How much does a website cost?

We get asked this all the time, naturally. Prospective clients call us up, we talk about their business and their website needs, and then comes the million dollar question. The problem is, after all these years, we still can’t give a definitive answer. To help explain why, let’s start with a different question.

How much does a car cost?

You could buy a Y-plate Peugeot 306 for £500 (what I currently drive), or you could walk into a showroom and buy a Mercedes A-class hatchback for around £21,000 (what I would like to drive).

The Peugeot will fulfil all of your basic requirements, but there are huge differences in the in-car experience compared to the Mercedes. Think air conditioning, the ability to trust your handbrake and the odd admiring glance. If all your new car has to do is take you on a few weekend trips and be spacious enough for your weekly shop, you’ll probably buy the Peugeot. If you need to make a certain impression with your wheels, the Mercedes makes sense.

Much like the car, the cost of outsourcing a website build will depend on what you need it to do. Any website will give you an online presence, just like any car will get you from A to B. What differs is the user experience for your clients. How do you want them to feel at the end of their journey?

To help you work out how to approach the procurement of a new website, here is our list of the top four things to think about.

1. How much are you prepared to spend?

You might not know how much a website costs, but you should know how much you would be willing to spend on it. You know best how important your website is to your business. If 90% of your revenue is generated online and competition is fierce on search engines, then it is definitely worth investing money to ensure that your website is at least as easy and attractive to use as your competitors, and that it has a high Google ranking. You may choose to spend less if you generate almost no business online and all you need is a basic presence.

2. What does your website need to do?

One of the quickest ways to add unforeseen costs to a website project is to make changes once the initial specification has already been agreed. So before you make any decisions at all, start by deciding what your website needs to say, how this information should be split up and what functionality it needs. Separate your needs from your wants. Here’s a quick list of some common requirements:

  • Integrated booking system
  • Availability calendar
  • Enquiry form
  • Ecommerce
  • Online payment system
  • Interactive map

3. What skills do you need to complete the project?

With upwards of 80% of people consulting a website before making a purchasing decision, you need to stand out from your competition online. What’s going to do this for your business? A website can be roughly broken down into three parts: the design, the construction and the content. Be honest about where your strengths lie and make sure that you employ a person or agency that has skills that are complementary to your own.

4. What do you get for your money?

When you get to the stage of contacting different companies for quotes, you will probably find the responses are extremely varied, although the variation should be less marked if you are specific about what you need. Differences in price are a reflection of different approaches. A self-employed web developer working from home is likely to be cheaper than an agency employing nine people. What you gain from working with an agency is a pool of skills and experience at every stage; that means a designer doing the design, a web developer writing the code and a copywriter crafting the words. When comparing the headline figures, check what’s included. Some things to look for are hosting fees, ongoing support and SEO.

And that’s it! Whether you need the online equivalent of the £500 or £21,000 car is down to many factors that only you, as the person procuring the new website, can decide on.

As for me, it’s time to upgrade. Maybe not to the Mercedes quite yet, but to something that meets my needs better than the Peugeot does. I'm happy to invest to get what I really want, and at this moment in time that is: cup holders. Sometimes it's the little things.