What Does a Website Cost and What Should It Cost?
Perhaps your business will be one of the many that decide 2018 is the year to invest in a new website. Right away, you’ll face a tough task of determining how much to spend on web development to get the site you need.
Whether you’re new to the market or have been around for generations, you’ll quickly find the answer to the question of “how much a website a costs” falls somewhere in between “free” and “more than $100,000.” Let’s take a minute to appreciate how frustrating an answer that is.
The next thought you’ll probably have is that if a website could conceivably cost anything, what should it cost a business like mine. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to answer this kind of question. In this post, I’d like to answer that question for you, as well as explain other factors that will influence the price of your investment.
What a Website Costs
It is true that a website can cost you nothing. Or it can cost you six figures. But for many, many people, the answer will be in between, often between $5,000 and $20,000. That’s still quite a wide price range, and the reason is that there are many different types of websites. Web development agencies have to match the needs of the business to the functionality of the delivered site. That said, beyond these base prices, there are often additional factors that raise the final cost a bit higher.
Why There’s a Wide Cost Rage
Let’s talk about why there’s such this monumental wide cost range. On the low end, the tech revolution has made many of the software tools used to build the nuts and bolts of a website virtually free. WordPress, the most popular content management system (CMS) on the planet, is free. So are many top graphic design tools and even basic website templates and plugins. A la carte web hosting is also comparatively cheap.
Where websites get expensive is when they have to look and function well enough to run a serious business. Even sole proprietors quickly outgrow hiring their neighbor’s nephew on the cheap. Mid-sized businesses often need a custom design. And corporate websites often need databases, product catalogs, and membership services which are expensive to design and build from scratch.
What Type of Website Suits You
The answer to what kind of site is right for you depends on your business. There are four tiers. A basic website you build mostly on your own should cost less than $500. Businesses in the next tier up are usually professional service providers — attorneys, dentist offices, CPAs, etc. — and websites for these businesses can run anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 to $10,000 or more.
The next pricing tier is for a custom business website, which could run anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on some factors. This is the most common tier of website for businesses out there, and it is the primary area of clientele focus for Kaleidico. This level of website is more than a cool premade template that you fill with your content. Custom sites like these are designed to drive conversions and sales for your business, making them well worth the investment.
And while this is more than sufficient for most corporate clients, there are rare cases when you find yourself in the fourth higher-priced tier for web development. Sites that run from $50,000 to $100,000 or more don’t just have customization. They often require complex enterprise software development projects on the back end of the site, such as databases, large e-commerce catalogs, interactive features, membership sites, or online courses. These sites are expensive to build right, but most likely, such an investment would be overkill for your small- to medium-sized business.
What Factors Further Affect Price
Of course, beyond these base cost tiers, there are other elements that affect the price. You probably noticed there’s a spread inside each tier. That often has to do with who is building your website. The low end often means you’re working with a freelancer, who is cheaper and potentially more flexible but is often less experienced and the result may be hit or miss. The upper end of professional, custom and enterprise website pricing usually pertains to agency work.
But no matter who builds your site, some choices you make will push up the base price. That’s just because they cost more to build. A basic design can be customized to look and function at a high level, but a more complex design from the outset will cost you more. This is also true of the backend CMS, e-commerce functionality, and responsive designs (meaning websites that are optimized for a mobile web experience).
Also, keep in mind a website is more than just the design delivered to you. Add-ons can further contribute to the price. Will you need new website copywriting? New website imagery assets? Will you need help from the agency with search engine optimization (SEO)? Will you need assistance migrating content over from the old site? Or help for your team being taught how to use the new site CMS? Will you need ongoing post-delivery management of the site’s functionality, security, and backups? These factors also affect the final cost of a site.
What a Website Should Cost
I hope by now you have a better idea of what the various levels of business websites cost and why they cost what they cost. But I’m sure you’re still probably looking for a more exact answer. I’m not going to let you down — ninety-nine out of 100 times, most businesses can get the website they need to run and grow their business for less than $20,000.
This is a price point that we have found works for almost everyone. Of course, some folks do pay more. Some of the time that added cost is worth it, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not.
How to Not Overspend on a Website
One of the big frustrations for business owners who’ve gone through the web development process with an agency is paying too much for a custom-built site they can’t use. There’s a reason CMS systems like WordPress are industry standards — it’s because they work and they’re easy to use. Ideally, the best CMS is customizable, but not custom built.
Most businesses need a site to do three things — display and organize resources (static web pages, white papers, photos, videos), publish company news updates, blog posts, and product info, and maybe an e-commerce component with a catalog of products or services.
If you do end up needing a custom build, you’re going to have a unique website. For example, maybe you need an interactive website tool that lets customers preview, say, interior design layouts or you sell t-shirts that show a site preview of customized shirt design. Or maybe you need a data-heavy site to deal with flight deals, insurance quotes, or stock trading info. To be sure, these and other features will push you well above the $20,000 mark.
Why You Should Think of Your Site as an Investment
At the end of the day, a new website is going to cost money to design, build, and deliver. But understand that this initial outlay is meant to help you take your business to the next level regarding conversions, sales, and growth. A website is an investment. It’s not so much about spending the most or the least as spending your money smartly.
If you’re on the hunt for a web development team, I hope you now have a good frame of reference for what you can expect to pay, and why. Remember, pay for the functions and features you need, but not for those you don’t need or want.
See how Kaleidico can help you build the website you want, at the price you want. Give us a call at 313-338-9515 or email email@example.com to learn how our full-service digital agency can help with all your website needs.