Just the Facts – Planning and Budgeting for your First Web Site

By Nora Camps R.G.D.
DUO Strategy and Design Inc.

So you are starting a new business, because you believe there is a very real opportunity for you to succeed. Our experience shows that skewing your web site for success by investing in smart technology up front will actually contribute to the success of your business – and save you considerable money over the first two years and beyond.

Seventeen years of experience distilled into some business truisms:

  • New businesses wish to succeed.
  • New businesses want to reduce start-up costs until there is sufficient revenue stream to warrant expenditures.
  • Businesses change their market strategy and offering over time.
  • The web is an essential tool for due diligence and broad marketing
  • Small business requires people and processes to be entirely flexible
  • Most new business do not plan to succeed from a budgeting point of view. (Example: Marketing and Communications budgets for year 2 are frequently inaccurate to 60% or more of actual requirements.)

Allow me to share a typical web project brief
“This new business has 0 in revenue. We don’t want to invest a lot of money into the web site right now until there are solid indicators of success, and some revenue stream. Please quote to build an HTML Just the Facts – web site”.

“We want:

  • a snazzy Flash opening
  • a description of what it is
  • some About Us copy,
  • include the key business players with biography and photos
  • a News Release section
  • a Contact Us form”

I begin these conversations by providing a quote for roughly $5,500.00 depending on who provides copy, images and so forth – then I take a deep breath�

I am compelled to share the following scenario because this example is true to about 90% of the launch web sites we build. Hedging one’s bets now and looking six months down the road will demonstrate that a better, more economical solution is at hand RIGHT NOW.

Apply business case thinking
Our experience with Just the Facts web sites is that there is generally an additional $3,000-5,000 worth of HTML modifications over the first quarter of early launch activity – adding people, changing biographies and generally evolving the language and details of the offer. – I say, “If you want to hedge your bets when budgeting for your web site, count on the need to change it”.

REALITY for this Just the Facts web site: Total Cost of your HTML site after 4 months could very well be $8,000.00+ when all the requested modifications are factored in. Now consider the typical launch and early business cycle:

    Typical Launch and Early Business Cycle (derived from our own experience)

    1. Marketing Story refocuses according to early activity/experience
    2. New project examples and testimonials enrich the online story
    3. Offer changes/restructures requiring modified navigation and new pages
    4. Change photos/illustrations to freshen the site for repeat visitors
    5. Add Partners/Affiliate sections – as database
    6. Add Employment/Career area – as database
    7. Include Case Study directory by industry or by technology – as database

Here’s the RUB

If the Just the Facts HTML website was adapted to accommodate the seven points above, the Total Cost could easily be $ 45,000.00. Remember there was no master plan for this architecture and design of the site, so while the business components are available on line, the usability, user experience and ‘look and feel’ are likely very, very poor. Your current site is not at all how you want clients and prospects to think of your business. Difficult, poorly planned and without symmetry or focus.

It’s not over yet�

Don’t forget that this company still requires the services of a web master to make the site updates in HTML. Budget an additional $2,000.00 a month for site updates. By the way, updates usually take one full day to upload – if your web master isn’t too busy. No just-in-time publishing for you.

Soon there are plans for a new web site

Clearly the old site, led by the just-in-time evolution of the company, does not now bespeak the company’s values or brand, and it is anything but intuitive for the user and it is not at all easy to update. A new web site looms large on the horizon.

Let’s take a moment now to review Best Practices for web development and business operation as we know it.

Best Practices

  1. Flexibility (ability to add/delete unlimited pages and 2nd/3rd level navigation)
  2. Browser based access to simple authoring area – no HTML skill required
  3. Highly interactive site – with ability for pushing and pulling information
  4. Absolute ease of use from an administrator’s point of view. Very similar to Microsoft publishing interface.

We don’t want to rebuild your web site every two years.

You shouldn’t want to pay for it!

Based on our web experience over the last 6 years, we saw a real need for a flexible web concept that addresses the market’s web requirements at the outset, and then allows a company to grow into their web site literally – over 5 years or more. Flexible, just-in-time publishing across the company, rich in graphics, and SIMPLE to use (no user courses, not now – not ever).

As much as you don’t want to go through the painful experience of managing and paying for a new web site every year or so� We are sure you DO WANT to develop your site, your E-business model, and add more and more functionality to the site enriching the visitors experience and streamlining many of your company processes and back-end applications.

Today, you can have a site that meets the top 4 objectives (above) and speaks to your wish list, which may look like this:

  • site modifications and enhancements are done by Sales, Marketing, Business Development and Administration functional areas through a very simple Administration panel with password access.
  • new site could well serve the company over the next 5 years.
  • Reasonable price
  • Design, Build, Launch in 9 weeks

Successful businesses and people have 4 behaviors in common:

  1. They model their behavior on other successes – capitalize on what works and make it your own.
  2. They have a distinct personality or a differentiated presence and they broadcast that presence, brand and belief through every facet of the site.
  3. They prepare and hone how they talk about what they offer and they constantly learn, hone and change as they go.
  4. Finally, they believe that they should be successful and that what they have to offer in the way of product or service is needed, interesting and a good value.

Apply these behaviors to your first web site. Please don’t build a site according to what you think you need NOW. Build a web site according to what you WANT your business to be and base all your decision on being successful.

We want to help you use your web site to realize higher sales, better efficiencies and broadcast your company culture and beliefs to any visitor kind enough to stop by. We want to help you plan your site and your electronic business based on value over time – right from the start.

[email protected]


Nora Camps is the founder and principal of DUO Strategy and Design, a 17-year-old prodigy of the Canadian marketing communications industry. The company reflects Nora’s vision: using leading-edge design and strategic thinking to produce uniquely effective corporate communications.

DUO has built enduring relationships with a whole range of clients, both large and small. Most recently, Nora has spearheaded her company’s drive into the area of new media. Under her leadership, DUO has become one of the pre-eminent Canadian companies in the area of interactive web-site design. You are welcome to contact Nora at [email protected]