Here you are, expert in your academic field. And you have found equally qualified partners to create a consortium around a really exciting piece of research. You have everything settled and your research budget is excellent. The project proposal is almost done!
But then you realize you have this damned obligatory communication section to add to your proposal…and now you are lost. It’s tempting to turn this into an afterthought, but the proposal evaluators will notice. Not to worry: we will explain how to budget for the most important and basic part of this: the website.
A website is a great opportunity for science communication!
When you’re considering how to execute your communication and dissemination plan, you will quickly find that a website basically sits at the optimum for reach, cost, and depth. A proper website has the potential to reach an enormous audience while costing relatively little, and with endless opportunities for customization and layering information to serve various audiences. Websites can be the platform for more complicated forms of science communication too, like infographics, animations or e-learning.
How to create a website that satisfies the EU requirements
A basic website that will please the European Commission needs a few things (there are some varieties based on the specific call):
Relevant logos and project acronym.
A statement that the EU has funded this project.
Links to relevant partners and other projects.
News (milestones, publications, activities) concerning the project.
Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make sure people find the website.
GDPR compliance (this becomes more significant when you use the website to collect data).
Optional: a .eu extension with your domain.
Optional: a section for media inquiries.
Mind you, depending on the exact call the requirements may vary, but these suggestions are a good starting point. Not all extra elements will cost you a lot more. For example, we will always make all of our websites 100% responsive for perfect accessibility from desktop, tablet or phone. And of course you can add as much text or as many links to your website as you like, without making the website more expensive. But this is already thinking ahead; the requirements listed above are the basis for this blog, and the good news is that it makes for a pretty straightforward website. So…
What are the costs for a EU-approved research website?
Even if you keep your website to a minimum in terms of pages and content, you still need an overall design or corporate style, a logo, and you have to design every single page. As a rule, you will need at least five pages: Home, About the project, Consortium partners, News and Results, Contact. None of these pages needs a huge amount of content (less is more when reading online!), and you could write it yourself. A web designer would then use that to design and create pages around that content.
Don’t fall for the trap of having a web design company build a template for you without knowing exactly what your content means and what the goal of the website is.
If you have pictures of the researchers, partner logos, diagrams, renderings or other visuals: great! If not, don’t worry. (Of course, we would argue for making the most out of a website and its impact, but this blog is about the minimal website.)
For the development of a basic website with around 5 pages, fully designed, you will want to budget at least €5,000 – €6,000 (excl. VAT). This covers the basics and gives you the flexibility to have some back and forths about the content. If you let us develop your website for this price, we take care of everything from design and logo to installation and technical support.
When we create websites for research project, we always think about the strategic science communication, help with writing texts, and can help you make the right decisions for your website to keep it within budget.
Don’t forget: a website needs hosting and support!
A big element that is often forgotten when budgeting a website – and which can become very significant in projects that run for a few years – is hosting and support. Hosting a website can be done very cheaply. A very cheap host will only allow for small, slow websites with little traffic, and they generally do not offer website management and monitoring. This is important, because like scientific knowledge, web technology is continually updated. Not staying up-to-date with the latest improvements can cause your website to lose critical functionalities, or become vulnerable to attacks, hacks and crashes. Adding technical support to monitor and update the website prevents this. This is called ‘managed hosting’ and it is a good investment because you don’t get billed later when unexpected issues arise and need fixing.
Typically, managed hosting services cost start at approximately €40 per month. This is a reasonable price for a quick and user-friendly website and it should include hosting, daily updates, backups and domain name registration. We offer managed hosting as well, albeit exclusively for websites we develop ourselves. However, if you want more support, a point of contact and your own webmaster to help you manage your website you probably want Managed hosting including support start at €80 per month, and include some support hours.
But mind you, a project that runs for four years thus requires close to €2.000 in hosting fees, so don’t forget to budget that as well! Of course, if you have someone in your staff who is capable of providing technical assistance, you are fine with basic hosting. But in our experience, most consortia lack the people or time to manage the website themselves.
The minimum budget for a complete research website: €8,000 – €10,000
If you add it all up, you have fixed costs (website) and variable costs (hosting and support). It’s a classic y = ax + b formula, where b is the price for the website, a is the number of months your project runs for, and x the price for hosting per month. As we’ve seen, b is somewhere around €5000. If you add four years (a = 48 months) of hosting at €40 per month that comes to €3840, which makes a total of €8840. This should be the minimum budget for your basic EU project website (if the project runs for four years of course).
You might want to add some features to the website or develop some graphics to help explain concepts to interested press. We often create a infographic, a custom PowerPoint template, animated video and even give workshops on science communication to Early Career Students in EU projects. So to be on the safe side we’ll add 10%. In other words: With €10.000 – €15.000reserved in your budget proposal, you are guaranteed to have a good website and are flexible to include additional forms of science communication.
We love making websites, but what we love even more is making websites that stand out, are funky, and really create a lasting impression. Science communication should not be boring!
Some websites go up to €20K because they include custom graphics, complicated web forms, offline brochures or other nifty features such as interactive animations or even e-learning. The people at the European Commission pay attention to these details as well, so a well-thought-out communication strategy is worth such an investment.
Last word of advice: if you did not know any or all of this before and thus didn’t budget quite enough for a website, we understand and sympathize. And we don’t just sympathize, we can help you make the best of that tiny bit of grant that you have left. We love the challenge of a small budget, so we will create a website for that, and advise you on how you can make the most impact with it.
If you need more information or advice on this, or if you are looking for a partner in your consortium who can take care of this, fill out our website briefing.
Stephan enjoys the process of understanding complex matters and being able to present them in a comprehensible way. His vision is that science and society can benefit from clear science communication, and that technology can aid this development in various ways, from science websites for the public to academic e-learning for students.