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How Much Does a Website Cost?

=”How much does a website cost?”

It is the most confusing question for a client about web design, but ultimately one that everyone considering a website will eventually ask. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though: It’s a confusing question for web designers, too.

Things to Consider

There isn’t just one type of website. I like to compare the question above to “How much does a car cost?” Websites come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of functionality. Simple, small, informational websites will naturally cost less than a new implementation of Facebook; more complex equals more expensive.

Quotes can vary greatly between designers. Ask three different web designers, and you are likely to get three (possibly drastically different) quotes. It might have to do with how comfortable the designer is fulfilling the goals you have for your website, or simply how busy the designer is.

Is the quote per hour, or for the entire project? Depending on the designer, they might give you a quote based on the entire project, or an hourly rate until the project is complete. While you might not flinch at paying a website designer $100 per hour, without knowing how many hours it takes to design a website, that number is really meaningless.

Elements of Web Design

I know what you’re saying: You still haven’t told me how much a website costs. I’m getting there, I promise. Now that we have some general topics under our belts, let’s consider different options that you might want incorporated into your website. Whenever you are looking to have someone design you a website, these are usually some of the first things they consider before giving you a quote.

Who is going to register the domain name and set up the hosting? You have the option of registering the domain name and setting up hosting yourself to save yourself some money. Typically, domains cost somewhere in the range of $10 to $20 per year. Hosting costs start from $5 per month for bargain basement hosting, which is usually enough for most small businesses. As your website traffic grows, you might find out you need more later. You don’t have to be technologically savvy to set up your domain and hosting; most hosting companies are glad to set it up for you over the phone, provided the designer gives you the specifications your website will need, and usually the only important variable is “Linux or Windows.”

Who is going to manage the email? Just like with the domain name and hosting, if you want to have email added to your package, there will be more charge. If you are the only person in the business, this is one you can probably tackle on your own. If you have hundreds of employees that need to be set up, it might be best to leave it to the designer.

What do you want your website to be? You might just want a five-page informational site that will only need updated every year. You might want the next Google. Technically, both qualify as websites, but the former can be completed over the course of a week, while the latter takes a team of designers working full-time just to stay ahead of the competition. Each page you add, each custom-built form or application, each anything you add, the longer it will take, and the more the price goes up.

Who is going to provide the website’s content? A beautiful website won’t get you anything if there isn’t information on it. Providing the web designer with the website’s content will lower the price, while asking the designer to provide the copy will make the cost go up. Even more complicated are the images for the website. Providing your own images to the designer is the cheapest option, but depending on the quality, might not look as good on your website. Most designers will capture or create images for you, or can provide stock photography, but it usually starts around $3 to $5 even for the cheapest images.

Does the site come optimized for search engine indexing? Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is something that’s pretty easy to define, but can be tricky to understand; simply, it’s making the website look attractive to web crawlers owned by search engines like Google and Bing. All sorts of things go into SEO, so it’s usually best left to a web designer. Money spent on SEO is usually money that doesn’t have to be spent later on pay-per-click marketing.

What type of maintenance comes with the design? Most all websites need periodic maintenance, be it updating information, adding new content, or (worst case scenario) recovering from a defacing or some other type of security intrusion. It’s important for you to know what all you are getting with the deal, as hourly maintenance cost can grow quickly, and recovering from an attack can cost be even more costly.

How will the website’s content be managed? Once the maintenance agreement runs out, how easily can you make simple updates to the website’s content? If there is no Content Management System (CMS) in place, it makes it less expensive, but more challenging to update. With a CMS in place, most anyone can make routine changes to the website’s content.

Will the website be marketed, and how will the site’s usage be tracked? Do you want there to be some sort of pay-per-click marketing, email marketing, social network marketing, and if so, how much of each? You can spend about as much as you want advertising online, but having the designer do it for you will result it at least a small markup. And without some sort of tracking mechanism, you’ll have no way of knowing how successful your website is. While most designers will install some sort of tracking for every website they design, but it’s still good to ask.

OK. How Much Does it Cost, Already?

I know. We’re almost 1,000 words into an article about how much a website costs, and I haven’t given you a figure yet, but the wait is almost over. It’s important to have some sort of basis before I start spitting numbers out at you. So, in general, here are some rough estimates of how much a variety of websites would cost.

Basic Website: $1,500 – $2,500

So, this would be your basic, informational only, five to seven page website. As mentioned before, who is managing the domain name, hosting, and email will cause the price to alter. Expect the design to be either relatively simple, or a template that may be used for other clients. The content would be almost completely provided by you, although a few stock images would usually be included. There wouldn’t be much in the way of long-term maintenance, probably little or no search engine optimization, and no content management system. There will be no marketing done by the designer, but they will usually install some sort of usage tracking.

Custom Designed Website: $2,500 – $7,000

The biggest difference between this price range and the basic price range is design. At this price level, you should expect a design that has been created just for you and your business; the more intricate the design, the higher the cost. Expect the designer to set up the domain name, hosting, and email for you, and expect them to allow you to have more pages, most likely up to the range of 20 or so. Again, the text content will mostly be provided by you, but the designer may be willing to provide some copy on the upper end of the price range; you should expect the designer to provide any stock images that they need for a complete design. There will still probably not be much long-term maintenance, but you should expect somewhere in the range of three to six months. There will be no content management system or marketing, but you should expect the website to be search engine optimized.

Content Management System: $3,000 – $9,000

Speaking honestly, this should really be the price range that most businesses should be in. You’re still going to get a non-template, custom designed layout, with most of the price difference again coming from the intricacy of the design. The rest of the price difference comes from if you want a custom-built CMS, which will drive the price up; most people will be more than satisfied with an out of the box CMS like WordPress. Your going to get everything from the custom designed website from above, but the maintenance term will usually be longer for routine updates, because a CMS makes updates simpler. Page restrictions are usually relaxed even more, due to the CMS making them easier to produce. Best of all, a well designed CMS will allow you to make routine changes yourself even after the maintenance agreement ends, should you choose to, or make the cost of long-term maintenance cheaper. Content management systems also allow you to ‘blog,’ or post news updates, and most any designer will integrate these to your social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, as well.

Custom Application Development: $15,000+

If you are looking for e-commerce, custom designed application builds, or intricate programming, expect to be in this price range. Simple e-commerce can usually be done for the starting point, but larger, enterprise type shopping sites can easily grow to a cost of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Expect at least a year, and possibly multiple years, of maintenance to be included. Also, expect the designer to take care of all hosting and domain requirements. While not always included, this will often come with some sort of marketing plan, as well.

So, there you go. That’s a rough outline of how much a website costs. As you can see, it can be a challenging question to answer. If you would like an estimate on a project, feel free to contact us and we can give you better estimate.

James Carnes Center Relaunch

10T Web Design is happy to announce the relaunch of the James Carnes Center Website. The new website features a calendar of events, making it easy to find out if the Carnes Center is available for your event.

Why not head over there now and check it out?

Belmont County Auditor Relaunch

10T Web Design is happy to announce the relaunch of the Belmont County Auditor’s website. While 10T Web Designs has been maintaining their website for a few months, we have now completed the transitions to new the new design. The layout is a reworking of its previous design, updated to more modern web design techniques.

For the Auditor’s website, the font was modernized and enlarged for easier viewing. The front page’s Flash slide show has been replaced with a pure CSS slide show, eliminating the user’s need to have Flash installed and the security risks that come with a Flash installation. The Auditor’s News is now presented in an RSS feed, allowing users to subscribe with a news reader or by signing up to receive the Auditor’s news by email.

The Auditor’s website can be found at belmontcountyauditor.org. Head on over and check them out!

It’s OK to Speed (On-line)

In the real world, they put up big reflective signs that tell you how fast you are allowed to go. In the digital world, no such signs exist. Like a top fuel dragster on a quarter-mile strip, the speed of the Internet is only limited by the equipment and techniques you use. Also just like the dragster, faster is better.

At best, a slow website frustrates your visitors and prevents them from trusting you. At worst, they leave before the page even loads. Website load times depend on a variety of factors, only some of which are under your control.

Don’t go super-budget when you decide who is going to host your website. I’m all for saving a buck, providing that you’re not sacrificing quality hosting to save a couple dollars a year. If just one potential customer doesn’t get frustrated with your slow website and ends up buying from you, then you’ll easily pay for the better hosting.

Make sure that the design of your website is current. Websites that use outdated technology only get slower with time, and will sometimes stop working completely if the technology becomes deprecated. Be wary of web designers that only offer a limited maintenance period, as web technology advances pretty quickly.

Another heavy hitter is the size of the images on your site. Doubling the image size in each direction actually quadruples the size on disk (and in transit), so that an image that might take a half a second to load now takes two seconds.  Double the size again, and it’ll take eight seconds.

Bottom line: keep it speedy. Don’t lose your website’s visitors before they even see your website.

The Importance of Good Website Design

We have all seen that website. Harsh colors, distracting frames, and all of the text is crammed together in tight little bunches. Every page you browse to has a different layout and color scheme. Scrolling text or (gasp) flashing text. And what’s with all those animated hamsters? Maybe it’s the website of the widget factory down the street.

Perhaps the website is yours.

OK, take a deep breath. There are worse things in life than a poorly designed website, and the last time I checked, having a bad website wasn’t a criminal offense. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but it could be having an impact on turning your website’s visitors into your customers. The fact is, about 70% of people won’t buy products from a company with a poorly designed website.

Let’s face it: your website design casts a shadow that the people visiting can clearly see. Something that is difficult to read or has distracting elements makes it look like you threw something together with very little thought or effort. Visitors will focus more on the poor design than the information contained.

The design should be attractive and relevant, but should be secondary to the content provided.  A well designed website shows an investment of time and money, and will make your visitors trust you more.