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Following my previous two articles on both Microsite/App (part 2) and A Beautiful App/Microsite to showcases your products & services (part 1), I was asked by some readers on the costs and general development rates for the solutions discussed. I also wanted to discuss some of the newer technology like, VR, Cortana, Siri, Google Now and Alexa that have started to change the way people are interfacing with computers and mobile devices and Internet of Things.

Just a few years ago, managing your digital presence was simple: have a great website and broaden your reach via social channels and you were done! However, now the world has shifted, and digital channels are exploding, whilst your target audience spends less time on your online content and more time on apps, chatbots, digital assistants and Internet of Things (IoT).

Your audience uses voice commands while driving, an app in the supermarket checkout line and an Amazon Alexa Echo while cooking. These newer systems fundamentally leverage new technology and architectures like Natural Language Processing (NLP), Artificial Intelligence, and microservices and at a remarkable speed changing the ways users reach your content, and we need to be ready and prepared to deal with them for our online solutions.

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Even if the bulk of your workforce still has hands from flesh and blood, a trend in the corporate landscape is unmistakable. The interface between people and companies and their web content are becoming more and more sophisticated, and artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just a tool in the background but sets new standards in the competition for markets and how the workforce deals with their introductions in everyday life.

AI accelerates innovation

The Web and Mobile Apps will continue to evolve to embrace market trends around client-side development, cloud-based features, and microservices. However, the changes brought about with new tools aided by Artificial Intelligence is fast changing digital landscape. Whilst, AI is helping organisations to improve working together across industry and country boundaries, It also provides new opportunities for good content developers to deliver innovative new products that can leverage the new found AI-aided solutions.In this blog, I will try and explain the costs in 2017, associated with building a Website, Microsite, Web App on iOS and Android with and without consideration to the above new technologies. This article also should help to work out an approximate budget you are going to need to upgrade or create a brand new web solution.

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Beyond Web Publishing

It is becoming apparent to many marketing consultants that it is no longer good enough for a Web Content Management System (WCMS) just to publish content to one's website. As we move from sometimes on to always on internet paradigm, it is becoming necessary to reach out to "wherever your customer is". There are many low-cost solutions out there that can get a start-up or a new project with shoestring budget going online. However, the more advanced solutions that include building microservices using AWS Lambda to integrate Amazon Alexa into your own web applications will require experts to guide one through the complexities and the challenges that these new technologies bring to the table.

Very low-cost solutions are usually informational only, but if they are to be responsive design, then, they will require some knowledge of the internet protocols. You can also build low-cost solutions with the help of remote overseas freelancers and developers that typically can make it to acceptable standards. However a year down the line, their status might have changed and therefore, re-deploying them for an updates, or bug fix becomes tedious as they may be working on other projects or just moved on.

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Also, in 2017 the boundaries between content and the Content Management Systems are less defined. The content quality and how it is presented is probably still more important than the backend technology (CMS) used in building the website/app solution. These days it is possible to put up a brand new site in a matter of hours after the template is designed and approved. However, the content in the form of informational videos, VR, Drone video/photography, and storyboards that are becoming more involved sometimes are tough to implement for none developers! The bigger organisations or technologically savvy start-ups do understand the need to embrace the best of what the web has to offer and have the funding to employ developers that can ensure to remain current and implement the more recent marketing strategies.

The range for the developer costs;

Hourly rates may vary from $/€/£ 10 per hour for offshore low-end developers to $/€/£150 per hour for North American or European high-end agencies that have smart offices, full-time employees. The solutions provided vary tremendously for a straightforward and rather basic website/Applications all the way to significantly advanced solutions with a bright, crisp easy to navigate design, superb usability, and functionalities that you really need. Furthermore, at some point in the future, you may need to be able to update your application quickly. Therefore, you would need to reach the original developers quickly and have them available to bring about the changes you need.

Budgeting to develop your web solutions;

Some organisations have enough internal expertise or the funds to hire local freelancers to do part of the development, and this always will save costs compared with handing over the whole development to external agencies. When this happens, most agencies can live with that. However, the high-end firms would not like to cut corners and produce a product that does not comply with their ethos or does not fit in their portfolio standards and potentially may dent their reputation and may well decline to help.

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Simple, Informational, Small Business Website (no E-commerce, marketing-focus):

Typically a well designed and well-implemented website using a good Content Management System (CMS) takes around 75 hours or more based on complexities to build. A templated microsite will take around 45 hours to make and somewhere between the two based on size.

These types of websites or Microsites are among mostly simplified informational and For a start-up usually, between 5-10 pages is sufficient, and they are likely to have limited functionality and needs very few if any, plugins. There are also organisations that wish to redesign or refresh their website or are ready to develop a dedicated online presence and typically include the following specifications:

  • The business provides logo and text content and possibly existing graphics
  • Website consists of approximately 5-10 pages
  • Social Media links and feeds
  • Ability to insert Blog and News Articles
  • Email newsletter signup and feedback forms
  • Other minor features: calendar, gallery, slideshow, streaming videos from YouTube or Vimeo etc...

Mid-size, Informational, Business Website with a large number of pages (no E-commerce, marketing-focus):

These types of websites are primarily informational and have all the components of the simple website option above but with additional sub-pages and options. These websites typically include following specifications:

  • Client has existing branding collateral, logo and text content and possibly some graphics
  • Website consists of approximately 10-50 pages
  • Social Media links and feeds
  • Ability to insert Blog and News Article module
  • Email newsletter signup as well as Feedback forms and ability to create custom forms to capture specific request from public
  • Other features: Calendar, gallery, slideshow, simple subscription, simple E-commerce (1-50 products - simple shipping methods), file upload document management modules, etc.... and some CMS can have a big range of extensions that can be added on.

You should choose an option that allows you to upgrade and add extra functionalities to the solution in the future. The web’s digital language, HTML5, is now in its fifth version and is updated fairly regularly. The back end is the web server or the database engine may require regular updates. Therefore having the ability to tweak your site and keep it accessible quickly is important. It is also imperative to ensure that the solution is mobile friendly (responsive) given that this is now where the majority of traffic is originating.

Is Fixed Price an Option?

For a small to medium sized business to obtain a fixed price for the work on the website, you should write down all of your requirements to ensure that your designer/developer can deliver the site you want and need at the agreed price. Consider the following:

  • How many essential pages or sections are there?
  • What extra functionality do you need – picture gallery? eCommerce? Financial Video, VR, etc...?
  • What is the scope for future development?
  • What graphics or stock images do you need and the cost of their purchase if not originated by the developers?
  • Will it be mobile responsive? Can it deal with newer technology like, VR, Cortana, Siri, Google Now and Alexa and more...

Expect to pay (£/$/€) 750 - 3,000 for the total package. For this sort of website. Additionally, I would also suggest making a budget for monthly marketing campaigns that keep traffic coming to your site. @ Salaro.com based on requirements we can give fixed price where possible and they can start at around (£/$/€) 1000 for a microsite, or start-up website with up to 10 pages. The fixed prices will include the visuals and revisions to be approved before we start and the first year of hosting included.

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Medium sized organisations may require a larger web shop, E-commerce Website or a need for a companion Mobile Apps on iOS and Android:

This type of solutions is ideal for a medium to large size businesses that may have high traffic and therefore, require a dedicated server on the cloud or mini-cloud. The organisations may also have a wider range of products, more information to impart or who need advanced functionalities. Different departments may need their own child sites with dedicated administrators and editors. The administrators may need to allow customers and employees to reach them in a secure password protected area to exchange information or see details that are not visible to general public.

For companies contemplating launching a big website or web application, it can be highly beneficial to work with a dedicated partner, one that can offer all of the immediate and ongoing support that the project may require. In this kind of projects, try and find an agency with a dedicated account manager that ensures you are getting the best possible service and that they thoroughly understand your business and what you are trying to achieve.

Naturally, the larger the site, the longer it will take to build because the developers may have to wait for content to be provided to them or approved before it goes live. Using CMS allows you to edit text/images when necessary - however, in an advance responsive and mobile friendly era, you do need the developers near you to ensure they can bug fix the issues you may cause when you add your content. There may be unforeseen problems that are encountered along the way like accidental delete or the usual editor's mistakes, so these are not something that you can expect to fix in a hurry. It is for this reason that it may prove wise to agree on a set fee for the project up front, rather than by the hour.

We always do our best to provide fixed price for projects and 80% of times we can indeed do that. However there are occasions where the requirements are not clear, or there are upgrades to your legacy systems involved and since updating the back-end can result in issues that were not initially evident. Therefore, we state the caveats in the quote. Also, when we estimate the costs, we look at the potential complexity and the level of customer in-house expertise to calculate the number of required hours. Naturally, every project is different, but in the majority of times indeed we have been able to provide do a fixed price based on over 15 years of web development for over 1000 customers around the globe and stick to it.

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Features, Components, Content, VR and Video production

Other than all the standard components of a traditional website or web app, you may also have to factor in the price of future development or external plugins like VR, Professional Video production about your products or services as well as mobile phone applications that are a little more complex with built in Gamification.

Content production - The CMS we use allows you to do a lot of content production yourselves saving outsourcing costs. However, Responsive design or certain animation control may be required and therefore, you may need to get help from coders to make things happen. Cost varies depending on the size of the site or the complexities of the requirements. Our hourly rates can vary from (£/$/€) 30p/h to 150 p/h.

eCommerce plugins Advanced CMS Subscription License- There are many platforms and software available, and you can expect to pay between (£/$/€) 300 and 10,000 per year depending on the complexities and the number of products you are putting on sale.

Responsive / Mobile site - This can be included as part of the build costs with some agencies, but sometimes it is better to have an individual mobile site and prices can range from (£/$/€) 250 upwards. Again this depends on the required functionality.

License/cost of Plugins and Modules - This depends on the individual app or software development costs, or if built from scratch, the rate charged by a developers or agency can vary by experience. Plugins can include: News feeds, photo galleries, contact forms and surveys or E-commerce solutions as part of the CMS as plugins. We always provide you with a fixed price prior to work starting.

On-going Maintenance - This will usually be a monthly cost and will depend on the size of your site and whether an agency or developers is being used. Check to see what is included as part of your initial build package. At Salaro.com we always give fixed price for this part.

Website imagery (stock art) - unless you are a photographer and have your own images, you can usually buy pictures and graphics from sites various libraries out there. You can also use our licensed image library to reduce costs to as low as low as $1 per image based on size and some libraries mentioning no names are extremely greedy so we can advise accordingly.

Marketing / SEO - Some companies will offer a monthly fee of £99 to refine your content, make it more search-friendly and help drive traffic to your site. But with dedicated SEO/Marketing agencies, you can be looking at bespoke solutions that run into hundreds of pounds per month.

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Last year Google introduced a new tool called VR View, which enables you to embed immersive content into apps and websites. The offering utilises Google's 360 VR images or videos that can be viewed with a phone, a Cardboard viewer, or on a desktop computer. There are other solutions available to embed VR production. However, the big problem for the content creator is the tools required to develop the VR are rather expensive.

The Unreal Engine Editor is up and running in VR so that we can build VR content in VR. Using the Oculus Touch and HTC Vive motion controllers, your movement in the real world is mapped one-to-one in VR; you can reach out, grab, and manipulate objects just as you would in real life.

Currently, the best candidate for the use of VR in Business is its transformative power of experiential learning using augmented or virtual reality education solutions. These solutions actively engage learners resulting in faster learning, better retention, and improved decision making.

Let's make something great together

We’re professional, but we’re approachable too – expect to work with creative people with open minds and the ability to bring your ideas to life. If you’d like to drop by, we’d love to meet you. But naturally, it may not be possible due to the fact that most of our clients are scattered all around the world. However, we do have an excellent Project Management System (basecamp) that keeps you in touch with my team throughout the project life cycle. Also, we are always available to have a GoToMeeting chat over the web and share screen to get your requirements well understood.

Please do reach out to me here in Linked in or email me at Salar (at) salaro.com and we are happy to phone you or arrange a conference call with your team to see how we can help.

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    Woking, UK

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