A good way to plan for the future of your web site is to start building an annual budget for it. Publications have budgets. Ad campaigns have budgets. A budget isn’t just a dollar amount thrown down on a spreadsheet, but it is a plan of what it will cost to do what you want to do.
I would venture to say, 20 years plus into the lifetime of the Web, that most organizations do not really budget for their web site, either annually or longer term. They throw a dollar amount – usually a dollar amount that somebody came up with once and hasn’t been reviewed for accuracy or value since – and it becomes the official cost, year after year.
Owners of very large web sites do not do this, of course, because to become very large, you grow annually, and to grow annually, you have to increase your costs each year – and eventually somebody calls for a budget that is attached to a plan.
Owners of smaller web sites do not do this often in our experience. It is time they start doing so.
One of the biggest hidden costs of a web site is labor – either internal to the organization, or external with contractors. That labor can be the development of content, it can be the management of software, it can be the upgrading of security, etc. Usually it is all of these things and much more. But it is not really measured, and suddenly an organization may find that they do not have the staff to refresh the content of their web site, or they have to pay quite a bit to repair and cleanse an infected, improperly secured web site.
Part of the problem is that the owner of a web site may not know all the things that have cost in a web site. Below are just a few of the items that could be included in a budget, depending on how deep an organization can go in reviewing those costs. Some are relatively static, some are flexible based on demand and market conditions.
Relatively Static Annual Costs
– New content
– Editing existing content
– Reviewing Analytics to determine content values
New Technology Costs
– Software Review
– Software Plugins
– Software as a Service Subscriptions
Increasing Security Costs
– Web Site Security Software
– Email Security Software
Site Visibility Costs
– Search Engine Optimization
– Search Engine Marketing
– Social Media Content
– Social Media and other forms of online marketing
As you can see, it is very basic. We have attached an annual web site budget so you can customize your own. Once you start looking at the items and costs involved in a web site, it forces you to consider the goals behind those items and costs – even if only a little bit. And that’s a good thing for the future of your web site.