Web design pricing doesn’t need to be complicated – I can give you some ideas relatively quickly on what you’d pay for different types of features on your website.
You should pay at least enough to know you're hiring a professional! This is one reason to not pick the cheapest possible provider as they aren't necessarily going to be the type that is "in demand."
Now you also want to be wise with your budget, so don't pay for 'out there' things that you can't verify with data. Ask how much your website provider might be able to estimate an increase in sales – and often this will get them thinking in the right direction, and considering what kind of promotion your website will need to actually increase your revenue.
This is a complicated question, because a cheap website will likely cost you more in the end than an expensive one… But not always
Full disclosure: As a freelancer I sold my first website for 500 bucks and an Ipad, and I’ve worked on websites that are 30-50 grand as a primary designer. So that’s my range of knowledge. You can find a website on Craigslist or the website Fiverr for 100 bucks, perhaps, and have other templated designs done for 500-1000. Freelancers start around there and you start moving into occasionally decent freelancers around 2000 and above… Usually we’re talking a website on a ‘Content Management System’ such as WordPress as a basic marketing brochure type website. You’d likely be getting a pretty poorly made E-Commerce site at anything under 5000 dollars, or anyways it would be quite a gamble.
Legitimate agencies seem to charge 7,000 and up for even your basic marketing brochure type website, and 10,000 and up for anything with E-Commerce involved. So I think it’s pretty clear, you should be pretty serious about making money with your website before you get into purchasing one. Likely, agencies price these websites out and are able to charge these amounts because of the extensive back and forth with the client, the in-house processes that have to happen to make sure the proper checks and balances are taken into account.
Designers can be cheap, but designers with a true understanding of how websites work, what’s going to make the most effective website, and how to create something that will truly bring a return-on-investment, are usually not. Developers are rarely cheap, and if they are, they are likely working from another country and this presents layers of complexity that can cause issues or at the very least need to be offset with strong communication.
Your website cost will likely be dependent on location, any special functionality, how easy you’ll be to deal with, the time it will take, and the value it will provide
A couple wild cards that will affect what you’ll pay:
Los Angeles, California? Expect that designers in your area are very well paid and understand the value of the service they are providing. A small town? Consider that the designer you are working with could be malnourished as far as recent trends and complex programming languages go, but that might not matter for your project. Designers in small towns might be a hellava lot cheaper that big cities, and sometimes you’ll be lucky to find a cheap but extremely effective designer in other areas as well.
Do you want to have deep categories of products where each product spins 360 degrees accentuating it’s voluptuous curves? Or are you okay with featuring a row of three products on your front page in static boxes? Rest assured it will take a ton more time and effort to create deeply interactive elements to a site, and thus should be considered in pricing, where simpler more static sites will be quicker to create and thus are usually much cheaper.
You should be aware that if you are going to be a difficult client to work for (tons of revisions, changing what you want, being rude, aggressive, or passive aggressive) than design teams and the people that you are getting prices from are likely going to take that into consideration when giving you a quote.
Some sites just have a ton of pages or content and if that is part of the scope for the design team, this time will likely drive up the cost of the site as well.
There is a movement amongst designers to understand better what value their work is providing to the companies and organizations they are designing for. If a designer prices his work on the value it provides it positions the conversation around the design work as an investment. As a designer it’s important to ask about the growth of the company, what the client is looking to have the website do for them, and some practical attainable goals the website might help the company achieve.
This is good for both the designer or design team and the company, as actionable steps can be taken throughout the design process to make sure that these goals are taken into consideration.
If a designer is designing for value, he knows that he cannot price out a local bead store at the same price as a national ketchup brand, even if for some reason the websites take exactly the same amount of time to create. The ketchup brand’s website is likely going to help them make 100’s of thousands of dollars or more in the next year if done well, while the beads store may only net them a few hundred. The monetary value needs to be considered, but also the emotional value of the website. If I have a professional website, the way I’m perceived changes, and the way my employees perceive their job changes.
When a designer or design team positions the conversation about buying a website around value, it better enables them to vet out clients that might not be an appropriate fit. If they can tell that an amazing website wouldn’t help this company make more money, they can politely decline. No one want’s to create something beautiful or amazing that will never be used or appreciated. Rather than have the company come to them later and say, “Why didn’t this website drive up sales?!” the designer can take heed if they see that the company doesn’t have a lot of promise in the first place or for whatever reason the value they’d bring wouldn’t be an appropriate investment for that particular company. Designers who take on clients who hold unreasonable expectations are usually the ones who exclaim in frustration later ‘What is the deal with these clients?!?’ Well if all the clients seem to be unintelligent, Mr. Designer, perhaps the problem isn’t with them and it’s time for a little soul-searching. I’m idealistic that I will be able to one day only choose the clients who I can create a ton of value for, and make sure expectations are clear so that I can surpass them.
If you aren’t well prepared for this process, if you don’t consider buying a website an investment into the future of your company, spare the design team or designer the headache and don’t buy one! Many companies think of this as an expense rather than an investment, and unfortunately they go into it hoping to spend as little as possible. When you do this at the outset of a project rather than trying to get the best website possible, you handicap your business. You will likely be paying later for this and will probably have to have your website redesigned sooner than it should be, or may end up spending too much money on other marketing efforts funneling people to a smelly website.
Beyond just getting a solid website for your business, you’re going to need other services related to online presence unless you do these already really well yourselves. I’m actually not trying to sell any of these services myself, so don’t think I’m trying to sell you stuff.
Social media building and regular posting.
Search engine optimization work including a strategy to continuously build out the content of your website to bring people in.
Ideally you’d have a strategy to test your website with real non-tech oriented people and make changes (or User Testing.)
I saw a tweet recently that basically suggested if you’re not doing some of these things above that you might as well not waste your money on a website and I think that sentiment is pretty spot on. A website without people coming to it does very little for a company, and if people can’t find your site through social media and search engines it would be a damn shame if you spent very much on it.
A little caveat: spending a bunch of money on a website doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be good either. Vet the designer or design team you are considering, read their case studies or look at examples of their work to see their process.
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