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How Much Should a Web Site Cost in 2013?
Determining how much a web site should cost is one of the most frequently asked but rarely answered questions in the web design world. Even now, with millions of web sites online, there exists no magic formula for calculating either the cost of a new web site or the cost of a redesign.
For this article, the WebpageFX team of professional web designers, developers, and SEO marketing specialists have worked together to examine some of the most important factors when considering web site costs. These include historical web site development costs and web design costs for different components as well as current web site features and design costs.
Historical Perspective: How Much Should a Web Site Cost?
Like other goods and services, the cost associated with designing, developing and building a web site has changed over time. It is drastically different in 2013 than it was even a couple of years ago. The following chart provides a timeline of historical dates compared to web site cost.
The basis for the chart was a small business (under 25 employees) located in a small city that wanted a professional web site having 15 pages, Web hosting and email, a domain name, and a aesthetic quality level of around 7/10.
|Time Period||Expected Cost|
|1995 – 1997||$7,500 to $12,000|
|1998 – 2000||$6,000 to $10,000|
|2000 – 2004||$2,500 to $4,500|
|2004 – 2009||$2,000 to $7,500|
|2010 – 2012||$2,500 to $8,500|
$2,250 to $10,000
Updated October 2013: Many websites now require responsive website design. Responsive design means that a website is designed for functionality on desktops, tablets and mobile devices. With 232 possible screen sizes in 2013, it isn’t difficult to understand why responsive design has driven the high end of website cost upwards. The necessity of having a website with responsive design is one reason for the widening gap between the highest and lowest possible costs for a website.
Although responsive design has driven the high end of website pricing up about 20%, it is definitely not something that most websites can afford to skimp on. Websites priced at the higher end of the cost scale due to responsive design needs may spend more money, but they are also able to adjust their website design and functionality to provide better visitor experiences on tablets and mobile devices. This ensures that their visitors experience their website smoothly and efficiently, increasing their potential for reoccurring customers.
Websites in the $2,200 range rarely include responsive website design elements and so are less expensive. However, tablet and mobile visitors do not receive a device-specific web visitor experience and so are less likely to return to these websites.
On the lower end of Web design pricing, competitive industry pressure and advancements in Web design tools pushed pricing down by about 10% in 2013. First, there exist substantially more competitors in the web design market today, perhaps as many as ten times more than a decade ago. Jobs for Web developers and computer network architects are expected to grow 22% by 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations in the U.S. Because so many jobs are being created in this market, competition is driving the low end of website pricing down.
Second, modern tools have made it easier for Web designers to create great looking websites.
Advancements in web design tools have contributed to the inexpensiveness of the lower end of website cost. Many free web design tools have been created and made available to the public, giving websites access to design tools that they likely would have had to purchase only a few years ago. Free tools like CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor, Notepad++ and Firebug have made the understanding and creation of website design accessible to virtually anyone with internet access. Likewise, image editors like GIMP offer a free way to create and edit graphics. Thus, prices of similar, paid tools are driven down by the availability of so many similar free web design tools.
However, it does pay to spend the money to have a professional company create or redesign your website. While free tools can be useful, you are more likely to get a good and solid website if you pay to hire a professional Web marketing or Web design company. Websites built on free tools often lack a unique identity because free templates usually only allow a certain extent of customization and only carry a limited number of templates. Thus, websites using those tools have no brand identity and don’t attract traffic. The lesson to be learned here: cheaper isn’t always better. But what is a reasonable cost for what your website needs?
Due to the increasingly disparate costs of websites, with freelancers charging as little as $500 and Web agencies charging tens of thousands of dollars, the WebpageFX team developed a website cost calculator to help website visitors attempt to put a price tag to their website project. Simply slide the movable bars down the gauge to find the estimated cost of your website.
Based upon client surveys and our team's research, the above data demonstrates a significant decrease in the base cost of a web site over the last decade. We believe that the reason for this drop in web site cost is driven by two factors.
First, there exist substantially more competitors in the web design market today, perhaps as many as ten times more than a decade ago. Second, modern tools have made it easier for Web designers to create great looking web sites.
These factors have also led to some unforeseen results. Most notably, in the last five years, the cost of web sites has become more disparate. After further analysis, we believe these trends can be explained through the increasing demand for cost effective web sites along with the drive for higher-end, interactive Web designs.
In other words, as web sites become standard for all businesses, the competition grows to produce higher-quality, low-cost Web designs. By the same token, with more Internet competition, a company now needs to work harder to differentiate its web site from those of its competitors. Often this involves adding better content, Flash designs, online videos, and interactive applications.
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Breakdown of Web Site Components and Costs
It is important to examine each of the components that go into determining how much a website should cost. The WebpageFX team has compiled a list of the factors that we believe to be most important to website cost. The figures presented below for each of these factors can be applied as the average for estimating the cost of a website.
- Domain Name
Your website’s domain name is the unique name that appears in the URL for your website. It’s kind of like your online fingerprint. It is specific to you. Although other websites may have domain names similar to it, your domain name is yours alone. However, to get the rights to your domain name, you have to register it annually.
Your domain name is important because it creates an online identity for your website. Having a domain name establishes credibility with site visitors and potential customers. It is also important because if you even change your Web host your domain name will go with you. Lastly, your domain name is important because it expands your opportunities for online advertising, which has become more necessary for attracting traffic to today’s website.
Hosting is simply the service that allows your website to be accessed by other internet users. A web host will provide space on its server for your website, allowing people around the world to view it.
Hosting is important because the quality of host your website relies on can affect page loading time, the tech support you receive if your site crashes and the ability of your website to expand in the future. To put it simply, your hosting provider has a huge impact on how your website functions. Although free hosting services exist, their tech support (if they supply any at all) will not be as good as paid hosting services.
- $75 to $200 a year (depending on traffic & website features)
- Web design and graphics development time
This is the amount of time it takes to complete the entire design of your site’s webpages, the graphics that are a part of those design and the layout of your website as a whole.
The design and graphics that make up your website are incredibly important because they can either cause a site visitor to stop and look at your site, or bounce to the next one. You want an excellent site design with high-quality images and graphics to go with it. Developing these aspects of your website can be a bit time consuming but they are well worth it to give your website the best design possible.
- 60 to 150 hours (based on our experience for a 15 page Website)
- Web site Maintenance
Website maintenance is the entire process involved in updating and managing a website once it is online. This includes ensuring that your website’s hardware and software are working well and that your site is up to date with the latest products and features.
Site maintenance is important because it affects how interested your visitors are in your site, it allows you to maintain, or possibly improve, your search engine rankings and it essentially keeps your website functioning. You need to be willing to spend the money to maintain your website after it launches, or else your site will likely fall into disarray, let alone have any chance of ranking on search engine results pages.
- $500 to $1250 a year (depending on number of updates required)
To completely answer the question "How much should a web site cost" it is also useful to review specific Web design and web site development projects.
Informational or Small Business Web Site Cost::
- 8 to 16 Web pages
- Custom graphics
- Stock photos
- Little or no flash
- Web forms sending to email accounts
Project duration: 30 to 75 days (not assuming a consistent 8 hour a day)
Web site cost range: $2,000 to $6,000
Corporate (100 or more employees) Web Site Cost:
- 25 to 75 Web pages
- Heavy use of flash
- High quality design work on all Web pages
- Content management system
- Extra components: Intranet, calendars, web site search
Project duration: 60 to 90 days
Web site cost range: $10,000 to $25,000
Ecommerce Web Site Cost:
- 100 to 1000 products
- Shopping cart
- Payment gateway integration
- Product descriptions and images
- Sales tax and shipping calculation
- Customer and administrative control panel
Project duration: 60 to 120 days
Web site cost range: $5,000 to $15,000
Database Driven Web Site or Web Application:
- Dynamic Web pages 20 to 2,000
- Administrative control panel for web site management
- Advanced programming skill sets required
- Interactivity with web site visitor
- Enterprise database (MS SQL Server or MySQL)
Project duration: 90 to 180 days
Web site cost range: $6,000 to $35,000
How Much Should a Web Site Cost? Our Findings
In conclusion, the cost of a web site can vary greatly depending upon the site's features, needed Internet marketing services, aesthetic qualities, and the design firm, advertising agency, or freelancer creating the Web design. While the cost of a basic web site has dropped, the need for more interactivity has helped hold steady the price of a high-end, competitive Web design. More recently, the reason for increases in the average costs of a website is because websites should now be built to support mobile and tablet devices. It is important to take this into consideration when determining your budget for this type of project. As mobile continues to surge, designing for mobile users is imperative.
When determining the budget for your website design or redesign project, it is important to take the costs into consideration. However, the costs of your website project are not the only factors influencing the profit that you are able to make from your site. As mobile internet usage continues to surge, designing for mobile users is imperative. Investing money in creating a responsive Web design may allow you to make future conversions and profits that outweigh the initial cost of redesigning you site.
If you are considering a new or upgraded web site, the WebpageFX team recommends that you view the portfolios of several Web design firms and inquire, "How much should my web site cost?". Starting first with our own free website cost project quote form.
Published on November 1st, 2013 by WebpageFX Team
Call 888.449.3239 or contact us online today to start designing your dream web site.