If you've ever been involved in building a house, you probably already have some insight into how the process of building a new website is going to work.
Before the first brick is laid, many decisions will need to be made - from basic questions like how many rooms the house will require, to more subjective areas, like the layout of the bathroom.
In between are a range of issues that will require the involvement of various key people; the architects, builders, interior decorators, and of course, the client.
With the building of a house, you'd expect the project to require a lot of time and effort. Ultimately, you should have the same expectation for your website construction project. (Although if your website does end up costing as much as a small house, you've possibly picked the wrong web company.)
How many bedrooms does your website need?
OK, I've overstretched the analogy. Obviously a website doesn't have bedrooms.
But it might have specific functionality requirements that will need to be delivered in the development stage, and these will often have a bigger influence on the final price than anything else.
How much time can you dedicate to the project?
As with building that house, the more you can undertake yourself, the less you're going to have to outlay before you get to moving in day.
I've undertaken projects for clients who have got their hands dirty from day one, and I've worked with clients who want me to arrange everything.
The first group of clients obviously paid less than the second.
How central to your business plan is this website?
There are costs involved in running any website.
A basic brochure site that needs updating twice a year isn't going to cost much to keep going, but an ecommerce site that is going to represent the backbone of your business can be a hungry beast to feed.
The costs are generally commensurate with the upfront cost; the more complex and costly a website, the more complex and costly it is to support and maintain.
How big is your budget?
If it's £1,000 tell me. If it's £10,000 tell me that too. I'll be able to tell you if your budget is realistic for what you're hoping to achieve. Equally, I'll be able to tell you if you're over-estimating how much it's all going to cost.
Unlike some of my competitors, I won't try to sell you a £2K website for £20K if that's what you tell me your budget is.
Most importantly, please bear in mind that being deliberately vague about your budget in order to try to control negotiations doesn't work well for either party.