I grow tired of the premise that the budget for a business website of any size should be less than $3,000. There are too many fellow developers out there that may be good at what they do but have no business sense. I can say this because I used to be like that a few years ago.
I know how to make websites, what works, what doesn’t. I jumped at any opportunity. And the excitement outweighed the fact that I should have charged much more. No wonder I kept getting business! I was cheap, and clients either didn’t know any better or were taking advantage of me. Either way, they were getting a deal.
But in recent years I’ve learned to align my business process to my client’s business needs. They’re not hiring me to make them a website. They’re hiring me to solve a problem for them. The website is a means to an end. They don’t care how it’s made, they care that they’re getting a higher return on investment.
In my experience there’s no other industry where the price of something is debated so much. For instance, you want your basement redone or finished. Get bids from contractors that range from $50k to $65k. Nowhere in the process would the contractor say, “you know what, you look like you could use a break. I bid it at $50k but I’ll do your basement for $5k.”
That’s what some website freelancers do: they discount their services and cheapen our industry.
As a result, the impression of the web industry is that it’s cheap to have a website made, or you could do it yourself. It is true there are services that allow you to do it yourself. But if you want positive results from your online presence then those free tools fall way short.
Another cause for confusion about how “easy it is” or “how cheap it is to get a website” is WordPress. It is the number one content management software on the market. It’s easy to put in place, easy to use. And free to download. It’s powering close to 26% of all the websites on the Internet — that’s over 60 million websites. People like it. But being free doesn’t mean your website is free or easy to do yourself.
Say you want to have a website with six pages. Home page, contact page, blog, and a couple other pages. You want to sell something online. Typical steps in the process are planning, copy writing, design, and development. You’ve talked with a website firm and they lay out a project management schedule that looks similar to this…
The planning stage, assuming that takes 1 week to do and 1 person doing the work, typical rates are around $2,400. The copy writing stage will cost $4,800. Same pricing for design work — 2 weeks, 1 person, $4,800. Finally, setting up functionality for the design, you’re looking at $7,200 for 1 person over 3 weeks of work.
So you’re total investment is $19,200.
You Can Save Money By Doing Yourself, But I Wouldn’t Recommend It
Say you want to go the cheaper route because you’ve found a great looking pre-built theme. The price of that theme is $50 — great! you think. But unless you’re tech savvy and know how to download that theme, install it, and make it your own, you’re still looking at investments of around $9,600. That price is for the design time (i.e. “make it your own”), copy writing, and theme implementation snafus that happen.
There are always going to be snags when you try to put in place a well designed website. It’s best to leave it to the experts. After all, when my kitchen stove stops working I call the repairman. He’s the expert in his field. I’m not going to second guess him. Or I will leave it to the financial experts to manage my stock portfolio.
The real question is, how much is your own time worth to you? You are an expert in your field. Shouldn’t you be spending your time doing what you’re good at and leave the rest to experts in their fields?
If you want a quick and dirty website up and running, you can use one of those free resources and have a site up in a day or two. But if you want a website that not only looks good but works for you — one that can be customized for your target market and converts visitors to customers with targeted calls-to-action, then most likely you will need to spend a little money and hire an expert.