what it costs to build a website

What it costs to build a website should be a simple question but the fact is that there are many variables to understand before you can work out the cost of a website. 

Until you have some requirements, it's like asking how long is a piece of string. 

So let’s narrow down our options and talk specifics. For the purposes of this article we are talking to: 

  • Small to mid-sized business
  • You don’t want to do the work yourself.

The importance of ‘requirements’

This might be ok if you’ve got a substantial slush fund to cover any overruns, but if you are running to a budget, then this is a real danger sign.

First step is to understand what you want your website to do. This is fundamental to understanding what it’s going to cost. Without a ‘shopping list’ of requirements to start with it will be hard to accurately quote for the work.

Quite often what happens is a business engages a web developer, based on a quote provided, but then end up with a blow out in charges because there are numerous changes to the scope, and a heap of work charged that hadn’t originally been factored in. 

This might be ok if you’ve got a substantial slush fund to cover any overruns, but if you are running to a budget, then this is a real danger sign.

You need to ask yourself this.

Once you start, will you be able to stop when the costs start escalating beyond your original budget? 

To explain, consider how much does it cost to build a house? If your architect prices the building of your house to be $200,000 but then, as you go along, you add a few rooms, change what you’re building the house out of etc then there is nothing for it but to incur additional costs. Building a website is exactly the same. If you’re not clear on what I’m saying, then just watch a few episodes of Grand Designs to understand the impact of not having a clear scope up front. 

What do you want the website to do? 

So what are the types of things that we would want a website to do? Do you need your website to: 

  • Sell products online
  • Encourage people to give you a call to book a meeting or appointment
  • Bring people into your bricks and mortar shop or location
  • Help your customers with after sales services and questions
  • Provide ongoing education to your clients
  • Drive as much traffic as possible to a blog.

The list just goes on.

All of these ‘activities’ mean that you have a different technical requirement, along with different content and number of pages and ‘templates’ that need to be designed and built. 

Now let’s look at some examples. 

1.    Website with home page, contact us page with a form to submit, a few pages with content selling your services, location map, an email capture form for your newsletter or a lead magnet and a blog. 

Price estimate: $800 - $5,000

Why such a range? Well you have options. At the low end, you will be reliant on your own skills to tackle the design and web copy elements of your website. 

At the higher end, this is a Wordpress site, based on a template but includes some time from a copywriter to write great content, a graphic designer to provide a polished design to the website along with the perfect selection of images and photography for your website. The higher end also includes:

  • time spent setting up your website analytics
  • making sure that you’re all set up for SEO
  • is responsive across all mobiles and is speedy to load.

These are all essentials that are needed to make sure your website is a good experience for your visitors as well as being set to go for Google and other search engines to readily index your website. 

Somewhere in between is a more reasonable price for a website that will achieve high conversion rates, allowing your potential customers to find you, to answer their questions and give them easy access to contact information regardless of what device your website is displayed on. 

Recommendation: Spend about $2,000. For most businesses, particularly smaller sized business, you won’t need the high end website. In fact, I would caution you against spending too much on a website, as you don’t want to be in a position where you are never going to get a return on the investment. I say this because, there are other activities you will need to think about. For example, how will you drive the right customers to your website? 

For this price you can get a WordPress site that is scalable to allow for any future needs of your business, and will ensure you have a mobile responsive, well-constructed website that will convert and that is ready to be indexed by the search engines to help you be ‘discovered’ by your potential audience. This price won’t cover a lot of web copy or design, but it will get you started with all the right elements. 

2.    A shopping cart with 20 products listed, home page with featured products and some promotional elements and content, contact us page with a form to submit, a few pages with content selling your services, an email capture form for your newsletter or a lead magnet and a blog.  

Price estimate: $2,000 - $25,000

Similar to the above, you have a range of options. You will need to consider who will do your web copy, as well as getting your products into the website for display, along with design and photography. There are many shopping cart options out there, but if you want a site that will perform well and convert as much as your traffic as possible, then it’s important to focus on the things that will make a difference. For example, on the fly calculation and display of delivery costs as part of the product display (not when they get to the end of the shopping cart), abandoned cart automated follow up, tailoring of receipts and tailoring to display your particular products in the best possible light. 

Recommendation: It's hard to make a recommendation on something with a lot of scope for differences, but being mindful of future needs and not over investing before you've got income coming through the door is always important. Spend between $2,000 and $5,000 on a Wordpress site that is scalable and will allow you to add to it over time as it delivers a strong return on your investment. You can easily do the product population yourself to keep costs down but this recommended cost allows you to build a mobile responsive, well-constructed website that will convert and that is ready to be indexed by the search engines to help you be ‘discovered’ by your potential audience. 

3.    A membership site that allows you to sell access to educational information. It will include home page, contact page, pricing page, how it all works, conversion pages, and secure pages with content for your paying customers, easy management of your members within the secure portal. 

Price estimate: $4,000 - $35,000 (and upwards)

The thing that will drive up costs on a membership website will be complexity in the pricing, varying membership levels, the amount of content that is required, whether there is any integration required with another system you might have such as an automated marketing system or email program. 

If you are bringing your own content completed to the table this will also help to keep costs down. 

Recommendation: I don't want to give a recommendation on this one. Depending on the complexity of your service /offering will determine how much work is needed to be done by a web developer. 

What kind of platform should you use?  

My bias is generally with WordPress because: 

  1. there is no shortage of skilled web developers out there with WordPress skills at very reasonable prices
  2. it’s very scalable with a lot of options to scale up as your grow and want to build you’re your online offering to your customers. 

If your web developer is recommending a different system to build your website on, you should really understand the benefits of using that system over another. Be sure that there are plenty of other developers available for hire, at a reasonable rate and that your web developer is not suggesting a system because they are most familiar with it, versus what is the best fit for you business. 

If your having trouble working out your requirements or the kind of web developer or web solution, then these additional articles that might be of assistance: 

What to ask for from a web developer? 

 
 

 

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