How Much Should A Website Cost?

Website Cost
Rob Tinsman - Vice President and Creative DirectorWritten by: Rob TinsmanVice President and Creative Director

Now that’s a tough question. It’s almost like asking how much it costs to build a house. And just like building a house, there are a lot of other questions that have to be answered first.  In the case of the house, you might ask things like:

How much time do you have before you need to move in? How big does it need to be? Do you need it customized, and if so, how? How many bedrooms do you want? What about the fit and finish — will all items be standard, so they're easy to find and affordable to install (carpet, fixtures, etc.) or will they be high-end, customized items to achieve a unique look and function?

Prices Can Vary Widely — But the Reasons Aren't Always Apparent (until it's too late)

We've had clients come to us with 3 quotes for a new website with prices ranging from $3,000 to $32,000. All for the same site! Then they want us to explain why. Really, you might not know the underlying reason until it’s too late. When you're talking about thousands of dollars, you need to be working with a trusted web design company. Two common phrases ring true with website designers and those are "buyer beware" and "you get what you pay for."

Commonly, very low-priced website design seems like a great deal but the developer disappears halfway through the project, it's not what you agreed to, they control it, you can't make any changes, or errors pop up on every other page, etc. Did you ever actually meet with a person? Are they even in this country? How do you know for sure? Or maybe saving a hundred dollars on hosting seemed like a great deal. A great deal until your site goes down and you’re on hold with customer support for an hour only to be given a "trouble ticket" that will supposedly be resolved within 72 hours. Meanwhile your site is gone, it certainly isn’t selling anything, and your business looks shaky, at best, to any customer.

There are endless other reasons for price variations, but most boil down to either the quotes not being "apples to apples" or knowledge and experience of the company. Some web designers simply don't understand the gravity of a project and get in way over their heads. Then they can't deliver what you asked for, or worse yet, they have to use your website as a learning tool and it never gets done quite right. Of course you're still out all the money you gave them.

Website and House Building Considerations

Options and features ideal for your house and family abound. A website has similar considerations — especially in our "technology of the moment" driven world. A new website design must address the following with careful consideration:

  • Is this a brand new site or a redesign?
  • What are your brand considerations?
  • How prepared are you — do you have a detailed requirements document?
  • Do you need a blog or content management functionality (CMS)?
  • Do you have graphics and photos already available for the site, or do you need a photographer?
  • Do you want the site to automatically resize for mobile and tablets? (This is called responsive design.)
  • Do you need multimedia (video, etc.) on the site? If you think so, why?
  • How much content do you have and how much needs to be created?  
  • What kind of functionality is important for your visitors?
  • Have you identified any essential sales funnels for your website?
  • Is the website to generate leads? If so, what kind of information and where should it go?
  • Do you need other special features like social media channels, SEO, ecommerce, or something else?
  • Who is going to maintain the site after it has been launched?
  • Where will the site be hosted? Do you know the difference between managed hosting or dedicated hosting?
  • and more...

When building a website, as with a house, each choice will affect the time needed to implement. Each decision affects the whole. Need a full basement? That’s going to require more work and time than a cement slab and will cause the rest of the project to get pushed down the timeline. So, what kinds of things go into a good website?  

Websites have a lot more to offer than they used to.

That fact can make for a very effective experience for your customers and a lot of money for your company. You just need to know what's out there and whether it's of value or if it’s completely unnecessary for your site. One quick example is a blog. Google generally likes sites with fresh updated content, and blogs provide that. A blog might be perfect for your business. However, if you're not a writer and no one else will be updating your blog regularly, it can backfire. Not only will the cost to implement the blog be wasted but visitors will see a blog that hasn't been updated in ages. Then they think if your business neglects its own website, how is it going to treat them as a customer? It's our job to inform you of the latest technologies and website and internet strategies and guide you to avoid these pitfalls and lead you to do what works.

Programming Special Features - Are they worth the cost?

There are lots of extra features that web developers can integrate into your site that might improve your bottom line but will also increase the sticker price. Typically the value of the option is calculated by the quantity and value of the traffic or conversions it drives. It's about your return on investment. ROI is the key. If that isn’t happening, we aren’t doing our job. So we help you understand the value of these available options and don't recommend anything that we don't believe will improve your ROI.

Other Common Website Features

Content Management System - For clients who want to manage their own content we integrate and customize content management systems (CMS). We prefer to work with PHP-based open-source CMS solutions like MODX. Everything we do is customized and this allows us to make your site sing and dance!

Blogs - Many clients want a WordPress or similar blog within their website, customized to their website branding and design.

Ecommerce - shopping carts, catalogs, payment processing

Email Marketing Campaigns - Clients that want to gather emails and send out branded email blasts for announcements or newsletters require an email management tool. We integrate 3rd-party tools (Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, etc.) and create an email blast template design. We can even manage your email blasts.

Targeted Landing Pages - Landing pages are pages that promote a specific product or service. They are usually part of an email, social media, or banner ad campaign.  

Photo Gallery - to showcase products or company

Metrics —  Google analytics, custom reports, etc.

SEO —  search engine optimization, so you can be found at the top of Google and Bing and Yahoo

We’re a Marketing Company First

It’s a given that we’re good at developing captivating graphic design work. We’ve won lots of local and national awards such as Best of the Valley Graphic Design Firm both online and in print. However, it’s the marketing approach to your website that makes it most effective. A great looking site doesn’t accomplish anything if all it does is look nice. First we have to determine how your business works, where your leads come from and how conversions happen. Then we masterfully create your site with the tools and creative mechanisms necessary so the user not only sees your business in the best light possible, but is carefully led down predetermined sales funnels. This is quite possibly the most overlooked and undervalued aspect of the best website builders, probably because it can't easily be seen or identified. It doesn't seem tangible, and yet it is essential to maximizing how well your site will sell for you. Even little things like the color of a button can make the difference between getting that one extra-hot lead or not.

So come on. How much do websites cost?

The best we can do here is give you our starting point. Our custom website design and development typically starts around $7,000. This isn’t a barebones site either. You can certainly add features and scope to the project-- most do-- but this is an effective starting point for most business websites.  

Final Note

You wouldn’t build a house without researching your builder. After all, you’re going to be living there and it’s a big investment. When a visitor comes to your door, you want to be proud of how you’re being represented. That’s how we can help. We’ve been in business for over 25 years. We’re going to be here when you need us. If you’re interested, we’d be happy to invite you in for some coffee or an iced tea and a chat.