How much does a website cost?
“So How Much Does a Website Cost?”
I spend a lot of time answering this question. My answer is always the same:
Think of building your website as if you were building a house. If you’re fine with living in any old shack down by the river, you’ve got a lot of options. But let’s say you want a victorian with a wrap-around porch, white trim, a garden and a giant yard for your 2.5 kids and golden retriever. Now you’re talking about an entirely different process.
How many bedrooms are there? What school district is it in? Will there be room for my massive Green Bay Packers collection?
You wouldn’t just wake up one morning and buy a house willy-nilly. You would take time to set your budget, go to open houses and argue with your loved ones about which option is best. Websites really work the same way. If you just want to let the world know you exist, then a lot of options will work. When we get asked how much a website costs, our answer really centers around what you want and need it to do for your business.
After 10 years of working in the web and marketing space, I’ve noticed that what used to be the main price driver in the digital space has started to change. Historically, the big cost driver of a website was its level of complexity. Sites can still get very complex, but the landscape is experiencing a shift.
I now find myself spending time assessing how many pages your site needs to have, how many words you’re starting out with versus how many need to be written, how good your key messaging and stories are, etc. I just returned from a week in Boston for where I attended an inbound marketing conference—with 14,000 other like-minded digital marketers and business professionals.
Here are 4 main cost drivers I most often see in web development:
- Functionality and Brand Development
- Cost of Content (not the number of pages, but the messaging on those pages)
- Custom vs. Template
- Dynamic Functionality
As a Marketing consultant, It can be frustrating when prospects ask for websites without any context of what they’re being asked to achieve. Between a wide range of business objectives and a shifting cost drivers, I will attempt to lay out a few level-setting expectations when it comes to the development of a new website.
To begin, check out this post I wrote about developing marketing budgets. Long story short, I usually recommend spending about 5% to 10% of annual revenue on marketing—which could include a website.
Full disclosure, our agency is not built for templated, “dev and dump” websites. The way our agency is structured, the small websites sacrifice the planning, custom branding, SEO and content help that we are set up to provide.
Having a strong website foundation will serve as a great springboard to build all of your content strategy around. You’ve got some data-driven strategy and planning, custom branding and key messaging help, and some SEO optimization for a handful of keywords… But keep in mind, this will give you a strong nucleus that every month you can (and should) start adding to based on your growth and business objectives.
To prevent your website from being a shack made of twigs down by the river, I’ll attempt to set up some bumpers to guide you toward the right solution for your business:
$2,500 – $5,000
Work with a freelance web developer with a templated approach.
$5,000 – $20,000
Work with a small web shop using template base with some custom design.
SMALL/MID SIZE BUSINESS:
$20,000 – $50,000
Work with an agency or firm for custom planning, design and development.
Work with agency to develop custom plan with dynamic functionality.
Always remember to pursue the solution that best fits your business objectives. If you’re looking for an agency, I would encourage you to find one that can support your brand for a long time. You will be best served by working with a partner who is invested in helping you leverage your digital investment.