website cost

How Much Does a Website Cost to Build?

The short (and really unhelpful) answer to this question is – it depends!

But I’m going to be a lot more helpful than that. 🙂 And get specific. Along the way we’ll break down what goes in to making a website, how that relates to the price – and how you can get the best bang for your buck.

So let’s get started.

DIY or Pro?

Pretty obvious – but let’s quickly cover it. Are you are attempting to build it yourself or getting it done professionally?

Because clearly the costs are going to be dramatically different.

We’re talking about the difference between buying a stack of bricks & timber vs. paying a master builder to create a house for you.

You can buy ‘the bricks’ to build a website pretty cheaply. But there’s a lot of skill involved in putting them together properly. More on that shortly.

If you want to learn how to be the architect, brick layer, carpenter, plumber, electrician, painter, plasterer etc – then by all means consider the DIY route. But bear in mind that whilst it’s cheap in dollars, it’s going to be incredibly expensive in your time. And still potentially collapse in a messy heap.

So if you would rather get back to working on what your business really does instead, let’s move on. 🙂

One Size Does Not Fit All

The next major factor affecting the price of building a website is simply “what do you want it to do?”

This is something you need to think through and write down. Nobody can give you anything like an accurate quote for a website without this.

This doesn’t need to be technical – in fact, it shouldn’t be.

Let the expert determine the best way to achieve what you want. You just define the what.

So what is the ‘what’?

It’s two things. Firstly it’s what information you want on your site. Think more in terms of what products and services you provide.

Secondly, it’s about what functionality you need. By that I mean broad strokes – does it need an appointment booking system, a shopping cart/checkout or a job cost estimator widget.

Or at the very least, find a competitor (or other similar) website that you really like, and say you want something like that. Or you want ‘that’ with or without certain features.

What Am I Paying For Again?

It might come as a surprise to find you’re not really looking for a ‘web designer’ at all. You’re really looking for a specialist who knows a whole bunch of stuff about building and marketing websites (who also has web design skills too!). Or an agency that has all those specialists.

The term ‘web designer’ has come to mean someone who knows how to:-

  • design web pages
  • work with graphics and photos
  • set up domains and web hosting
  • install/build web sites
  • write custom code

But that’s not all of course. Far from it.

They are also supposed to know all about marketing, and how to:-

  • write copy/content that sells
  • get visitors to take action
  • set up the site and pages to rank well in Google
  • install and set up analytics
  • set up Google My Business properly
  • do email marketing campaigns
  • create social media profiles
  • do content marketing

Oh, and have enough breadth of experience to offer you the right solutions for what you want to build.

This is why good websites are not cheap.

If your ‘web designer’ doesn’t have all of these skills, the website you end up with is not going to perform.

Let’s Put Some Numbers on It

Here’s one way to think about how much a new website will cost. The living wage in New Zealand for 2020 is $22.10. That’s about $40,000 a year.

If you add to that the tools, computers, software and general cost of doing business that’s easily $60,000 a year.

Now say a web designer works 35 hours a week, and 48 weeks a year. And in that 35 hours a week they’re realistically going to be spending around half of that time on ‘other’ business tasks. Things like promoting their business, meetings and discussions with clients, accounting, updating skills etc.

That leaves us with 17.5 hours to devote to actually designing and building your site. Which works out to an hourly cost of about $70.

So how many hours does it take to design a website?

The homepage of a site can easily take 8 hours to get right (fonts, colour schemes, locating/adjusting images, writing content, navigation and structure). So that’s $560.

Other pages on the site can range from much simpler to just as complex – so anywhere from $100 to $500 per page.

So for a fairly typical professionally made 5 page business website this comes to a cost of around $1,500.

But please remember, this is based on a living wage. So expect to pay significantly more for greater skill and experience.

This is why good websites don’t cost a couple of hundred bucks 🙂

And many businesses do only require a more basic site of this type. Websites for tradesman, for example, typically fall into this category. They need to do enough to explain the service, who they are, where they are, why they are good and generate a phone call. No ecommerce, no special apps required.

In fact around 70% of custom built business websites cost between $3,000 and $15,000.

But There’s a Better Way to Think

Business websites exist to drive sales. So this is really all about return on investment (ROI).

So picture it this way:-

  • what is a new customer worth to your business?
  • potentially how many new customers are there?

You probably know the lifetime value of a new customer already. Or at least know how much a new sale/booking/contract is typically worth.

How many potential customers is more tricky to answer. It depends on what area your business covers and the population. But if your website is now as good as (if not better) than your competition. And it ranks higher in Google, you could see the lions share of all new business in your area.

For some businesses a single sale would pay for the cost of building the site. Others will take longer.

But if you’re thinking in terms of ROI then you should now have an idea in mind of how long before your new website will have paid for itself.

Don’t forget about existing customers too. If you’ve got a solid marketing process in place together with an effective website where you can send those customers – then you could also see dramatic increases in repeat custom.

What Else Contributes to the Cost of a Website?

There can be numerous other factors (in your control) that drive up the price though.

Time is where the cost is, so be very aware of making these mistakes.

Low Quality Logo File

You probably already have a business logo. But do you have the original file that the logo designer gave you? If you have a low quality image file, or even just a business card, then the web designer is going to have to recreate that logo from scratch to get something they can use.

No Real Photos

Do you have good photos ready to go? Photos of your premises, stock, vans, staff, jobs completed etc. The web designer will take care of adjusting these as necessary, but if you don’t have good images to start with, that’s more time and expense required to locate suitable stock images. Consider getting a local photographer in for best results.

Background Material

Are there brochures, leaflets and newspaper adverts you can provide? If you can provide this stuff up front it will save time on both sides in the research and fact finding phase.

Clear Requirements

Are your requirements clear? If you set out what you need clearly up front, not only are you much more likely to get the result you want. But you’ll avoid a lot of back and forth to clarify what you need. Or what you really mean.

Single Point of Contact

Who is responsible? By all means consult other people in your business for input and feedback. But make sure you have one person who is the only point of contact with your web designer. Don’t make your designer negotiate with multiple different people on your end to get decisions made.

Too Much Detail

Are you being too specific? If you’re a ‘spreadsheets for everything super attention to detail’ kind of person, it’s going to cost you. Any good web designer knows how to build a business website. Tell them what you need not how to do their job. If you find yourself specifying the logo should be 400 pixels wide and the footer menu should be centred etc you’ve gone way too far.

Indecisive Revisions

You want it right of course, but be decisive. Any decent web designer cares a lot about giving you a great result. And design can be very subjective. So revisions are expected. But there’s a limit before it will cost you more. Try living with a design for a day or two before you feed back any changes required.

I Want It Now!

Be clear about your timescale. Web designers, like many businesses, schedule their workload ahead. So if you want or need it built more urgently, then do expect to pay more to jump the queue! Similarly, if your timescales are very flexible, make that clear as it could give you a break on the cost.

Too Expensive?

So what can you do if you get an estimate and it is (genuinely) too expensive for your budget?

Firstly, consider if there is anything you can do without. If part of your project required custom coding or some pages needed more complex designs – can you do without those and perhaps add them later?

Secondly, ask for help. Your web designer will know what elements of a project are going to take the most time. So let them guide you on the best way to scale back your plans but still deliver something that will work well for you now.

Just bear in mind, there’s only so much can be scaled back. If you’re buildling a fairly basic business website, then there’s not much you can remove.

If it works better for your budget you may be able to arrange for a phased release. Phase 1 might give you the solid basic website you need to start off, but this goes live as soon as it’s ready. Then work begins on Phase 2 to add more advanced features.

If you have any questions about the cost of building websites, or anything we’ve covered here – please just ask in the comments below.

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