When people contact me for help with a blog or website, they have one main question.
How much is this going to cost?
It’s a logical thing to ask, really. Those of us who aren’t rich or famous have a finite amount of money, and we always want to feel like that money is being used in the smartest way possible. We are especially cautious when it comes to paying for something intangible like a website – you can’t hold it in your hand, so how much can it really be worth?
The cost of web design work varies wildly. You could ask for quotes from 10 different designers and receive 10 completely different dollar amounts, ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. How do you decide what amount you’re willing to pay?
Factors That Affect the Price of Website Design
1. The components and features you need.
Never assume that your needs are “simple” or should be cheaper than a designer’s standard rate. Some things look easy but are very complicated, while others seem like a big deal but are very easy to implement. Your site may only consist of a single page, yet that doesn’t mean it’s automatically cheaper than one with 5 or even 100 pages.
The thing is, designers don’t always price by the amount of time something takes. Your doctor can stitch a cut in 10 minutes, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require knowledge, skill, and precision. Likewise, we have spent considerable time learning to do what we do. If anyone could do it, we wouldn’t have jobs. Adding things like forums, ecommerce, opt-ins, memberships, and other custom functionality is simply going to cost more money.
2. Your designer’s skill level.
Yes, you can get a website for $150. No, it won’t be the same quality as a website that costs $1500. It’s like the difference between a bicycle and a Lexus. Both will get you where you need to go, but one is decidedly better than the other. Designers who charge more are providing you with expertise you won’t find at a bargain rate – and in most cases, the benefits will definitely outweigh the added costs. If you automatically choose the cheapest option, you risk hiring a designer who sucks. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
3. How demanding you are as a client.
Oops, I mentioned one of those things no one is supposed to talk about! But in the interest of being honest, I’ll just tell you: If you email or call me 50 times a day, expect a billion tiny revisions, cut into my time with my family, and/or request things outside the scope of our working relationship, it’s going to cost you. Over time, designers learn how to sniff out “difficult” clients pretty easily, but if one sneaks through the gates, we are going to make absolutely sure we are compensated for the extra work. Please remember that designers are people and we (sometimes) have lives away from our computers.
So How Much Should I Pay?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before deciding on a budget for website design.
What is the point of my blog? If you blog to share photos and memories with your family and don’t make any money from it, I wouldn’t spend more than a few hundred dollars for a design at the most. Actually I’d probably just grab a free theme and leave it at that. If, however, you make thousands of dollars a year from your blog and need it to do specific things for your visitors, it’s time to increase the budget.
What will I gain from a professional design? Whether you want to attract better advertisers or get featured on big name websites, a professionally designed blog will always outperform a generic one. If you knew that spending $2000 now would earn you 5-6 times that in the next year alone, wouldn’t it make sense to spend the money?
Should I outsource this? Many, many bloggers ask me for a quote, then tell me they’re going to design their own sites to save money. When that happens I usually see one of four results:
They waste hours and hours trying to figure out what to do, then the end result still looks awful.
They waste hours and hours trying to figure out what to do, then get frustrated and hire someone anyway.
They immediately go hire a cheaper designer, then end up hiring me to fix what the designer broke.
They pay for another design within a year of the DIY job because it wasn’t what they wanted.
In those situations, all I see is wasted time, money, and/or effort. If you’re a blogger, focus on blogging, especially if that’s how you earn your living. There’s no shame in outsourcing the things that aren’t a good use of your time.
WHAT YOU SHOULD SPEND: Anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the value you would get from a better design. In general, I wouldn’t spend more than $5000 on a blog design unless you have a huge audience and very specialized needs.
For Business Websites:
How important is it to have a website for my business? It’s the 21st century, and over 60% of internet users research products and services online before they make a purchase. If your company doesn’t have a website, regardless of what you do or how many employees you have, you are totally missing out. That said, having an ugly, outdated website isn’t going to help you much in the reputation department. It’s easy to tell yourself that any web presence is better than none, but you can certainly lose potential clients or customers if they perceive your brand as “cheap” or out of touch.
What does my website actually do for my business? Do people use your website to learn about what you offer? Make appointments? Purchase products? Find your phone number? Two important points about this: (1) If your website doesn’t lead to more business, that’s a problem. And it’s not because the web doesn’t work – it’s because your site doesn’t. (2) If your website does lead to more business, it’s time to ask yourself what could help improve conversion rates or make things easier for clients and customers.
What does my business really need? I’ve talked to business owners who are obsessed with things that simply don’t matter. They absolutely must have a menu that pops out a certain way, or they want to push content lower on the page just to make the logo bigger. And while they’re worrying about all those nitpicky details, they’re missing the fact that half their visitors never click beyond the homepage. If you aren’t sure what your business site needs, it’s time to consult with someone who does. Immediately.
WHAT YOU SHOULD SPEND: Website designs for businesses are more difficult to price because there are so many factors involved. I would say you should always expect at least several thousand dollars, if not much more than that. Don’t like that answer? Try thinking of your website as an employee (click that link – it’s worth it) and I think you’ll see why you’re getting a bargain no matter what you spend.
What do you think? How much should a website design cost? What factors do you use to come up with that amount?
by Andrea Whitmer