The number one question we get when speaking with prospective clients is "How much does a website cost?" Over the years, we have crafted the perfect response, "How much does a house cost?" In an instant, a look of shock and confusion and then the lights go on and the concept starts to sink in, it's absolutely priceless. Then we hit them with "Are you looking for a studio apartment or a 6 bedroom mansion?" We're usually met with a little chuckle and then an, "OK, I get it."
Just answer the question!
I recently read a post from Sage Media that addressed this question but on a broader scale. They polled several hundred design firms, agencies, and freelancers and asked them what they charged for certain design projects. They took the average cost and posted the results. Since this article is targeting just website design, I will post just those results here. But if you want a good read and want to know what a logo or brochure costs on average, head on over and check out the full post.
The article revealed the average cost of a website submitted by 274 design professionals with an average of 10 years of experience. This includes the presentation of 2 to 3 concepts, art direction and coordination of illustration and/or photography, comprehensive layout, and final art delivered to the client. All of this is a fancy way of saying, "We will build your site how you want it and launch it for..." The average website cost was $11,830. That number is an average... which means some companies probably responded with price tags north of $50,000 and some as low as $500.
There is more to a website than the cost...
We understand how the importance of price and how price plays in pretty much everything in life. However, the price is simply only 1 of 4 things to consider when it comes to seeking a website designer. When you are looking for a designer for your small business, you should ask them 3 questions and then weigh your decision based on those answers and your gut feeling. The point is, don't let price alone drive your decision... hiring the wrong designer because they were cheaper can (and usually does) cost a lot more in the long run.
Question #1: How much experience building websites do you have?
There are plenty of people out there who design websites. They range anywhere from firms who do it daily and have designed thousands of websites over the past 20 years all the way down to the person down the street who built a Wix website for a friend and now fancies themselves a website designer. That last example is VERY real and VERY dangerous to hire, but so many people still hire that person. Please, keep doing so, because that's where we get our bread and butter clients from... fixing other people's mistakes!
Question #2: How much knowledge do you have in your industry?
This is closely related to question one because with experience comes knowledge. However, it's still a good question to ask. Maybe, a designer has been focused on print work for the past 10 years and only has 2-3 websites under their belt. They are creative and turn out beautiful designs, but do they have the know-how to build a functional website? Will it be responsive and work on all devices? Does it have SEO best practices built-in as to allow for search engines to organically rank it properly? Does it have code built-in for Google to be able to index the site properly? These are important things to ask them before you sign on the dotted line.
Question #3: How much will my website cost?
Now you're at the question you REALLY care about... but you shouldn't. I know you have a budget to stay within, but we all know that's simply a guideline. You would like to stick to it or even have money left over.
I would like you to think about heading to a dealership to buy a new car. You go there to look at and purchase the sensible gas-sipping Ford Fusion. Inevitably, the salesman ends up showing you the svelte V8 GT Mustang. He explains it's just a little bit more, but you get so much more in return. Then, to add insult to injury, the next one he shows you even go a step further. It's the GT model, with a hefty V8, better suspension, 20" wheels, a swanky body kit, and custom exhaust... all yours for just a little bit more. You start to think and somehow you find a way to justify the extra. You forget the fact that ANY vehicle will be a financial weight around your neck and will simply depreciate in value. It will also suck money from your wallet in upgrades, gas, insurance, speeding tickets, repairs, etc.
Why are you so frugal about your business website then? Why not upgrade to that fancier version with all the bells and whistles? At least your business website will actually make you money in return!
Question #4: How much risk am I willing to accept?
I know that's not a question for a designer, but it's the most important one to ask yourself. Risk and price are a sliding scale and when one goes up, the other (generally) goes down. If you find someone who charges you only $500 for a website, you are (usually) accepting a larger risk hoping the project is completed properly as opposed to someone charging $5,000 for the same website. The higher the investment, the more time, pride, and care a designer will take on your project. Still not convinced? Let me pose an example to you...
Comparing 2 designers side-by-side
Let's say you have 2 designers bidding for your new website. You've taken the time with each of them and explained exactly what your website needs. Designer-A has 2 years of experience and a couple of nice looking websites in their portfolio. Designer-B has over 20 years and has built hundreds of websites over the years. Both Designer-A and Designer-B will build your website for you, but Designer-B’s quote is much higher because it is all-inclusive and comes with hosting, daily backups, an SSL certificate, monthly support, and a plethora of other options you (think) you don't need. Designer-A quotes you $650 for their web design services and Designer-B quotes you $1,500. Both designers promise the website done and launched in 4 weeks or less.
Who do you go with?
Obviously, you’re thinking of hiring Designer-A because he's 1/2 of the price of Designer-B for doing (what you feel is basically) the same thing. You can't help but think of all the shiny new things you can buy with that extra money you saved. You call Designer-A to give them the good news! After cutting a check, you sit back and browse the Amazon app to spend that extra cash you saved.
How is that working out for you?
It's been a few weeks now and Designer-A is taking longer than you hoped and are missing deadlines. Finally, after 7 weeks, they launch your new website. Breathing a sigh of relief, you are quite pleased with the finished product and are excited to see all the money that will be rolling in from the new website. Taking to social media, you post about your new business and your stunning new website. All your friends tell you how awesome your new website is and comment on what a shrewd shopper you are.
A couple of weeks later, you begin to wonder why you're not getting increased traffic as promised by Designer-A. You call and they say you just need to wait longer. You log into your dashboard to see if your forms are even working and notice multiple alerts. Your dashboard is telling you that your plugins need to be updated and there is even a new version of WordPress that addresses numerous security holes found in the previous version. Scared about what that even means, you call Designer-A and ask for help. Since they’ve already collected their money from you, they respond back a few days later and if you're lucky, advise you how to perform the updates.
After what looks like a successful update, you check your website only to be met with a blank white screen where your beautiful website used to be. In a panic, you call Designer-A and are met with their voicemail. You leave message after message asking them to fix your website as soon as possible. Unfortunately, they don't get back to you for several days and when they do, they have no clue how to fix it. They spend a little time trying to figure out what happened, but simply can't fix it. You keep calling them and calling them because you're convinced you're losing money hand over fist while your website is down, but now they are ducking your calls completely.
Oh crap, now what?
You place a call to Designer-B and politely ask them to fix Designer-A's mistakes. Designer-B now has to go in and dig through the previous work in order to troubleshoot the problem. At a rate of $100/hr, you are really regretting that new watch and designer jeans you purchased on Amazon.
You find out that the crash was caused by some free plugins Designer-A used to build your website. When updated, they caused conflicts with new code in the updated WordPress installation and ended up crashing your website.
To get it working again, Designer-B now has to redo your pages to utilize better-supported plugins. They explain the reason your website isn't being found on search engines is that basic SEO was never built into the site. To fix, Designer-B has to go page-by-page and build the SEO info into each page, image, and link... ultimately costing several hundred dollars more. You're now up to a couple thousand dollars invested, way more than if you hired Designer-B in the first place. You've not only lost a lot of money but precious time as well.
Now everything is OK, right?
Fast forward a few months later and business is thriving. You would like to update your website, but you haven't got the slightest clue on how to do it. You make a call to Designer-B and explain how you would like to add some new products, a few new client testimonials, and a couple of new photo galleries. At $100/hr, you agree, because your website must be updated. All the while, kicking yourself for not hiring Designer-B in the first place.
If you had just hired Designer-B in the first place, you:
- Would've launched on time
- Would've had SEO best practices built-in from the start and customers would've been able to find you on search engines.
- You wouldn't have ever had to perform any WordPress Core or plugin updates on your own because Designer-B offers all-inclusive website plans. And if for some reason the website did crash, Designer-B would've fixed it or used one of the nightly backups to restore the website back to working order in a matter of minutes.
So, did you really save any money by hiring Designer-A?
We hear about these situations all the time! This was not a random story, it is an actual account of someone who hired Designer-A instead and (as you can see) after all sorts of unfortunate events and spending thousands extra, ended up in our care anyway. And they are still with us to this day!