If you’ve ever asked how much it costs to build a website, you, like many people, most likely received different answers. I tried to get to the bottom of this. Here is what I found.
The most selected answer was: “From 1000 to 1 million shekels.” You don’t need to know a lot of Hebrew to understand that there’s a big difference between 1000 and 1 million.
So, how much does it really cost to build a website?
In this article, I will try to explain the huge differences in prices that various service providers may charge and the added value they offer in return. I won’t go into the details involved in actually creating a website but will just mention that anyone can pay a minimum of $15 a month for a hosting site or use the free WordPress system and then pay between $39-69 a month for somewhat attractive ready-to-use templates. However, in our day and age, these options don’t result in the type of professional website I would expect from a real business.
I don’t understand much about selling cars, but I’m sure most of you would agree that it’s unreasonable to ask a general question like, “How much does a car cost?”. Even if you give some more information about the car you want to buy, like “family car for three people, big, new, beautiful and with a somewhat powerful engine,” nobody will be able to state an exact price. However, they could provide some options, like a KIA for $17K (in Israel, it would cost $27K) or an AUDI for $40K (in Israel, it would cost $70K+). Both cars may suit your needs but have different price points.
These options and the reasons for their price differences are relevant to website prices. Let’s take a closer look: The difference between a KIA and an AUDI is significant; it starts with the name. An AUDI is much more prestigious than a KIA. While the former is a better car, the KIA may be a better choice for a small family as it fits perfectly in terms of price and value. The same goes for websites: What is good for one person or business may not fit someone else. The deciding factors are not only dependent on price.
High price – bad service?
The quality of the final product (i.e., your website) depends on many things besides price. A website for $5K could be better than a website for $50K, and a site for $50K could be better than one for $250K. The price you receive in the offer from any service provider represents how much-added value the service provider is willing to give – if he or she chooses to do so.
As a client, your main responsibility is to find a resolution to your problem. When building a website, it’s up to you to check if a specific service provider is giving you the service you expect to receive for the price you are paying.
The best way to check whether a specific web agency or freelancer provides excellent service is to call (not email) their previous clients(Ask the agency for some recommendations). Every service provider that’s been around for more than three years will most likely have at least one unhappy client, as that’s just the nature of business. But don’t let them give you the only happy client they have. With any client that you speak with, ask about the project the agency did for him or her, and what he or she thinks about their overall service.
Another way of checking whether a specific web agency or freelancer is giving excellent service is to check their previous work, specifically for clients that are your size. Most of the big brands have their own in-house QA teams that will never allow a half-baked website to be launched. If you don’t have an internal QA team, you need to trust that this web agency is doing the required tests and will be able to fix any issues that may pop up.
What determines the actual price of building a website?
The price quote for building a website is basically setting some borders on the return or added value that a specific web agency can give. A web agency that sells websites for the price of up to $3000 (mostly freelancers) is very limited with what it can “return” or provide as an added value for the given price it charges. It doesn’t matter how thorough they will be; they will still be limited by a tight budget. For instance, they won’t be able to afford extra time for developing or brainstorming. Otherwise, they may start losing money on the second design revision. And UX? Forget about it. But it doesn’t mean that the website they design for you will be wrong. Maybe, for your business, it will be the exact website you need.
Meanwhile, a web agency that requests prices between $3K to $25K for a corporate website, and $10K to $150K for an e-commerce website can provide much more added value. They have the time and money to create clean and quality code (which is one big advantage for your website’s speed). They can triple the time allocated to the designer, who won’t be rushed to create a unique marketing strategy, ranging from a targeted Facebook campaign to UX that will impress any client coming your way. In some cases, and with the right team, the Internet could become a business’s main revenue stream.
Last but not least, with that price, the web agency can allow itself to manage a QA team, and with that, you, as a client, can enjoy a professional and impressive final product that has passed all of the needed tests before its launch. (Exactly like the big brands. Their web agencies are taking more time to develop and implement each website project – not only to justify their high asking price but also because they have the time to do the best work they can without any pressure.)
OK, but why are there websites that cost much more?
It’s the same as asking why a Samsung phone costs less than an Apple, or why a PC is cheaper than a Mac. The answer is simple: Any web agency that can take millions in fees has spent millions building their image, attracting huge clients, owning big teams and managing tremendously profitable websites. As such, the final price they offer clients could increase. A big brand, mostly, will work with a web agency that has already done some big brand jobs and knows how to serve them.
In summary (aka TLDR)
Building a quality website is not a simple job. It means starting a long-term relationship with the web agency that you selected. But choose wisely, because nobody wants to be in an unsatisfying relationship. Let’s go through it again
- Price is not a factor that reflects the final result; it only affects how much added value the web agency can give during the process.
- Web agencies that take higher prices can invest more time in finding the right solution for you and your clients.
- An impressive website and correct marketing strategy can potentially double the number of clients you have and put you and your business on the map to compete with the big players in your field.
- To find out if your web agency is capable of delivering what they are offering, call their previous clients. Ask them if there are pleased with their results.
- Another way to see if a specific web agency delivers what they promise is to check out their previous work and see if websites they’ve done for other companies that are comparable to your size impress you.
Last tip if you’re going low! Most of the time you won’t see much difference between a website that costs $500 and a one that costs $2500. As the price differential won’t be enough to create real value for your business, I suggest opting for the cheaper offer and investing the rest in other parts of your business. And of course, don’t forget to check out the quality of service from that specific web agency before signing any deals.
The post is written from my own 10+ years of experience as a freelancer and three years as a web agency owner.
This post is also available in: עברית