Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by James Castro
Website Design Pricing?
Website prices fall into two broad categories: discount websites, and professional websites.
Professional websites range in price from $2,000 to $20,000, depending on the research, planning, design, content, and the complexity of the features. Discount websites are typically billed monthly with a cost as low as $5 per month.
There are many hidden costs when choosing a discount website. Ongoing fees for hosting, custom domain names, number of pages, or advanced tools like SEO and e-Commerce. There are also costs for professional websites, typically based on server resource requirements and upkeep.
For a small business looking for a quality website that is not overly complicated expect a range of costs between $4000-$7000. This is the cost to own the finished website, which gives you the ability to host it where you feel most comfortable.
Let’s look at the differences between discount website prices and professional website design prices so you and educate yourself and be better prepared when discussing your next website project.
Discount Website Design Prices (WaaS)
All discount website providers are promising amazing results, perfect website design, SEO optimization, mobile responsiveness, and pretty much anything and everything they think you – who is presumably looking into fair and affordable web design pricing – would like to hear and have in your new website project.
These companies promise free or cheap websites yet manage to have millions of dollars for advertising and promotion. So if it’s free, where does that money come from?
The truth is, discount sites are packed full of upsells and cross-sells, and advertisements, and combined with systematic implementation, outsourced labor, DIY site builders, AI, and a few magic tricks, all of that earns them a pretty penny.
So what seemed cheap upfront, is actually expensive since it costs you more than initially presented, and it isn’t going to perform like a real professional website, so it costs in conversions and sales.
In reality, these discount website providers are putting all their energy into lowering the bar so far that they’re at break-even for the masses, and then make bank on the upsells when the free or cheap solution fails to provide the level of quality and service the customer anticipated.
A great strategy for the discount website company, we tip our hats to the hustle, but in the end, it’s a selfish act and doesn’t benefit the customer.
Discount web design companies typically start with a theme, rush through some content, or make the customer provide it, drop in stock media and whatever images or videos you have kicking around, slap on a contact form, and send it out the door with some pretty good margins.
This approach is often outsourced and requires very little coding or design skill. The providers of discount websites are basically selling cheap template sites or handing off a DIY website builder for customers to do the work.
And that’s fine for your kids’ room or private home, but if you need to show your stuff to the world wide web, it’s probably better to get an artist involved.
Even more Issues with discount website pricing
The issues become more apparent when site speed and optimization are a factor, but the themes are full of code-bloat, and no consideration was given to the user experience, conversions, or performance.
Code-bloat is when a site is designed to do more than it’s needed so it fits more customers’ needs. It’s the multi-tool of website design. It also happens when coders just repurpose a single theme, modify it to be a “new” theme, and don’t take out the little bits and pieces from previous work.
Essentially, that means slower sites and poorer results. It means a bad user experience and a limited shelf-life for the site.
Security can be compromised on discount sites too because often they use old code or free plugins which are not supported or outdated and buggy. They simply want to make margins on your account, so that’s the priority. If the site goes down it’s an upsell opportunity and if you look at the legal stuff, they’re covered if anything bad happens to you or your business.
Content optimization on discount websites
Content isn’t strategically placed, and it is doubtful that the images have much meaning or impact to or for the brand. Is the “Call to Action” is as basic as the broken chatbot in the corner which isn’t really connecting to anyone? It’s not a VIP experience for your customers.
Sure, it looks legit in many cases, but these sites often feel lifeless, dare we say soulless.
When you write content, you need to think about the audience, their experience, their pain. When you design a website it’s the same thing. What do they want to do? What do they expect, and how can you break the mold and get them to see your offer in a new way? It’s about waking up the user and giving them a valuable resource and experience that solves problems.
So, what you pay for your website really has a lot to do with what you’re willing to invest in your clients’ and customers’ experience with your brand. It’s about being considerate of all the factors, not just the website price but the COST it has to your business.
Is there a place for Discount websites? YES! But it’s not a good solution for business websites if you are trying to generate leads and give the best user experience.
NOTE: For some, there are no issues with discount sites of this type… if you don’t need to generate leads or sales online for instance, then you don’t need an asset. Maybe the sites load eventually, and shows contact information and can host blogs, and family photos, or whatever you like, and that’s all you need.
By all means, work the system if you can. But it’s like working a CC company for points. Some succeed while many fail. The deck is stacked on discount websites, so be warned.
Professional Website Design Prices
For companies like ours who focus on strategy, branding, data-driven results, user experience, professional copywriting, conversion-centric design, and actually creating an asset for our clients, web design pricing isn’t a simple quote or a low monthly fee.
Professional Website Design Prices based on Features
Perhaps you need e-commerce, or a custom user dashboard, or a learning management system? Perhaps you have multiple locations and want an interactive map or a multisite that can give them a location-specific experience?.
Some websites need heatmaps and conversion tracking, some websites need advanced form fields with conditional logic. Still, other websites require pop-up forms and videos. Maybe a chat area or integrated reviews and mark-up. What your site needs depends on what is expected in your industry and what you can do to raise the bar and stand out.
Website features cost more money. There’s no simple way to say that.
Now, it doesn’t mean that all features need to be hand-coded by the greatest full-stack developers we have here in the USA (sorry Marc and Steven – we love our Full Stack Devs), but it’s not always needed.
WordPress is an amazing solution because many advanced features can be added via plugins and through other people’s trial and error you can get access to some great stuff for a lot less than the cost of custom coding.
But each time you add something your site gets bigger. It can become too much. It must be controlled and you need to weigh your options.
Sometimes a plugin will just be killer and you can go on your way, just paying for implementation of the plugin. Other times it might make sense to do something custom after you look at the actual problem you’re trying to solve.
The thing about professional website design fees is that normally this includes time for defining the systems and tech needed to support your customers.
How content affects website design prices
Writing can be done by AI. There is software for that. It’s not good. It won’t be for a long time – ignore the hype and get a real writer who understands your industry.
That, combined with your brand strategist and competitive research will give you insight into what to write about, how those words will impact online visibility, and how that can change your chances of being found, being appreciated, and being successful.
It’s not about saving money – it’s about investing wisely at the right time for your business.
Writing isn’t the only type of content on your website either. Think about pictures and how they can impact the experience. What about videos and sharing your core story?
When people type in Website Design Pricing, they often have a picture of a site in mind they want to create or recreate – but how much of that site experience is code, and how much of that site experience is content?
Think about it… Are the images and copy and videos and graphics all custom? The price goes up if so, but often so does the experience and the perceived value of the company or brand.
You need to consider content, and it’s much better to work with an agency BEFORE the website is built if you don’t have your content game in order. Especially if you care about SEO.
So do you have your website content plan in good working order?
Are you ready to start writing, and creating content for your new website (which in turn will save you money on your website build)?
To find the answer to this question, we ask you this:
If you haven’t, and if that’s all news to you – work with a small agency like ours or get busy.
You can’t build a strategic digital asset without a strategy, and you can’t make a professional website at any cost without knowing who you are building for and why. Yes, you know your product but a professional website design company can go a mile up, look at the big picture, and map out a course of action that will create the biggest impact for your brand.
What you’re actually paying for with professional website design
- Brand Strategy: Understanding your business as it relates to your customers, competitors, and the market. Defining your plan of attack.
- Architecture: Tech stack, UX/UI, story, structure, and content all needs to be mapped out.
- Design: Turning wireframes and chicken scratch into artwork that showcases and applies all of the above into a great experience.
- Coding: Development of everything into something that functions and is presentable online.
- Optimization: Adding content and copy and metas and schema etc to the site to get it functional
- Launch and Support: Your site can’t perform well on a discount hosting account. You need good servers, CDN’s, security, backups, and consistent updates and improvements on code, plugins, and content to keep your site alive and healthy.
These things cost money. How much really depends on what you need. What you need is based on your competitors and your market. How you approach that challenge without going broke is based on your strategy. Just think about it.
When to Avoid Cheap Ass WaaS Websites (at any price)
Some cheap-ass website companies offer DIY builders at break-even rates so they can upsell you everything under the sun (looking at you Wix, Weebly, CheapAssWeb [.site], Web[.com] et al), while doing little to no work on your account. There’s a time and place for this, but here’s a final note on when you should avoid what some call the “cheap ass websites” you can find from time to time.
- Don’t jump into something cheap when you’re charging a premium for your services.
- If you have a market that can ask premium rates, then your competitors do too. Don’t sell yourself short with a cheap ass website – that’ll just kick you out of the game.
- Don’t do it if you have a real and established marketing and advertising budget.
- If you’re sending paid ads to your site hopefully it’s to a custom landing page with things like heapmaps and a/b testing in place so you can see what works and what doesn’t. If you are a professional just don’t do that to yourself and go for the worst possible solution to save a few bucks up front. There’s frugal, and then there’s dumb.
- Don’t do it if you’re planning on scaling your business or selling your business.
- A website is an asset, so it should be nurtured along with other assets so that if you exit your business or scale your business, that asset can support you along the way. Nobody believes you when they read “proudly made by wix”. What that translates to is that you didn’t want to invest in your business, so why would anyone else?
When a Discount Website might be right, for you:
- If you have no visitors to your current website, then you might need to factor that into your ROI.
- Spending $40k on a website while not doing anything to promote it? Bad idea friends.* That’s a lot like buying a Ferrari and not budgeting for fuel costs (or speeding tickets).
- Instead of going big on the site, consider a balanced approach to get some leads in first.
*unless that $40k was primarily highly optimized blog posts for better SERP and conversions ie if you’re blogging for google.
A great microsite with a/b testing and an advertising budget would get you further down the road.
What’s the lifetime value of a customer? If your customer spends $2.00 once, so be it. You just need lots of them. But if you don’t have lots of them it’ll be a loss until you get that traffic up. Consider a discount site in that case.
How much can you expect to earn from a customer?
Are you selling a high-ticket item to a select few, or something cheap to everyone?
In other words – is there a path to regain your investment and when would you expect to break even?
How aggressive do you intend to be with your marketing and growth?
Here’s another key point when trying to understand Web Design Pricing:
If you don’t have a plan on how you’re going to reach your customers and make a profit then don’t drop a significant amount of money on a website.
Final Verdict on Website Development Cost: What is Your Budget?
Seriously – you can’t play poker with a professional website design company and expect that you’re going to save money by lying about your budget. Be honest if you have a budget tell them what it is, and compare deliverables.
We get this question all the time:
“I need a new website for my business, but we just don’t have it in the budget. What can we do?”
My answer: Take the time right now to set a budget. Be conservative, but remember that this could be the most important asset for your business. You can’t skimp out on something that significantly impacts your business.
And remember you’re not going to save anything by not sharing your budget, but you’ll lose time.
What a professional website design company does when they have your budget is pretty amazing… they help you allocate your budget to various elements of the planning, design, and development stages of your project.
Just think about it like anything else you invest in. A home perhaps. Would you ever approach a realtor and say, “I need a house, what can you do for me? By the way, I’m talking to other realtors so whoever gives me the cheapest house will earn my business.”
Just engage in a conversation around a realistic budget. See what can be accomplished within your budget, and talk to more than one person. That’s going to give you the best results because you’ll most likely be able to weed out who’s trying to maximize their profits on your website build, and who’s trying to provide the most value for you within your allocated resources.
So that’s it. If you need help planning your next website budget get in touch with us. Either way, I hope this article was useful.