How Much Should A Website Cost?
Essential knowledge before getting a website built or upgraded.
Many businesses pay far too much for their sites, while others pay nowhere near as much as they should. Unfortunately, because businesses vary so much in their requirements, there is no ‘one price fits all’.
This article will try to cover the key variables that you want to consider in a quote.
Most web design agencies have their prefered choice, but essentially the options can be broken down into two groups, SAAS (Software As A Service) or self hosted platforms.
The most common SAAS options include Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and Shopify. Many agencies love these platforms as they can create great looking websites in very little time.
Of the self hosted options, WordPress is by far the most common. In fact approximately 1 in 4 websites are built using WordPress.
Self hosted options generally cost more as setting them up well takes time. Just how well your site is setup will make a big difference in the websites cost…
WordPress itself is free, and can be setup in less than 5 minutes. However, to optimise it takes considerably longer, and requires several premium (paid) plugins.
Cheap sites that are built using WordPress skip the more advanced setup, or use only free plugins to cut costs. WordPress is incredibly powerful (which is why it is so popular), but it needs to be set up properly to make it secure, fast, and search engine friendly.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of CMS, but as a company we only use WordPress for internal projects. We simply prefer the flexibility and control over factors such as speed and advanced SEO settings that we don’t get from SAAS platforms.
Web designers do not usually provide content, so there is typically no cost for this. However, if they do, things will start adding up very quickly.
Ensure content, especially any sales copy, is written well. I don’t just mean grammatically well, but in a way that engages the reader, and leads them to take the desired action (eg buy something, call you, make a booking, visit your store etc).
Every car dealership knows the importance of a good salesperson. You can have the same stock in the same location with the same prospects and one salesperson will constantly outsell the others. Even if they were to all wear the same suit!
When rebuilding a website, check if webcopy is included. If so, then make sure the person writing it is a trained sales copywriter (not just a content writer with good English). Make sure your content is written to sell.
One danger with designers is that they will put aesthetics before usability or conversions. Most designers know how to make things look good, but have little, if any, training in web usability or conversion rate optimization.
This lack of understanding can lead to many design choices that lose customers, even if the site looks great. Design is important, but the usability and messaging of a site is far more important to sales than how good it looks.
I suggest that when working with an agency or developer, ask what design principles they are using to ensure conversions. If they say something like ‘we create clear and unique designs to enhance your brand identity’, or some other meaningless fluff, run.
If they talk about readability, maximum text width, layouts for eye to focus, clarity of message and minimizing animations to increase page load times, then start listening.
Usability testing is THE secret weapon that will ensure your site significantly outperforms the competition.
Even after having built your site according to best design practices, never assume it is going to work as well as expected. By testing your site with users before it goes live, you will quickly identify poor design and messaging.
This process can save you a fortune in lost sales, and is not complicated. Even so, few web design agencies do any testing at all.
Running usability tests does cost extra. Test subjects need to be paid, trained team members need to observe and analyse the users behavior and feedback, changes need to be made based on the the information gained, and then the process repeated.
For any site that makes just a few thousand dollars a month, this extra step pays for itself in no time. Not doing this will cost many times as much within the first year alone.
Far to many businesses build their website without considering the marketing. Why is this a problem?
In short, a website is a part of the marketing process, and it needs to fit in like a perfectly shaped piece of the marketing puzzle. If there is any disconnect, results will be negatively impacted.
Additionally, certain types of marketing need the website to be designed in a particular way to work.
When calculating the cost of a website, you need to understand how much time is being spent on planning and preparing for marketing. SEO for example could be minimal, or if it is a larger site in a competitive niche, it could take days or even weeks of work just to manage this alone.
One of the biggest dangers in having a site built or updated is false economy.
Not all websites are created equally, and neither are the results. Many people think that getting a new website is like getting a new car – sure you can pay more, one may look better, but they will both take you from A to B.
A website is the cornerstone to almost all your marketing efforts. If it fails to do its job well, your advertising will be an expense, not at investment. Designed and built well, a website keep paying for itself many, many times over.
This costs the business twice over. Once for the work, and again in lost sales for the life of the site. Before committing to a new website, interview the company you plan to use, and make sure they have usability, conversions and marketing in mind. It will make all the difference…
About the author: Leon Jay, founder of EthicallyMAD, an agency providing socially responsible marketing, web design & conversion rate optimization.