The truth about the cost of websites


Many people looking to get a website will often be confused with why there is such a variance in the cost of websites. They will initially encounter web designers who propose to get their entire websites done for as little as 10k, all the way to several hundreds of thousands and often they won’t understand why this is so.

So how can you ensure that you get value for your money, avoid being duped and and eventually get a sucky website? There are 3 key factors that play a role in the pricing of websites:

1. Skill level of the web designer

It goes without saying that once you’ve found a web designer you will checkout their portfolio and make sure you like their works and design style. additionally you will want to checkout how long they’ve been doing this for and how many projects they’ve handled. Also are they really a web designer or a broker?

What you will find is that the longer their experience and the more projects they’ve handled the more likely they are to be more stable and are in this for the long-term and that this is a full time job for them, which is really what you want when you call on them a few years down the line. However with this stability and experience comes a more expensive person since not only are you more certain to get a great looking website based on your original concept but you are also likely to be happy with the overall service.

In addition to what is mentioned above an experienced designer can help you solve some real business problems using the website since they are also involved in their own marketing and sales efforts.

2. Level of service you require

I’ve met people who initially explained to their web designer that all they needed was something “very simple” or “just standard”. Now often they will say this during the initial negotiation phases so that they get the best deal. Additionally while they might get several quotes and then go with the cheapest usually they haven’t communicated the full scope of the project other than the usual standard features. The problem with this is that once the project is underway their very basic project suddenly becomes a high maintenance project with multiple changes and multiple people from the organization and even friends of the client that will start giving them their input and suddenly you start modifying the concept you wanted initially into something else, needless to say this now costs the designer their time and pretty soon (since this was a fixed scope project) they start loosing money and start dragging their heels and looking for their next project elsewhere. The best way to avoid this however is to ensure you know what you really want, look at other websites and get the concept you want then secondly involve your other stake holders during the initial meeting with the designer to ensure they all communicate the ideas they have across during this initial meeting. then finally you can agree on a good price for both you and the designer.

In certain cases you might not have the full scope of the project in mind or you might be representing a board or directors who for some reason don’t want to involve themselves in the creative meetings especially in the beginning. Whenever you have this the best solution as an organization is to simply pay on a per hour basis which will obviously be more expensive but its the cost of being able to execute different ideas from different stakeholders or to get the full scope of the project where a clear one doesn’t exist in the beginning.

Personally I like splitting the project into 4 stages. The 1st where we discuss with all stakeholders and get the concept. The 2nd stage where I produce the initial version of the website then the clients can see the initial design and give their input (again all stake holders present to ensure all ideas are captured). Then a 3rd stage where their changes are implemented and the rest of the website is done. Finally a 4th finetuning stage after the launch for an additional 30 days to iron out any additional issues.

3. Scope of work

Although I left this for last it’s also one of the most important things that will affect the cost of your website. Any experienced web designer has obviously been asked to design a Facebook knockoff with 2 or 3 special features and the real kicker was when they heard how much the person was willing to pay…now you know why some designers throw tantrums especially if they initially agreed to such a project unless it was all just for fun.  

Scope of work for a website project will often involve detailing to the minute level what you want to see at the end of the day and not just some vague generality. It’s often best to open a similar website and point out a specific exact feature if you have one in mind than just mention it verbally in the passing. One of the things that I like to do when scoping out the project during the initial meeting is to not only open specific websites but to also sketch out the website and the different pages based on your concept. What I’ve found is that once everyone is looking at the screen and also once it’s on paper there is a higher level of clarity.

Hopefully this has opened your eyes to understanding the true cost of what goes into a website. If you are looking for more insight or have a few more questions please get in touch with me here.