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How Much Does Web Design Cost and Why?
As someone who’s been working in the web design field for six years now, I’ve seen prices for web design fluctuate wildly depending on the nature of the website being built. In this article I’m going to provide you with two explanations for why website prices can differ. There are two main ways of understanding prices for web design projects.
- Website Packages and Prices
- Cost of a Web Designer
Website Packages and Prices
The way many web design companies work is by providing very specific packages that address the needs of most small businesses. A typical small business website package will include at least the following:
- Content Management System Software
- Website Interface
- Interactive Features
These elements have associated costs and I have outlined them below.
1. Content Management System Software
You may be aware that many of the content management systems used by web designers are free. This is good for you (and your web designer) because it means you’re not paying for proprietary software. There’s also typically a large community supporting and continually improving the software.
So why does does a CMS cost money if the software is free?
CMS software (unlike Microsoft Word) doesn’t work out of the box. It has to be installed on your web server, configured to be compatible with a hosting service and then customised to meet your specific requirements. So, even though the software might be free, you’re paying a service fee to make it work.
Typical cost: Between $100 – $800.
2. Website Interface
The website interface encompasses the overall look and feel of the website as well as navigation elements. These two components of a website are extremely important as they can make the difference between a frustrating navigation experience and an intuitive one. In an attempt to reduce costs some website packages use a template for the interface. These templates are a pre-designed interface that can be customised to suit your requirements.
Typical cost: $500 – $1000.
3. Interactive Features
Interactive features are usually things like contact forms but can include maps, booking systems, and ecommerce features. This is where it can get complicated, but let’s assume for the purpose of this guide that your website is for a service that doesn’t require ecommerce features.
Typical cost: $500 – $1000.
Many CMS platforms will have a blog built in, but it still requires configuring.
Typical cost: $100 – $300.
From this, we can see that you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 for a customised website.
So why do some websites only cost $299?
You might pay a very low price but you’ll lose on lots of the customisation features I just mentioned. Let’s take a look at what the $299 website is missing.
No ability to/for:
- Store emails from prospects in a CRM
- Send email marketing messages to contacts in a CRM
- Host or embed videos
- Implement a flexible layout for different pages
- Google Maps integration
- Compatibility across all web browsers
- Compatibility with mobile phone browsers
You might think you don’t need these features and in some cases it’s true. The cheaper website can be a great option when you’re starting out, but today’s consumer is inundated with choice. If you can’t provide an engaging experience, why would they choose you?
Cost of a Web Designer
Nice work! We’ve covered the cost of web design according to a package and features, so now let’s look at time costs.
Your new website is going to take a designer anywhere from 20 to 60 hours and this will include:
- CMS install, set up and configuration: 5 – 10 hours
- Website interface design: 10 – 20 hours
- Interactive features: 10 – 20 hours
- Blog set up and design: 5 – 10 hours
A rookie web designer will typically charge about $30 p/h. So that’s $900 – $1,800 at cost. But of course, no one wants to work at cost, because there are overheads and support time. So a smart web designer will charge a bit over the time it takes to design and build a website. That brings us back to our $1,200 figure from the package perspective.
An intermediate web designer – someone who has valuable experience with designing websites – will charge around $60 p/h. So now we’re hitting the $1,800 – $3,600 range.
The difference between a beginner and an intermediate web designer is that the more experienced web designer will be well-versed in modern web design standards, including coding and layout. Poor code can mean your website might load slowly and may even display differently in browsers. Poor design and layout detracts from a site and can be a great reason for someone to leave and choose a competitor.
I’ve covered the low to mid range websites, but how is it that some websites can cost more than $10,000?
A website of this cost will have more requirements than the average small business website. Consider a website like menulog which is a home delivery food service. Their website includes an ordering system, a membership system, an ecommerce system and an email marketing system. All of these systems require careful interface design to integrate them. When you add up the time required to build something this sophisticated, you’ll be looking at 100+ hours of work, which means your costs are going to get up around the $10,000 mark at a minimum.
With web design your money is going towards expertise, time and the ‘uniqueness’ of your site (also known as customisation). You do get what you pay for so it might help to check out our free Web Design Buyer’s guide for some tips on how to choose the right web designer.
Download the Web Design Interview Checklist
As a little bonus, you can download our free Web Design Interview Checklist which helps you interview web designers, ask the right questions and get a solid deal. All you need to do is unlock the download by sharing this post.
Have any questions about how web design is priced? Let me know in the comments.
If you are starting a web design project then you’re in luck.
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