A business owner asked a few web design agencies to submit a proposal on his company website. Using the same “user requirements” that showed the functions, color and purpose of the website. A few days later the web developers came back with their estimates.
The first one priced the project at $5,000 and that was an offer with no administration privileges. The second priced it at $2,800 with all domain and hosting covered for a full year. Another one priced it at $499 only. The last one priced the project at $13,000.
If you are waiting for the punch line…well, there isn’t one. Why? Because now its the client who must figure out why someone charges $500 and the other $13,000. He must decide the fate of his business based on one factor given to him, pricing.
In order to fully embrace the whole scope of web pricing, one must understand the environment at hand. Simply put, where competition is at a high rate, then prices will be relatively lower. On the other hand, it does not guarantee the quality of the project. That been said, external factors may be a dangerous measuring rod to use at this very particular moment.
So, what factors can you be sure to use in order to be sure of who to choose regardless of the price? Because, I’ll be honest, you can have a “free” website with all the functions you dreamed and make hundreds of dollars. While at a different time, you can have a website that costs a fortune, and feel embarrassed to show it to your grandmother. This can happen in a space of one lifetime; true story.
I always ask my “partners” before embarking on their projects one crucial question. The question is the steering wheel for any hope of ever having a website that is close to the desired outcome. It is something that is mostly overlooked, and yet very important. It is usually the very first thing I utter to my prospective partner before they have a chance to blink.
“What do you want?”
It is as simple as that. What do you want your new website to do? Who do you want to visit it? What are your expectations? How much interactions do you want? I have learned that many people have not put much thought into this. They just follow the pack that websites cost a certain amount and that is what they fix their minds on, regardless of what you have to deliver. In most cases, once this question is answered well and thoroughly, then half the job is done. It is safe to say that both parties will be able to determine whether the project costs a few dollars or more.
So, knowing what you want is very crucial as the website owner. The next most important factor to note is the quality of the designer’s work. Do they have something to show for the figures they are throwing around? Have they created similar projects? Is their work of high quality? Do they have a collection of portfolio pieces you can make judgment on? I mean, they need to have a level of trust where you can be confident that once you pay them, then you should at least expect more or less from what you have seen.
The third, and probably most important factor is to determine whether a website is what you need at the moment. Owning a car wash and creating a website might not be such a good idea if you already have customers way beyond your ability to handle them. Having a restaurant with only 7 customers should prompt you to think about creating an online presence. A website should be a tool that helps you reach a particular goal, and it should not be a burden.
I am sure from these three factors, you can now have confidence to determine how much a website should cost. However, I have not touched on the fixed costs from the developer’s point of view like domain registration, web hosting, labor costs (time and skill deployment) among other things. After all, this is a human being with bills to pay, food to eat, a family to take care of and personal goals to achieve.
So how much does a small website cost? I really do not have a straight answer to that question. I just don’t know. However, the answer to that is entirely relative to the situation at hand and the involved parties.