How much does a website cost? The Ultimate Guide

web-design

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to web design. The problem with this question is that it’s too general as it all depends on the requirements that you have. A response which I’m sure you will have heard countless times before.

The reason why most web designers use this response is because there are way too many technologies out there, technologies which are there to satisfy various requirements. To clarify: if you want a static (not database driven or better explained as hard coded) brochure website with 5 pages to promote your company on the internet and all you need is a contact form and portfolio, then a decent designer with HTML/CSS skills will do the job for you easily and your website will be done in a matter of days for a reasonable budget. However, if you’re in need of a complex and dynamic website with all the bells and whistles that require a special skill set such as C programming, Ruby on Rails, and PHP programming – then you can expect a longer development period as well as a significantly higher price.

The problem with understanding web design prices is the understanding of the technology involved and the invested time and skills behind the project.

How to choose the right web designer

The first and most important step to take is to do your homework. Being knowledgeable about what you need is something that helps you prevent costly mistakes such as trying out cheap designers that offer the same job as the big companies at half the price. An important point to note is that bigger agencies have bigger running costs resulting in higher prices, but they have the experience and skill sets they need to finish the project on time and within budget. When it comes to cheaper freelancers the most common problem you’ll find is that they can’t finish the required work on time and also it maybe the case that their knowledge is less in depth in some specific areas of a project although that’s not to say they’re strong in one or more specific area.

You know the old expression: “Jack of all trades, Master of none”, Agencies have people who have focused knowledge in specific areas, which brings the added value from their experience. As freelancers most often charge at hourly rates your website could easily reach the price of a web design agency if they can’t finish the project in a timely manner or cover all corners thus making you lose out on the price advantage. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t trust a freelancer; it simply means that you need to take such things into account before you decide on whom to choose. There are ways of minimising these situations with better management. Below is a checklist for you to consider before you decide where to take your business:

  • Make sure you ask more than one web designer for advice. Do not jump into an agreement just because it’s cheap.
  • Take a look at their portfolio and see if you can find similar projects among them to what you have in mind.
  • Call them and ask for advice (most web designers are happy to help you understand your needs).
  • Meet them in person if you can. Web design is something that requires trust. A good designer wants to look behind the scenes and help you make the right decision.
  • Great designers always have some good ideas to improve your business.
  • Don’t forget! The more successful your website is the better reputation your web designer will have, so your success is theirs too.

So how much should web design and development cost?

website-costsThere is nothing to hide when it comes to pricing. Most designers are afraid of putting their price structure visible on their websites, because they think it’s either too expensive or too cheap to showcase. But of course, buyers want to know the price as they want to be sure it fits within their budget. The biggest problem is coming across freelancers who charge £150 for a 5 page brochure website (which is a strong indicator of bad quality). We look for good quality websites because after all, a website is your reception desk on the Internet and we clearly don’t want to look cheap, dated or unprofessional.

So here is what to expect for decent quality:

£800 – £2,000

This is most likely the entry level range and meets the majority of web design requests You’ll find that this to be the most popular price range to get a decent, professionally designed website from an experienced freelancer or a small to medium sized web design agency with a great reputation and an extensive portfolio.

The difference between agencies tends to depend on their approach to the project. You’ll be surprised how many agencies sell modified templates as “custom design”, so be wary before signing a contract with them and make sure it’s really a custom bespoke design that you’re getting. There is of course, nothing wrong with using templates if it fits the project requirements, but clients should be aware of them so as not to be sold one as a custom or bespoke design.

If you dig a little deeper during your research you’ll find companies providing custom design at this price range, which means they will tailor your website to your exact needs meaning it’s bespoke. This could make a huge difference to your online success later on so it’s ideal to take this into account.

Professional companies also take care of basic website optimisation as default, but be aware that search engine optimisation as such requires a different skill set entirely and not every web design company has their own in-house SEO staff.
Web copy is usually not included in this price range, so you’ll most likely need to provide your own content, but this also depends on the size of the website.

£2,000 – £5,000

In this price range you will get a full custom design. This range allows you to sit back and relax because your web designer will do the hard work for you – from website branding to style and layout. Do expect this to take longer to be made as all the planning and brainstorming is part of the package, which personally I believe to be the most important part of the development process. A well thought out design can make the right impression on your target audience and this is the key mission of web design.

Sites in this price range will likely include copywriting as part of the package so you don’t need to worry about writing your own content. Contents will be written by a professional copywriter and will be optimised for search engine for optimal results.

Custom functionality is likely to be possible in this price range as well, so that booking system, system integration, social integration, widget or PayPal integration is more likely to be included in this pricing bracket.

This price range could also include some basic ecommerce elements or could be a complete ecommerce site with limited capabilities that allows you to run an online shop for selling products or services online.

£5,000 – £10,000

This price range allows you to have a fully customised ecommerce website with an unlimited number of products. This is a suitable range for accommodation based websites as well as online shops with branding and custom style/layout. This is a robust money making machine designed to provide all the capabilities an ecommerce system requires with integrated payment system, shopping carts, online chats and customer service.

£10,000+

This is getting into the area of fully bespoke systems and platforms with mission critical or business critical requirements having the website at the core of the business model. For example that social media or service SaaS (Software as a Service) website idea you have, this requires careful planning and coding from scratch and requires considerable time in planning, design, development and testing to get this right.

This is also where the very complex website solutions will be possible, so for example: ecommerce combined with subscriptions or a deep integration with a different system to make the website work the way you want. The possibilities are limitless in this Golden Age.

Summary

The list doesn’t stop here as there are many other opportunities for web development. These are the most common price ranges, however there are of course cheaper and more expensive options on the market. Prices vary and always depend on how a company operates. You’ll find that cheaper freelancers charge the rates they do as their expenses are considerably lower than a web design agency but this doesn’t always necessarily mean that their quality is lower. But don’t forget agencies have more people with specialised skill sets to contribute to every project they work on.
Whether you choose an agency or a freelancer it’s recommended that you do your own research on which one is the best to suit your budget and requirements. Don’t stop by the first agency and don’t make a decision based on how close they are to you. Think about web design as a long-term investment. This is going to be your shop window on the Internet and inbound marketing strategy so take care of how people view your business.

If you have a project in mind or just a have a question about web design feel free to get in touch we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Images by: Howard Lake and Lee Brimelow

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