What a Website Really Costs

website-costThere are a number of things I try to explain to both potential and existing clients whenever embarking on a new web project. The most common of these is the misconception around what a website should really cost.

How much will my website cost?

I promise you that if I could give the answer to this question up front I would. I am not trying to hold out until I have had time to think about it or decide what you can afford – I just legitimately need a better assessment of what your requirements for your site are, what you want it to look like, and what information you need it to contain!

All companies are not created equal. We all have different services and products and it would be crazy to think that a website that works for one organisation will work for another. Every organisation strives to be different from its competitors – so to believe that you will be satisfied with a template-bought website of exactly 4 pages and predetermined functionality… Well that’s just crackers!

What this means is we will never be able to quote you (even a ball park figure) at our first meeting. We will need to unpack what your organisation is trying to achieve with its website, determining what content and functionality needs to be incorporated before we can give you anything that even resembles an accurate quote.

What about WordPress, Joomla or any other CMS?

Clients regularly jump in with the question of a WordPress or a Joomla website – why, when the software is free and you just ‘stick a template on it’, do the costs often come out higher than companies offering a generic four-page website and 1 years’ hosting for R2999?

The answer is simple.

Nobody is ever 100% satisfied with a standard template; and if you are you shouldn’t be. Your site will require some customisation, which means design and development hours which equates to cost.

CMS systems may have a higher initial cost, but for organisations that plan to do regular updates on their websites they will often become a cheaper option in the long run. Because CMS systems are designed to be user friendly, clients may easily do their own updates, saving them from paying a web company every time they require a new piece of content on their site.

I think I’m being ripped off – how much should my site really cost?

There are many agencies that will try to charge more than you feel your site should cost. While the cost of a website varies greatly depending on what functionality is built in, whether content needs to be developed for you, and how complex your design is, if your price tag is in the R50 000 range your are being robbed. (Remember, we are talking relatively simple corporate sites. Think ‘your site’ vs. Amazon).

This is why it is worth doing your research about the costs involved in a website and getting quotes from more than one agency. Don’t just trust the first guy that hands you a quote!

Of course, if you are looking to have and complex system built for your site, then you can expect to have a much higher cost than just a simple front-end corporate website. The rule of thumb is – the more complex your site becomes, the more it will cost to have it built. For example, you should expect to pay much more for a website that has an online shopping section than one simply with information about your company.

Custom built development work comes with a custom built development price; it is like the haute couture of websites. For this type of work you need a development house – not an advertising or marketing agency.

So what determines the cost of my website?

So how do we determine what a website should cost?

1. The functionality required

This is determined by your objectives for your website. Do you need to display video? Is there a requirement for you to be able to update you own content or feed content to social campaigns? Is there a login or newsletter subscription process, or a shopping basket and ecommerce facility? Is there going to be animation, such as services in a rotator or animating headings and graphics? The addition of one or all of these elements and others like them will affect the cost of your site.

2. The design complexity

Does each page need a different design from the others? How many images are included? Do stock images or photography need to be purchased? What galleries need to be included in the pages? Increasing the complexity of your design will obviously increase the cost of your site.

3. Content and copy

Content is the factor that influences your functionality described in point one and two. Content is anything presented to your audience – from videos to error messages. And it all needs to be considered. If original content needs to be written and created from scratch this will greatly affect the cost of your site.

4. Hosting and domains

Do you have a domain or does one need to be registered for you? Where is your site going to be hosted? There are different hosting packages available from different providers, each with a different price tag. The size and functionality of your site will determine what level of hosting is required.

All of the above need to be carefully considered and planned out before the costing process can begin. Arming yourself with this knowledge will ensure that you are prepared when approaching a web company for your brand new website.

If you haven’t already read it, our article 5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Website will provide you with more valuable information that you should know before building your site.