How much should a website cost?

How much is the website
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Of all the questions I get asked frequently, how much it costs to build a website is the closest thing to being asked how long a piece of string is – it just depends.

I get it, however. When you’re looking to get a business off the ground or to revamp an existing company website, the functionality and appearance of the site are two of the things that it’s absolutely vital to get right, but nobody wants to spend more than they have to – especially in business.

The great news is that there are ways to get the performance and results you need, from a website that’s just beautiful to look at, without breaking the bank or wasting money. With some thought and planning, we can help you to make sure that every cent you spend produces a return.

Now, I’m not saying that I have the secret to wealth, health, happiness, and a free website. What you can’t do is avoid necessary costs. You can, however, avoid waste – even when building a website – and that’s what this article is designed to help you with.

Fitting Websites that Fit Every Budget

When you’re considering a new website, it’s essential to find a balance between good budgeting and great design. Once the thriftiness reaches a certain level, you can find yourself skimping – and that will lead to poor functionality, and in turn, less than desirable results. It defeats the object, and while initially, you might feel pleased that you’ve spent very little money, that will soon turn into a realisation that the money you’ve spent has been largely wasted.

Having said that, it’s also important to approach a website project with realistic expectations about what you need combined with a healthy attitude to keeping the costs down. One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make when they need a new website, however, is to try to cut costs by bypassing web design houses. That’s always sort of like saving a few thousand dollars a year by not employing an accountant and paying a huge tax bill instead. Here at FutureLab, we’re not just in the business of making beautiful, highly profitable and functional websites; we’re in the business of helping our clients do that within their own specific budgets. Let me explain what I mean in more detail.

What’s Behind the Frontend?

I believe in equipping our clients with a realistic idea about website costs. For instance, a basic landing page can cost up to $5k, and a well-designed, attractive and professional business website around $10k. If you want to build a custom website entirely from scratch, to create something beautiful and unique, then you’ll need a creative director on the team, and your costs will begin to look more like $25k+, but you’ll get an aesthetically stunning, high-functioning website. Your clients will also achieve a seamless, high-performance experience whenever they log in, and you absolutely will see a difference in return for your investment.

Most of us only experience the user end of a website, but there’s a heck of a lot going on behind the frontend of even the simplest of sites. As well as designing that user interface, your web design team will put much work into creating the feel and paying great attention to user experience. A backend designer will set up the content management system (CMS) – more on that later, and at FutureLab, we have team members who work solely on populating your website with engaging, relevant content too.

As with all websites, the more effort and hours that go into a specific site, the more the finished article will cost. It’s helpful to keep in mind that prices are generally proportional to the time spent creating. That translates to volume, as well as to unique design, functionality, and high-quality content too. The more functionality your site has, the higher the cost will be. The more individual pages your website contains, again, the higher the cost will be.

Using Open-Source CMS

Every website has to have a content management system (CMS) – and a CMS is precisely what it sounds like – it makes adding, editing content across all media manageable. Open-source CMS is source code that’s free to access and modify for the needs of a specific website build. Think WordPress or Drupal, which are two widely used open-source content management systems you’ve probably heard about.

How WordPress CMS looks like from the backend

There are many advantages to using an open-source CMS for your website build, and it’s why a considerable number of websites out there do so – think 60-million plus. For a start, the basic features of a CMS like WordPress are free to access and use. Customising templates or building plug-ins means hiring a great developer – but then, so does building more function into any website. On top of the templates in existence, FutureLab can create a custom feature that works with an open-source CMS, if you have a particular need that can’t be accomplished with the thousands of available plug-ins already out there.

WordPress updates its CMS constantly, which makes for a more stable, bug-free website. If your budget is tight, not having to pay heaps for what is essentially ongoing CMS maintenance is always a good thing.

In the hands of an experienced web designer, open-source CMS can be moulded in almost any way to suit your business needs. The bottom line is that open-source content management systems bring down costs, and they do that mainly by saving your web designer some of the work required to build a CMS from scratch. It’s also true that open-source doesn’t have to mean your website is not bespoke – if you get the right people to work with it. 

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Getting Value for Money

Remain realistic and keep your eyes on the prize. It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that your website needs to work well for your business – whether you’re spending $5k or $50k. No matter what your budget and aims, there’s no point spending any money on elements that add nothing to your customer experience, your profit, or anything else you’re trying to achieve. If you’ve ever tried to supervise a website build yourself, while trying to run your business at the same time, you’ll know how easy it can be to lose sight of the bigger picture. At FutureLab, we have an approach to website design that builds in value at every step, and we’re experts in remembering that every line of code absolutely must bring something to your business. Every home and landing page, blog post, feature and menu need to look flawless and work seamlessly – but they also ultimately have to pay for themselves too.

OPEX and Spreading the Cost of a Website Build

Cashflow can be the source of some frustrating problems when you’re trying to get a venture off the ground, but that doesn’t need to be the case when it comes to building your website. One of the most significant advantages of coming to a web design house like FutureLab is that we can work within the limits of your operating expenses (OPEX) budget.

For many businesses out there, getting a website live quickly can effectively be the difference between living or dying. Here at FutureLab, we understand the challenges of budgeting for – what in the internet age – is one of the single most important business tools you’ll ever have.

The frequently asked question which inspired this article comes out of a very common and valid concern for many businesses with differing website requirements. While website costs can be prohibitive to growth for many companies of different shapes and sizes, the fact is that spreading the price of a website over the span of a twelve-month OPEX budget opens up a range of possibilities. FutureLab works with many clients who get their products and services to market by breaking down the cost of their website build. The fact is, we’re able to do that because we think like your business needs to think.

It’s Good to Talk – Getting the Most for your Budget

While engaging the services of a professional team of website developers will have a massive positive effect on the appearance and technical performance of your new website, it’s easy to overlook the other benefits — one of them being that you get to talk to the team. Discussing your business objectives, along with any budget restraints or concerns, with a web design specialist and strategist is the most efficient way to spend money on web design. It’s as simple as that.

From day one of a project, we can look to shape the scope of your website to fit the price you want to pay. The only way to maximise performance and return in relation to cost is to start the discussion early on – with a consultation – and then build the performance and cost objectives into the project management until – and beyond the point – the site goes live.

Go With the Flow – Adapt, Adjust, Save Money

Building a successful business or website demands a certain degree of flexibility. Often, the fastest way to move from point to point isn’t to set off at a dash in a straight line. If you’re open to suggestions from the FutureLab team during the process of your website build, it can be a great way to save some cost and to avoid budgets spiralling out of control when you need added functionality and results. Depending on your business, building a website can be a very organic process – and many aims and objectives can change along the way. That’s why it’s important to remember that the tallest, strongest trees in the forest wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t bent a little when as saplings, the winds blew hard. At FutureLab, our aims and your aims are the same, and we’ll help you to grow a better, more cost-effective website if you’re open to our help.

Author: Ralf Klis

With over 15 years of experience in the digital world, I've seen it all and I'm often happy to share my knowledge. I've been involved in many R&D projects including one of the first TV Apps or mobile websites (back in 2005!). Now I'm passionate about making the digital presence work for businesses.