“How much does a website cost?” is a question I’m continually asked. On the face of it, it’s not an unreasonable request, but the answer isn’t simple.
The price range for a website varies enormously; from £199 up to tens of thousands of pounds. Most business people will understand that they won’t be getting the same thing across this price range, but it does make for a confusing market, especially when it comes to comparing proposals from multiple agencies. On the positive side, there’s a website to suit all budgets, but how do the uninitiated know what they’re getting for their money?
At all price points, you’ll be delivered a working website that ostensibly does the same job. Dig a little deeper though, and it becomes apparent that along with the huge differences in price, there are equally huge differences in the end product.
At lower price points, you are most likely buying a product. The chances are that the design will be based on a pre-designed template, and will effectively be mass produced. The website will not be specifically designed for your company or audience.
You are unlikely to get a high level of consultancy from the agency, and there’s the potential for a lack of expertise from the people delivering the site. A cheaper website might be delivered by a freelancer, who will likely have expertise in some areas, but not all.
Another potential reason for a low price is that the work of creating the website has been outsourced abroad. Of course, there are plenty of good designers and developers in other countries, but it may make the project run less smoothly, and there’s certainly less accountability going forward through the lifespan of the website.
As prices increase, a website moves from being a product towards being a service. Most agencies will charge on a time basis, and the more time they have available for a project, the better the result it likely to be. It’s worth paying some attention to an agency’s hourly rate, as that will, of course, have an implication for the price you pay.
If a website is a service, what are you paying for? First and foremost you are paying for expertise, and specifically a diversity of expertise. We, for example, employ experts in their particular fields, namely design, development and marketing; we don’t use ‘Jack’s of all trades”. This diversity of expertise in a project team is difficult to replicate in a single person or cheap agency and means that you’ll be delivered a superior website that has been considered from all angles. The consultancy element of a more expensive website is invaluable, and will dramatically increase the chances of getting a solid return on your investment.
By choosing a bespoke agency to build your website, you are also protecting your investment for the future. An agency has better ongoing stability, and will be there to support your website and your business in the future. The agency should be vested in providing you with ongoing support and helping you to continually improve your website.
An agency will generally be charging more because they have processes which take time. A project manager to look after your project will of course cost, but it will ensure that you have an advocate inside the agency, which will mean your project will have a much better chance of being delivered on time and on budget.
The pricing of websites can be a bewildering field for a lot of business owners. The best advice that I can give is to buy the best website you can afford, whilst budgeting for the ongoing cost of marketing and continual improvement. Do this, and you’ll maximise your return.
So the answer to “How much does a website cost?” is often another question “How much do you want to spend?”. You can buy a website at virtually any budget, but the value of what you get will generally match what you pay.
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