Any idea how much a website costs?
This is a question that everyone who runs an online business or blog asks at some point.and my clients ask me all the time).
My clients ask me all the time: Ashley, how much does it cost to make a website?
But, coming up with an exact price is difficult.
Kinda like solving a Rubik’s cube!
You remember those from your childhood, right?
Mind-bending madness. Frustrating as hell!
Back to websites…
The real Rubik’s cube style challenge in pricing a website is – understanding that a website is not a hamburger at McDonalds!
Wouldn’t that be tasty though? You could eat your website if you got hungry? But alas, it is not to be. It is all bits and bytes instead.Pricing a website is actually like pricing a carClick To Tweet
I read that somewhere once, and it is a great analogy, so let’s run with it. (or if you are not into running, then walk at a brisk pace)
I remember popping in to the local VW dealer a few years ago to price a new Golf. Our first new car! (Amazingly to outsiders, we were car-less in Switzerland for 12 years. Yes, the public transport is that amazing).
We knew the basic price of a VW Golf, but then we got down to the nitty-gritty details:
- 2 doors or 4 doors (what the hell? that is even an option – of course I want 4!)
- engine type and size
- what seats do you want?
- radio, cd, navigation system
- auto windscreen wipers and lights?
- keyless entry
- the list got very very very very… long
Now, we might have started at say $20,000, but very soon the price was creeping up towards $30,000.
What just happened, I asked myself?
How did the number we had in our head go up by 50%!
It was shocking at the time, but I understand now that that is the reality of buying a car.
And that my friends is how you price a website too.
Let me explain…
What Is Your Website For?
Understanding what your website is for, is your first big challenge. (feel free to tweet that)Understanding what your website is for, is your first big challenge.Click To Tweet
Back in the 2000s, a website would be more like a business card – nice looking, with a bit of information, and your phone number or email address.
Unfortunately, for most businesses, those days are gone.
Your website today could actually be
- your whole business (no store, no office – like me)
- an online shop
- an online tool
- or a combination of those
And if you website is your main business, then you need to think about
- getting traffic (SEO, Content, Paid Ads, Webinars etc)
- capturing leads (email marketing)
- conversion optimization (getting visitors to call, write, opt in to your email list)
And so on.
Ignore the complexities for now, but you start to see how big the website picture really is.
What is your website really for?
Have a think about it.
This is the first step.
Should You Do It Yourself?
If you have gotten this far, you might still be thinking you can do it all yourself.
And you can.
I am certainly not going to stop you.
But the thing you should be asking yourself at this point is: Should I be building my own website?Would you build your own car or house for that matter? Probably not.Click To Tweet
Websites are actually very complex beasts, with lots of parts, processes, and expertise built in.
Just like a house, you can certainly create your own unstable, barely functioning, leaking version – that will last a while (or not). But sooner or later you will wish you paid for a real one.
So, back to building your own website.
These days, there are certainly a lot of tools out there to help you do it yourself, so it is tempting.
And if you are on a very tight budget, it may be your only option.
- whip up a website on Wix or Squarespace
- learn a bit more and use WordPress with a free theme and plugins
- or, use any of the other myriad of free website builders out there
But just keep the following in mind:
- websites are complex and take a lot of time to create
- websites should be about fulfilling your business goals
- websites should have great looking design (which is actually difficult to achieve)
I have seen the results of many a “free” website, and I have fixed a bunch of them too. (It can be very messy – think: 9-month-old eating spaghetti).
I am not telling you it is not possible, but ask yourself: is it the best use of your time?
And given that it might be the most important thing part of your business, should you be skimping on it?
Do You Know What Do You Really Need?
The biggest challenge you face in pricing your dream website is asking yourself a lot of difficult and detailed questions.
The heading of that list of questions is: What Do I Really Need?
This could mean
- breaking down the purpose of your website into small chunks to better understand what you really need
- deciding what should go on your website to attract new customers
- specifying the functionality of your website (if it is more of a tool than a plain old website)
So rather than just saying “I need a website” and hoping the designer’s mind-reading skills are up to scratch, try to consider what it is the website will do and/or contain.
Another handy idea is to look for other examples in your industry and see what you think works for them and, what does not. (both the good and bad are important to see)
1. What Pages Do I Need?
Part of understanding the full scale of your website is trying to map out what pages you want, or need.
This could mean
- pages you need to display your products or services
- generic pages you need (contact, about, policies, shipping)
- whether you want to blog or display company news
Many of these things a good web designer will help you decide, but if you make at least a rough list before you start, you will be better informed and prepared for the journey ahead.
2. Is There Any Special Functionality?
Is your website, more than just a content-containing website (eg. images, text, video).
Will it actually have to DO something (directory, search, functions etc)?
If you haven’t been around software or web development before, this part can get a little challenging, but let’s give it a go.
Some things that appear (visually) quite simple are actually very difficult to achieve. That is the beauty of Apple products, and good design in general.
So if you need something special on your website like:
- a directory of businesses, customers, freelancers
- a locked section of your website with paid content
- a customized portfolio of your videos
- a small tool to calculate mortgages for clients
- or, a complex tool (to help book cars into your garage?)
(Note: This list is infinite, but you see what I mean).
then break this “desired functionality” out into a separate area and understand that this may add significantly to the cost of your site.
Don’t trick yourself into thinking “it is just a button” or “just an extra page”.
Think about what actually might happen in the background (like the engine of a car – it just makes you go, right?).
That is what your web development company will do for you, for sure. But knowing what is coming will help you avoid price shock.
3. Do You Want All The Extras?
Websites can be built exactly as requested, and nothing more.
That is what most web designers do. (not me, but I am not here to boast)
But keeping your website running, safe, appearing in Google, and so on, takes lots of extra work.
If you want all of this built into your website, it takes extra time and expertise.
So when you approach a web designer, you need to decide (and ask) if you want:
- branding (do you already have a logo, brand colors etc? you can easily find a logo online)
- content (are you going to write all your own, or do you need a copywriter?)
- photos (do you have all your own, of need stock photography)
- security (most software is at risk of getting hacked)
- backup (what happens if you lose your website – server failure, hackers)
- SEO optimized (appearing on Google takes work)
And of course, this all costs money too.
Just like with a car (servicing, new tires, washing, garage).
There are some things you can skip, or do yourself, but again it is quality vs time/money. A compromise we all have to make.
4. Do You Want Support?
This is something I have been offering my clients more of lately, as websites need constant maintenance.
This could mean a variety of things, as nothing is really static on a website. not even a car, or a house – they all need constant work).
Come to think of it, not even a car, or a house, or even a human – they all need constant work and maintenance.
So when you buy a website, keep that in mind. It also needs tender love and care:
- regular maintenance
- security checks
- updated content (blogs, products information, services)
- marketing for your business
and so on.
Don’t forget to water your website. Before you know it, it will be just another dead plant in the corner of your basement!
Your Website “Is” Your Business
I know we have covered a lot, and I may have shocked you with all the above info. But before you close this page, shaking your head at the insanity of it all, think about this:
- your website may well be your most important asset
- it may also be your only/most important marketing channel
So take a step back and think about what you really need, in detail and also – what it is worth to your business.
That is the true price of your website.