How Much Should a Web Site Design Cost?

How Much Should a Web Site Design Cost?

I get this question a lot. “How much for a website?” There is no good way of answering this question. I always want to answer ‘how much does a house cost?’

It’s a better analogy than you might suspect. If you were to ask a Realtor how much for a house they would respond with a series of questions like how big of a house, where is the house located, how many bedrooms, bathrooms, garage space, et. Websites are much the same way. A Web site’s cost is entirely dependent on what you want it to do and how you want it to work.

The Only Real Answer to Website Costs

A website should cost less than the amount of money it makes for you and your business. If you’re spending more money on your site than you get out of it, you are losing.

You Get What You Pay For

Remember that house analogy? You get what you pay for with websites. Anyone selling you a website for a few hundred dollars didn’t put much work into it and you’re not likely to get a lot out of it. You get what you pay for. Free websites are worth about as much as a free house – you never know what kind of awfulness that is in store for you with free.

This isn’t to say that you have to pay a ton of money for a great website and certainly you can pay a lot for websites that are very bad. Just remember that it is unlikely that you get something for nothing in your line of work and it is the same in the website design business. Extending the building metaphor, if someone comes to you with a site that will be ready in minutes, it’s probably like those suburban sprawl houses that get put up 10 to the acre on flood plains and are constructed with clapboard and chewing gum.

Examine Other Professions

Your mechanic gets $89 / hour. A good web site developer (a web mechanic, if you will) has likely had 4 years of college in computer science, 2 years of master’s degrees, and 10 years of industry experience and likely hundreds of hours of personal study in order to keep up with the latest industry standards. They will likely need to be paid accordingly. Most lawyers and accountants are professionals are well north of $200 an hour.

Don’t Forget Monthly Costs

Your cable / Internet subscription is probably around ~$90 / month. Cell phone service is about the same. Your HOA may be over $250 / quarter. Shouldn’t your on-line real estate (web hosting) be around that ballpark?

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

-Gen. Eric Shinseki

Maintenance is another figure that should be assessed. Without care, security / technology updates, and fresh content, your site will grow stale. It will cease attracting new clients and performing for you. Not having regular maintenance to your website is kind of like not changing the oil in your BMW M3. There’s little point in having it at that point.

The Bottom Line

Chris Pearson was a web design industry rock star. That was before he launched a company called DIYThemes with CopyBlogger’s Brian Clark. I doubt he has any time for web design of personal clients any more but here’s an article he wrote on how much a website design would cost. Bullet points below.

  • Basic blog, striking but simple design $1500+
  • Support, basic graphics $2000+
  • Custom design $3000+

Everybody wants a killer design, especially after seeing one that they lust over. Problem is, nobody wants to pay for it. -Chris Pearson

Chris goes on to break down what other designers were charging ranging from $2500 to well over $5000.

One Great Reason Not to Get a Web Site!!

Most of the people reading this article stopped much earlier on. If you made it this far it is likely that you are a successful business owner who understands value vs price. The sad truth is, and you know it, that as soon as I threw out those numbers above, most of my audience went screaming away. I don’t feel too badly, any number I would have published would have been objectionable.

Web sites are not for every person, nor every business.