With more and more people searching for products and services online, it’s absolutely vital that small business owners embrace the web and have their own websites developed.
However, one question that seemingly always leaves business owners confused is cost.
- How much does a website cost?
- How much should I pay for a website?
- How can I avoid getting ripped off?
….and better yet, why does the cost of a website always change so dramatically between web design agencies?
All great questions.
In this article I’m going to break it down and answer each question without all the fluff and nonsense and give it to you straight. Pop the jug on – this is a long one.
How much does a website cost?
Hang on. Just think about that question for a moment….
It’s ridiculous isn’t it? Of course it is.
- You wouldn’t call a builder and ask, “How much does a house cost?”
- You wouldn’t call a restaurant and ask, “How much does dinner cost?”
- You certainly wouldn’t call a travel agency and ask, “How much does a holiday cost?”
Because they’re all so very conditional.
Here’s the responses you’d most likely get if you asked those questions.
Builder – “Well is it 3 bedrooms, 4 bedrooms, 2 storey, single storey, inground pool, carport …lock up garage…?????”
Restaurant – “That depends on what you order. Do you want the steak and chips, or the soup, or a salad, or the oysters….?????”
Travel Agency - “Where are you wanting to go? Bali, the United States, New Zealand, Canada….fly, boat, walk.??????”
And guess what, when you ask a web developer, “How much for a website?”, chances are, they’re going to screw their faces up and ask you the same types of follow up questions.
- What type of website do you want?
- Do you need a shopping cart?
- Does it require a content management system?
- A blog?
- Ability to upload images/photos/videos?
….and so on, and so on.
It depends on your requirements – that’s all there is to it.
Oh okay, I know you’re probably reading this thinking, “Come on John, can’t you just give me a rough idea???” Alright, I’ll try, but this really won’t mean much because each job is usually so unique.
Here we go…
- Basic 5-6 page brochure style website – anywhere between $499 and $1500. Anything at $499 is usually crap (avoid)
- Simple business website with a few fang dangles and sliding impressive things with happy people shaking hands in suits – anywhere between $3,000 and up. (I do these for $1,500)
- A fully blown custom solution with heaps of bells and whistles that will make your competitors jealous and everyone in the lunch room at work say “oooh”, and “ahhh” – anywhere between $10,000 and up.
- Shopping cart (ecommerce) functionality with ability to accept online orders, so you can sell those tea cosies your nana used to make when you were a kid – anywhere between $5,000 and up. Custom solutions are much more expensive and would make your hair stand on end.
- Anything else that I’ve missed – “it depends”.
Remember, these are just ball park figures, and probably don’t mean much at all. But it should give you a rough idea of what to expect.
Now I know for sure there will be web designers (somewhere) reading this rolling their eyes saying, “But I can put a shopping cart together overnight using Bigcommerce or Woocommerce for a carton of beer and a high 5″. This might sound inviting and it may even save you a few bucks – but be warned, web designers like this might save you some money today, but in the long run, you’ll wish you’d had paid the money and done it right the first time.
Okay, next question….
How much should I pay for a website?
This is a really interesting question, and one that all business owners should think about before doing ANYTHING. Put the phone down, don’t call that web guy you met at the pub on Sunday afternoon after drinking 12 Hahn lights – you really need to think this through.
Firstly, I want to say that I’ve seen a lot of business owners get stars in their eyes – especially when talking to fast talking web firms who razzle dazzle them with tech talk, slick sales pitches and promises of good fortune if you “buy now”. In most cases, you don’t need that slider feature. You don’t need that upload function. You don’t need that fancy API integration that will allow you to translate the site into Mandarin – all you need is exactly what you need.
Listen, the answer to this question is this …..
You should only pay for exactly what you need.
Okay, so you’re probably sipping your coffee thinking, “Quit talking in riddles….I don’t understand”. Alright alright. Here it is, from a different perspective.
Think about what you want – your goals – the result, and then work backwards and think about what you need in order to make that happen.
More importantly ask yourself …“This feature, do I really need this?”, or “Can I maybe have this added on later?”, or “How is this going to help me do XYZ right now?”
Let me give you an example….
I have spoken with a lot of real estate agents over the years and many of them have said to me …”John, I sell most of my properties on realestate.com.au and domain.com.au, I don’t need a fancy website – just something basic that will showcase my business and give me that professional look.”
Yet, I see real estate agents persuaded into spending $20,000 on websites that are built entirely on flash (which sucks for SEO) and those websites might see 5 visits a month and don’t make any money. It’s crazy.
Put your money into things that make money. Avoid the wank factor.
The point I’m trying to make is this – think about your budget, and keep in mind what YOU want, not the web design agency. Chances are they’ll sell you stuff you probably a) don’t need b) don’t understand, or c) both.
Pay whatever you can afford that’s going to do what you need it to. Avoid flashy stuff and wank factor.
Alright, let’s move on – next question.
How can I avoid getting ripped off?
Great question, and one that I’m sure all business owners ask themselves (and friends) before handing over their cash to a web development firm or freelancer.
It’s a bit tricky to answer this question accurately because each job is unique in itself. I certainly don’t want to say, “Oh you shouldn’t have paid $55,000 for that e-commerce website you had designed – you got ripped off”, because some shopping cart solutions are worth that – (and more). However, there are a few things you can do here to prevent getting taken for a ride.
Ask for referrals from people you know and trust.
Chances are, if you’re in business, you’re going to know other people in business too. And chances are, they’ll have websites. Guess what? Ask them how much they paid, if they were happy with the work, and would they recommend that agency to you? If you got 3 yes’s, then it’s probably safe to say you’re in good hands.
Just be sure to ask people you trust, and not some guy you met whilst standing in the line at at the ATM.
Get a few quotes.
As with any business dealing, it’s best practice to get a few quotes. This will do two things …1) give you an idea of averages, 2) make your decision in choosing someone much easier. I would recommend getting at least half a dozen quotes before making a final decision.
Ask for examples, and referrals to previous clients.
If you speak with a web guy and he tells you that his website will give you a back rub and make you cups of hot soup on cold winter nights – ask for proof. Ask him (or her) for some previous clients that you can contact in order to back up those claims. If they refuse, say “Thanks but no thanks”, and find someone else. If they’re genuine, they won’t have a problem sending some contacts over your way.
Of course you could join my membership and ask me personally (shameless plug)
Use your head.
Why does the cost of a website always change so dramatically between web design agencies?
Another doozy of a question, and one that I probably can’t cover extensively in this article, but I’ll try to break it down and point out a few reasons why.
- Prices vary between web design agencies for the same reasons prices vary between any other service provider. They’re all different and unique in their own ways. I agree though, the differences in quotes often leave you wondering WTF is going on – especially when the requirements are the same, but the quotes are $25,000 apart.
- The owners of some web design agencies like to drive nice cars like BMW’s and Mercedes Benz’s. Others drive Toyotas or catch the train to work.
- Some agencies (or freelancers) don’t bother reading the brief, (or they don’t understand it) therefor get the quote completely wrong.
- Some agencies are absolutely brilliant and will charge more because they offer such high quality standards of work.
- Some agencies are rubbish and it will be a “race to the bottom”, simply to win a client over.
The best thing to do when getting quotes is to discard the cheapest, and (just maybe) the most expensive, (unless its outstanding) and go somewhere in the middle. My preference is always to go towards the higher end. Oh, and be mindful of ongoing support. You don’t want to a cheap website now, and save a few bucks only to find you have no support later on if things go pear shaped.
Okay, so that’s probably it for this article.
I hope this Q&A has given you something to think about. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to post them below – and remember, I provide web design services here on Bring the Donuts, as well as my private membership – which is great if you want on on one help via my forum (great for asking questions related directly to your business).