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Why do directory websites cost so much?

Posted 23/September/2014 by vicky

One of the main types of websites we get asked about here at Neubreed are directory websites. Think Car Sales, Domain, Real Estate.com etc

A big shock for many clients is finding out no matter which web design agency they decide to go with is that these sites are not cheap to develop, but why?

To begin let’s address what’s involved with developing a directory site. Let’s say for example you want to create a business directory website.  

To understand what’s involved from a web development perspective you need to pull apart each element.

1. Wire framing, project management, and graphic design. For any complex website development project such as directory websites or data base driven websites project management is required as are wire frames to ensure smooth delivery of the project and to map out the user experience. Of course you also need to consider the cost for the graphic design of the branding elements and the custom web design – the look and feel of the website.

2. You have the businesses that will want to list and be found on the directory.

- What type of packages will you offer businesses?

- What categories are there on offer to list in?

- Can they only go in one category or multiple?

- Will there be incentives to upgrade packages, how much are the various packages?

- How are payments made? Monthly, Annually? Is there an auto renew billing feature?

- What will their members are login area look like? What can they do once they are logged in? What info can they update?

Of course depending on what the directory site is for this area could have many more criteria/questions to be answered.

3. You have the users looking to find a business for a particular service or product.

- When a user/ consumer is looking on the website what will they see? How advanced will the search function be? Will it be a drop down menu with categories, will there be a map based search, will there be an alphabetical search? What are the advanced search features?

-  What is the path of selecting a result they like, is it purely a matter of the result page displaying a web address or phone number or can they fill out a form to contact the advertiser? If there is a form what are the questions/ fields on the form?

-  Can a user save their search?

-  What other things can a user do on the website?

4. Listing Pages, search results etc. Now you need to consider the listing pages once a search has been initiated. How will a result be listed, can users just see a table of results or can they click a result and review a detailed profile or result page?

5. Other integrations. Maybe you do all of your accounting through Xero and you want a seamless integration with your website to automatically send invoices and track payments?

6. Payments. Ecommerce integration will be required. You may wish to have trial free periods, set up recurring payments etc

7. Of course there are many more features to be considered such as auto responders, allowing users to re set passwords, edit account information, upload updated business details etc. depending on the nature of the online business

OK, so now we see what’s involved – who has the skill set? Now you have a very basic idea of the type of custom work that is involved in developing a custom directory website who is capable of building this? This type of website requires a team, not a single developer of skilled and experienced developers. A web developer who develops basic business websites will not be the right options for you here; you need a team of experienced programmers who have developed these types of custom applications before.

Skills and time frame = cost. Depending on how big or custom, how many different custom features need to be developed for your project will determine how many developers need to be assigned to your project and for how long. A good developer averages a healthy wage, times that by a team of developers and now take that and multiply by 3-12 months development time and you start to see how the costs add up pretty quickly – however understandably so.

Well even though we have very generally touched on this topic, you can start to see how complex these types of websites can be. They require time, experienced and qualified developers and a team of developers dedicated to your project.

Although these types of websites do come at a cost, when executed professionally the rewards can be great and well worth the investment.

The most important thing to note however is that all the big directory sites you see now did not start off as the site you see today. They all started with a functional site and as revenue has increased and feedback from clients has been given and of course as technology has evolved so too have these sites. If you are looking to build a directory or database driven website remember that it will always be a work in progress and you don’t have to break the bank trying to develop the Ritz Carlton in the beginning. Plan a roll out phase by phase to come in under budget.

If you would like to understand in more detail the processes involved with your idea, call us now on 02 8007 0218