How much does a website cost?


How Much Does a Website Cost?

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April 9th, 2012

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As a website developer I get asked this question everyday. I always tend to cringe a little bit when the question arises as I wish there was a simple answer and there just isn’t. There are so many variables to consider because a website can go from very simple to very complex in a matter of minutes. Does the customer need a contact form? Do they need a user log in system for their customers or employees? Does the project require a shopping cart? How about the ability to update the website on your own? What about motion graphics or animations? These are just some of the factors that play into the overall price of a website. But, how much will it cost?

How much is a website?

Let’s just say… only as much as you’re willing to put into it. To my knowledge, most website designers (myself included) charge by the hour in some way, shape, or form. Wether it be a flat hourly rate or a variable rate determined by the skill set required to perform the task at hand, it generally boils down to time invested.

Websites and web pages generally consist of multiple programming languages. Each individual language (HTML, CSS, PHP, MYSQL, PERL, Javascript, etc.) that a web developer knows can be compared to learning a foreign language in a way. Although website development language is not a spoken language, it can have similarities across all platforms in it’s syntax. Take the spoken word “No” for example. It has the same meaning and spelling in multiple languages throughout the world but that does not make these languages and their respective syntax the same or even similar by any means. This thought process can be applied to a website designer as well. Although many of the coding languages needed to create a fully functioning website have similar syntax, the differences are vast. Ones understanding of these languages and to what extent will usually dictate the hourly cost of the web designer.

I have seen hourly rates in this industry range from $20 dollars an hour to over $200 dollars an hour but in the end, a developer with a less expensive hourly rate may actually end up being more expensive than the one on the higher end of the scale. Considering the web designer that charges a very low hourly rate may not be as skilled as the web designer that has a vast knowledge of internet technologies and languages, your project may take longer and end up costing you more. Obviously your best bet would be with a website design expert rather than a freelance designer. Someone who has a vast knowledge of the different coding languages and can provide you with the website you are looking for. But in the end you get what you pay for in most cases. Although, there is always the possibility that your neighbors son or daughter is a web design genius and needs a school project, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

I realize I keep dodging the original question, but the fact of the matter is that there’s no cut and dry answer. In most cases, people will tend to go with the cheaper option just because it costs less. Even though they may get a site that works and is live on the internet, it may be incomplete and missing key aspects that may not be visible to the end user. A good developer will be able to find these errors in a matter of minutes and explain the importance of them. A poor designer will say that they are not necessary and not to believe everything you read.

Your best bet in the end is to ask to see work by the developer that you are considering hiring. Looking at his/her previous projects will give you a good idea of their style and techniques. Once you have seen the developers portfolio you will have a better understanding of what your money will be paying for. It should be pretty easy to make a decision at that point. This way, you can compare prices offered by the developer/designer along with what they have produced for other clients in the past. Beware of developers with no portfolio or that are unwilling to share their work. This is generally due to inexperience.

As unfortunate as it is that I can not answer the question that I posed in this article, I have found a great resource for those looking to estimate the costs of a website.

Designquote.net offers this great tool:
click here to view

This little wizard runs you through a series of questions asked by most web developers although I disagree with some of their time frames regarding certain tasks. Either way, I have filled this out numerous times to see where I myself stand amongst my competition and this tool gives the most accurate results I have seen. Although it won’t give you an exact price, it will give you a price range that is dependent on the skills of the developer.

In closing, you generally always get what you pay for in the end. From clothes, to cars, to groceries, to websites… there are usually unseen factors that dictate price. Someone with a minimalist set of skills will offer their wares at a much cheaper cost than someone who has devoted many years to their craft. I’m not saying it’s impossible to get the best website the world has ever seen for less than $1000, it’s just not likely.

Don’t sacrifice quality for cost. Your customers expect more from you. A fully functioning, fully complete website generally gets more hits and return traffic than a hastily designed incomplete website. A website is a direct reflection of your business and you only get one chance to make a first impression. Don’t let it be a bad one.



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