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Every business needs a website, whether you’re small or large, new or 30+ years in business, small town or major metro, a website is a 24/7 brochure to your business’s services, contact information and more. Not having a website these days, or having a poor one, leads to a smaller and smaller market of individuals looking for you being able to find the information they need, which ultimately leads to loss of business.

In a hurry? Here is a quick rundown of what a website costs:

  • Small Website – one or few services/products and locations – $1,200 – $5,500
  • Medium Website – Many products/services and/or Many Locations – $4,500 – $8,000
  • Large Website – Highly Complex product/services, Multilocation or international – $10,000+

Factors of cost:

  • Custom Coded Website vs. Content Management System (CMS)
    • A CMS can drastically reduce the cost of a website and add usability that a custom design may not afford. We highly recommend a CMS such as Wordpress, Magento, or Shopify.
  • Number of Pages
    • If you have 1-4 services you offer from a single location vs 10 services from more than one location, there is more work for the additional pages needed to make this work.
  • Complexity of Services
    • Is your service simple? For instance, you build or sell widgets, they are simple in nature and don’t have a lot of features or specific attributes that need to be pointed out vs you build houses and you want to explain every aspect of how/what you do in a group of pages.
  • E-commerce vs Informational
    • E-commerce pages are generally more expensive for various reasons. Building an E-commerce page, we know we’ll need pages like Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, Shipping, Returns, Customer Service, and so on. Just the sheer amount of pages needed in E-commerce drives up cost along with the complexity of the systems they’re built on for behaviors like Checkout, Shipping Rules, Inventory Rules, and more.
  • The complexity of Design or Needs from Client Side:
    • Simple time = money here. The more complex you want the design or the more involved you want to be in the design process will cause there to be a larger bill due to the time needed to make that happen. Our recommendation is always let the Web Developer come up with the layout/framework and build it out, make minor revisions to suit your tastes (it is your website after all!) and then do testing in the future on items you’re not 100% in love with. Bottom line, web developers like us have extensive experience in successful layouts and formation of pages and that alone can help build your business online.

Let’s dig deeper now that we have your attention!

Custom Coded vs Content Mangement Systems (CMS)

A CMS as we stated above can really drop the cost of your web development project as much as 50%+. Simply put, a CMS is a framework used to put all the words/graphics needed to make your website what you want. Being able to deploy on a CMS means that you’ll have an admin panel to log in and make changes vs having to develop one of those as well or use FTP.

Upfront Cost Savings of a CMS

At the onset, due to many of the features a CMS has, you’ll be saving big dollars. Using Wordpress for a content or non-e-commerce site over custom coding your blog will save time as stated above that the developer won’t need to create each page individually and stitch it together. A CMS like Wordpress allows the developer to deploy global themes and begin adding pages/navigation quickly.

For E-commerce, simply put, go CMS. These days it doesn’t make sense to develop a custom E-commerce site due to security issues alone. Shopify & Magento have the checkout process locked down and offer so many features for their monthly costs that it’d be a waste to go any other way. There are many e-commerce platforms out there. One of them will suit your business model. The 2 we recommend are Shopify & Magento due to their stability, security, documentation, and service. you can’t go wrong with either.

Long-Term Savings of a CMS

Building on a platform like Wordpress or Shopify won’t only save you early on with the development stages due to their complex backend systems, but will save you in the long run as well. Think about every time you need to update content on your website, flyer, etc. Each time you need help getting into your custom built system will cost you a lot of money and/or require expertise in FTP & Coding.

Alternatively, a CMS will allow you to log into an admin panel and make edits in your website as if you were using Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. This allows you, an employee, another developer get in and make changes quickly.

Number of Pages

This one is pretty straightforward, every page you need is time for content, graphics, media, layout, approval, management. We don’t say this to deter you from pages and adding pages isn’t going to make or break the cost of the web development. We say this to make you aware that trimming the web design to not include information about a side project on your website isn’t likely cost effect and/or good for the business’s overall goals.

Complexity of Services

To explain this one, it follows along with the above number of pages but deserves its own explanation because of the fact that this may not result in more pages on your new website. An example of this would be two different law firms. One law firm offers a hyper specific service, such as, Auto Injury, and no other area of the law. Wheras, another may offer family law and all of its aspects, Personal Injury and all of its aspects, and so on. This could result in a 1 page for services vs 20-30 pages for service and/or 1 short page vs 3+ exceptionally long pages. Formatting content within a single page to keep the user engaged is a specialty and when the content continues down and down the page or is spread across the site, developing this simply takes more time.

E-Commerce vs Informational

A quick explanation:

  • E-commerce – you intend to sell your product or service online and will be taking financial information through a checkout process
  • Informational – you intend to deliver information about your product or service and a way for the user to get them from you but not transact through the website.

Anytime you introduce financial information into the equation, costs will go up. Simply put, security measures and all of the legalese that come along with selling online. Don’t let this deter you from going e-commerce with your product. Systems like Shopify make it simple to setup and rather than paying a developer to make all the magic in the background happen securely, Shopify’s monthly cost includes all of this!

Informational sites while less expensive in nature will still depend on the above factors on this post. We’ve worked on more complex non-e-commerce sites in the past that have had a hefty price tag simply because of the other factors of website development cost.

The Complexity of Design or Client Needs (The Customer Effect)

You know where we’re going with this one. You’ve had it in your offices where the customer ends up costing you a lot of time because of their wants or needs. You’ve probably even had it where you’ve wanted to ask the client “Are you the expert or are we?”. We’d imagine that if the client wants to tell you how to repair a leaky pipe, rather than, allow you to do your job, there is a cost associated.

Allowing your web developer to do what they do best can decrease the time it takes to get a live website and reduce your costs that come along with it.

All of this not to say you should just run with whatever the developer wants and too bad for what you had visioned for your business. Input is necessary as your taste should be honored in any development. It’s your business, your brand and your website at the end of the day. Take recommendations from the web developer as a “Hey, we’ve built one or two of these, and if you put a button here vs there it’ll make more sense to the user and get you more business” and not as a must-do.

Hidden costs of web design

When you get into a website project, there are other costs besides the website itself to consider.

  • Web Host
  • Domain Registrations
  • Website Maintenance

Finding a good web host is key in your future scalability. We recommend Alphahosting for our clients as they have amazing plans to choose from and are top notch when it comes to customer support. Other options in the market include 000webhost, which offers free hosting to scalable hosting. Take a look at 000webhost reviews here.

Domain registration is simple, wherever you host, register. It keeps your billing in order and helps keep track of the domain & hosting in 1 place.

Website maintenance, the silent killer. Website maintenance is how many agencies make their money on web designs. They know you don’t have all the answers to your project when the scope is made. So the next step is to build what you asked for and offer suggestions along the way, for a cost. Make sure you talk about costs after launch to make updates like adding pages, minor layout changes, etc. W3 Affinity offers 1 year free updates to the site and we strategize to build a scalable website solution using our years of experience.

Ready to get rolling with a new website?

Now that you have a rough idea of what you’re getting into, it’s time to take the next step. A free consultation with us will help scope out the project and give you a better understanding of your needs online. We help determine what platform makes the most sense, about how deep you should go in your initial run of development and about how much it’ll cost.


Author John Keller

Cultivating proper SEO tactics along with building sites with excellent User Experience since 2003.

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