Why ‘How Much Should A Website Cost?’ Is a Difficult Question
“So how much will a new website cost?”
It’s probably the most common question I get asked by new clients.
I don’t blame them. It’s probably the first question I would ask myself. But it is actually quite a tricky question to answer as it depends on so many things.
I have been in the web design business since early 2000 and I have been involved with developing and designing many web and intranet sites for private and public sector businesses but I still can’t give a quick answer to this question. Now I’m not trying to get out of providing a straight answer. I often get the feeling that clients think I am.
I even get the uneasy feeling that some new clients believe that I ask so many questions about their business so I can gauge how much I can get away with charging to build their new website.
One of the biggest issues with figuring out the price is that web design is a service, but most clients see a website as a ‘product’. Many of them believe that they can walk into ‘virtual store’ and order a 5 page website for fixed fee.
Now, I have introduced a fixed fee on my site but only as a guide. Yes, I can create a basic 5 page site, but now what? you want it to do what?
A website is something that a team of people have to work on to build. For example, a team of five developers took over 6-8 months just to put together a plan to develop the UK government’s National Career Service portal site. I was one of the developers.
When you realise this it makes it easier to understand why it is so tough to provide a straightforward price.
Regardless of this I still understand that it is actually a fair question to ask. As a business owner you need to make sure you are spending your money wisely. But you must realise that asking how much a website will cost is a bit like walking into a used car dealership and asking how much it will be to buy a car.
After the used car salesman has stopped rubbing his hand with glee he will ask what type of car you had in mind. He’ll ask about your budget, what you will use it for, how many people it should hold, if it needs to be practical or sporty, and even what colour you would like it to be.
Yes, he’ll ask loads of questions to try and narrow down the massive selection so he can point you to the best car for your needs.
Like cars, there can be a massive difference in costs when it comes to developing a website. Some web designers will charge £100 while others charge £10,000, or more.
‘Surely there can’t be that much of a difference?’, I hear you ask.
Well like cars, you can buy an economic model by a Far Eastern car manufacturer for around £5000, or you can buy a Lamborghini for £500,000. Both provide the same basic functions – they take you from point A to point B. However, there is a massive difference when it comes to design, engineering, comfort and quality.
So that being said, how much should a website really cost?
Where does the cost of building a new website come from?
You may have seen TV adverts where they make it look so easy to build your own website for under a £10 a month. However this isn’t really a website – it’s is a web presence. Something you can put on your business cards and point clients at but it won’t do a good job of actually acquiring new clients.
If this is the kind of website that you are after then the rest of this article isn’t really for you. Head straight to 1&1 or any one of the other “build your own”and grab yourself a free website.
Or build yourself a Facebook or Google+ page and forget about a fully fledged website. For some types of business this is actually a better way to spend your marketing budget than creating a proper website.
Quite often, you can get the same – or better – results with far less work, and far less cost. Different online channels suit different types of business.
For example, say you are a plumber. It’s a competitive market, with plumbers everywhere. So when someone needs a plumber, they’ll turn to Google and put in their location and/or specific needs.
Which page will come up top in the results? The most relevant, of course. And pages on websites that have thousands of links pointing to them are more likely to rank higher.
Your plumber cannot afford to generate hundreds of inbound links, on top of paying for a custom website. It’s bad marketing. It’s a bad use of budget and time.
It’s the wrong thing to sell this client.
What’s the right answer?
There are thousands of websites out there that will list the business, either for free, or for a small fee (far less than getting a custom site built and hosted).
These sites are likely to have thousands of pages, and thousands of inbound links. So your plumber can get a better result for a fraction of the cost. That’s good marketing, and good business.
This article is for those of you that are after a website that properly markets your business. A website that will not only look the part, but will also perform well in the search engines and help generate customers for you. A website that reflects your business, it’s goals and your brand. One that works in every type of web browser and on every different operating systems.
So before a web designer can provide a cost they first have to try and figure out what is involved. That is why they will ask so many questions. At least a good web designer will.