What does it cost to design a website?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked. It doesn't help that there is such a wide range of pricing for a website between the different web design agencies. We could simply answer this question by directing you to our web design plans page, but this wouldn't help you understand why we charge what we do and why other agencies charge a different amount. So read on to get a better idea of what you should expect to pay for a website design.

Why do website design costs vary so much?

The cost of designing the same website varies so much for 2 main reasons:

  • The Web Designer doing the work
  • The website platform the website is being built on

The web designer

Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. There is a wide range of skills between web designers and this is before you take into account their experience and how they operate. Let's rank the different types of web designers:

  1. The Friend of a Friend (or someone who does web design as a hobby)
    Considering a website is so important to your business, why would you hire a web designer that does it as a hobby. Sure it's cheap, but how long will it take to get built (if it's ever finished) and has it been built to industry best practice. The price for this type of website design is generally between $100-$500, but the cost can end up being a lot more through lost business and frustration.
  2. The Freelancer
    This is the web designer who decided that they didn't want to work for anyone else and started designing websites from home. They have no office or staffing overheads, so can offer website design at a lower cost. However, you need to be aware that they may not be up to date with industry trends as they are too busy designing websites and they also may not be around in a year or two when you need to get changes made on your website or get a redesign. You should expect a website design around $500 to $1,500.
  3. The Web Design Agency
    The web design agency hires a team of web designers and developers to design and build websites. Having a team environment means they can learn from each other and have a wider range of skills between them all. Agencies should also have more history compared to a Freelancer and have more chance of being around in the future when you need them again. They also have higher overheads due to needing an office and the various staffing costs on top of wages. You should expect a website design to cost anywhere between $1,500 and $15,000 plus; depending on the platform they use and their pricing model.

Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention the option of designing your own website. There are plenty of web design platforms out there that have been built to allow the average person to design their own website. Platforms such as Wix, Weebly and SquareSpace are aimed primarily at self built websites and include drag and drop functionality and the ability to design a website without needing to know any code. The cost of doing this is whatever the platform charges you for hosting. However, you also need to include the cost of your time, frustration and most likey a website at the end that doesn't really do much for your business.

The web design platform

So now we understand how the different types of web designers have an impact on the cost of your website design, what about the platform. Below are the main types of web platforms:

  • The "Build Your Own" platform
    As discussed above, there are web design platforms that have been built so anyone can build a website without needing to know code. Some Freelancers and Web Design Agencies have decided to use these platforms so they don't need a high level of web design skill. For this reason, you really shouldn't expect to pay more than $500 for one of these websites. After all, they are just doing what you could do yourself, just saving you time.
  • Templated Website Platforms
    These are platforms where the web designer starts with a design template and then tweaks it to suit your needs. The most common platform of this type is Wordpress. Whilst there are web design agencies that build websites from scratch with Wordpress, the vast majority use templates. Now there is nothing wrong with a templated website, as long as it includes all the functionality you need and doesn't have excessive code that can slow the website down. You should expect to pay between $500 and $15,000 for these type of websites.
  • Custom Web Design Platforms
    With these platforms the web designer builds the website from scratch. They discuss exactly what functionality you need and any design elements that are important to you and then build the website to suit. For a custom designed website you should expect to pay around $2,000 to $15,000 plus.

The web design pricing model

The last reason for the variance in website design prices is a lot harder to explain. Web design agencies (like all businesses) price their website packages depending on how much they want to make from them. Whilst some industries have a narrow range that they can price their products so that people will still buy them, the web design industry has a wide range to choose from. The main reason for this is the general confusion around what is involved in a website design. Like most service industries, web design agencies are very good at justifying their prices with a mix of features and benefits that in most cases you don't understand.

In other words, you can get exactly the same website, with the same functionality, built on the same platform and pay thousands more for it.

So don't get bamboozled by all the jargon and end up paying too much for the same website. Always ask around to get a comparison.

What about eCommerce Websites and special functionality?

The information above is aimed at a standard business website. If you are after an eCommerce website (online store) or need special functionality (eg. suburb search, members area etc), this is a whole other article. These types of website really need to be scoped out to ensure the web designer knows exactly how much work will be involved. For instance, an eCommerce store with only 2 catalogues with 20 products is a lot quicker to build than one with 20 catalogues with hundreds of products.

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