How to Compare Website Build Costs

How much should a website build cost? There’s no one answer for this—even when project requirements are clearly defined. And it’s not uncommon for organizations to receive extremely wide-ranging estimates for a single project. Why is this?

Let’s cover the main factors that contribute to cost, so you can make the best comparison possible, and find the partnership that works best for you.

First Off: Name Those Requirements!

Websites can be compared to building a house. The options are endless! Before asking for a quote, list as many things about the website that you must have, and even think about getting help from a pro to define scope. This will be a huge help throughout the process.

The Five Big Drivers of Cost

Outside requirements, we see five primary reasons for cost variance. With each of these, the goal isn’t to say what’s better or worse! The goal here is to note a few of the relevant advantages and disadvantages. Let’s unpack.

1. Team Size

Bigger teams often cost more, for obvious reasons. But one size does not fit all. Think about what kind of availability you’re looking for, and who you want to work with. Is it essential to work directly with the designers/developers on a project? Or someone who is dedicated to just your project? While it may cost more, a larger team generally means more combined years of experience and more creative input towards solving problems.

2. Experience

Experience is a huge factor in cost, and is probably the biggest factor when considering freelancers or small teams. It’s hard to say that less experience could be better in the end—but it is very fair to balance this with budget constraints.

3. Region

Where your web partner is located is going to change how much you pay. Our advice is simply to think about the style of communication that will work best with your team, and make sure the firm you’re evaluating can accommodate.

4. Design & Development Approach

How extensive will the design process be? Here’s a place where it’s worth asking a lot of questions. Will the designer be starting from a template and just changing a few variables? Or, will they start from scratch and walk you through a process of user flows, wireframes and mockups?

Secondly will the site be custom-coded, or put together using a “page builder”? Counterintuitively, a custom site often results in easier content updates, while a site built with a page builder can be more difficult to update. We’ll admit it: we almost always recommend custom-coded sites.

5. Special Services

Consider how “full service” you want your web partner to be. Which functions you can cover in-house, and which does it make sense to outsource? Some of the important roles to think about are strategy, content production, content migration, SEO, technical training, and ongoing support. While some of these may not show up in your initial quote, it’s well worth bringing into the conversation at the beginning of a web project.

How To Be Smart

An easy rule is “you get what you pay for” — but it’s always worth asking what it is you’re paying for. And, it’s a good idea to ask to see hourly rates for an even more accurate comparison. We’ve found there is usually a good reason websites cost what they do, so don’t be afraid to ask!

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