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How much will my new website cost?

In my seven-plus years of building websites for clients, it is probably the most asked question- and the most difficult to answer. How much will my new website cost?

When I first started my freelance career, I put together a price list. I attempted to create a menu of sorts, one that listed different line items that clients could choose from for their website. It didn’t take me long to realize that a ‘combo meal’ approach to web design quotes wasn’t going to work. Almost immediately I ran into projects that I couldn’t fit into a box or into any sort of pre-packaged, templated pricing system.

So I regrouped, and since then, I create a new quote for every new client who contacts me. I start with the same basic elements- design, front-end coding, content management system- but it’s a lot more complicated than just picking from a menu. I brainstorm based on input from and conversations with potential clients, as well as their responses on my project questionnaire. So when I’m asked ‘How much will this cost?’ I’m only able to answer accurately after I receive the right information.

While you are researching and interviewing potential website designers and comparing estimates, consider these points:

  1. Size of the project. This is the biggest thing that will effect the bottom line price of a website. A three- or five-page informational website will certainly cost less than a 50 page site with a custom content management system and e-commerce solution. So be prepared to provide a rough estimate of how many pages you’ll need, as well as any special features you’re looking to have on your site- photo galleries, an integrated newsletter, a blog, or an online store.
  2. Who is quoting the project? If you’ve already started your search for a website designer, you may have noticed: there are all types of designers. Freelancers who work part time, one-man (or woman!) design shops, small agencies, large design agencies… and they will all quote the same job differently, sometimes thousands of dollars differently! It can be confusing, and a bit frustrating. But it’s for good reason- larger agencies have a lot more resources that they can provide to you, but you may not receive the personal attention that you’d find with an independent contractor or freelancer. Each project has a ‘best fit’, and the key is finding that. It may not be the least expensive designer or the most- it will be the designer who you feel will work well with your team or your goals.
  3. Timeline. If you need a project done quickly, you will pay more money. That’s just a fact. If your deadline is flexible, then that will usually be reflected in the quotes you receive. This is mostly true with smaller agencies and freelancers as opposed to larger agencies, because larger agencies can absorb more demands on their man-hours. As a freelancer myself, if I’m asked to give priority to a new project, I have to consider the time that is being taken away from other potential jobs and plan accordingly.
  4. Quality of the final product. This is tied into #2 a little bit- the designer or agency who is quoting the job for you will be effecting the final product. It’s not always true that paying more gets you a better website, but in general, you do get what you pay for. The best way to evaluate or imagine how your website will turn out is to take a look at the designer’s recent work. If they don’t have it displayed on their website somewhere, ask to see some examples. If the price you are quoted doesn’t seem to match up with the work you are seeing, you may want to ask more questions, or move onto someone else.

How much does a website cost? Custom websites are just that- customized and unique, so getting a concrete price list up front isn’t always possible. Communicate your needs and requirements to any potential designer, and they should be able to provide you with at least a rough estimate pretty quickly.

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