What should a website cost?

The type of website is the biggest driver of cost.

Most business websites function as a marketing tool that informs the reader and then provides options for contact. These types of sites are critical for outlining the capabilities of the company and going into detail about the products and services.

Search engines like Google will send robots to crawl the site and gather information that is then used to rank it against competitors sites. HubSpot is an outstanding platform for creating and controlling your sales and marketing efforts. HubSpot pioneered “Inbound Marketing” in which you attract customers in through thought leadership and valuable web content to convert them into qualified business leads. Over time time you delight your customers into becoming advocates for sharing your business with others.

While there is no direct transaction of money or private information through a business marketing site, it’s very important to monitor the health of your traffic and follow all protocols that keep the site relevant and on target.

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Another type of website is eCommerce which will showcase a large amount of individual products for direct purchase with key intent on transacting money, and integrating with accounting/shipping software. There are some great platforms available like Shopify and BigCommerce that have streamlined this type of website for different industries.

They now come with search capabilities built in to the site, along with product data, and a whole array of useful add-ons. These sites require a lot of maintenance and can become a huge mess if not built properly.

 

You get what you pay for.

Ultimately when it comes to cost, the simple answer is that much like any other large investment, you get what you pay for. The price reflects the needs and required performance by the client with consideration to the business opportunity. Consider the rise in online shopping over just the last few years and the overall impacts of COVID going forward.

Why do some developers charge more than others?

While type of site is the largest factor, it also matters who you are employing to build your site and the context of their introduction. The more complicated answer is that there are many factors that contribute to the overall price of a website. For example the opportunity cost to the developers.

Some web designers and developers still operate in a “wild west” type of environment in which they will charge as much as they possibly can depending on how much work they have already. Other influences could be how well-known your business is, or how lucrative the industry it operates in.

Should a CPA have to pay more for a new website than a landscaping company? Perhaps, but it should not be based on who has deeper pockets.

Also there are situational costs that affect price. For example, ever notice that when you mention “wedding” the cost of photography and cake triples? In a similar way, government web projects typically go way over-budget but underperform compared to private sector projects.

Type of Website Project Web Design Cost Annual Site Maintenance Costs
Informational or Small Business Website
(8-16 pages)
$1,500 - $9,000 $600 - $1,800
Corporate Website
(25-75 pages)
$6,500 - $25,000 $2,000 - $15,000
eCommerce Website
(100-1000 products)
$4,000 - $45,000 $12,000 - $35,000
Database Driven Website or Website Application
(20-2000 pages)
$5,500 - $65,000 $20,000 - $50,000

So how can we boil this down to a simple incremental measurement of value?

Freshbooks states that “web designers typically charge about $75 per hour. A business website could potentially cost between $5,000 and $10,000, with $6,760 being the average cost to set up, design, build and create content for a basic website”. The full article on pricing is here.

Sounds reasonable, but is something still missing?

The underlying concern should not be, what is the hourly rate or the overall fee, but more along the lines of “does the value justify the price”? Would you pay $100 per gallon for gas? Not normally, but perhaps if you were stuck in the desert like Clark Griswold and had no other option, you would have to. How about another scenario, in which the full tank of gas would help you finish a job that would net a 10x profit. There is context that must be applied to assess value.

The truth is that every web project is different. While all websites should be attractive, mobile friendly, and optimized for speed – there are many unique factors. Define scope and thoroughly outline all of the goals. Set milestones and revisit them often to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

The world will continue to build on it’s digital capabilities and the need is greater than ever for a strong web presence.

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