I can’t understate how many times we receive this question—easily once per day. When I repeat the same answer—it depends—prospects, without fail, let out an audible sigh. Instead of immediately transitioning conversation to budget parameters (or what one is “willing to pay”), a quality web design and internet marketing company will work to first determine what the inquirer is “solving for.”
But this is on the first step. At the very least, to determine pricing, I need to determine expectations, business goals, preferred programming language, functionality requirements, and delivery timetables.
Thus, that single-cost, bottom-line answer, unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. The following are five reasons why a uniform cost (even pricing) unfortunately, is impossible to articulate.
1. Each site is different. Sites, snowflakes, and homes—of the three, no two are the same.
The complexities involved in the Affordable Care Act website and a templated site illustrate the differences in functionality, design, requirements, responsiveness, and effort. It’s the same way that the Taj Mahal and a modular home (shameless customer plug: Homes by Vanderbuilt) are both construed a house. Since each home is different, I doubt realtors field calls from prospects inquiring, ‘how much does a house cost?’ The same is applicable for websites.
2. It depends on utilization of a content management system (CMS).
Regarding a site, the usual first and most important decision is to select a CMS, meaning that a site owner will have the ability to update content without advanced knowing/understanding high-level programming. It prevents a site owner from needing a “web guy” and allows them to manage and update content whenever necessary. This didn’t exist years ago, and is one of the largest reasons in lowered cost.
For many, a low-level site offered by companies that offer a proprietary content management system (CMS) is sufficient (examples include GoDaddy, Weebly, Wix, or Vistaprint). For others, they can utilize a theme or have a freelancer customize them as necessary—I always explain that these individuals are like interior designers in that they’re only ‘painting walls and rearranging curtains.’ (Disclaimer: while the initial design is always eye-catching for template-based sites, they can be frustratingly difficult to customize). These solutions make sense many of those inquiring about site costs—one-time licenses range from being free-to-$100.
Common open-source CMSs include Drupal, Joomla!, and WordPress. Each platform has its own strengths (though the weaknesses are likely more important. As critical as it is to select a CMS, selecting the right platform is more important.
3. A site’s success is often determinant on its ability to complete business goals.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For a bootstrapped business, simply having a site may be sufficient. For others, key elements may be the most imperative— customer conversion, design, functionality, usability, or optimization results. Since there isn’t a single standard and industry trends are continually developing, sites’ success factors hinge on their ability to complete business goals. Since the objectives are different for each site (and often change rapidly), it’s impossible to set a fixed-cost.
4. Don’t focus on ‘saving money’ because web design and development is a service and not a commodity.
In nearly every aspect of life, our capitalistic society has conditioned us to do whatever it takes to “save money”. It’s the reason people utilize coupons and negotiate with car salesmen, because they want to purchase a product at the best price possible. However, designing and/or developing a website, or ongoing internet marketing, are services, and thus, are entirely customizable.
5. There is no uniform pricing structure.
As anyone that has ever trying to determine pricing by inquiring with multiple web companies has likely figured out, it’s extremely difficult to get apple-to-apple comparisons. Often, prospects will describe requirements and receive quotes that range wildly. For instance, an eCommerce development prospect recently articulated that they received three quotes—one around $2,000, another hovering around $13,000, and the final was $68,000-plus.
Each company has different pricing structures (hourly rate, fixed-price or time-based), strengths and weaknesses (some are stronger at design, development, or marketing), personnel skill sets (aptitude of who will be working on the site, what takes an inexperienced developer 12 hours may take a seasoned developer four hours), and strategies and methods (development language, project management process, etc.), and other factors.
Until there is uniformity and the market adopts standards, website pricing will remain subjective, customizable, and frustrating. We’ve found an in-person (or phone) meeting can alleviate many of these questions. Our hope is to determine requirements, and work—as a consultant—to develop a solution that is mutually beneficial.