How much does a website cost? Just gather a few estimates from several web designers; hire the lowest bidder; and you’re all done!
Well, not really. In fact, for most entrepreneurs and marketing professionals, determining how much to invest in a new website can be a real challenge (to say the least).
one can easily purchase a WordPress Theme (a Website Template) for under $50, and pay less than $20 per month for hosting. So why does one WordPress web designer give you a low, firm, easy-to-understand estimate, while the other gives you a high estimate with lots of fine print and technical jargon?
Generally speaking, if a web designer is inexperienced; unqualified; re-sells/re-uses pre-designed Themes with minor modifications; is desperate for work; and/or lives in an area with a low cost of living; he will likely present a low estimate. When hiring such a web designer, ignorance is bliss… until you get half way through the project and realize you have to start over with another designer and/or abandon your original objectives! Those with higher estimates, and typically with more experience and better qualifications, are more thorough— they raise important strategic questions that can prevent costly mistakes and improve your return on investment.
So Really, How Much Does a Website Cost?
If you want to custom-build or modify a building, you’ll need to hire an architect to create elevation sketches, blueprints, and architectural renderings. Although he can provide estimates for his services, he will not be able to tell you exactly how much a “building” will cost. Without a final, client-approved set of blueprints in his hands, he simply can’t tell you. And so it is with a website…
An experienced web designer can certainly provide a “guesstimate” without “blueprints”, but until then, he often has no idea if you have a copywriter on staff; he may not know if you intend to enter the majority of content into WordPress yourself and/or if your employees will need training. He may not know if you have the budget or desire for custom vs. stock photography, illustration, animation, video, music— or, professional voiceovers. And he often has no idea how many of these images or videos will be needed. He may also not know if you expect to do something complex that a WordPress plug-in can’t handle. He may not even know how many pages will be in your website (i.e., how many custom templates he’ll need to create)— unless you can provide all of this information with your estimate request.
And remember, a seasoned web designer is aware of a greater range of possibilities. He’s worked on large and small projects and understands that no two clients will have identical needs.
Oh, You’re on a Budget?
Let’s say you simply can’t justify the investment for a custom anything. In that case, you might decide to buy a pre-designed WordPress Theme, but quickly realize you’re in over your head, and ask for help. One web designer is happy to assist and is immediately available for $X per hour. That was simple, but you have no idea how many hours it will take this particular web designer to complete a given task. The other wants to provide a firmer estimate, but asks questions that you cannot yet answer.
Neither designer is trying to pull the wool over your eyes— they simply need more information.
Comparing Apples to Apples
Whatever you do, be sure to provide the exact same information to every web designer that is invited to participate in the proposal process. What isn’t in the estimate, is just as important as what is. So, ask questions, and lots of ’em!