“How much would it cost to build a website for my company?” It’s a question I’m asked many, many times every year. The short answer is – anywhere between $5,000 to upwards of $100k or beyond. The long answer is, well there are a lot of answers.
The difference in price comes down generally to five main things:
- how developed is your brand
- what functionality is required
- what platform it sits on
- whether it’s templated or not
- what the experience level of the individual or company creating it for you
Where does your brand stand? If you’ve already spent the time to build your brand story, persona and customer personas, than chances are you’ve fleshed out your key messages, value proposition, and hopefully a strong visual identity. You know who you are, what you do, who you’re doing it for, and most importantly, WHY you do it.
If the above does not describe where you, your company and brand are at, you’ll be trying to patch together your brand story and visual identity during your website development process. This is going to cost you both time and money and, since you have approximately 2 seconds to make a good impression and keep your visitors on your website, it will cost you customers if done improperly.
What functions your website is capable of carrying out will be the primary determiner of the final price and what platform it is built on.
Knowing the nature of your business and the purpose of your website will help dictate the functionality your site needs. Does a simple 1 to 3 page website cut it, just so that people know you’re a real company? Maybe you’ll constantly be adding new dynamic content? Are you selling products or driving event registrations? Are visitors required to register and/or sign-in to access or provide information? All of these requirements will greatly effect not just how much it will cost to design and setup your website, but also your ongoing costs to maintain and keep it secure.
A few examples of functionality that might bump up the investment cost:
- using IP geolocation to show different content depending on which country your website visitor is from
- an interactive graphic element
- an online calculator
- anything that gathers, shares, or uses live streaming data
- integration with a CRM or third-party app
- contest or sweepstakes entries
Creating a website should be a continual process, so don’t worry about cramming all the functionality in at once. Focus on the essentials first (Minimal Viable Product) and then add more functionality as you go. Doing this will spread your costs out over time, making sure each new addition works the way it should before trying something new.
It is very important to be aware that you have to determine what functionality you actually need and want from the start so you can choose the right platform to build it on from the get-go. Switching platforms later will probably cost you the same as a whole new website.
What website platform will be based on the required functionality and the limitations your website will have. It will also considerably affect your costs. There is a multitude of different website platforms out there, to many to list, but below are a few of the most popular.
Agility CMS is a rare content management system on speed. If you can think up the functionality, it can probably be built in by a developer, or a solution already exists. It’s comes with a price, as all quality products do, but I’m a huge fan of their approach and Enterprise powered cloud platform.
October is an example of an open-source CMS. An open-source platform is highly customizable because developers and developer communities are constantly building and sharing new plug-ins. They offer a lot of freedom and flexibility when it comes to adding functionality, but they are not cheap either (even though the core files are free).
Other platforms include Drupal, Sharepoint, and Smarty, but they’re not the most popular for a reason.
A templated website using WordPress, Wix, or SquareSpace, can be a very quick and cost effective way to get a website up and running. Their theory, anyone can create a website, and these content management systems (CMS) do try to make it relatively easy. They use a ‘what you see is what you get’ or ‘WYSIWYG’ content editor that allows you to make changes visually instead of with HTML. There are a large number of existing pre-built templates to choose from and all three sites offer a selection of monthly subscriptions, which include hosting and email services.
If you have a small to no budget, then creating your own site with a pre-built template can be the way to go. Just be forewarned that:
- You will most likely still need to pay for help with the initial set up (especially if you’re using WordPress).
- A designer spent a lot of time to make the template look spectacular. If you’re design challenged (and most of us are), you’ll find it very difficult to make your site look good.
- Only a professional can provide an optimized site layout that’s core focus is a clearly defined path to guide your customers’ through their buyers’ journey, and an infinitely better user experience. Your site will miss out on it’s sales impact.
- Templated sites, by their nature, are limited in their functionality and level of customization, unless you are talented at coding.
Experience, the greatest teacher. It is the summation of all the lessons you’ve learned from your mistakes and successes. Nothing beats this teacher. You shouldn’t be surprised that the more experienced and specialized the person or organisation creating your website is, the better your website will be.
Creating a website that stands out is hard work, but an experienced professional will make it feel easy. Just like all products, you get what you pay for. What you don’t pay for in money, you’ll end up paying for in time – your time – or lost customers – or substandard quality.
A website created by a professional agency will cost you no less than $12k – even if the agency themselves are starting from a based template. That’s because you’re not just paying for a pretty site, you’re paying for well thought-out UX that takes your buyer personas and buyers’ journey into account.
Please note, I haven’t included hosting or subscriptions costs in this article. The cost of a website never includes content. Content writing is always extra … I’ll save that for a different article.
We’re based in Canada, all prices mentions here are in CAD