How Much Does A Professional Website Cost

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How much does a professional website cost is like asking how much does a car cost. There are so many different factors that go into the construction and the design of the website, as well as the overall planning and architecture. The better question would be, how much do you want to spend on the website? Let’s look at some examples and see how the numbers play out.

How Much Does A Website Cost

Factors That Effect Cost

So if I were to answer the question “How much does a website cost?”, I would answer it with a question: What do you want the website to do? But that’s not why you’re reading this post, you’re reading this post because you want to know how much a website costs! Lets look at a few examples and see if we can determine just how much it is.

Marketing Cost

Before we even get into how much the website costs, let’s talk about the cost of the lead. Company A is not really a company. Company A is a freelancer working out of his or her house. Company A doesn’t do any marketing or sales, they just do work for friends of friends.

Company B is a professional website development company, they have an office, they have a sales team, they call you back when you call, they spend time consulting and talking with you on the phone and they produce a nice proposal. They are active in the community, blogging, attending community events, networking, and generally being an information providing resource. So Company B spends a considerable amount of time and money on sales and marketing. As a result they have invested in you before you even meet them.

Company A: $0
Company B: $1,000

Planning Cost Of A Website

First let’s look at planning the website. How much time do you actually want to spend before you even start to think about  design. I would say this is a major factor in the cost of the website. There are website design companies out there that will send you a questionnaire, you fill out the questionnaire, send it back and that is the extent of the planning of your website.

On the other hand you have companies that are more engaged, you come in and meet with the team and you talk about your goals and your key activities that you would like to use your website for. You spend a little more time figuring out what the final action of the website would be, and then you work toward that final action in the architecture of the site. Let’s say the team is five people, the billable rate for those five people are a hundred bucks an hour, you meet with them for two hours, that equals $1000. There will be team discussion after the meeting is over and someone will need to write up a brief, so figure another 2 1/2 hours at $100 an hour, that’s $1,250 total.

Company A: $0
Company B: $1,250

Website Design Cost

Now let’s talk about design. Company A is a one man show, he or she gets your questionnaire and starts the design themselves. Company A starts a design based on your questionnaire, they might even provide two designs for you because they want to make sure you get the website design you like. The key phrase in this paragraph is they want to make sure you get the website design you like.

Company B on the other hand has completed research in the market, the’ve discussed goals with you and they’ve had discussions about what’s the most appropriate architecture so that a user of your website gets to that final action. Company B has built wireframes and they have developed a style guide which includes fonts and colors to use. They also have put all of the information together from research to develop a proof that is the best possible solution for your business. The key take away here is that it’s the best possible solution for your business so that you can acquire or reach your goals by using a methodology.

Company A: $1,000
Company B: $2,500

Project Management Of A Website

At this point we should really be talking about Project management, because company A is reading through questionnaires, designing the sites and doing a lot of other things that a single person has to do.  Unfortunately they are not very involved in the management of your project.

Company B most likely has a project management system and a project manager dedicated to be the lead in the project. They are the person that you’ll want to talk to when you have a question or some other concern.

Company A: $500
Company B: $1,000

Development Cost Of A Website

There are a few things to think about in website development that can drastically effect price, so I’ll lay out a couple scenarios. Keeping in the theme of our freelancer versus our professional web design company, I’ll try and explain.

Company A is a team of one and knows how to build a website from school and experience. They build sites the same way, and try to keep it simple so they do not run into any issues. The code is basic and many times has unseen errors that will cause your website to rank lower in search engines.

Company B has a team of developers and are continuously challenging themselves to push the limits of what websites can do.  They try and optimize the code to load faster and write it clean so there are no errors in the code. They collaborate on new technologies and teach each other what they do and don’t know. They usually write code in an advanced language like PHP or ColdFusion, which makes updates easier and more cost effective in the future or even run a content management system.

Company A: $1,000
Company B: $4,000

Website Testing & Launch

Testing of a website is an important factor. Company A—the freelancer—usually test code as he or she is writing it. It’s pretty normal to write a page of code, test it, then move on to the next page. The issue is as pages become related to each other, you make a change on one page and it breaks something on another page. I’ve seen many sites with errors due to this oversight. I just had a client call me for this very reason, related forms were breaking and the freelancer he was using could not launch a functional site for him.

Company B has a testing protocol, and many times will use a complete 3rd party testing service. This is a best practice we follow, it’s like a mini focus group for your website. Website testing comes with a cost, but its always good practice to have a third party test your site. After all, your customer is a third party, so you want to make sure their experience is top notch.

Company B may also have IT support to help with your website launch, domain name and email, which is a huge benefit for a small business.

Company A: $0
Company B: $1,000

Website Maintenance & Support

After a website launches is when the work begins. Some small businesses develop a website and then let it sit for months or even years. We suggest to continually maintain and improve your website after launch if you want to attract and convert customers. Regardless if you decide to let it sit or start your internet marketing journey, you will need some type of post-launch website maintenance and support.

Company A most likely will launch your site, then retreat to a reactive role. If you find errors or need improvements, you’ll have to touch base and most likely pay for it. This is pretty standard in the web design industry.

Company B may give you a specific number of hours for a set number of months for any bugs, improvements, training or consultation. Lets use a basic site for example, it would not need a large amount of post-launch services.

Company A: $0
Company B: $500

So How Much Does A Website Cost?

Using our examples above, we can come to a logical conclusion for the cost and price differences of a website developed by a smaller one person company and a somewhat larger web development firm.

Company A: $2,500
Company B: $10,250

Company A is much cheaper than Company B, but it’s due to some very specific reasons. Website development is one of those things where you get what you pay for. There are some exceptions to this. An example of an exception is a company that has built a web application so that they can offer big value for a lower cost. We have developed a low cost website solution for small business that offers a responsive website, content management system (CMS) and a customer relationship manager (CRM).

If you have an comments or thoughts to add, please leave it below. I’d love to use it in a future post.

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2 responses to “How Much Does A Professional Website Cost”

  1. Rachel Berdan says:

    I have this conversation so frequently, and really appreciate the way you broke it down. The design distinction was a particularly good point.

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