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How much is this going to cost?

In fact, it’s probably the most common question a prospective client will ask me. And it’s often their primary focus. I don’t blame them. Marketing dollars are precious and they’re entering a territory they know little about—website design and development. Whenever I’be hired a contractor, price was always a top consideration and I wanted to know…

 

So when it comes to website design and development, what’s the answer?

Well, it depends ...

Why?

Because each job is unique and there are so many variables that go into a website design. I’ve talked with business owners and just people that want a site for whatever reason, that have come to me really confused. Why the confiusion, they have three bids from three web designers or firms, that ranging from $3,500 to $50,000!

So, when it comes to hiring for website design and development, client's have to play a guessing game sometimes …

Reputation

Who is legit?

Abilities

inexperience vs. experience?

Who Bid

Freelancer vs. big firm?

Pricing

fair vs. inflated pricing?

 

But again the big question: How much should a website cost ... Really?

OK, enough messing around, here is what you need to know ...

Like I said above, it depends. However, I can give you a general idea of what the average costs are for the 4 most common routes for web design/development services out there - from the DIY site builders to a full agency. All have their Pro's and Con's, some based on how much you want or don't want to be involved and the level of content you can supply.

DIY websites are growing in popularity when someone just needs a very basic "here I am" web presence. Just a place for visitors to go and get some basic information maybe fill out a contact form. Generally these are offered as a "Drag-n-Drop" solutions offered by businesses like WiX for example.

The Pro's

easy to use
variety of styles
low monthly cost
no need to learn code

The Con's

Limited to about 5 pages
very little support
no customization
very cookie cutter
must supply content
images can cost extra
eCommerce will be extra

The Cost

$25 - $150
per month w/ hosting

Content Management Systems or CMS packages, such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, are usually an option with every hosting provider. These are still along the same lines as a DIY web builder. However, a CMS package is much more robust in what you can do with them including eCommerce.

The Pro's

easy to use
large variety of styles
eCommerce capable
Unlimited Pages
helper plug in's

The Con's

almost zero support
minor customization
must learn some code
must supply all content
good themes cost extra
plug-ins cost extra
eCommerce means PCI costs
must update package often
notoriously insecure

The Cost

$50 - $200
DIY per month including hosting

$2,000 - $15,000
contracting a CMS designer
+ monthly maintenance of
about $150 a month
Plug-In's consist of helper code for items such as calendars, sign-up forms, image rotators, translation, social links etc. Some are free but most will cost in the $10 to $300 dollar range depending on what you want. Lastly, plug-ins must constantly be updated as well as the CMS package its self.
If you are planning on doing eCommerce through your site keep in mind that eCommerce hosting can cost a good deal more than basic hosting. Also, you will have be PCI compliant in your site as well as with your host. This involves:

SSL Cert (TLS v1.2 -v3) - $180 per year
PCI SAQ Audit - $5k - $10K per year*
Intrusion Testing and Scanning*
opening a merchant account
breach insurance^

*This might be offered with your merchant account at a flat fee per month.
^Minimum coverage is $1 Million.

PCI is a requirement for anyone doing eCommerce regardless if it is a DIY, Agency, or a Freelance site. PCI rules and regulations must be met.
Content Management Systems are insanely insecure. There are guides on how to patch servers, fix code, and plug-ins that can help secure your site to some extent. However, because the CMS is just a framework and relies on 3rd party plug-ins, many times these plug-ins by pass or break the security of the site. For someone wanting to do eCommerce this is a nightmare.

NOTE: As of today, Dec. 13, 2018 there are 340+* known exploits for the major CMS packages on the market. Any number of them can give unfettered site access to an attacker.


*this number generated from polling security bulletins from various security and CMS intrusion tracking websites.

If you are needing the best for your web presence, and you have the pockets, a full agency is your best route. Using a agency ensures that you are getting exactly what you are asking for. Everything is spelled out in the contracts and delivery times are guaranteed.

The Pro's

dedicated personnel
integrated development
constant communication
fast updates
hosting/registration
latest/greatest tools
eCommerce options

The Con's

custom is extra
site access restricted
month maintenance cost
update cost
50% of cost due at signing

The Cost

$19,000 - $85,000
initial cost
$200 - $500
monthly maintenance
The average cost in the Dallas/FT. Worth area in 2018 for a full business class site is about $25,000 for an enterprise class site prices start about $60,000 and go up to the $150's.
***A Little Insider Information***
Having worked for small and large agency's over the last 25 years, its my experience that the vast majority of agency prefer to use CMS packages as often as possible. These cost them nothing but you will be charged several hundred to thousands of dollars for the "framework". Further, most will use an off the shelf style, again might be free or might cost them from $50 - $200 dollars max - but you're pay at least $500 or more regardless. Agency's have huge libraries of stock images (most royalty free) that they pay very little for or get for free. Clients are charged upwards of $150 dollars for each image without getting exclusive rights to the image. This means that great image you selected can be on every site the agency produces and they made $150 on that image every time. Lastly, you'll pay a per-hour or per-page cost for anything after the site goes live - by the hour $75-$125 average, by the page is around $175 per page. The reality is a 30 day turn around will cost the agency in developer time, script packages, and visuals maybe $3,000 to produce, your cost about 3-5 times that amount.

If you are needing a quality website but don't have the pockets for an agency, then a freelancer is a great alternative. Freelancers can offer you the quality of an agency most times, with a very personal experience and save you a lot of money in the long run.

The Pro's

dedicated to your project
custom development
custom graphics
custom images
hosting/registration
technical know-how
create print templates
1 on 1 relationship
discounts for cash
barter for services

The Con's

24-48 hrs on updates
may be hard to reach at times
limited support after delivery*
lead-times are longer
may over extend them self

The Cost

$200 - $35K
project cost
$50 - $150
*monthly maintenance if contracted or a per touch cost.
For most freelancers they complete a project and will provide support for 30/90/180 days from go live. After that there are charges for changes/updates and any major revisions. Some offer monthly maintenance as an option for a flat fee. However, anything major there may be a charge for.
The lead time for developing, designing and launching a website with a freelancer can be a longer process than with an agency due to the fact the freelancer is generally a one person show. As a good rule of thumb expect the time to be 2-3x's as long than with an agency.
Freelancer at times do take on too many projects because of this reason or that reason. You should always find out how many projects they currently working and how much time they can devote to your's. If the answer is more than 4 - 5 or they say "I will give it as much time as it needs...", they are probably burning the candle at both ends and the final result probably will not be their best work.
With the exception of DIY, who ever you work with should include at the very least logo development, corporate identity packge that includes - business cards, letter head, envelops, invoices, and help with your social media as part of the package.
Lets talk