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Should you tell a web design agency your budget?

Published on Wednesday, August 23rd 2017 by Aaron Whiffin

When a client gives a web agency their tender or specification they are quite often asked for their budget. Some clients are more than happy to disclose this information, whilst others hold their cards close their chest and prefer to keep it secret.

By telling your web designer your budget are you helping them provide a more tailored solution, or just giving them the chance to raise their prices and get you to write them a bigger cheque?

Obviously all web agencies are different, but most of us are trustworthy and really want our clients’ websites to be a success; after all the more success they have the more likely they are to come back to us for more work or refer us to others. There needs to be a mutual trust between clients and web developers for a long-term relationship to work, and ideally needs to be there from the outset.

Every website we make is bespoke; even if we consider something basic there are always ifs and buts, and so prices don’t necessarily transfer from one project to another.

A good analogy would be the purchase of a new house. When a buyer visits an estate agent they give a specification such as “three bedroom semi-detached” and typically a budget such as “£250,000”, and the estate agent will find properties that best suit their requirements.

If they didn’t give the estate agent a budget they could quite legitimately give the buyer a cheaper three bedroom house (perhaps for £180,000 in a less-affluent area), or a more expensive three bedroom house (perhaps for £320,000 with a garage, larger garden, conservatory and driveway).

All of these houses match the original specification perfectly, but it’s very unlikely that the buyer would want to purchase either a £180,000 or £320,000 house if their budget is in the middle as one isn't as good as they want and one is too expensive.

Furthermore, if a buyer went to an estate agent and asked them to provide their single ‘recommended’ three bedroom semi-detached house (without specifying a budget), and asked the same question to say four other estate agents, they would of course receive five proposals for five different houses, all three bedroom and semi-detached, but all at different prices.

If the buyer then chose one of these five houses they’d end up doing so based on price as they'd work to their budget (which was held back from the estate agents originally).

This of course isn’t fair on the estate agent as they’re guessing what the client wants, and more importantly isn’t fair on the buyer as they have far less of a range of affordable properties. In reality most estate agents could probably help them find an ideal house, but the buyer has made life difficult for them by holding back on the finer details.

The best thing the buyer could do is choose an estate agent that they like, give them their specification and budget, and then discuss various options matching them. They could see what they get for their money, how much extras such as garages and conservatories cost… and then make an educated choice from many properties matching their criteria and individual taste.

The same principal applies with website design; there are lots of different solutions, especially if you include search engine optimisation and online marketing. A 20-page website isn’t just that, I could easily provide an examples of a very good 20-page website, and a very bad 20-page website, both fulfilling the ’20 page website’ specification, but both being completely different products at completely different prices.

The best way to ensure that you get the best deal from a website design agency is to:

  1. Give them a specification
  2. Give them a budget
  3. Be prepared to discuss different options and solutions with them

“Building an effective website requires collaboration between the web design agency and the client”

By doing this you can ensure that they will be giving you the best solution and if you’re comparing more than one web design agency you can be assured that you’re comparing like-for-like.

As a society we happily do this when buying properties or cars, but we seem to put our shields up when it comes to buying other things, such as websites.

By holding your budgets back you not only make life much harder for the website designers as you're forcing them to guess at an optimal solution, but also shooting yourselves in the foot as you’re preventing the professionals from helping you in the best way they can.

So we’d always suggest finding a web designer you can trust, and then being open with them. They’ll be open back, and everyone wins.

We are Webbed Feet UK, we are a web design agency in Salisbury.

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