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How Much Does A Small Business Website Cost in 2016?


Louie Pitlo


September 14, 2018

A start-up business owner asked three website developer companies to submit a proposal to develop his custom website design. He supplied the developers with the goals and functions he deems necessary for the website. After a week later the web developers came back to the client with their estimates.

The first one had priced the website project at $3,000, the second had priced it at $10,000 and the final web developer estimated the project at $30,000.

Now the confused client is faced with a great need to figure out why these estimates are so different and which offer would meet his business goal for the website, which represents the most realistic and reasonable budget for his needs.

Believe it or not, we often hear stories like this. So I'm sure your next question is "how much a website actually cost?"

Basic Website Components and Costs

On the average, the following figures can be applied to estimating the cost of a small business website:

  • Domain Name – $_/year
  • Hosting – $_ to $_ a year (depending on traffic and hosting services)
  • Web planning, design and development time – _ hours and up
  • Website Maintenance (continual) – $_ a year and up (depending on number/type of updates required)
  • Marketing your website online – $_ a month and up

Important Factors that Contribute to Website Cost

When drawing up your budget for your website, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

>  Is this a brand new custom website design or a redesign of your existing site?

Remember that new sites often cost more than redesigns. Because when you're starting a new website from scratch, so is the web designer. The designer has no existing elements to work from and to refer to for study, may it be the design, features, functionality that can be used to create the new website and improved upon.

>  How prepared are you to ask for bids from a website developer company?

The best way is to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) document. It’s the face of your company to potential collaborators so it’s important to compose them well. For this document, it is necessary to include (a) Brief Project Overview, (b) Your Organization’s Background, (c) Project Goals & Target Audience, (d) Timeline, (e) Technical Requirements (if you have one already), (f) Principal Point of Contact, (g) Budget, (h) Ongoing Support / Retainer (again, if you have one already), (i) Web Hosting, and (j) Criteria for Selection of Developer

>  Have you prepared a detailed requirements document (goals and measures for success)?

It is necessary for you and the developer to create a required “discovery and documentation” to determine not just the cost of the website but to also determine online brand, website structure, and website functionality. This way it helps set expectations on all sides and reduces potential frustrations.

>  Do you need a blog or a content management system (CMS)?

Content is what your target audience is looking for. It is what the search engines use to index your site and it’s what sets you apart from your competition.

A content management system (CMS) makes it possible for you to update the content on your website without needing HTML or other coding skills.

So for businesses who want to manage their own content the web designer can integrate and customise content management systems (CMS). We work with PHP-based open-source CMS solutions like Drupal and WordPress. Costs for integrating and customising a CMS can range from $_ to $_. And if you want the vendor to add your content and adjust the layout of the text, you should budget $_ to $_ per page.

ü  Have graphics already been created for the website or you prefer to buy it online?

The truth of the matter is, budgeting website graphics is complicated because images can range from $_ each for cheap stock images to hundreds of dollars each for custom or high-end stock images.  Although, adding compelling and appropriate graphics can make a huge boost in the effectiveness of your website.  Keep in mind that a good designer can make a cheap image look like a custom one. But that’s not all, you will also need stock icons and buttons to compliment your web design which will cost around $_ to the budget for these graphic elements.

>  Do you want the website to automatically resize for mobile and Ipads?

Given that mobile devices have become critical to online success, your web design should be at the very least mobile-friendly. Meaning to say it should be “responsive,” or can automatically adjust their layout to look good and function easily on multiple devices such as smartphones, iPad/tablets, and desktop/laptop computers.

Creating a responsive design can cost around 20% to 30% more than a site designed solely for a desktop web browser because the interface designer has to make an extra effort to design the site’s appearance and function on the various devices and then it will have to be programmed by the programmer. So there’s more testing is required before the site is ready to launch.

> Do you need multimedia elements (flash, video, animations etc.) on the website?

 These new media provide more design options but also require design discipline. But remember not every web page needs to be bombarded with impressions and movement. Unconstrained use of multimedia results in user interfaces that confuse readers and make it harder for them to understand the information and becomes less effective. Here’s a tip: if users do not need to feel a direct physical connection between their actions and the changes on the screen, then response times of about 1.0 second become acceptable.

>  How much content do you have now and how much will you need to be created?

Part of the many considerations in creating a new website is the actual text content you will need and already have. So how much content should you publish? The best practice is to write at least 300 words per blog post, publish it consistently and authentically, and then properly tag your content. But if writing is not your thing bloggers are there ready to be tapped. Many clients request a blog (WordPress or something similar) within their website. It’s customised to reflect their website’s branding and design and costs around $_ to $_.

>  Do you need other special features such as social media network, SEO (search engine optimisation), online analytics, or e-commerce?

So you’re considering special features to further ensure your customers have a positive experience on the site, improve your company's digital footprint and increase engagement with your brand:

  • News feeds of both your content (outgoing) and adding content to the site (incoming): $_
  • Contact forms and surveys: $_ and up
  • Newsletters: $_ to $_
  • Advertising integration (Google AdWords): $_
  • Photo gallery: $_ to $_
  • Metrics (Google analytics, custom reports, etc.): $_ to $_
  • SEO (on-page optimization, off-page optimization submission to search engines, etc.): $_ to $_
  • Social media — Create and manage social media network profile (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.): $_ to $_
  • For E-commerce shopping carts, catalogues, and payment processing just add $1,500 to $5000 or more depending on requirements.

>  Who is going to maintain the website after it has been launched?

Websites don’t just maintain by themselves and here’s the thing: the best websites change all the time as their strategy is tweaked and updated. Unfortunately, maintenance is something that most businesses forget to budget, normally because they think that they can do it themselves. But when you mistakenly deleted an entire page and lose hours of sales you’ll wish you’d spent the extra money on a maintenance contract. So you have to make sure your web developer offers post-launch maintenance.

Maintenance contracts vary greatly depending on what you expect from the web developer company. You should budget a minimum of $_ a month to have a designer/developer on call if and add more budget if you want them to do additional work like creating new images, adding new content, maintaining social media or newsletters, etc.

A Final Note

If your website will be a significant part of your business DON’T withhold on web design and developer. If you would expect to pay $$$ for a physical office space or shop, then don’t draw back at paying reasonable rates for the creation of your online business.

So, how much does a website cost?

And the answer:  Your budget should be based on the strategic needs of your business.

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