How much should a website cost?
There is SO MUCH misinformation out there on the issue of website costs. Now, just why do you think that is? Who has the motivation to make you think that website costs are much more than they actually are?
The answer, of course, is web designers/developers who want to make a killing off of each client. Maybe they don’t get many clients so they have to milk each one for all their worth?
It’s true, that it used to cost $1,000 and up, up, up, to have a nice, modest website built. But that was back when each web page had to be manually constructed. Web developers had to either farm out the design work, or become designers themselves.
Well, guess what? Those days have been over for a long time! Our chickens now come from Walmart, not the backyard; I drive to work instead of riding a horse; streaming music has replaced my old 33rpm records and all us web developers now use (free) CMS or frameworks to build websites.
A CMS like WordPress lets you setup the basic website, with default content (maybe Latin gibberish). Two or three more clicks and you install whichever design you’ve chosen, out of thousands of beautiful, professional designs.
This drastically reduces the time it takes to build a great website. Depending on the client’s needs, I now spend from one to three days building a website. There are no material costs and no per-site licensing fees that I have to pay. Like other web developers, my “costs” are merely my time.
OK, so how much should a website cost? How much should a web developer earn per day? That’s what the question boils down to. This question came into focus thanks to guest blogger, Sarah Smith of StartBloggingOnline.com, whose infographic claims that the average price of a new website is $2,500.
Since the average 10 – 12 page website for a client takes me two days (this one took two hours), Sarah says I should make $1,250 per day? Cool! Hey Sarah, I’ll come to work for you for just $800 a day and you can keep the rest, ok?
Of course, I’m assuming the client has provided most of the textual content and images and I’ll have to do some rewriting and photo editing. If I’m providing most of the content, prices do go up, but probably still not half Sarah’s estimate.
When answering the question, “How much should a website cost?”, some high-dollar developers will claim to have more experience or more knowledge than less-expensive web developers.
Well, I’ve been building websites since before most people knew there was an Internet, and I built BBS systems (the forerunner to websites) before then. I’m an expert PHP and database developer, with experience in coding custom PHP, several frameworks like Laravel, CodeIgniter and Yii, and CMS systems such as Joomla and WordPress. Plus I have experience in marketing, ad copy writing, SEO and web security. It would be rather difficult for a $2500 web developer to justify higher fees due to their experience and knowledge versus my own.
I think the average web developer would be comfortable with $80,000 per year. If I did just two average websites each week (and enjoyed three-day weekends!) I’d have to charge just $770 per website. If I work five days a week (perish the thought!) it comes to $615 per website.
That’s a long ways south of Sarah’s $2,500!
But wait, there’s more! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).
As a web developer, my earnings aren’t limited to new websites. We also get requests for custom themes, custom plugins, fixing bugs from other developers, hosting fees, web security work, SEO work, marketing consulting, etc.
So, at $495 per new website, I am giving my client a very fair deal while being fair to myself at the same time. Each new website client becomes a new hosting client and a client for ongoing marketing, SEO, reporting and web security work. Hosting fees build up nicely when you’re getting happy clients. And it means that clients get great hosting support and have a web consultant “on retainer”. Everyone wins.
And if you go the DIY route, your website should cost exactly $0.00, other than your domain name ($15/yr) and hosting fees.
That old saying, “You get what you pay for.”, is not always true. In my opinion, any web developer who’s going to charge you $2,500 for the average small business website, is looking at you as a “mark”, just like con men have looked at their victims throughout history.
So, now you can answer the question, “How much should a website cost?”