For any business in any industry, a website is a pillar investment that can make or break your success for years to come.
According to eMarketer, 86.6 percent of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses cite their website as their most important digital marketing tactic. And they’re right—in a NewsCred survey, nearly half (46 percent) of respondents said a website’s design is their number one criterion for evaluating a company’s credibility.
One of the most common questions we get here at Raindrop is, “How much does a website cost?” It’s an inquiry that’s similar to asking, “How much does a car cost?” or, “How much does a home cost?” There’s no one-size-fits-all answer because there are too many variables. However, you can get a feel for a general price range by understanding what you need out of your website and how much work the build-out entails.
THREE TYPES OF WEBSITES
In September 2014, the World Wide Web reached 1 billion websites. Luckily, there aren’t 1 billion kinds of websites—there are really only three:
The simplest websites are usually created using a design template, frequently a “WordPress theme,” as WordPress is the most popular web platform. A theme or template is pre-packaged with all of the features you need to run a standard website, and there’s usually little to no coding required. Generally speaking, an agency should not charge more than $3,500 for this type of website (template, hosting and design included).
A customized template site uses a template as a starting point, but requires a bit more work. If the website you envision has unique features, such as a calendar page or booking system, it can be somewhat limiting to hold to a template. In this case, you’ll want the ability to manipulate certain features of the template, which a designer or developer can do with moderate coding. Depending on the level of customization needed, you can expect to pay between $1,500 to $5,500 for a customized template website. Anything over $6,000 should be a red flag.
Some websites are far too intricate for a template and must be built completely from scratch. These types of sites require extensive project management, research and resources—not to mention advanced coding. A fully custom website will take longer to design and develop, and thus will cost you more. You’d be hard pressed to find a quality custom site for less than $6,000 to $8,000. The range goes up into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars from there, again depending on the degree of difficulty.
The great thing about modern custom websites is that while they are complicated to create, they can be set up for seamless management via a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Mezzanine. This allows you to edit and maintain the content of your website on your own rather than having to call your developer every time you want to change an image or block of text.
WHICH WEBSITE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Deciding which route to go for your website calls for a more involved consultation than we’ll provide in this article. It’s really all about determining what you want your website to do. Whether or not an estimate seems “cheap” or “expensive” is all relative to your past experiences working with web design companies.
A small local coffee shop, for example, can probably get by just fine with what we call a brochure-style website. This is a small site with basic information, light imagery, minimalist design and perhaps a blog—pretty much a live, digital version of what you’d see in a brochure.
Starbucks, on the other hand, requires a much heftier site that allows for their online store, e-gift cards, multimedia, careers database and dozens of other pages about their brand. Just as it wouldn’t be affordable or necessary for the small coffee shop to invest in a robust website, it wouldn’t be feasible for Starbucks to stay within the confines of a template.
YOUR WEBSITE IS AN INVESTMENT
The difference between a winning website and one that lingers in mediocrity is in your overarching investment. A fantastic website with no visitors is like a billboard in the desert. In order to get the most out of your site, you need to budget for activities that drive traffic—SEO, content marketing and pay-per-click advertising to name a few. You also need to have a clear understanding of whether you’re designing from a conversion or brand perspective, meaning some websites are built specifically to sell a product or service while others serve more to reinforce a brand’s message.
If you’re considering launching or redesigning your company’s website, Raindrop Marketing can help you with all of the above and more. We build websites that engage customers, and utilize a proven formula to increase your online presence. Check out a collection of our work here.