I was recently approached by a prospect. After a brief phone conversation, they sent detailed specifications for a website design job, including software preferences, and a checklist of how they’re evaluating web designers. They also told me their budget.
I had LOTS of concerns by this point. The idealistic part of me wanted to tell them what was wrong with their approach and their budget. The practical part of me wanted to just move on to the next client, since they’d already made up their minds.
So I said “No, thank you.”
This is what I wish they’d understood; what I would have liked to have told them.
I think your approach is wrong and it’s woefully underfunded.
Let me use an analogy that might make sense.
Joe wants to go to California – he’s going to a convention, and decides to take his family to Disney World too.
He decides to buy a car for the trip – even though he doesn’t know how far away California IS and what the roads are like.
He decides he needs a BMW, but only has the budget for a Ford Focus.
He doesn’t budget for the trip itself – for gas or oil or meals or hotels.
Based on the evidence I’ve seen so far, your web design committee is doing something similar.
You have two goals (destinations) – more members for your association, and more customers for the members. You’re trying to please two groups of people. What they need, and what it will take to achieve each goal, is very different.
You’ve made a decision that a website – with very specific pages, functions and software – is how to get there, even though there are many ways to use the Internet to reach those goals.
You don’t have the budget for such an extensive site.
Plus you’ve asked me to use directory software that may not be compatible with a content management system such as WordPress. I can’t even find a price for that software – you have to talk to a sales rep to get it. (Remember that old saying, if you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it?)
There seems to be no money in the budget to market the site on an ongoing basis. If you want it to be found for all the search terms you mentioned, that does not happen automatically – you need to pay for search engine optimization or advertising. That’s several hundred dollars a month, minimum.
In my professional opinion, you need to back way up. Start over. You should be talking to professional web marketers (not just people who build websites) – and asking questions such as, “We’d like to use the Internet to accomplish these goals. This is our budget. What do you suggest we do?”
I’m afraid that if you don’t, in six months from now you’ll be looking for a “web designer” again, only you’ll be $2000 poorer.
Just in case you’re wondering, I’d suggest a smaller, more focused website and an aggressive Facebook marketing campaign.