The most common question we get is "how much will it cost for you to built us a web site?". I've been answering that question for 10 years now. Hopefully I can help you.
You are trying to get a quote for a new website for your business so you google a few terms you think will hit the mark. Then you start making the phone calls. Now if you are in the early days of planning your website and you don't have some sort of brief to give to the web design business on the other end of the phone you are going to get a lot of variation in costs quoted for your new site.
What you get quoted is dependent on the approach each web designer takes when building a website. The amount of time and attention to detail that goes into a website is strongly influenced by how much time and energy you (the client) is prepared to put into the project as well as your budget. The list below shows some of the steps web designers go through when designing a site. Designers will put more or less time into the various steps and consequently this sets up some significant price variation.
The different phases of website design (simplified)
- Planning Phase
- Design Phase (graphic design)
- Development Phase (converting the design into a webpage)
- Adding Content
The first diagram below shows a few approaches to building a simple small business website. The typical first website for small business has pages such as home, about, products or services with an image gallery and a contact page. It gets more complicated when we introduce further site functionality and using a content management system for a website so if that sounds like your website projects check this article - how much does a website cost?
Some different approaches to a basic Small Business Website
You can see that quotes might vary from $500 - $2500 or more but the amount of work and attention to detail varies dramatically.
In the cheapest scenario a stock template is used and you are paying for the time to add content only. If you are on a limited budget this approach can work well, but your content must fit the template design. The standard of stock templates is quite good but still best chosen by your designer to match your content and business. If the designer has to modify the template too much to fit your content you might end up exceeding your budget on variations and spend more that a custom design.
You will notice in the diagram that this scenario lacks a planning phase by the designer or planning is minimal. Sometimes it happens this way because the client is organised with their content and have a strong idea on what they want the site to look like using other websites as examples. Sometimes the lack of a planning phase occurs because the client has not had time to gather or write sufficient content becase they are busy with the day to day running of their business. It is difficult for the web designer to collate and organise content into a website with a few paragraphs of text in a word document.
Getting a custom design as opposed to using a template is going to get a website that better fits your business and the content you want to display. Another advantage is that updates to your site will take less time when the designer has coded the site rather than used a template.
When the designer puts time and energy into helping you plan your website and lay out your content in a way that will increase sales or enquiry conversions it takes time in the planning, design and development phases. The extra thought into designing 'mini ads' and 'calls to action' that help draw the viewer to the most important pages on the site can make a big difference to the success of the site.
Some designers also put time into making your website search engine friendly which means researching keywords for your business and applying best practices while building the site. This process does not guarantee you magically land as the first result in google but is a neccesary first step towards decent placement in search engines.
How much should you spend on a basic website?
This will depend on your budget and the goals of your website. If your site is simply putting a business card online then something simple might do. If you want your website to portray your business and products/services in the best manner then a professionally designed and organised website is the way to go. The time to build usually reflects upon the quality of the final product.
How do you know what you are paying for?
The best way is to double check with the designer.
- Do you use a template or is it a custom design?
- Do you help me plan and organise my content?
- Can you show me examples of what I might be getting?