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“HOW MUCH DOES A WEBSITE COST?” OR PERHAPS, “HOW MUCH SHOULD A WEBSITE COST?”

This is an important question that comes up in conversation fairly often, and there is no simple answer. The cost of a website will vary depending on what your requirements are for the site, and whether you are managing the project yourself or using a professional web design service. Nonetheless, outlined below are some critical elements to consider, which will enable you to make an informed decision on which route is most appropriate for you. For the purposes of this article, we are assuming that you are engaging (or thinking about engaging) with one or more website design agencies to build or rebuild a website for your business.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT WEBSITE DESIGN AGENCY FOR YOUR NEEDS:

Whether you’re updating an existing website or need one built from scratch, people that are in the market for a new website will, in most cases, seek quotes from various agencies, each with their own standards and reputation. When people begin shopping around for a new website they will often be faced with a wide range of prices and promises, making it unclear as to which provider is the best fit for their needs.

In some cases, it’s hard to differentiate between each agency, which can be become a complicated and confusing affair, making it difficult to understand which agency is providing the best value. This can cause decisions to be based solely on the clearest component – the price.

Unfortunately, all too often we see businesses and individuals that have engaged with a web design agency, thinking they were going to get something perfect (or at least suitable) for their needs, only to become disillusioned and disappointed with the final result.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR:

Paying more doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best possible result. On the other hand, how much you pay is a strong indication on the level of quality, service and support that you can expect to receive. Beyond getting a website, it’s also important to consider the level of expertise, know-how and experience of the website design agency. For example: Does this agency have a proven track record, or experience dealing with businesses in your industry? And if so, can you see those examples?

If you have specific requirements on how you need your website to look and operate (most will), it is highly recommended that you take the time and get to know the agency you are going to be working with. This will help you discern whether they are going to deliver a website based on those requirements, and provide you with the relevant support and advice to help you achieve its purpose. A good warning sign is: if you can’t meet them face-to face, or at least talk with them in-depth over the phone to discuss your objectives, they are probably too risky to deal with.

TEMPLATE-BASED WEBSITES VS CUSTOMISED WEBSITES:

Many people don’t fully understand the differences between a custom-designed website and template-based website until it’s too late. Quite often clients have approached us to have their template-based websites rebuilt due to it not functioning entirely as intended, or adequately reflecting the businesses image. There are many agencies that primarily build websites from templates, even if it is never mentioned. The price you’re quoted is usually a good indication if this is the case, however it’s always wise to ask.

Why is this important? In the same way you would want your businesses appearance to project a professional image, the same applies when creating a website. Your website acts as a window into your business, and how well it presents and communicates to potential customers affects how credible and trustworthy you will appear.

On the flipside, template-based websites can be useful for those with very low budgets, and who are just starting out, however they do have some potential pitfalls, such as:

  • They are not unique. There are going to be hundreds, if not thousands, of other people using the same template.
  • They’re rigid and aren’t fully customisable, or require a professional web developer to customise. Considerable time (money) can be spent to modify them to your needs. In addition, sometimes adding features and functionality in the future can cause the website to stop working altogether.
  • They contain features and design elements that you don’t need. Many website templates are made to be a ‘one size fits all’ design, which aren’t specific to your needs and are a bit like trying to fit a circle into a square. The other disadvantage of unnecessary features it that it can slow down the performance of the website, causing a poorer user experience causing search engines to look upon your website unfavourably.

When representing your business online, how your brand and marketing message is used through the design is an important component to creating a memorable and trustworthy experience to visitors.

Choosing to have either a custom-designed or template-based website will both still require some investment of your time. The question is how much of your time now, and in the future, actually going to end up costing you in the long term.

IMPORTANT FACTORS TO CONSIDER:

When engaging with a web design agency, there are some core elements to consider that should help you uncover the value that they can afford you.

  • Will they take the time to understand your needs and develop a comprehensive design?
  • Will the website be uniquely designed and customised, or built using a pre-made template?
  • Will the website be built in-house, or offshored to a 3rd-party company?
  • Will revisions and changes be accepted throughout the build process?
  • Will the website be adaptable to support modifications and additions?
  • Will the website be built to the latest standards to improve its visibility online?
  • Will training and support be offered once the website is complete?

The points above are important questions to ask when engaging with a website design agency that builds custom websites.

Choosing to have either a custom-designed or template-based website created will both require some investment of your time, however there are also longer-term costs to consider. Template-based websites will, in most cases, be the cheaper option to develop initially. Though when considering the limitations and issues you can potentially experience, the question is: how much of your time and money in the future will it actually end up costing you? In most cases you’ll be better off getting it right the first time with a custom solution.

WEBSITES WITH E-COMMERCE:

Websites with e-commerce (the ability to sell products/services) is quite often an overlooked component that can greatly alter the price of a website. People can often be blown-away by the price of what might seemingly be a simple e-commerce setup, but don’t fully understand the level of work that goes into building it properly. The major price difference usually comes down to the scope of the project, which includes variables such as:

  • How many products/services are you selling?
  • Will accounting software integration be required?
  • Will inventory/stock management be required?
  • Do the products have variations e.g. size, colour, weight, quantity etc.?
  • Will postage fees need to be calculated?
  • What payment methods people can use?
  • Will adjustable pricing be required e.g. specials, sales etc.?
  • Will email and receipt notifications need to be sent?
  • Do you want to offer customer support ticketing or live chat?

In most cases, each website with e-commerce is going to be slightly different, and may require more or less functionality than is outlined. As mentioned above, it is important that your chosen website developer takes the time to fully understand your needs and processes to create a detailed specification on how your e-commerce system will function. This process begins from the moment someone lands on your website, when they make a purchase, how it ties into your own business systems, right through to the customer receiving the product/service.

WEBSITE BUILD COSTS:

This is the part everyone wants to know first. However, now that you are armed with the knowledge shared above, you will have a greater appreciation for the actual cost of a custom-designed website.

The following information can be used as a rough guide for understanding the costs of a custom-designed website. These pricing guidelines come from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science:

Website type Template-based site Custom site
Business card website $400–$600. $1 000–$2 000.
Folio website $1 000–$2 000. $5 000–$20 000.
Brochure website $1 000–$2 000. $5 000–$20 000.
e-Commerce website $1 800–$4 000. $10 000–$80 000.
Blogs $400–$600. $1 000 to $2 000

Reference: http://digitalbusiness.gov.au/creating-your-website/planning-your-website/website-building-costs/

Keep in mind that every website project will differ in one aspect or another, and there are additional variables to consider, such as: deadlines, requests for additional branding and design, sourcing of stock images, and so on. Ultimately your website is a reflection of your business and it should strive to communicate the individuality of your brand.

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