How Much Should A Website Cost?
It’s hard not to look at a successful competitor’s website and wonder if its superior design and functionality aren’t costing you new customers.
And the profits which come with them.
The cost of a functional, modern business website depends on how well it represents you, and how suited it is to helping your business succeed. As with automobiles, homes or pretty much anything else you buy – new business websites vary in price according to how well they get the job done in a world of constantly evolving technology.
Expertly crafted websites inspire confidence in your product or service, while at the same time facilitating vital transactions across myriad platforms and web browsers
Only a knowledgeable and experienced website designer can make all that happen.
The difference between cheapie, do-it-yourself website designs and those costing thousands of dollars more is the wealth of functionality, styling, and systems engineering which help determine your success in the marketplace.
A quick overview
As webpage design and functionality become ever more complex, staying competitive requires expert guidance. Now more than ever, your business website must set you apart from the crowd in terms of your brand, your superior quality and your unique approach.
Working across diverse browsers and operating systems, your website needs to be one of your strongest marketing tools. And it needs to demonstrate that your company’s revenue flow is solid enough to afford a truly professional website. Anything less may cause a perception your business isn’t quite first-rate.
Major factors involved in the creation of a modern website include:
Design. You benefit from having someone in your corner who knows how to professionally assess colors, fonts and graphics to best represent your product or services online.
Copywriting. Effectively communicating what your company does, in a way that leads to potential clients taking the next step, is vital. Writing web page copy in a way which optimizes content and keywords for search engines and human beings alike is a skill best left to experts.
Layout. How the website graphics, headers, sidebars, footers, call-outs, opt-in boxes, pull quotes and social icons interact can be as important as the word content.
Website structure. Your website’s individual pages and navigation between them, their usability, and the types of contact forms or shopping carts utilized will all benefit from the attention of a designer thoroughly up-to-date with the latest options.
Optimization. In addition to the keywords you select there’s also code quality, access speed, meta-data considerations and much else to consider.
Compatibility. Being able to present your message to mobile devices, as well as desktop computers and laptops across various browsers, is crucial.
Website launch. The person who installs your new business website on your chosen hosting server, and who sets up the DNS, gets your webmaster tools, sitemaps and analytics functioning properly needs to be a true pro.
Other factors affecting cost
The services of an expert can cost considerably more in places like New York, London, Hong Kong or other cities where high living costs drive up prices.
Then too, the experience level of a professional influences price. Someone with lesser skills may indeed produce your website at lower cost – though with reduced functionality and reliability. Completing work within an agreed timeframe may also be a challenge. And, in the end, they may not know your market as well as a top local agency does.
But if you’re willing to settle for less or to accept greater risks these considerations may be secondary. Just don’t expect top results.
Engaging an agency to handle your website redesign rather than just a single individual will also cost more. Why? Various skills go into producing an optimal website: design, photo-editing, CSS and HTML skills, copywriting and SEO skills, subsets of programming languages which are advantageous but not within the skill set of every programmer. Agencies offer teams of professionals which collaborate in producing your website. The sum of the parts invariably adds up to a greater product.
And a final factor in pricing may be you, the client. If you’re the type who insists on revisions at every step of the creation process, yet waits until the last moment to make critical decisions – while insisting everyone else deliver their product ASAP – you’ll be charged for the extra resources, time and effort necessary to fill your order.
So how much should you invest in a website?
First of all, understand that a business website is an investment – as important as any you’ll make in today’s world.
What follows below is a candid assessment of the major price breakpoints in commissioning the creation of a business website, and what you can reasonably expect at each price level from a competent website design firm. These are consensus prices for various features and services, reflecting the value of time and expertise required to meet particular requirements.
Price: $750-$2,500. This is the most likely entry level price for many business start-ups, and if you spend this amount on your new business website it buys you basic branded design, plus common functionality such as content or image sliding, a contact form, opt-ins, a blog and a photo gallery. While getting you beyond a generic template look, it is not custom designed. Websites in this price range often reflect WordPress themes or other simple templates.
On the positive side, even at this basic level you can expect some optimization. This means your website will be built to basic code standards and meet speed, functionality and basic search requirements. What generally can’t be expected at this price is professional copywriting or anything beyond the content, photos, videos, logo and branding devices you supply.
Nevertheless, this is a popular entry level for start-ups and other small businesses without data management requirements.
Price: $2,500-$7,500. This price range is also popular because within its limits you can actually negotiate limited website style, layout and branding features. Customization does require more time in the planning and building phases, so be prepared for a bigger dollar investment.
Don’t expect too many bells and whistles in this range, nor anything quite as complex as inventory management.
Price: $7,500-$10,000. An investment in this range buys you a robust website with considerable customization when it comes to programming, and things like special forms or photo galleries. It may even include some keyword optimization or original copywriting.
In addition to what comes with the previous price category, there will be more bells and whistles. Also the possibility of product pages, multiple photo galleries, and more complex user forms.
Price: $10,000-$15,000. This buys the services of a professional copywriter to handle website content and full keyword optimization. You’ll also have an opportunity to discuss logo and website branding design with a skilled professional. Maybe even custom photography and video too.
At this level you’ve pretty much turned your website over to the pros for everything from content to construction. Even business card and letterhead design may be offered.
Price: $15,000-$40,000. Here is where your new website’s programming and functionality will include specialized content and inventory management systems, integration with third party APIs, and additional features unique to your business needs. You can also arrange to have your full product line and pricing displayed.
If yours is a manufacturing, retail or distributor operation with specialized data management needs – here is where you need to be. Your developer will construct a unique website around your exact needs.
Price: $40,000 and up. If your website budget extends to this level of outlay there will be few meaningful limitations. Your needs will be met with the utmost creativity.
Where to go from here
If you’re one of those who’ve paid $250 for your business website in the belief that simply being on the Internet suffices – consider this: in addition to all that your website cannot do to further your business success, prospective clients are right now noticing your website’s form validations which don’t operate correctly, photos which are fuzzy, and website interaction opportunities which are being waived.
And you may indeed have a website blog – but perhaps little else in the way of a professional looking website presence. After all, what could an under-skilled developer working at $25 per hour have put together in a mere ten hours?
With real-world pricing (above) and competitive website features in mind, how might you know if the cost you’ve been quoted is in fact fair?
To begin with, if you’re interviewing prospective developers make sure you have a solid grasp of the feature set and functionality being discussed. Then consider the experience level of each developer, as well as the individual attention you can expect to receive. Do you feel comfortable turning your website design project over to them? Will working with them be something you’ll personally look forward to?
And consider that your new website will also need to be hosted, including a good maintenance plan, and that your data will need to be backed up securely. You’ll need to be assured that content changes can be accomplished smoothly, that you have key analytics tools to track your website visitors, including their wants and needs, and that upgrades can be handled with minimum impact on your business operations.
The bottom line is that you’ll need to consider your next web project with all the above in mind, so that your decisions are based on realities rather than dated perceptions which leave you open to being victimized – or at an ever-widening competitive disadvantage.
If all this hasn’t left you feeling inadequate, or wondering if the price ranges listed are somehow too high or too low … we’ll be happy to meet with you to discuss your particular website situation and some real-world solutions.