That’s the first question I get asked by a prospect.
“How much will it cost?”
That’s the last question I get asked by a prospect.
I’ve asked it. I bet you’ve asked it.
It’s a fair question; after all, you’ve got to make smart investments in your business and you can’t jump into a project blindly. But asking how much a website costs is a bit like calling your contractor and saying, “I want you to build me a house. How much will it cost?” He’d look at your cross-eyed for a while and then ask you a million questions about how many rooms, what type of flooring, whether you’ve already purchased the land or not… all of which have very real parallels when it comes to building a website.
To make matters worse, there can be a huge gap between the costs you get from different developers. Why is one offering a website for $500 and another asking for $5,000? Is one stupid, or the other a scam artist? How’s a person to make a smart decision?
What should a website really cost?
I’ll save you the effort of reading all the way through to the end if you’re here for “the answer”: there isn’t one. There isn’t ONE answer for the same reason there isn’t ONE website that looks, functions and evolves like every other website.
There are some very real and relevant things that you should consider and a few things to know about how pricing works. Read on to get the inside scoop so that before you ask the question next time, you’ll be armed with information.
The Preamble: Where Does The Cost Of A Website Come From?
In a DIY world, most non-developers don’t understand the work that goes into building a website. There are plenty of tools that let you drag-and-drop your way to an online presence in a few hours and call it a website.
That’s not the kind of site I’m talking about.
I’m talking about a website that reflects your business, your goals, your brand. I’m talking about a website that adds value and is a strong tool in your marketing arsenal. One that is optimised for search. One that works across browsers and operating systems. One that doesn’t stick you with another company’s logo at the bottom of it because you got it for $49.00 and now you’re obliged to perpetually advertise someone else’s brand.
So assuming we’re not talking drag-and-drop, “stick your logo here” types of websites, let’s talk briefly about what goes into building one.
Content. Whether you pen a few paragraphs or hire someone to do it, it’s got to be written, organised, keyword optimised, human being optimised, spell-checked and proofread.
Photos. Whether they’re original or stock, someone has to find, organize, retouch and properly size and output them for web.
Design. There’s high end custom and there’s minimal, but someone has to consider colors, fonts, graphics and how they all work with your brand.
Structure. Someone has to think about pages, navigation and usability, and the best way to get users from here to there.
Layout. Headers, footers, sidebars, call-outs, pull quotes, opt-in boxes, social icons. These things don’t magically place themselves on the page, nor should they be stuck somewhere haphazardly.
Optimisation. Beyond keywords, there are considerations for code quality, site speed, meta data.
Functionality. Opt-in boxes don’t program themselves. Nor do contact forms, shopping carts or other features. There are fundamental questions like “what happens if…” and “then what?”
Compatibility. With half a dozen common browsers and twice as many versions, multiple operating systems and platforms, not to mention mobile, someone has to make sure your site works.
Launch. Someone has to install your site on a hosting server, set up the DNS, get your analytics, Webmaster tools and sitemaps in order and make sure everything is working in real life, including all those opt-ins and contact forms.
If this sounds like a setup for “…and that’s why a website has to be expensive!” it’s not. It’s just the practical reality of building a site. There are things to do and things to consider. These are just some of those things and they all go into determining a cost.
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