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How Much Will it Cost to Build a Website?
Posted on September 19th 2013
How much does a website cost? As a web designer, this is without a doubt the most difficult question a person can ask me. This is the equivalent of asking “How much does a car cost?” or “How much does a vacation cost”? The only answer is simply, “it depends.” If a family of four takes a week-long trip to Disneyworld and stays in a five-star resort, the cost of that vacation is going to be very different than the vacation cost of the couple who takes a weekend road trip to a quaint bed and breakfast 50 miles away. The same goes for websites. It all depends on what you want your website to be able do, the message you want to send, and the desired functionality for your users. Every web design project is so different that it is nearly impossible to quantify exactly how much it’s going to cost without knowing very specific details of your project.
Websites are NOT Products, they are Services.
A major problem in web design these days is that websites are being sold as products rather than as services. A good website is more than something you can just whip up and hand off to a client all neatly wrapped. Web design is a process that requires time and communication between client, designer and/or marketer if it is to be done right. Viewing a website as a continuing service helps to better understand why a one-off price isn’t a simple thing to give. This is why many agencies choose to charge an hourly or weekly rate for a website design, because it puts the client in control of their costs and their final product.
No Two Websites are Alike
Ask any agency or freelancer out there for a website design quote, and you could see prices that range anywhere from $500 to $500,000. The low end of this spectrum might include an out-of-the-box template using stock images with very little customization; the high end might be a large custom-built website with corresponding mobile app, content creation, blog management, professional photography and video production elements. It can really vary based on the client’s vision of the end goals of the website.
Given the endless possibilities when it comes to deciding how to build a website, here are a few questions I like to ask before entering into a new client/designer relationship:
- Is this a new website or are you redesigning?
- Have you given any thought about how you want your new site to look, or are we starting from scratch?
- Do you need the ability to frequently update content on your site?
- Do you have content written, or will you require content creation?
- Do want your site to have multimedia elements like video?
- Will you need custom graphics or photography?
- Will you need us to set up domain hosting for your site?
- Will you require ongoing support or maintenance after the site has launched?
Each answer given is going to contribute to the total cost of the site as well as the total time it will take to build the site.
You Get What You Pay For
What many fail to realize is that it is very difficult to say to a designer, “Just make me a website!” There are a lot of considerations that go into a successful site, and you need to find someone who is going to be able to help you create something that will help grow your business and establish your online presence. There are plenty of free services out there, as well as low-cost designers that will throw up a template for you on the cheap, but if you want a custom website with unique content, photos and/or videos, and the security of ongoing maintenance, you’re going to have to pay to play.
Ultimately, a website design costs what you want it to cost, but if you pay enough to establish a trusting designer/client relationship with a member of a reputable design firm, you’re more likely to be satisfied with the end result.