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How Much Does a Website Cost?

4 out of 5 inquiries from new customers begin with some form of the question, “How much does a website cost?”

I think they would be most happy if we could open up the magic website price book and provide them with a useful answer. Instead, we usually say … “Well, that depends upon the type of website you would like to build.”  (How’s that for helpful?)

Actually, it is helpful because such a question begins a discussion that allows both parties to thumbnail out the actual scope of the project at hand.

Here is my firm’s approach to collecting the information necessary to provide initial pricing estimates.  It is a four quadrant model that includes: scale, features & functionality, content development, and interactivity.

Scale – How many sections and pages are we thinking about here?  Is it a redesign of your current site whereby the size of the site might grow by a foreseeable percentage?  Is there a competing site that does a good job capturing the information we’re hoping to capture?  Have you jotted out a preliminary sitemap?  The more thoughts the client can provide on the scale of the site, the quicker we can provide helpful budgetary information.

Features & Functionality – Basically this means “what do you want visitors to be able to do on your site?” – and – “what type of management control and integration are you looking for on the back end?”.   Front end features are usually more obvious.  Are you looking for basic forms, links, and a search feature?  Do you want to post jobs, manage news & events, and host a forum?  Is ecommerce involved? (If so, get ready for a good many more questions.)  Back end features are typically not as thought through.  What degree of content management are you looking for?  Does the site need to integrate with any other software, servers, databases?  One atypical feature request can easily add 50% to the cost of a web project.

Content Development – Content covers both the copy (words on the page) and the images (photos, illustrations, video).  Will the client be providing final website copy?  Or, will you be in need of copywriting and/or copyediting services?  To what degree?  Is there any video production needed for the website?  Will we be using stock photography, client-provided photography, or custom photography?

Interactivity – How much interactivity are we wanting to incorporate into the website?  Hold all other parts equal (scale, features, content), a website with a high degree of interactivity (transitions, multimedia presentations, flash integration) can easily cost 2-3 times more than a basic static website.

To make the “how much?” question even more interesting, the “how much” often depends upon “who” you’re asking.

As you move across the scale from part timers/freelancers/students/friends to very-large-agencies, the cost of a similarly scoped project will increase exponentially.  Experience, team size, and overhead all get factored in and influence the pricing.  On the plus side, you do usually get what you pay for.  Not always.  Usually.  Also, it’s sometimes comforting to know that your web resource will be reliable and won’t be moving/leaving the industry/graduating/you-name-it any time soon.

Technologies used to create your website certainly influence price.  Microsoft licensing costs can add up.  Open source web technology provides a major value, though is not welcome in all organizations.

Lastly, certainly not least, is the degree of search engine optimization effort that is provided with your website.   If a web partner is going to invest the time and effort to identify how people find your business and then incorporate that knowledge into the architecture of the website, be prepared to see at least a few thousand dollars added to the cost of the project.

Some sites cost $1,200.  Others $300,000.  Still others $2MM.   There’s no one price for a website, only a series of trade-offs.

So there we have it, right?

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4 Responses to “How Much Does a Website Cost?”

  1. Business Marketing Training Says:

    Great article, I really like the last paragraph where you explain how important it is to build the site so people can find it! That is really important in the business I am in, educating business owners how to get customers from the internet.

  2. Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Says:

    Great article. Creating a website can be an incredibly intensive process or it can be knocked out in a couple hours. The difference is whether you want a legitimate website that serves your purposes or something that was created to satisfy a college project.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Barbara Zaccone Says:

    This is an excellent topic. Most people know they get what they pay for. So if you receive a price quote that is so far from several other estimates then I would eliminate that option. If a company comes in extremely low there is also a possibility the company is using off shore development. The bottom line is that companies don’t mind investing in quality if they know they are going to get the results. I wrote an article that quantifies in dollars and cents how to justify the redesign of a web site. The article is entitled The True Cost of Procrastination http://www.bza.com/bza_blog/2008/10/02/the-true-cost-of-procrastination/

  4. albuquerque web development Says:

    Excellent post!I am a freelancer and according to my experience technologies used ,search engine optimization effort that is provided with our website, useful and interesting content and good features and functions of that site plays a vital role to influence price.Your blog is simply awesome with lots of useful information.Thanks for sharing.

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