So what does a website REALLY cost?

More often then not, when a potential client sits down with a website design agency, one of the most burning and pressing questions on the other side of the table is, “so what’s this going to cost me?” While we respectfully understand that it’s an important question when it comes to budgeting, it’s not that easy to answer. There are many factors that go into determining the overall cost of building a website, and each potential client that we sit down with comes with their own unique sets of challenges and goals. I would like to break down some misconceptions and realities when it comes to pricing out a website design to help you understand where costs come in, why they add up, where you can save time and money, and how to get the most out of your website budget.

Misconception #1 When an agency asks what you have budgeted for a website, it’s because they want to get the most money out of you.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Agencies want to gauge your knowledge and perception on what you think this project is going to cost you. When you meet with an agency, you already have an idea of what you want to spend, and for those of you that say you don’t, agencies know you’re holding out on answering the question.

When our agency asks this question, it’s because we need to determine how much time we can put into a website when you give us your wish list. When we have a number, it gives us a chance to go back and figure out what we can and can’t do, and then present alternative solutions for you. Not providing this figure puts agencies at a disadvantage because we are often left making assumptions about your company and what you have to spend, which can often lead to inaccurate quotes. The best thing for you to do is be 100% honest with your agency. Whether you think it’s going to cost $5,000 or $50,000, you know your budget, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be meeting with an agency until you have that figured out.

Misconception #2 The amount of pages drives the cost of the website.

This is not necessarily true, depending on your setup. Experienced agencies will take the time to build out your website on a content management system (CMS) so you have the ability to add pages as your company grows and expands. This means that if you have a services page designed in the beginning, there usually isn’t an extra cost for you to go in and add 50 more services pages.

Misconception #3 Using a professional agency for a website design project costs too much money.

If you are just starting out in the business and need a website designed, chances are, your website won’t break the bank. Typically, startups are lean when it comes to content and design. In our experience, the goal here is to begin to start an online presence and begin to establish credibility. Our company has designed websites for startups that usually cost in the ballpark of $2,500 and $8,000, depending on what the company needs. Where this number tends to go up in cost is when the company starts asking for value added services such as search engine optimization, branding, and content writing.

Now if you are an established company with a website built but it’s not on a content management system, have lots of website pages with rich content, and you need a new design… the costs will start adding up. Agencies will need to take the time to export your existing content into the new site so you don’t lose your established search engine optimization, determine a new design based on your existing or new brand, and work with your existing host to make the transition as seamless as possible. It’s not always an easy process and comes with many challenges along the way. Established companies needing a new or redesigned website also have growing needs for lead generation and inbound marketing, social media integration, and highly skilled content written. Costs for websites that are in this category can range anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.

Reality #1 You can save money if you are on a budget if you start with an existing template or theme.

When companies are on a budget, there are ways to get a lot of what is on your wish list. One of those ways to save include starting with an existing template instead of designing a website from scratch. This isn’t always the solution for larger companies with very specific needs, but this can often work for small to medium sized businesses who need to focus most of their website budget on expanding their inbound marketing and lead generation.

Reality #2 Content is just as important as the website design itself.

When budgeting for your website, you really should consider budgeting some of your spend towards content. This becomes especially important if you don’t have any existing content written to pull from. Your website is only as good as the content and language that presents it, so if you want to have the foundation for solid lead generation, search engine optimization, and unified messaging, you need to invest in content.

Reality #3 You get what you pay for.

Your website is your brand and needs to be treated as a valuable asset of your business. The companies who realize that it is an investment in the beginning and takes the time to do it right have seen a tremendous amount of success from their efforts. If a website is done right, it should be working for your company and bringing in prospects and leads just as a full-time sales person would. If you pay for the service of an agency, they should serve as the lead and help you figure out how much revenue you need to funnel through your website, and how to do that through a web strategy in order to offset the costs of the development.

As in anything, it really does boil down to the fact that you get what you pay for. If you want a cheap, inexpensive website because you really just can’t afford to hire a professional agency, there are some decent companies out there such as Wix and Weebly that can help get you started. Keep in mind that there are many limitations with those using those types of services including how much you can change and customize as you grow. Their free templates are limiting, because even they say that they need to make money too!

If you are in the market for a new or updated website, we’d love to sit down and talk to you about your goals and the processes behind developing your website. Click below to get the process started.

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