How Much Should a Website Cost?

Why ‘How Much Should A Website Cost?’ Is a Difficult Question

“So how much will a new website cost?”

It’s probably the most common question I get asked by new clients.

I don’t blame them. It’s probably the first question I would ask myself. But it is actually quite a tricky question to answer as it depends on so many things.

I have been in the web design business since the the late 90’s and I have been involved with designing hundreds of websites but I still can’t give a quick answer to this question. Now I’m not trying to get out of providing a straight answer. I often get the feeling that clients think I am.

I even get the uneasy feeling that some new clients believe that I ask so many questions about there business so I can gauge how much I can get away with charging to build their new website.

One of the biggest issues with figuring out the price is that web design is a service, but most clients see a website as a ‘product’.Many of them believe that they can walk into ‘virtual store’ and order a 5 page website for fixed fee. However a website is something that a team of people have to work on to build.

When you realise this it makes it easier to understand why it is so tough to provide a straightforward price.

Regardless of this I still understand that it is actually a fair question to ask. As a business owner you need to make sure you are spending your money wisely. But you must realise that asking how much a website will cost is a bit like walking into a used car dealership and asking  how much it will be to buy a car.

After the used car salesman has stopped rubbing his hand with glee he will ask what type of car you had in mind. He’ll ask about your budget, what you will use it for, how many people it should hold, if it needs to be practical or sporty, and even what colour you would like it to be.

Yes, he’ll ask loads of questions to try and narrow down the massive selection so he can point you to the best car for your needs.

Like cars, there can be a massive difference in costs when it comes to developing a website. Some web designers will charge £100 while others charge £10,000, or more.

‘Surely there can’t be that much of a difference?’, I hear you ask.

Well like cars, you can buy an economic model by a Far Eastern car manufacturer for around £5000, or you can buy a Lamborghini for £500,000. Both provide the same basic functions – they take you from point A to point B. However, there is a massive difference when it comes to design, engineering, comfort and quality.

So that being said, how much should a website really cost?

Where does the cost of building a new website come from?

You may have seen TV adverts where they make it look so easy to build your own website for under a £10 a month. However this isn’t really a website – it’s is a web presence. Something you can put on your business cards and point clients at but it won’t do a good job of actually acquiring new clients.

If this is the kind of website that you are after then the rest of this article isn’t really for you. Head straight to wordpress.com and grab yourself a free website.

Or build yourself a Facebook or Google+ page and forget about a fully fledged website. For some types of business this is actually a better way to spend your marketing budget than creating a proper website.

Quite often, you can get the same – or better – results with far less work, and far less cost. Different online channels suit different types of business.

For example, say you are a plumber. It’s a competitive market, with plumbers everywhere. So when someone needs a plumber, they’ll turn to Google and put in their location and/or specific needs.

Which page will come up top in the results? The most relevant, of course. And pages on websites that have thousands of links pointing to them are more likely to rank higher.

Your plumber cannot afford to generate hundreds of inbound links, on top of paying for a custom webiste. It’s bad marketing. It’s a bad use of budget and time. It’s the wrong thing to sell this client.

What’s the right answer?

There are thousands of websites out there that will list the business, either for free, or for a small fee (far less than getting a custom site built and hosted).

These sites are likely to have thousands of pages, and thousands of inbound links. So your plumber can get a better result for a fraction of the cost. That’s good marketing, and good business.

This article is for those of you that are after a website that properly markets your business. A website that will not only look the part, but will also perform well in the search engines and help generate customers for you. A website that reflects your business, it’s goals and your brand. One that works in every type of web browser and on every different operating systems.

So before a web designer can provide a cost they first have to try and figure out what is involved. That is why they will ask so many questions. At least a good web designer will.

Now that you know what a real website is, I can explain all of the things that are involved in building one.

Visitors

Keywords need to be researched and selected so that you can rank highly in Google and attract visitors to your website. This means research, back linking, article writing and content curation to ensure you have the right content to attract visitors attention.

Structure and Conversion

Someone has to think about pages, navigation and usability, and the best way to get users from here to there. Once visitors get to your website the content needs to styled so that it persuades them to take action on your website – buy that widget, fill in that form etc.

Text

It doesn’t matter if you write the copy yourself or hire a specialised copywriter the text still needs to be collated, spell-checked, proof read before it can be used.

Pictures

Regardles of wether you have your own photos, need them taken, or simply want to use stock images they still have to be resized, retouched, and organised.

Design

There needs to be some thought put into choosing colours, fonts and graphics so they work with your brand and match your other marketing collateral.

Page Layout

The location of headers, footers, sidebars opt-in boxes, and social media icons need to be decided to provide the best possible chance of converting visitors into clients.

Coding

Your website will need good quality code that works quickly and doesn’t crash causing errors, or breaking your website completely.

Compatibility

There are dozens of different web browsers that run on Macs and PC’s that all need to display the website without a glitch. This means coding, testing and fixing all of the issue to provide the best experience for visitors – regardless of what they use.

Mobile

Visitors to your website using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones will soon make up the bulk of the people looking at your website. This means someone has to ensure your website looks good on different sized screens while still being able to be read and used propely.

Social media

Successful online businesses will leverage social media including Facebook, twitter and Google+. So someone needs to integrate your social media accounts into your website and create easy methods to share your content with others.

Go live

Someone has to buy your domain name, install your site on a hosting server, set up the DNS, get your analytics, webmaster tools and sitemaps and make sure everything is working.

It’s a long list of things that need done to ensure you get the best possible website. I haven’t listed them so I can justify putting a large price tag on the cost of a website. No, it is simply to give you a better understanding of the tasks that a web designer has to carry out in order to determine the cost of building your website.

How is your money spent?

You may imagine that the bulk of the costs involved in building a new website would be spent to design, layout, and code it. In the 90’s and early 00’s this may well have been true. However not so much now.

Many of the modern frameworks available have cut the length of time these tasks take meaning that they now eat up far less of your budget. This also means new websites are also far quicker to create as much of the work is pre-built within the framework. ‘Great news’ I hear your shout, ‘it will mean web design costs are going down’. Not quite.

Work still needs to be done to attract visitors and to convert them into clients. After all there is no point in having a fantastic looking website that nobody visits. The best approach is to move the money you save on the development into marketing your website. This means that the overall web costs are about the same but you now have more money to spend on finding and attracting new clients to the new website.

In the past I would have allocated 90% of the budget to the design tasks. Now it is about 25% – 50%. The remainder of the budget should be used on marketing the website so it generates leads and makes money. This makes the website a business asset rather than a liability.

However there are some limitations in what can be achieved when using a customised website like the one I described above. For example this approach does not allow for complete flexibility in layout so you may not be able to get the exact look that you are after. Similarly, there may also be some limitations in functionality.

So if you go for a customised website where you take an existing theme and modify it to fit in with your brand it can save loads of time and effort. However, a bespoke website can be designed to look exactly how you want. This is a more time consuming and costly approach more suited to very large companies or multi-nationals.

In my experience the vast majority of businesses would be more suited to having a customised website due the massive time and cost savings involved.

Prices to build different types of website

Basic customised website

Up to £3,000

This would be the price point that most startups would aim at. You should expect a website built on WordPress or a similar content management system with a customised theme. The use of plugins means that the functionality can be added quickly and inexpensively.

What you should expect:

  • Basic customisation of an existing theme branded to your company requirements based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Sitemaps

What you won’t get:

  • Copywriting or content creation
  • Photography and video
  • Branding or a logo
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • E-commerce or shopping cart
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

 

Partially customised e-commerce design

£3,000 to £5,000

At this price point you can expect an e-commerce website using a customised theme that matches you corporate brand. You can also add responsive design.

What you should expect:

  • A customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps

What you won’t get:

  • Copywriting or content creation
  • Photography and video
  • Branding or a logo
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

 

Fully customised design

£5,000 to £10,000

You can expect more customised functionality that is tailored to your exact needs. You could also add in keyword research and basic search engine optimisation. You may also get some copywriting to ensure you get the correct message over to your target market.

What you should expect:

  • A fully customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • Copywriting or content creation

What you won’t get:

  • Photography and video
  • Branding or a logo
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

 

All inclusive website

£10,000 to £30,000

At this price level you will be able to sit back and relax and let the design team look after almost everything – such a content creation and branding.

What you should expect:

  • A fully customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • Copywriting or content creation
  • Branding or a logo
  • In-depth conversation optimisation

What you won’t get:

  • Photography and video
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

 

Bespoke website

£30,000 – £50,000

The key phrase here is ‘bespoke’. This is where the web design team can define all your requirements and you sit back and watch the solution happen – from branding to integration of your back office systems almost everything is included. You can add all of the functionality you desire and expect a fully compatible, mobile friendly site.

The e-commerce elements will be customised to your exact requirement and should support large and complex product ranges. However, copywriting will be more difficult so it hasn’t been included.

What you should expect:

  • A fully customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • Branding or a logo
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

What you won’t get:

  • Photography and video
  • Copywriting or content creation

 

The sky’s the limit website

£50,000+

If you are large company or multi-national then budget isn’t a restriction so you can have anything you want. No limits.

How To Decide If The Cost You’ve Been Given Is Fair

Firstly, you have to make sure that you understand all of the features that you will get. Some designers may include extra features, while others may have removed them to make their price look more attractive. You need to make sure that you compare the features each solution offers to allow you to gauge the value of each properly.

You also need to know if you would like to work with a particular web design agency. Are they trustworthy? Will they bump the costs up?

Different Ways to Pay For Your Website

Now you know roughly how much your website might cost the next stage is to actually pay for it. Most web designers will ask for a deposit, others may produce monthly invoices throughout the lifetime of the project. Some may charge you once particular milestones have been reached and for small projects you may only have a single payment to pay at the end. Some designers may even allow you to spread the cost over a period of time – say 2 years – so you can afford the best possible website.

Ba aware that it is common for web designers to refuse to make your website live until  your bills have been paid. They also may have the ability to take your website down if you don’t keep to the greed payment schedule.

Here is a list of the more common payment methods web designers may have.

  • Monthly Invoices
  • Milestone Payments
  • Single Lump Sum Payment
  • Finance Over A Period of Time

 

Kevin Craighead
netchimp.co.uk

By | 2014-06-11T22:21:47+00:00 June 11th, 2014|Categories: Web Design|Tags: , , |0 Comments

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