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website development

How Much Does A Website Cost

How Much Does A Website Cost?

By Web Design

I started my first HTML page back in college in 1997 before the internet was ‘thee internet.’  Since then, I’ve architected and built sites for start-ups to public-traded companies with hundreds of thousands of users and yet even in 2014 the question of cost is a tricky one.

Here’s why…

Today, I think it’s a fair assumption that most people view websites as a commodity. Due to recent hard economic conditions—that seems to be letting up—small business owners and start-ups can’t afford to spend big money on a website which they see as just ‘a website’. With the bad economy brought the emergence of crowdsourcing and discount website building companies. Websites now have a terrific low barrier of entry—with little differentiation in how they function which has brought the perception of their value down.

Savvy companies and brands know that their website is an invaluable marketing and sales tool that allows them to achieve their sales and marketing goals. It supports their marketing and sales efforts and provides assurance to their customers and employees in the form of innate trust. Through social media, content, video and imagery, modern companies understand that the look and feel of a website is just the first step in a broader strategy.

Below I’ve compiled 4 things to help you understand how and why a website is priced and what separates the free websites or discounted website builders from a true marketing tool that transforms your business.

1. Start with your goals
When we start with a new client the first thing we ask is: “What are your goals?” Is your goal just to have a great looking site with great pictures and products and photography or do you really want it to be more than a pretty face? Today, having a website is just the first step. That free website you started and launched a few months ago isn’t enough to build a business or a steady stream of revenue in today’s digital landscape. Businesses must adhere to a specific set of standards, rules and best practices if they hope to ever be found online according to Google’s recent algorithm changes. If you can’t get found, then what’s the point of having a website? Sure, you can have it on your business card and point your customers/clients to it, but in today’s competitive environment is that enough?

If your goals are to increase traffic, there are ways to do that through blogging, social media and search engine optimization. If you want to generate leads, there is a process that creates offers your visitors can’t resist; offers so good that they will gladly trade their contact information for your offer that allows you to continue the conversation. If your goal is customer acquisition, there are methods through things like workflows and lead nurturing that can be utilized to move a potential buyer further down the sales funnel to the close stage. All of this begins with your goals. Design and functionality should be built around your goals and not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution.

Bottom line:

  • Research
  • Traffic generation

  • Lead generation

  • Customer acquisition
  • Search engine optimization
  • Content creation
  • Social media management
  • ROI analysis and reporting
    COST = $500 – $15,000/mo. (depending on how fast you want to achieve your goals)

2. Build a solid foundation
Once your goals are set and we know what kind of website you want to build we start with building a strong foundation. There are numerous platforms and applications out there to build a website. You can even start with a blank html page and start building one from scratch. Each are different and come with a set of standard features and functions. Names like Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and Expression Engine come to mind. We use an open source platform called WordPress. WordPress comes with a basic content management system and thousands of free plugins that function like apps on your iPhone. Plugins add extra functionality to a WordPress site like spam blockers, newsletter signup forms, contact forms, maps, buttons, sliders, Facebook feeds and more. It’s also one of the easiest platforms out there for our clients to use—which is why we use it—and it’s for a great price (FREE!). Hosting is also quite cheap to come by. We host with Rackspace Cloud that provides our clients with a cost–effective hosting solution backed by Rackspace’s fanatical support guarantee.   

Bottom line:

  • WordPress: FREE
  • Hosting: $4.99 – $14.99/mo.
  • Domain: $9.99
  • Premium domains: $50+
    COST =$4.99 – $100

3. Design, integrate and optimize to get found
You can go out and by a theme for WordPress for around $40. However just plugging in a theme assures your website will look like a thousand other websites out there. We offer two cost-effective options that take a theme as a base design and modify or “skin it”. “Skinning”
 means taking a native theme design and customizing it to your brand’s unique look and feel. This way the theme takes on a completely different look while customized to your specifications. If you were to build a website from scratch, or through a base code program like Bootstrap the costs would top into the tens of thousands. Fortunately today, small businesses have the option to start with a theme and modify it to match their desired look and feel for a reasonable price.

Additional design costs begin to incur in the form of content. Content can be anything from written text, custom graphics, buttons, background patterns and more. All these add to the time and effort the team must put into the project. You may need diagrams, a video, or downloadable collateral to help customers understand complex products or services. All of this will need to be taken into account.

Then comes photography. No one EVER wants to invest in photography—which is a shame. You basically have the choice of buying quality images or low-quality images. High-end stock photo sites like Getty and Corbis start at $250+ each. Mid-grade sites like Veer and Jupiter start around $50+; and low-quality sites like Shutterstock and iStock prices start at $5+. However the quality shows. Cheap images don’t add visual value to your website and they look cheesy. Most visitors will pick up on this and leave and forget your site ever existed. Photography is always a huge line item in any web project. So be prepared to invest to make your site look polished.

At the end of a professional webdesign design process you also will need to optimize the site for your keywords. Search engine optimization consists of having relevant title tags, descriptions, image alt tags, on-page links and inbound links all based on the keywords someone would punch in to find you. Google accounts for almost 90% of all search traffic so everything is typically geared toward their requirements.

Bottom line:

  • Theme = $40
  • Customizing (Skinning) = $1,500-$2,000
  • Custom graphics = $800-$1,200
  • Photography = $500
  • Good photography = $1,000
  • Search engine optimization = $400
  • Content creation (provided by web company): $1,500-$2,000
    COST = $40 – $10,000

4. Have a back-up plan
After the site is launched the site isn’t over. Websites should not be viewed as a “one and done”. Now you have to factor in the possibility of any malicious attacks, customer service problems, billing errors etc. that add to the costs of maintaining the site. Most sites can go for years without any major issues, but you will need to keep someone on hand who can address any required updates and any other issues if they arise. The old saying: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong —is true. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had clients going into a meeting and their website goes down.

Bottom line:

  • COST = $0-$1,000/yr.

To wrap up, pricing a professional website is a very difficult thing to do. As a small business you are trying to cut costs and do things right. You have to start with your goals and work backwards on what you have to spend.  Only by setting goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely can you accurately quantify ROI and what a realistic investment is.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Website Design Planner

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide, we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Why a free website won't gorw your business

Why a Free Website Won’t Grow Your Business

By Small Business, Web Design

Perhaps you’ve seen the latest television ad by a company that offers free website design.  And if you go online and google ‘free website’ you get over 4 billion results.

If you’re a start-up or small business, a free website is a great way to get your dream off the ground. A professional website design is as necessary as a business card in today’s marketplace. Without one, you lose credibility in the eyes of your prospects and the ability to attract customers/clients outside of your geographic region.

However, like all things ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ there are a few catches that as a business owner you need to be aware of if you are serious about growing your business online.

Before signing up with one of those discount or free website providers, here are 5 points you need to know before spending the time and effort building a website your self.  

1. Welcome to the jungle – how to stand out
Nowadays, pretty much anyone can put together a website. By the end of 2014, there will be over a billion websites online. (Source: Like a car that has four wheels, doors, windshield and an engine, the template for building a website has pretty much been standardized. A website has a nav bar, logo, footer, buttons, home page, secondary pages and a contact page and maybe even a blog. There isn’t much you can do in way of convention to change it. What this has done is driven down price and forced designers to work on price and not value, essentially making web design a commodity. This causes an inefficiency between business owner and developer in that now, you are paying for the cheapest price but not necessarily getting the best value to grow your business.  This discrepancy causes a gap in your efforts to achieve your goals and solve your problem of generating revenue. Without the eye and talent of a design professional—your site at best—hangs on the precipice of mediocrity. Free templated solutions do not reflect your brand or unique story in way a professional, strategic-based design can.

2. It’s all about the brand
As a business owner you need to understand what makes your brand different, not just from a product or service standpoint, but from a customer standpoint—especially if you are in a competitive industry. This can only be accomplished by understanding who your buyer persona is and how your brand strategy connects to your customer. Who are you? Who needs to know? How will they find out? Why should they care? Every brand must answer these 4 questions. By being able to answer these questions, you will be able to write content specifically for your customer that allows you to connect and humanize your brand through your website.

3. Content is key
Your website is just another page floating in cyberspace unless it educates or solves a customers or clients problem. The quality of your content will determine if people stay or ‘bounce’ from your website. Content can come in the form of videos, text, infographics and imagery. Better content is proven to keep your visitors on your site longer and builds trust so they warm towards your service or product offering. (SOURCE: Hubspot).

4. Trust is paramount
One of today’s biggest hindrances to getting customers is the ability to demonstrate that you can be trusted. I think a fair judgment would be to say that skepticism is at an all-time high due to the continuing fallout we see in our society via the news media. Websites with shabby written content, overused stock photography and low-quality content will often cause potential prospects to leave your site. You must show social proof, a physical address, the people in your company and case studies on how your product or service is being used.  The quality or lack-there-of in design can either inject instant credibility or disgust in your visitor.

5. A website doesn’t guarantee you’ll be found
The digital game has changed thanks to Google. Recent algothrim changes have sifted the wheat from the chaff on search engine results pages (SERPS). Only sites with relevant content will be ranked higher. Higher rankings mean more traffic, which mean more leads, which means more customers. A website isn’t enough, its just the beginning. What good is a website if no one is able to find you? If your aim is to have a website, then mission accomplished, but if your goal is to build a business — then the ability to generate revenue becomes job one. Only through creating fresh relevant content, remarkable content offers, and then optimizing that content for search engines promoted through social media will you begin to generate traffic and ultimately leads that convert into customers. According to Google, “Our guidance to webmasters is the same as always — we encourage original, high-quality content, since that’s what’s best for web users.” Notice, they didn’t say website. (SOURCE: Forbes)

Final Thoughts
I understand that coming up with $1-5K for website can really pinch the bank account these days. Everything is changing and what was working yesterday is different today. If you don’t have a large budget, by all means go for a ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ website, but if you have the means, it’s well worth your investment to invest in a professional website design and do it right. There is no better time than right now to do it right.

Having a website isn’t what sells your services, great content does. If you have a ‘free’ or ‘discounted’ website and need help generating traffic, lead generation, customer acquisition or ROI analysis, contact us for a free Inbound Marketing Assessment.

54 Brilliant Home Page Designs

FREE DOWNLOAD: 54 Brilliant Home Page Design Ideas

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Having a website is just the first step into generating revenue online and growing your business.

In this quick flip book — we introduce you to some of the best home pages on the web. Use this resource to inspire your ideas when creating your business’ next website.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.