by Phil Birss
7 min read
How much does a website cost?
Author: Phil Birss
Posted in Websites on 24th September 2017 10:02 am
One of the main questions business owners and marketers ask is – How much does a website cost? Although this is a difficult question to answer, I will do my best to explain the basic principles of pricing a website project. The following comes from my experience working in the marketing sector, as both a supplier of web development services, and as a customer buying a website for my business.
The purchase of a website is much like buying a car or buying a home. There are many different options available to you, and the standard of website you end up with will be determined by your requirements for the platform and by your budget.
Consider buying a car and the basic requirement to get from home to work every morning. A car must have the basic functions of an engine, a seat, some wheels and a method of steering the vehicle. For a very modest budget you could pick a car that will get you from A to B. The more you drive the car, the more you realise that it would be nice to have some added extras, heated seats perhaps for the long winter months.
Choosing someone to build you a website follows a similar process of buying any high value item, and in my experience, depends on three key factors:
To keep things simple, I have broken down the expected costs into three broad categories focusing for the sake of this article on non ecommerce, information-only websites.
Start-ups and young businesses usually need a basic website with a minimal number of pages, some information about the business and their contact details. For a budget of around £500 – £2,000 a local (or not so local) web developer will buy a boilerplate ‘theme’ from an online shop such as Themeforest and set up your website. Most themes have a variety of options and the developer will spend their time tailoring it to your specific needs.
The price to develop the website will depend on how far from the original bolierplate theme you would like to go. The fewer changes you need, the quicker the setup process will be for the developer. Developers for this type of work normally come from referrals from friends and family, or from freelancer websites, such as People Per Hour. Developers who work at this level are normally home-based, self-employed and have minimal overheads. This means that you are just paying for the their time based on an hourly rate of work. Hourly rates can be anything from £15 up to £50 per hour, depending on the skill level and reputation of the developer.
The major challenge with using a theme to build your website is that you are limited by the options provided by the theme’s original creator. Aside from choosing your own images, the design of the website will be completely determined by the theme, so finding a theme that you like will be crucial. Any changes to the core functionality of the boilerplate can be full of hidden challenges, as the developer has to work with someone else’s code, adding further time to build. For most young businesses the trade off of low cost for less control is one they are normally happy with.
As your business moves beyond the startup phase and has been trading a few years, the nature of your work is likely to evolve. Your original website will now be either defunct, or just in need of some updating to bring it in line with your new business aspirations.
At this point, you will probably be looking for a more customisable website platform without the limitations of a boilerplate theme. For a budget of between £2,000 – £12,000 a local web development agency will provide a semi-bespoke or fully bespoke website. At the lower end of this budget a boilerplate theme with significant alterations will still be your only option, but as you move up towards the upper end of this budget developers will be able to build a more bespoke solution.
The advantages of a bespoke solution are obvious: more control over the design, the functionality and the content management of your new website. At the upper level of this budget, developers can start to include more advanced functionality, such as integrating with your CRM and email marketing tools. Also, at the upper end of this budget the new platform will be designed by a professional web designer who will take a brief from you, work on some design concepts and come back with a bespoke design. The website will then be built by a professional web developer using the latest coding techniques and to your specific requirements.
Agencies working at this level tend to have 2-5 staff. This probably includes a designer, a developer and the owners of the business, often with everyone tasked to fulfil multiple roles and various responsibilities. It is unlikely that agencies at this level will have a dedicated project manager, whose role is to manage the internal process and the relationship with you. A dedicated project manager will ensure that your new website is fully planned out before starting, and that it is delivered on time and to budget.
Once your business is established and has its long-term objectives clearly defined, a new website to support growth becomes a key investment. At this point, I would recommend choosing a marketing agency who will go beyond design and help you to create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, which will includes a new website.
If you are looking to work with a top regional or national agency, costs for a website development project will start from around £12,000 and could go up to £50,000 and beyond. The development costs at this level vary greatly and largely depend on three key factors:
Technical requirements – At this level there will usually be complex coding challenges such as custom functions, integrations with third-party systems on multiple levels, payment gateways, multi-language and multi-region, just to mention a few. This is not to say that you cannot have custom functions on a lower budget, but it is unlikely that the solution will be robust enough to support your business as it grows.
Stakeholder management – Stakeholder and project management becomes a crucial requirement at this level. In smaller businesses where it is just you making all the decisions the website development process is a relatively simple affair. In larger organisations, let’s say anything over 50 people, there will be multiple people across multiple divisions of the business, all with different priorities for the new website. Here is a common scenario:
All of these requirements are compatible, but make sure the agency that you choose has experience working with large and diverse stakeholder groups. Understanding the complexities of your organisation is one thing, but managing politics, competing priorities and egos is where agencies at this level really earn their money.
Budget – At this level, budget is still a key factor, but my recommendation is to find an agency that understands your business and that is looking forge a long-term partnership. The goals for any marketing initiative should always be to increase brand awareness and to generate revenue above and beyond the investment made. Whatever the price of your new website, your only real objective is to make sure that it represents good value for money for the business.
Hopefully, this article has answered some of your questions around ‘How much is a website? and How much does a website cost? If you have a website design or development project, and would a chat around costs then please say hello.
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