How much does a website cost? We are asked that all the time. The problem is there is no simple answer. There are many variables to price and it is important to know these variables to make the right decision for your company's website project.
First, a web designer or a web design firm. There are many individuals that are capable of producing the files needed to create a website. Problem is how capable are they. Today's Internet technologies are very complex and their are many issues to know, design standards, usability, technical choices, programming languages, database design, web services, social networking, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, server administration and maintenance and much, much more. It is difficult for one person to have expertise in all of these areas. Additionally, an individual can easily get bogged down if they take on too many website projects at one time. A professional firm has resources to move around to keep your project on a timeline. This all said, an individual working from their home could be less expensive than a professional firm with a team of specialists. It is important to consider these issues together.
Second, what is the business model of the web designer or web design firm you are considering. Generally there are three business models, a website builder application such as you will find on GoDaddy.com, a flat rate price for a template website or, an hourly rate for a customized website. A website builder is simply an application that resides on a website server, whereby you choose a rudimentary generic template and access the content area on the page with a text editor. Typically, these website builder applications charge a fixed monthly rate. You can add additional features for an increase in the fixed monthly rate. This is a very inexpensive way to "just get a website online". Their shortcomings are that they look very generic, are not very flexible, are not specific to your industry, very poor performing in search engines, you do not have assistance in how to write or present your concepts on the website, it is not transferrable, your are limited to the functionality offered by the website builder application.
Many web designers or website design firms will offer a flat rate to develop a website for you. This rate is usually derived from the website designers experience and it quoted in a a broad manner to fit the designers past experience or expertise. For instance, you want a blog on your website, there are many ways to design a blog and their are even more ways to present the blog to your website visitors. To control costs or the time involved in delivering this website functionality to you a web designer that is using a flat rate price will provide a set of pages and programming code that that the web designer is familiar with or may have already produced. If the blog does not perform the way you want or is displayed as you wish, too bad. A "blog" was delivered and you get "that" blog for the price that was quoted. This is true with other features, calendars, membership lists, newsletters, email blasts, etc. Many inexperienced web designers do not have programming skills and will provide a flat rate price because they utilize "off-the-shelf" solutions to your feature / functionality requests. Most of the time they lack the programming skills to write a customized solution or to even make code changes necessary to effect the exact changes you want. Or, the "off-the-shelf" solution does not allow for code changes.
Most reputable, experienced and professional web design firms provide website design and website programming and consulting services at an hourly rate. These rates can vary widely but, it is usually the fairest way to provide web design services. Two things are critical when hiring a web design firm under this business model – be specific as you can about the features and functionality you want on your website and get an estimate of time / cost up front on that specific features / functionality list before beginning your website project. It is also very telling if your web designer firm does not provide some room in the budget for contingencies. There will always need to be some changes or some additions. It is important that the web designer puts some padding on the estimate.
It is impossible to provide a price with any confidence when you tell the designer "I just want a simple website. Nothing fancy.", etc. Do you want a calendar? Blog? Newsletter? eCommerce? Membership directory? All of this functionality takes additional time to program into your web design. The design, the look and feel, of your website is contingent on these features – how to display them, where to display, etc. It is easy for costs to get out of hand once the project starts if you do not focus on completing your project quickly. If you run hot and cold on the process of your designing and programming your website it will cause the firm hired to have to start and stop. This is a very inefficient use of their time as they have to re-educate themselves on the project each time. It is also important that you communicate well with the web design team so they are not guessing at layout positions, minor features, and styling issues. It just costs them time and you money if they have to re-do things.
Finally, there are some additional costs after the website design and programming phase – hosting of the website, hosting of email services, domain registration, search engine marketing. There can be additional costs depending on the details of your website (i.e. electronic gateway fees in the case of processing credit cards online, etc.) but, these are the primary charges you can expect on a monthly, quarterly, annual basis for just about any website. Web hosting / email hosting fees typically run about $10/month to $100/month, $200/month or more. Domain registration typically run $9 or $10 per year to as high as $35/year. Search engine marketing such as Google Adwords can be budgeted but, is difficult to predict because some industries are more competitive than others. The reason for this is because you bid for the position of your ads. Your budget could do the job as low as $100/month or may be as high as $1,000/month, $1,500/month or, more per month.
By the way, if you are getting bids from several web designers / web design firms, be sure you are comparing apples and apples before making your selection. It can be difficult to be sure what one designer is proposing matches up to the other designer's deliverables. If you have any question or are unsure about a comparison, call the designers and ask for clarification. They will be happy to discuss it with you. We recently had a client that thought they were making a fair comparison. They didn't. After awarding the website design project to a web designer working out of his house, they learned not everything was covered in the chosen estimate. The project finished over budget and it was completed late causing difficulties with sponsors and advertisers. The lowest price / cost estimate is not always the best value.
So, by now your are saying, "Great Kevin, HOW MUCH DOES A WEBSITE COST!" eMUNICATIONS charges an hourly rate. We will sit down with you at no charge to learn what your goals are, what your feature/function desires are, make suggestions and we will come to a pretty good understanding of where we are headed. eMUNICATIONS will then provide you a written estimate of the time and costs to build a customized website that will deliver the professional appearance, features, functionality and results you expect from your website.
eMUNICATIONS uses a programming environment called Drupal. We are experts in Drupal and have done many websites utilizing this terrific programming environment. A well respected (and big) Drupal training firm named Lullabot did a pricing survey among Drupal website design firms. You will be happy to know, eMUNICATIONS is on the low end of these scales. Not because we are less capable but, because we are extremely efficient and specialized.
So sorry, as any reputable website design firm will tell you, to find out "HOW MUCH DOES A WEBSITE COST", you'll have to contact us and tell us what your goals of your website are.