In this post we’re going to break down what goes into the cost of a new website based on the various factors involved including labor, infrastructure, your business’s specific online needs, timeline, and several other website price factors you may not have even thought of.
A lot goes into pricing a website. Think of it like constructing a building. You have to consider what the structure will be used for: is it for business? Big business or small business? How much business will be done there each day? Are people exchanging money there or just coming to learn more about your business? How big should the building be? How many rooms will it have? Maybe you’re just building a billboard or a little storage shed, or maybe you’re building a storefront and a warehouse for your business to live and grow in for many years to come. Heck, maybe you’re building a movie theatre! Websites come in near infinite varieties and therefore can be priced in many different ways.
Fear not! We’ll help you understand the ins-and-out of why websites cost what they cost so you don’t get overcharged, or worse, get stuck with a cheap piece-of-crap website built by someone who had no idea what they were doing (who then disappeared with your money in hand. Trust us, it happens all the time!)
We all know the old adage, “you get what you pay for”, and while there is definitely some wiggle room in there for price shoppers, DIYers, and bargain hunters, when it comes to websites, we find the classic rule of thumb is often true.
So, how can you tell a deal from a dud?
We’ve broken it down into a few factors for you to consider. We’ll talk through each one individually.
- The goals/requirements of the site
- Expected traffic
- Graphic design/copywriting work needed
- Other ancillary work needed
- How good is the company you’re hiring?
- Payment plan
- Can I build it myself?
You’ll notice number 8 is a bit different, and that’s because in the modern age there are a million website builders out there touting their ability to allow you to BUILD YOUR OWN WEBSITE FOR PENNIES!!! BUILD IT IN A FEW HOURS!!! BUILD IT ON YOUR LUNCH BREAK!!! IT’S SO EASY A TODDLER COULD DO IT!!! WHAT ARE YOU STUPID!?!?! BUILD IT YOURSELF YOU DUMMY!!! But wait, if it’s so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it? We’ll talk a little about whether or not a DIY site builder might be right for you.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
1. The goals/requirements of The Site
This is the biggie. What the heck is this puppy supposed to do? It’s like a vehicle: are you buying a motorcycle or a semi? A ford focus or a NASCAR-ready race car?
Ask yourself this: what do I want from people when they come to my site?
This can be as simple as, “call my office or fill out the form to get more information about my services” or as complex as, “have a deeper appreciation and connection with the core values of our brand.”
In today’s modern world of eCommerce (online shopping), this goal is often very concrete. For example: spend $25 in my online store. Or maybe you don’t have an online store yet, but you need one: be able to shop and buy any of my current in-store inventory online as well.
Depending on your industry and your business’s needs, this goal could be very simple or very complex.
We typically divide goals into two broad categories to start.
Are you selling stuff online and taking payments or not? Unless you have a very unique and especially large non-eCommerce project, you can usually count on an eCommerce site costing more than a non-eCommerce site, simply because there are just more moving parts to the former on the back end.
With eCommerce, consider your inventory: do you have a whole warehouse of unique SKUs? Or just a handful of products? How do you intend to manage the inventory listings on your site?
What many people don’t realize is that the inventory data (product descriptions, pictures, size, weight, color, etc.) is often managed in an Excel spreadsheet or similar document and then uploaded to the site. If you manage that data yourself, you may be able to save some dough!
With non-eCommerce, you’re dealing strictly with the exchange of information, be that pictures, written words or sounds. Consider how much of those things you have to convey. For example, a small home-based massage business is going to have much less information to share on average than a full-blown newspaper’s website (think about all the articles, past issues, and on and on! That’s a ton of information flow!)
2. Expected traffic
No one likes being stuck in traffic. The sitting. The waiting. The honking. The spinning thingy on your computer silently mocking you.
Traffic on the internet is a lot like traffic on the road in that your website had better be built to handle the right amount of it. Otherwise you’re going to have a lot of pissed off drivers, and eventually people are just going to stop trying to come to your site at all.
We’ve all been to a website and seen errors like this:
But what do errors like this even mean? Sometimes the internet can be a confusing place full of jargon and technical mumbo jumbo, but you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to understand that if you don’t have your business built on the right foundation, it’s going to crumble. If you don’t build your business in such a way that makes it easy for your customers to find it, get to it, get in, get their business done, and get out in a timely way, you’re going to start having major problems pretty quickly. The internet is no different.
It’s all about infrastructure.
We tend to think of the internet as a non-physical thing. Something that exists in the aether – smoke and mirrors that only exist behind the light of our screens, which is simply not true. The internet is the information superhighway! It is very much made of cables and wires and plastic and concrete, and the more traffic you are expecting on your site, the more highway you’re going to need.
But unlike regular highways, your taxes don’t pay for the internet. You pay for your own space on the net in the form of hosting fees, domain fees, administration and management fees, and other fees associated with simply handling all those digital travelers and the digital real estate they are traversing.
Probably the simplest and more familiar fee to understand in all of this is web hosting. Web hosting is simply finding a place to take all the files that comprise your website and finding a place to put them (called a server). Yes, it’s a physical place (often multiples places, for safety and security reasons). A server is simply a fancy computer made for a specific reason, in this case hosting your website.
There are many different kinds of hosting. Many small businesses can get away with what’s called “shared hosting”, which is where many businesses use one server to host many different websites. It’s like a bunch of different small businesses renting space in one big building. It’s cheaper for everyone, but you still get some professional space to get your business done.
When you see deals like, “Hosting starting at just $2.50/month”, you can almost guarantee that it is for shared hosting.
But there are drawbacks to shared hosting. Not only is storage space limited (remember our newspaper website example with all the data they need to share? This wouldn’t be an option for them!), aside from space being an issue, shared hosting typically also means you share what is called an IP address. An IP, or Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to the internet. It’s your address on the internet as other computers recognize it.
Think of it this way. I type blahblah.com into my internet browser, a special server called a DNS server decodes blahblah.com and sees that it is registered to the IP address XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX. My computer goes to the server that is found to house that IP, and it knocks on the door and says, “Hey I’m trying to find blahblah.com and according to the registry it says blahblah.com is located here in server XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX?” and then the servers say, ”Sure! Come on in! Down the hall and to the right!”
Now imagine that same scenario is happening 1,000 times a second for 1,000 other websites on that same server all at the same time. Eventually that door guy is going to get overwhelmed, don’t you think?
What about this scenario, someone else you are sharing your website server with does something illegal (or illegal in the country you are trying to sell your product in, for example, China). And the police come knocking. Often times all they know is that someone at XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX IP did something illegal and sometimes that means they may have to do something with that IP that could affect your business, at least in the short term, EVEN THOUGH YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG!!!
In the end, the internet is really data in the form of electricity, which requires infrastructure. The more traffic you have on your site, the more data will be exchanged, the more infrastructure you will need
(unmute video in bottom right after play)
3. Graphic Design/Copywriting Needed
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
But how many dollars is it worth? That’s the question now isn’t it.
In all seriousness, what many people don’t realize is that a lot of the actual designing of websites does not take place on the web. Websites are often crafted in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs just as much as they are any web design and development tool.
Sometimes clients come to us and they say they need a website when what they really need is an entire marketing and design overhaul. They don’t have a good digital copy of their logo, they don’t have any pictures, they don’t have any good information written anywhere about their business or if they do it’s out of date or just plain bad.
In the website biz we have a saying: content is king.
I’ll say it again for the people in the back: CONTENT IS KING!
What does that mean?
It means that the crappy pictures of your store that you took on your iPhone 4 ten years ago ain’t gonna cut it, Janet! Hire a photographer. And that junior high level paragraph about your business with 6 typos and a missing period isn’t going to make you look very professional online.
(we would advise against the above Uncle Rico look for employee photos, but hey, you do you.)
Time for another of my world famous analogies: think of a website like cooking a meal. If you want to cook a good meal, do you start with fresh, wholesome, healthy ingredients? Or do you start with old, spoiled, nasty looking, cheap and unhealthy mush?
A website is no different. A website is comprised of many different ingredients and two of the biggest ingredients are “copy” (headings, subheadings, paragraphs, captions, etc) and “graphics” (images, logos, icons, photographs, etc).
But wait! You’ve got some good images saved from when you had a photographer take your company pictures, and also some graphics from when someone designed your logo. They look great! They are professional as heck! I can just slap those up on a website, right?
Have you ever gone to a website and it takes FOREVER to load or maybe it doesn’t load at all and so you just leave and forget about it? A slow loading website often means poorly optimized images. All images and graphics have to be correctly sized and formatted for the web. Poor image optimization can have a direct effect on user experience and even your performance on Google’s search rankings!
Speaking of search ranking, one of the most important parts of SEO (search engine optimization) is copywriting. When the Google internet robots (bots) come and look over your website so they can add it to their search index (a process known as “indexing”, go figure), they are looking at all that copy. Is it easy to read? Is it pertinent? Is it clear as to what your website is about and what it is you do? Is your website helpful or spammy/scam-like? By writing and structuring the copy of your website just right, you can greatly improve not only each user’s experience but also your ranking in Google searches.
The more graphics a web designer has to create, curate, edit, resize, optimize or otherwise wrangle, the more time is involved. The more language a copywriter has to wordsmith, the more the clock ticks.
And who knows, aside from copy and graphics, your website may have extra special needs, which we’ll discuss next.
4. Other Ancillary Work Needed
This is relatively self explanatory, so it’s not a long entry.
What if you need video done for your site? Or maybe there is some special function that requires some special coding work from a programmer.
Designers, copywriters, videographers, programmers and developers, podcasters, and more! There are many different types of web content these days and your website is unique to you. What your business needs as far as web content is concerned is dependent on, well, your business!
One important thing to remember, however, is not all designers, copywriters, videographers, developers, etc. are made equal! That brings us to our next point.
5. How Good is The Company You're Hiring?
I was going to title this section something like “Experience of the Company You are Hiring”, and I don’t want to downplay the role of experience. Experience is VERY important. But, after all, design is function AND form, so part of what we do is art. Let’s face it: some people (despite what their mom tells them) just stink.
With that in mind, I’ll repeat the old adage that sometimes, “you get what you pay for”.
What you really want out of any company, designer, or anyone you choose to contract for work on anything is the perfect storm of education, experience and talent.
Let’s talk about experience and education for a minute. Because experience and education are major factors in price. As well they should be.
You don’t learn how to use Photoshop overnight.
You don’t learn how to build a professional website over summer break.
You don’t learn centuries of art history and design theory by staring at the clouds.
You don’t learn how to code by listening to a couple audiobooks on your commute to your day job.
You don’t become a professional copywriter by graduating high school.
Should I go on or…?
The point is people go through years of education and hands-on training to be able to call themselves professionals in these crafts.
Just like any other profession! And let me tell you, college these days ain’t cheap folks. The average student today graduates with $37,000 dollars in student loan debt.
*AHEM* THIRTY SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT!!!!!!!!!!
All discussions of the broken higher education system aside, most designers have dedicated years of their life (not to mention thousands of dollars) to fine tuning their craft. Of course, it’s not impossible to educate yourself in these trades. I know many talented developers, designers and artists who are self-taught, but they’ve put just as many hours into learning their craft as anyone else.
Try to remember all those long hours of blood, sweat and tears when considering who should build your website. Do you want an amateur? Or do you want an expert?
In the end, your customers (who are getting more internet savvy every year) will be the judge of your decisions. If you chose an amateur to build your website in this, the age of digital media, what other corners are you cutting?
But maybe you found an incredible amateur to build your website. Maybe you’re nephew is a real whiz! The difference between a good amateur and a professional may appear to be minor to you at first. At least it looks pretty good to you, right?
But your customers will be the ones putting it to the real test, and that’s when it’s likely to fail miserably.
When it comes to websites, the devil is in the details, and there are a million and one details. A seasoned professional can tend to those details so your customers have a smooth, flawless experience. And that’s the goal.
You don’t want any hitches in your giddy-up. Any little thing that looks off or wrong or glitches up could lose you a customer.
Because we’re living in a paranoid ADHD world. You have only moments to capture and hold each visitor’s attention and trust. If your website does anything to signal to a visitor that it’s spammy/scammy, unsafe, untrustworthy, or if your website glitches up, there are broken links, takes too long to load, loads incorrectly, or something of that nature – internet users these days will not hesitate for a moment to leave and go elsewhere. There are literally billions of other places for them to be on the internet, so why would they waste time on your ugly, confusing, glitchy, amateur website?
At 2oddballs we have over a decade of marketing and design experience. We’re educated, seasoned professionals. Despite our silly name, we deliver serious results. We guarantee it.
Around here we always say the best evidence of our excellence is our clients. We’ll give you a list of our clients and their phone numbers; call ‘em up and they’ll tell you themselves!
In the end, your customers (who are getting more internet savvy every year) will be the judge of your decisions. If you chose an amateur to build your website in this, the age of digital media, what other corners are you cutting?
6. Payment plan
Here’s another simple one. At 2oddballs we typically bill websites in 3rds. That looks like this: a 3rd of the total bill is due up front as a deposit, a 3rd is due at the time of the first deliverable (the initial design mockup, which is usually the design of the homepage), and then a 3rd is due at the time of completion. If the job is smaller we may do a simple deposit and then the rest due upon completion.
After we complete a contract we will then set up a monthly administration plan with the client. Depending on the client’s needs, that plan may either be an hourly rate or a monthly flat fee, whichever will save the client the most money. High demand clients will get a flat fee per month, and lower demand clients will simply work off of an hourly contract (billable hours).
Some companies may do X dollars a month continuous payments, which may seem like a deal if you don’t want to shell out a big chunk of change up front, but of course, do your math. That $200 a month ends up being a $4,800 website after only 24 months!
We do now offer payment plan contracts for approved clients, just ask us about them!
When do you need this sucker done? Time is money! At 2oddballs, for the average website build, we typically allot about 1 month for a standard website build and then a two week to 30 day (depending on the contract) launch period where we do not charge any kind of fee to make changes. We want you to be totally satisfied with your new site, so we give you a little time to try it on for size and request any changes.
With that being said, we’re a business just like any other, we have many clients and we treat all of our clients like family. But I grew up with three brothers, and I know for a fact not everyone gets mom’s attention at once! We have to fit everyone into a schedule.
BUT WAIT! I NEED THIS JOB RUSHED! IT’S AN EMERGENCY!!!
We understand that sometimes things happen, and you need things done ASAP. We absolutely try to be as accommodating as possible. But if you have to cut in line (nobody likes a cutter), that means we have to put other clients on hold, so there may be a wee bit of an upcharge.
If there is anyone reading this who feels that’s unreasonable, well, you’re probably a jerk and you probably cut in line in school didn’t you? #realTalk
8. Can I Build It Myself?
*deep breath* stay cool Gabe, stay cool
The short answer is: yes, of course, it is 100% possible to build yourself a website. And I don’t want to discourage the DIYers out there. We at 2oddballs absolutely support the open-source, DIY internet culture. We believe in self-education, but a lot of this stuff is pretty thick. And while you can save yourself some cash by doing some stuff yourself, the business you and your family rely on as a livelihood probably isn’t where you want to start cutting your web design teeth.
Let me start this by getting a bit of history and terminology out of the way.
In the old days, the only way to create a website was by using code. You had to take a bunch of time sitting in front of a computer typing a bunch of illegible numbers, letters and symbols into a computers and then like magic out the other side came a website. It was a craft largely reserved for super nerds who spoke the language of computers. In fact, if you want to take a peek at that world and you’re using Google Chrome, right click on this website and then click “inspect”. Just look at all that fun mumbo jumbo!
Then came the WYSIWYG Editor
WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get and a WYSIWYG editor is a design tool that lets you design or edit something visually rather than with code alone. The editor would write the code for you while you were freed up to focus on design. But at this point in time, WYSIWYG editing software was in its infancy, and to use it, you really still needed to understand the basics of the internet language (HTML) and styling practices (CSS). It was a great time to be learning how to build websites, because you could hone your design skills while also keeping up on the basics of development (the scary boring code stuff).
Today, WYSIWYG editing software has become sufficiently advanced to the point where it is now being marketed to the general public.
There are several problems with this new development in the world of web design.
First, there is more to design than just the way something looks. As previously mentioned, design is a marriage of form and function. Without delving into the topic too deeply, design is an incredibly complex, interdisciplinary topic that often brings together science, engineering, culture and art.
Just because something “looks good” does not mean it is designed well.
Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it’s going to get the job done.
Second, there are complexities to web design on the “back end” that are totally out of your control when using only modern WYSIWYG editors that are strictly front end only. There are major restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your website.
Third, depending on what platform you are using, there may be a laundry list of other restrictions on what you can and cannot do regarding things like SEO, inability to edit .htaccess files, lack of or weak structured data, no IP blocking, analytics, mobile optimization, etc. If anything in that list made you stop and go, “well I don’t even know what the heck that is.” then you may want to consider hiring a professional.
There are a few instances where these types of builders may be useful. They are primarily situations that don’t involve long term use or growth/expansion of a site.
- Family vacation/personal blogs
- Ad hoc/temporary non-commercial event pages (such as a birthday party)
- Short term educational business ventures (such as a child’s school fundraiser)
As you can see, we strongly recommend only limited uses for these types of builders. When it comes to doing serious long-term business on the internet, there is no replacement for hiring a professional.
*whew* yeah, we know it’s a lot to process. There’s a lot that goes into pricing a website, but there’s a lot that goes into building a website.
But don’t worry, at 2oddballs we can help make it simple for you. We take the time to talk through all your needs, answer all your questions, and address any of your concerns to make sure we’re all on the same page. We’re never going to try to sell you something you don’t need, but we’re also going to shoot you straight and let you know if we think you’ve got a hitch in your marketing giddy-up.
We’re just a couple plain-talkin’, straight-shootin’, odd-ballin’ nerds ready to help take your marketing game to the next level.
Give us a call at 417-986-ODD2 (6332) or shoot us your name and email using the form below for a FREE consultation or for any questions or comments.