How Much Does A Website Design Cost?

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How Much Does A Web Design Cost

I am often asked about how much would a website design cost, from concept to being taken live. The short answer is…

“It depends”

I know this isn’t super useful, especially if you have a budget to work with. Unfortunately however is that is the starting point answer.

I think this generally causes a lot of frustration between clients and their chosen supplier. Often a client decides on their budget before they fully understand what they want and what that involves.

On the flip side competition for website design and development work is fierce and most service providers are willing to help (usually going above and beyond), but are constrained by this already set in place budget.

This generally leads to an unhappy client and a service provider who cant provide a quality sustainable service, not matter how much they want to.

People often say things like “If WordPress is a free platform and I can get a pre-built theme from Template Monster for $50, why is the website design cost that much?”

Its a fair question and one I hope I will be able to shed some light on in this article.

As I am a WordPress fan (and it has the largest market share by far), it will be used as the platform example in this article. You could happily replace “WordPress” with “Joomla” for example when I reference platforms.

Isn’t WordPress Free?

Yes WordPress is free and its a great platform to use to build a website on. You can literally do anything with it if you have the right developer on the case.

Generally WordPress shouldn’t be included in the website design cost as it is open source. This saves you tens of thousands of pounds, needed to build a system like it from scratch.

However there may be custom development that needs to be done to WordPress to meet your requirements.

Cant I Just Use A Pre-Built Theme?

Yes you can and there are loads to chose from on sites like Template Monster or Theme Forrest. But buyer beware not all themes are created equal and I haven’t come across one yet that can be used straight out of the box.

Pre-built themes come with their own issues. They can be:

  • complex to setup
  • have plugins that you dont need and affect the performance of your site and can conflict with other website functionality
  • always require customisation of a certain level
  • developers dont always support or update the theme regularly
  • customisation edits can be lost when updated theme files overwrite the changes you have made

So What Is A Reasonable Website Design Cost?

To work this out and get some idea, follow these tips…

Do Your Research:

Understand what the reason for your site (be an online brochure, sell products, get leads to follow up with, etc.). Understand who your site is for. Look at sites that are similar to what you want to achieve, how are they laid out, what functionality do they have.

Speak To Service Providers:

With your newly carried out research put an outline document together and speak to some service providers you think would match your price range and still be able to provide a quality service.

Ask them about their process, how many hours each stage of their service takes and what their normal hourly rate is. Ask them to break down the number of hours each stage and the development of each requested function would take. This helps you work out what you can afford right now and what you can add to your website at a later date.

Make A Plan:

You may get an estimated cost you can work with and get the project started. In most cases though you need to understand the costs in order to provide the budget.

This means that if the cost is higher than you currently have available you need to work out a project plan…

  • You revisit the project in X months when the full budget is available.
  • You could use a pre-built theme temporarily to reduce initial design and development cost. This could reduce the project hours quite significantly.
  • You prioritise what functionality you need as opposed to want… you can always add more functionality as budget becomes available.
  • You can reduce the time your service provider spends on content by researching and writing the content yourself.
  • Providing the service provider with images that you have sourced on stock image libraries will also help reduce the time they spend on your content.
  • You work out a monthly payment plan with your service provider.

Have Realistic Expectations:

Providing a quality service requires a certain amount of time and skill. Once you factor in things like the cost of providing that service / running a business and taxes, is what the service provider is left with reasonable?

Consider what it would cost you in time to do it yourself. Bear in mind the learning curve you will need to go through, as well as trial and error when setting up and customising the site. What is each hour worth to you financially?

The old saying of “you get what you pay for” is very true. I have heard countless stories of people who have been quoted a cost that they assume to be high and used a far cheaper service provide, only to be let down or receive a poor service.

The worst part is that this often means that they don’t have the budget available to fix things or get a better service provider.

To put an example budget we get given regularly into context. A £300 – £500 budget for a website means 12-20 hours of work from a junior freelancer earning £25.00 p/hr.

When you look at what you want to achieve from your website and that it will be the face of your business online is 12-20 hours a realistic time frame?

Consider Whats Required After The Website Is Completed:

There are costs that you need to include in your budget planning that come after your website has been completed. These are often over looked. Think about:

  • Where will your website be hosted and what level of hosting service is best. A cheaper option is likely to be a server that your website shares with 1000’s of other websites, which could cause performance and security issues.
  • What is your maintenance plan? Websites should be maintained on a monthly basis, plugins and platforms are constantly being updated to make them more secure and prevent the possibility of hacking.

Both these points need to be taken into account when understanding a website design cost.

Work Out The Website Design Cost:

Once you have an hourly breakdown of the project from various service providers and know what they charge per hour you can work out roughly what the cost to get the site live would be and the costs going forward.

For example a service provider could base the website design cost on this example

A basic custom designed online brochure website (with a blog), based on the following:

  • Planning stage: 20 hours
  • Custom design: 60-80 hours
  • Content writing: 30-40 hours (5 pages and 3 initial blog posts)
  • Site site setup and theme development: 32-40 hours
  • Hosting: £40.00 per month
  • Maintenance & Management: 1-2 hours per month

Service providers charge between £25.00 (freelancer with limited experience) and £75.00 (Average central London Agency) per hour.

Based on the above, you can decide if you want to move forward with the project, plan to do it at a later date once you have a budget, or discuss with the service providers how using a pre-built theme and doing the content yourself could reduce the cost.

Some Final Thoughts

Your website is an investment into your business and so needs to be considered carefully. Before setting a budget understand whats involved in the process, when you receive a website design cost estimate.

If you understand whats involved, are able to prioritise your requirements, have a plan and a good relationship with a service provider, you can get a really great website that will be able to grow and develop further.

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