Technology is developing at such a rate that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. There are both positives and negatives to its rapid development, but one such benefit is the progress of the website design world.
Websites are now so common that most businesses either already have one, or are planning to add one to their digital portfolio. They’re a lot more accessible to the end user than they used to be; website developers are more common and there’s been huge advancements when it comes to website design tools.
What was once a hugely specialised undertaking, is now a more user-friendly task with the likes of WordPress and the millions of website templates and plug-ins that are available.
While many organisations want unique, custom-built websites, rather than those that have been created from an existing template, is that what they’re actually getting?
You may have an understanding of a website’s functionality like the front-end features, but you most likely don’t have/have limited back-end knowledge about things like coding, templates etc. Your website designer may use an existing template, and customise it slightly, to create your website and you’d be none the wiser. So, why does the end result become so costly?
When you’re presented with the final product, are you aware of how much or how little work has gone into creating it? And what costs the website designer has truly incurred?
So, how much does a website cost? In order to better understand website costs, let’s first delve into what tools are used in website design.
Tools used in website design
A domain name is your organisation’s address on the internet; it’s the name your customers type into their browsers to access your website.
Your domain name will need to be registered with a domain name registrar like GoDaddy, which involves a cost depending on the specific domain name, and it’s availability.
You’ll have the right to use that domain name for your website indefinitely, as long as you renew it annually with the same domain name registrar.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a website developer, every website needs to be created using a website builder. Website builders like WordPress are free and open source for anyone to use.
On a website builder, a website can be created from scratch using detailed coding or created from an existing template that’s already coded; both incur varying degrees of costs.
Creating a website from the bottom up takes more time and skill to create than one that’s built from an existing template. However, regardless of your skillset, a website builder makes it easier to create a website and add essential features like SEO tags, plugins, etc.
The complexity of the design of your website also depends on the features, functionality and add-ons you request. The more complex your requirements, the longer it will take to design and the more it will cost.
If your designer opts for a template that’s already coded, it requires less work and time to complete the design.
Web hosting acts like the home of your website; it’s where you store the content and files of your site.
Once a visitor types in your web address (domain name), they’ll be directed to the website files that are stored on your web hosting server.
Host websites either rent or own servers in order to store their customer’s website files. The web hosting company provides internet connectivity to ensure your website is available 24/7, 365.
Web hosting companies like Bluehost give your business peace of mind because you know that your site will be available to visitors around the clock. If your website is down at any stage, this directly affects your bottom line; you’re guaranteed to lose sales and customers.
There is a cost involved in having a hosting company host your website; this service depends on the complexity of your files and website.
Now that we understand more about what it takes to build a website, let’s delve into the costs of designing a website.
How much does a website cost?
The answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as you would like it to be. Website requirements vary for each and every business, and therefore costs differ between each website.
The more work involved, the greater the cost will be.
A website design cost can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
Knowing what you want
The first place to start is to determine what your goals are. You need to determine what you want your website to do, how you want the visitor to use it and what journey you want them to take while using it.
A key element that many businesses forget is that you need to align your website design goals with your business goals; they need to be interlinked rather than sit independently.
If you expect huge growth in six months, you need to consider this when designing your website.
Your website is the digital extension of your business, and should complement or even enhance your operations. Know where you want to go before you start in order to avoid unnecessary adjustments, and costs down the track.
Keep it simple
Don’t make the mistake of overcomplicating things. If you’re too ambitious, you’ll only increase your initial outlay and bump up your ongoing maintenance costs.
Start small and grow from there.
If you complicate things too much, you may end up including fancy, complex features that your visitors don’t end up using, that have no impact on your conversion rate.
Keeping it simple from the start will keep your costs to a minimum; you can always make changes down the track as they’re needed. Once your website is running, you’ll have a better understanding of how your visitors use your site, and can add on features that enhance their experience, rather than including things at the start that may not be used at all.
Building a website with a minimal budget
The general rule of thumb is that a basic small business website, should cost you between $3,000 to $5,000, which is about the industry standard for a basic web design including all images, content etc.
The website design cost increases with more functionality, content etc. but shouldn’t reach anything near the tens of thousands of dollars.
Simply put, if you’ve been quoted 10 or 20k for a website design, then you’re being duped.
Having a better understanding of what it takes to build a website, and what you want to achieve from your website will give you the power you need to ensure that you’re only paying for what you’re getting.
Building an advanced website with more features
The more features and add-ons that you require, the greater your website design cost will be.
If you’re anticipating rapid growth, then you’ll need to ensure that your website has a powerful hosting service with premium features like staging, faster performance and the ability to handle hundreds of thousands of visitors per month when it’s first created.
But once again, the key word here is anticipating. Having a good idea now of where you’re aiming for as a business will ensure that your website design not only works for you now, but into the future.
A bit of planning and forward thinking will save you money down the track. If you’ve made some educated estimations, you can ensure that your website designer creates a website that can be adjusted as your business changes and grows.
Building an online store
The e-commerce industry is booming; it’s growing faster than traditional retailers so now is certainly the right time to start an online store.
Creating an online store will help you expand your business onto a global stage, giving you exposure to millions more potential customers.
You can go down the route of something like WooCommerce for WordPress; WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce plugin for WordPress.
Or you could choose a platform like Shopify. Shopify is an e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems; their customers are some of the biggest online retailers on the planet.
Building an entry-level eCommerce website powered by WooCommerce, will cost you a couple hundred dollars per annum; the cost increases as you install premium addons and a premium theme for your online store.
While Shopify starts at around $30 per month for their basic plan, which increases as you sell more products and require additional features.
Your time is also a cost to building your website
Time is money. Even if you’re outsourcing your website design, be prepared to commit a lot of mental energy into the project.
When budgeting for your website design, you need to factor your time commitment as an additional website cost. Liaising with your website designer throughout the process is highly recommended, but does take time out of your day.
Your website needs to be the digital representation of your brand, as well as your digital sales platform. At the start of the project, you’ll need to brief the designer not only on what your website design goals are, but also how those goals align with your overall business goals.
You’ll also need to brief them about your brand identity and brand vision; the messaging on your website needs to mirror your brand message that’s used on other outlets.
As the project develops, you’ll need to ensure that the website designer is keeping on track with the brief you gave him at the start, making sure that the final website design aligns with your overall brand identity.
The world of website design can be hard to navigate at times.
Designing your first website, or upgrading your existing one doesn’t have to break the bank, it can be affordable if it’s done right.
Understanding what elements feature within website design will give you the knowledge you need to ensure that you’re only paying for what you actually get.
There’s no doubt that website designers are highly skilled, but only you know your business inside out. You need to take the lead on this project, rather than it being the other way around. You need to know what you want to achieve before they can tell you how they’ll get you there, so the onus is on you to get it right from the start.
Your website can’t be a separate element of your business sitting on the sidelines, it needs to be fully integrated into your operations so you can get the most out of it. It should enhance how your business operates, not hinder it.
Small business web design doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of dollars, it can be adapted to suit any budget out there. Although you may not have the in-depth knowledge of how a website design works, having a good understanding of the overall process will give you an advantage.
Website design is a collaboration between yourself and the designer, not just a task that they can complete solely on their own. You need to be involved in the process to ensure that you end up with the website you hoped for, that meets your expectations and falls within your budget.
The joy of website design is that it’s totally customisable to every individual’s needs, but the downside is that there isn’t one standard price guideline. This aspect makes it much harder for small businesses to know that they’re getting value for money when it comes to website design.
Don’t get ripped off, make sure you’re paying for only the things you asked for from your website designer.