How Much Does A Website Cost?

We often speak with people about how much a website costs.  Some people understand what is involved in building a website while other people don’t understand. The key factor in understanding what a website will cost is first knowing what the web designer or web design company is actually going to do for you.

In this article I am going to break down the various levels of website design / development and search engine optimization services to give you a better understanding of the costs associated with building a website.

$500 or less  Website Design

The cheapest bottom of the barrel website will usually be right around $500 and for this price you should expect the following.

  • Generic template based website, most likely from a place like Template Monster or Free Website Templates.
  • The website will most likely be assembled by an student or some other inexperienced person.
  • A person working out of the their parents house, with little to no overhead and or lack of professional accountability.

So the short version is you pick the template, you write your own website copy / text content, you take your own photographs or you pick stock photos which are added to the cost of the website project, and you hope you can count on this person to be reliable and available when you need him or her to answer the phone or reply to your emails in a timely manner. Most people that focus on cranking out these kinds of low end websites don’t stay in business for long because they wind up starving themselves and are lucky to break even.

I usually advise people that if they are solely looking for the cheapest way to go, that they are better off using something like Intuit Websites. Of course you will still be stuck doing all the work yourself which can be time consuming, especially if you do not know what you are doing. Such huge companies do usually offer technical support if you encounter any problems for an additional fee and not to mention the free on-hold phone recording music you get to listen to while waiting to speak to a real human being.

$1,000 to $4,500  Website Design

This is the most popular cost level with professional website designers / web design companies. Generally in this price range you can get a decent looking professional level website, but  Search Engine Optimization is not included which is required to make your website show up and rank well in Google, Yahoo, and BING searches.  We often hear from small business owners who own a website in this price range and want to know why their website isn’t out performing their competition on the internet.

If your web design budget “Investment in your business or organization” is less than $4,500 you should expect the following.

  • Semi Custom Design, but most likely still using a pre made website template.
  • Most of your website work will be handed off to an outsourcing company in many of them are located in India, Russia or Pakistan, or by a college student whom is still learning and experimenting.
  • You will still need to write your own website copy / text content, you take your own photographs or you pick stock photos which are added to the cost of the website project. The web designer should  edit / crop / re size your photos and check for spelling and grammar errors in the text copy that you wrote.

You will still be doing a lot of work yourself and we know first hand most business owners do not like writing text content or taking lots of photographs because it eats away at their own clock and is time consuming. A website at this level is most likely just a business expense and not much of an investment. Sure you get can a great looking website in this price range, just don’t expect it to WOW you and make your phone ring much.

$5,000 to $30,000 Website Design

Now your are serious about your business and believe in yourself enough to make a real investment in owning a professional website that provides you with a real return on your investment (ROI). This is generally what a reputable web master or reputable internet marketing firm will charge for a professional level website with basic Search Engine Optimization. A website of this level will have anywhere from 10 to 30 or more web pages into the website. You should expect to get a professional website that looks and performs well. Most of the work will be handled by the Web Master or Web Design firm which will enable you to get back to running your business.

Expect the following when making this level of website investment.

  • You are dealing with a real company or Webmaster and not a student or an amateur. Ideally this company or person should be local to you. You do not want to be dealing with a huge faceless corporation.
  • There should be one Webmaster supervising your entire website project from start to finish.
  • There should be an experienced graphic artist, web designer, and web developer working under the close supervision of the webmaster.
  • The Web Design Company or WebMaster will carefully review your website assets to determine if a professional photoshoot or stock photos will be required to give you an outstanding website and internet presence.
  • The company employs a professional writer to research your industry, write professional text, and present to you for final review.
  • The graphic artist will create several logos for you to pick from or will use and or edit your existing logo if necessary along with will edit your photographs as necessary.

$30,000 + Website Design

The high quality you expect in this range should exceed your expectations. As a website grow with libraries of information and technical functionality it is reasonable that a professional website may exceed $100,000 or more. You should be definitely be  dealing with an experienced WebMaster or Web Design firm that employs a real webmaster and were not referring to college students or somebody else that dabbles around which are most commonly found on advertising to perform web design and internet marketing miracles for almost free.

More specific details on what to expect for this high level of website investment.

  • A real webmaster who will coordinate and oversee your entire project. This person should at a minimum have extensive real world experience with graphic design, web design, web development and (SEO) – Search Engine Optimization.
  • A team consisting of a graphic designer, web designer, web developer and a Search Engine Optimization specialist that works under the direct supervision of the webmaster.
  • A software developer which works under the direct supervision of the webmaster. At this level of website design and development you can expect your website to have an assortment of custom, intelligent, and automated technical front end and backed features to your exact requirements.
  • The webmaster ensures your project is completed early or on time to your exact specifications and so you do not have to perform any work related to your website and can focus on your business.
  • Provide hands on training to you and or your employees so you can really benefit from the use of your custom website.

In conclusion

Carefully think about what you really want and expect from your website when considering how much you should invest in your having a website built. I am still to this day surprised by people who want to start an online only business and don’t want to invest more than a few hundred dollars in their website. The truth and reality is you always get what you pay for and if it sounds to good to be true it is.

Now if you are a local restaurant, store, bar, or service provider with a retail location and don’t do a lot of business directly through your website, then one of the above cheaper solutions may be worth considering. Last but not least don’t forget to set forth a real marketing budget  for your website if you are serious about your business growth.




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