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How much does a Website cost?

Pricing a website is not as easy as people may think.

I often receive phone calls from startup business owners whose first question is “How much for a website?” And like asking how long a piece of string is, it is a question that really has no black and white answer, no one size fits all answer. Every business is different.

I’ve been in this industry for more than 20 years, and I have built hundreds of websites of all types and sizes. To this day I still cannot answer this question instantly.

Here’s why a one-off website quote is virtually impossible:

1. Web Design and Development should be viewed as a service, not a product.
It is hard to shake the idea that websites aren’t a commodity. Websites are something that someone, often multiple people, have to put together. Viewing it as service-based will help you to better understand why a one-off price isn’t simple to give – building a website takes continued time and effort.

You may have seen free website builder tools popping up every year now. These are very convincing yet business owners will not foresee that they will not perform as well as a website built by a professional on a proven platform. Their technology is not as manipulative for SEO and they do not allow conversion tools that perform so effectively. There are many other reasons to avoid the free builder tools but this isn’t the time to discuss that. I regularly have calls from business owners that have tried and failed with the free builders. Some even ask me to fix what they’ve done on it… which I refuse. You can’t ‘make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ if you know what I mean. I end up building them a bespoke website that indexes well in Google and hits the ground running for them. Speed is of the essence for startup businesses.

2. Building a website involves a complex level of planning.
Detail is an integral part of Web development – and this greatly affects pricing. Case in point: you may want a feature on your website for users to upload an image. There are 50 questions I could ask you, and based on your answers, I can either build the feature in one hour or a hundred hours.

For example, I may ask you: What is the size limit of the images you’re uploading? What file formats does it support? Do you need the ability to crop the image? The list goes on.

So, if I asked you all of these questions in order to figure out how long it would take to develop one feature, are you willing to answer 1,000+ questions for the potentially 100+ other features that your website will have? Also, are you willing to pay for the time it takes to go through this process, essentially making the quote no longer free? Or is it better to simply find a trusted team that works for a fair rate, and you set the budget and objectives, and they do the best possible approach to get there?

3. Quotes are far too subjective. Building a website can be accomplished in hundreds of different ways. Don’t believe me? Go out for a quote and I guarantee by asking just a few companies for a price, you’ll get responses all over the map. I’ve had clients tell me over and over that they received quotes ranging from £500 to £5,000 for the same set of requirements. How can that be possible? Are your quotes from established web designers in the UK? Look at the results of the web designer.

4. The definition of success for your website may vary from person to person.
The Web Development industry is full of opinions, and no one is right or wrong. For example, a designer may think a great website should look like a piece of art, while a developer may think it’s best if the site has been created using the greatest and latest code built from scratch. A marketer may pride the site on being simple, direct, and SEO optimised, while your perception may be a site with a lot of great features. The real success of your website comes down to the business goals you want to accomplish with it, not what’s in it or how it’s made. I have always built websites with Google in mind, and conversion in mind. What is the point of having traffic to a site if the design and content does not persuade the visitor to buy from you?

5. There’s more than one way to price a website.
There are two ways you can end up with a price for your website: fixed bid or hourly. For fixed bid, you may receive a figure like £5,000. With an hourly price tag, you may pay someone £50 an hour for as long as it takes to complete the project.

I used to offer fixed bid pricing, but moved away from that. There’s too much grey area (as you can see above), and it becomes somewhat of a gamble. Pricing that’s hourly allows clients to see the website as a service that involves numerous elements to effectively and efficiently complete – like people, brainpower, and time. This way, when you buy time, you’re also buying trust and essentially an seasoned professional for your business. If the focus is too much on the billing component, people tend to lose focus of why we are building the sites – ROI, amazing work, reaching and surpassing business goals.

6. The Web Development industry has very few standards.
How one person or company goes about building a website may be completely different than another. For example, there are dozens of code languages used to program a website, as well as many platforms and systems. This is made even more intricate when you factor in that each solution can be reached in 1000 different ways. As the industry grows, more standards are likely to emerge, but until then the lack of uniformity causes an issue when determining price.

There’s truly no good answer to the question, “How much does a website cost?” But understanding the subjective nature of this service will help business owners try to understand. Do not use a cheap ‘designer’ to build you a website until you are 100% certain they have successfully previously produced sales-generating websites for UK businesses before.

I am always happy to offer free advice to UK business owners. Thank you for your time today.

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