The task of shopping for a website can be a daunting one, which can leave you feeling naive and apprehensive. There are many factors to consider, not least of which, how much does a website cost?
There is an information gap between you and your developer, only serving to make things worse.
Definition: An information gap exists when one party in a negotiation has information that the other doesn’t have access to, such as specialist technical expertise – for example, between a buyer and a building contractor, car mechanic or computer salesman.
This information gap can leave you feeling that someone could very easily pull the wool over your eyes, and rightly so.
What’s the cure? That’s simple, close the information gap as much as you possibly can. I’m not suggesting you spend years training to become a web developer, but the better informed you are, the smaller the gap will be, and the more confident you will feel selecting a professional, or even going it alone.
So How Much Should I Budget?
It’s understandable that the first thing you want to do is set yourself a budget. Its instinctive business planning.
The problem is that the price of a website varies depending on how complex and how unique it will need to be. And that is very much a business decision tied into your marketing strategy.
However, assuming that you are dealing with a reputable professional, the old adage largely holds true – you get what you pay for.
Although it’s impossible to say how much your website will cost without considering your marketing strategy, here’s a rough idea of what you can expect to receive at different prices:
- Free / Next to Nothing. So you’ve got little or no budget. But plenty of time on your hands or a willing friend/family member with some expertise. Then a website costing little or nothing may be your only option. Just be aware that you are limited to your skills or those you can blag, and the end result will probably reflect this. If you’re business needs to look the business, then you might have to find some funding.
- A Small Fee per Month. Recent TV advertisements have drawn attention to the option to pay for a website on a monthly basis for a small fee, such as £10 per month. Your website will certainly not be unique at this price, or complex in functionality. Be particularly wary of the default written content provided, Google may well remove your website from their search results for infringing their duplicate content guidelines.
- Around £100. A quick google for website design, and you will find prices at around the £100 mark. At this price it is very unlikely that the developer will be able to put much time into the project and so the end result will probably reflect this. You may be storing up unseen problems that will surface further down the line.
- £500 – £1,000. With the right developer, you should be able to achieve a credible, simple, online brochure for your business at this price point. However, the website will be simple and is unlikely to be totally unique. Make sure that some consideration is made for search engine optimisation – that the website can be found and indexed effectively by the major search engines such as Google. You may be able to find a developer with a little experience who can do a fully bespoke design at this kind of price range, but make sure to ask about their portfolio to minimize the risk they will make a serious mistake with your website that could harm your business reputation.
- £1,000-£2,000. At this price point, and assuming that your website is fairly standard in functionality, you should be able to purchase a professional, well-optimised website that is expandable in the future. An experienced developer or skilled agency is unlikely to do a fully bespoke design at this price, but it’s not out of the question. You should expect a degree of control over the finished design and a full design consultation, resulting in something that if not completely unique – is still tailored to your business.
- £2,000-£5,000. In this price range you should be certainly achieving either a completely bespoke design based on a branding consultation or complex functionality such as an integrated eCommerce platform. At the top end of this price range you may well be expecting both these elements.
- £5,000-£50,000. At this price range, you will certainly be expecting both inspirational, unique design that takes your brand in a new direction and complex functionality. The complex functionality might be customer relationship management, event management or anything else that your business specifically needs. A complex eCommerce website for a business that does a lot of trade through online sales might fall into this range, or it might be even more. Imagine how much Amazon has spent on their website and their on-going running costs – the sky really is the limit!
- £50,000+. If you are spending this much on a website then you probably have an in-house marketing team and price is not the concern. Instead you are creating a rich, brand environment for your business that pushes the boundaries of creativity and is groundbreaking in terms of functionality. Your website is a complex, online web application and a serious piece of software; or possibly the work of a top agency to give you a world class identity.
The Hidden Cost of Free or Cheap
It may be tempting to look at the list above and think, “I can get a website for free or next to nothing, so why don’t I just go with that option?”
Should your decision be based on price alone?
If you are a start-up business, have exhausted all possible avenues of funding, and need a functional website presence so you can get on with promoting your new business – then by all means go with the cheap option. Just be aware that there may be hidden costs in doing so:
- Time consuming – if you’re doing it yourself, or holding someone else’s hand, then this will take a considerable amount of your time. How much is your time worth? What’s the cost?
- Opportunity cost – increasingly, your website is your shop window. How often do you make a purchase without checking online first? How much business might you lose if your website gives off the wrong image? What’s the cost of those missed opportunities?
- Rework – a badly designed website can be expensive to put right if you need to involve a professional a later date. It may have to be torn up and started from scratch and the time and money you have invested could be lost.
How Do Web Developers Set Their Prices?
Each agency or freelancer will approach the situation differently, which makes it very difficult to compare them like for like.
Some developers will offer set packages, with clear pricing options – knowing that this very fact will allow other developers to point the finger and accuse them of taking shortcuts, that “you can’t possibly offer a package in website design without making compromises”.
Other developers won’t even offer you a quote without understanding your requirements first and tailoring something specific to your needs.
I’ll let you into a little secret – however the developer sets their prices, ultimately they will be looking to achieve a certain hourly rate for their studio time, even for fixed price work.
For inexperienced freelance developers this may be as low as minimum wage – at the other end of the spectrum, top agencies might bill out at £100+ per hour. When you’re choosing a developer, ask them how much they charge as an hourly rate for follow up work. This will give you a indication as to where they sit in the market.
Whatever the rate, the hours you are buying gain you two things, a level of uniqueness and complexity.
Make sure that you are very clear on how unique your website will be and how complex the functionality you can expect when considering quotes.
How Do I Set My Prices?
My website design packages are specifically tailored to small businesses – with ‘starting from’ prices based on a simple website with contact form, slideshow, and a blog that is typical for a small business. All websites have a content management system meaning the number of pages is largely irrelevant – you can add as many as you like.
I believe that offering you transparency and a clear idea of price before we sit down in a meeting is the best thing to do. But I can handle any project no matter how complex or unique, extra functionality can be ‘bolted on’.
Rather than taking short cuts, we’ve decided what must be involved to responsibly make an entry level website, that is: professional standard design, keyword research, search engine optimisation, cookie compliance, included legal documents, and detailed page planning. If you'd like to know my prices, just drop your details in the form at the bottom of the page and I'll drop you over some prices.
When comparing quotes, keep this checklist close to hand:
- Who owns the copyright for your website?
- How are templates used in the creation of your website?
- What are the follow up support rates?
- How much is hosting? Are you tied in?
- How many design concepts will there be?
- Can you amend the design concepts? How many times?
- What stages are involved in the production of your website?
- What research will the developer undertake for your website?
- How good is the developer’s portfolio?
- How unique will your website be?
- How complex will the functionality be?
Hopefully this post has gone someway to addressing the information gap between you and your developer and you can feel more confident shopping for your website. If you have any further questions, please post them in the comments and I will reply promptly!