to inform these hopefuls that Google, Facebook, Evite, etc., spent millions of dollars developing their websites and making them function as well as they do. I explain that it probably took a year of development with teams of developers to strategize and create these websites. After they launched, they still require full-time teams of managers, programmers, interface designers, marketers and other support staff to manage and maintain them. The annual hosting and hardware costs alone can run into the millions of dollars.
Many entrepreneurs refer to these million dollar sites because they are the best way they know how to communicate their business concept.
The good news is that there are many low-cost, open-source, software solutions that have been built to mimic the features of million dollar websites. It is possible to search for “clone of eBay” or “auction software” and get results that feature many companies that have developed similar code available for purchase or license. If this lower cost solution fits the entrepreneur’s business goals then we can customize it to the client’s business. Million dollar websites will often have custom-built solutions for complex features like customer service or membership. On the lower-cost side, there are pre-built plug-ins or extensions made by 3rd-party companies that can be purchased or licensed. Once integrated, these plug-ins can provide additional features at a fraction of the cost of building one from scratch.
All this being said, once someone has set their sights on a Google or eBay-type of website, it is hard to reset their expectations to anything less. I’ve heard clients complain, “but that’s not the way eBay does it.” I then have to remind them that compromise is necessary because a $25K budget can’t buy a million dollar website. Another important expectation to set is that post-launch there will be ongoing maintenance and marketing required. The more complex the website, the more maintenance is necessary.
I don’t want to discourage anyone out there. If you have a million dollars, then please contact us and we can build you the next million dollar web business. If you have much much less we can still probably work with you by finding creative and lower cost means to realize your business goals.
Make sure you have a good description of your project scope so you can get a realistic estimate. Fill out our Client Questionnaire and start the process.