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How Much Does a Website Cost?

  |   Insights, Search Engine Optimization, Website Development   |   No comment

I am often asked how much will a website cost when I talk with prospective clients. Unfortunately for them and me, the answer is usually: it depends.

There are so many different options when it comes to developing a website and having advanced functionality. This can be further complicated by demand for artistic look and feel raised by client. Finally, just to make things more complicated, we get into the question of who has responsibility for the content of the site. All these factors will have an impact on the cost to “build a website.”

For the purposes of this article, and given the reason you clicked on the title, merely answering “it depends” will not satiate your curiousity, so permit me to attempt a few specific answers to at least give you a sense of what it will cost.

The Low End

If you only want a brochure site that you will edit yourself, opitmize yourself and lay in your own graphics, while still not doing any actual HTML work, then you can go to intuit.com and they will happily sell you a hosted site.  Intuit acquired a formerly free web hosting company called Homestead (a name anyone who was big on the Internet in the late-90’s will recognize).  It is certainly an option, and while it is not an option that involves using Tripepi Smith for web development services, there are certainly times where it makes sense for the right client.  Learn more here: http://www.intuit.com/website-building-software/.  As of the time I am authoring this, the pricing is $4.99 a month, including hosting.

Less Low End

If you want some guidance on domain name suggestions and ensuring that the site will at least somehow tie in to your overall look and feel, then you might want to talk to a web designer or IT consultant with web exposure.  This person can help you think about branding associated with both your website and your email and how to manage your DNS.  They may even offer hosting services as part of their array of services (though that $4.99 prices is shockingly cheap – devil may be in the details on what that includes).  At this low end of the pricing, one is likely to use a template site where you simply fill in certain areas with the words you want to use and you can likely replace certain key graphics, though nothing that would dramatically affect the look of the template.  One could also go directly to a firm that is focused on low end website development and leverage the templates that they may already have in place.  This has the advantage of getting it done cheaply while leveraging the repeated skills of editing the templates that the shop offers, so they may have the ability to do more “whiz-bang” things than your typical purchased template.

For this less low end range, we are talking $500 – $3,000 in consulting fees and such and, again, relatively cheap hosting.

Mid-tier Pricing

At the mid-tier, you are now looking to developer with custom graphics and advanced content and functionality.  Here a template of some form may still be used, but you are looking for more advanced features and lots of supported customization on the site.  Your development platform options expand to include an array of languages and content management systems (CMS).  CMS in play here include WordPress (what this site is using), Drupal or Joomla (these latter two being a bit more advanced).  You may, at this point start reaching out for someone to write the content for you and you may be looking for custom photo work to be done.  There is also likely some use of a stock photo service like istockphoto.com to help add professional looking graphics and images at a reasonable price.  It is also possible, at this mid-tier that you are adding some custom database work and some other interactive functionality.  You should also anticipate some costs toward search engine optimization(SEO).  There is not much point in spending money developing your website if you are not going to take the time to make sure people can actually find it.  Just be careful of those who promise the world when it comes to SEO.  See my article on Search Engine Optimization and Snake Oil.

Mid-tier pricing will range from about $3,000 up to $15,000 depending on several factors having to do with level of features, utilization of templates to expedite development and any interactive database functionality or other advanced coding.

Sky Is the Limit

The reality is, you can spend to infinity on web development.  Consider Amazon.com and what their annual budget is for development.  Here is a site that has been attempting to perfect the art of e-commerce for over a decade, yet I would bet their website development budget is far larger today than it was a decade ago.  Why?  Because the Internet is evolving, technology standards are changing and keeping pace with all that is expensive.

If you are reading this, you are not likely spending what Amazon is spending, and you are more likely in the low to mid-tier pricing range.  The important thing for you is to spend an amount that is appropriate for the size of your business and its relevance to an Internet audience.  An ethical consultant will walk through that logic with you, target a budget and then aid in executing on that strategy.  Your initial spend on a website should be focused on hitting the basics of your business, accomodating some method of directing people to contact you and ensuring that if people are specifically looking for you, they will find you (as opposed to finding you through a more general search).  More and more, people are a little suspect of your business when they can’t find you on the Internet.

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