This question gets asked a lot! Once a company becomes interested in building a website, one of the first questions on everyone’s mind is, “What’s the cost?” This is followed quickly by, “Why does it cost so much?”
When you know very little about an industry, such as website design, it’s difficult to discern the good from the bad. In fact, it’s more likely that you aren’t really sure what a good or bad website design is. And if you don’t know what a good website design is, you most certainly won’t know how much a good website design should cost.
That’s the reason we wrote this blog.
Behind the Blog
Over the years we’ve realized that most companies are confused or misinformed when it comes to website design cost, which is why we’ve made it a point to be very up front about our costs.
Not everyone agrees with our philosophy to include price on our website where anyone can access it, but we stand firm. Artonic made sure to include detailed cost pages on our website to answer the most-asked question we receive, because you want to know the answer – and you deserve to.
Plus, we don’t have anything to hide.
We understand that prices and a quick explanation offered on our site are just a starting point, and more detail is usually needed. This blog delivers additional details and offers a professional’s viewpoint on the reason why website designs cost so much.
Website Cost Breakdown
There are several aspects that influence website design cost. Two defining aspects include what type of website design you want (Free, WordPress, Custom, E-Commerce) and who you hire to create it (No one, Freelancer, Outsourced Contractor, Agency).
Other aspects that influence price include a myriad of things, like size, goals, functionality, purpose, brand image… and on and on.
We’re not going to go that deep today! Instead, to make it a little easier to understand, we’ve defined 4 Tiers that breakdown website costs (and quality).
(If you’re in the first 2 Tiers, you probably aren’t asking questions about cost, because the cost in those Tiers is so little. And you probably stopped caring about costs of any kind a long time ago if you’re a member of Tier 4…. but that’s beside the point!)
Check out the brief descriptions of the 4 Tiers of Websites below:
Tier 1 | Basic | $
If you’re interested in a very basic, inexpensive website, there are plenty of options for you. Simply open Google, type “free website” into the search field, hit the ENTER key, and you’re set!
For little or no money, you can build a website through a number of platforms like WordPress, HostGator, Weebly, or Wix. These websites are extremely simple to use and have very little design elements. The design is created when you utilize a template (a template is a generic layout used indiscriminately by anyone).
Websites on this level are for hobbyists, amateurs, or very small local businesses. These websites can be created over the weekend for little or no investment.
Tier 2 | Mid-Range | $$
The next level of website is mid-range and usually built on a platform (think WordPress or Joomla). Design is created with templates; development utilizes already existing code. Some customization is available, but don’t expect polish or fine details. (Tip: If you have a great designer and do not build on a platform, this can be a very valuable, low-cost investment.)
Many times these websites are built by freelancers or outsourced contractors to save money. These websites cost under $10,000 and are used for small to mid- size businesses.
Is this your Tier? We recommend: Hoyden Creative Group in Adrian, MI!
Tier 3 | Custom | $$$
These websites are designed and built for one client with a specific purpose, goal, and conversion in mind. The content, design, and code is completely unique and customized.
This type of website is built by a team of experts who conduct extensive planning to ensure the website design appeals to visitors and increases conversions.
This type of website costs significantly more than a template design, and is standard for large companies or brands. Tier 3 websites are the type of web design we focus on in this article.
The cost for a custom website ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 or even several hundred thousand dollars. (Why they cost so much is covered in the next section.)
Tier 4 | The Sky | $$$$
This type of website is reserved for monster brands like Coca-Cola or Obama Care. These websites can cost millions of dollars or more (the Obama Care website exceeded 2 billion and is still climbing, according to BloombergBusiness).
You know if you’re in this category or not.
Tier 3: Custom Website Design Cost
A custom website is completely unique, and a lot of work goes into making look beautiful and function seamlessly.
If you’re curious as to why a custom website has a large price tag, here’s why:
1 – Your Website Design & Development Team
Digital agencies employ professionals that are highly educated in their chosen fields. In addition, these professionals have experience: experience in their specialties, experience developing a website, and experience working together as a team. This creates, ideally, a smoother, more efficient process throughout the project. It also ensures that your website is built with influences from many different fields, like SEO and UX.
A design agency’s team likely includes a project manager, graphic designer, SEO strategist or content specialist, and a developer. Artonic’s team includes all these experts, plus a UI/UX designer, marketing team, and account strategists to help plan and define goals.
A strong team knows how to work together so that each member’s work is supported by the others. This is vitally important when your design agency employs multiple experts in varying fields.
2 – Your Custom Web Design
The most visible reason for the cost of a website is the custom design itself. The reason this costs so much is that a custom design by a professional graphic designer is very valuable, and there are a limited number of people who fall into this category (your neighbor’s kid doesn’t count).
Not only is a custom design completely unique and original, it also communicates a company’s brand identity, engages visitors, and increases conversions.
A custom website is designed by a professional graphic artist with years of training and experience. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find a designer who loves what she does, constantly educates herself, and pushes the boundaries of what’s expected. (A word of warning: to get the most out of your design, let the designer have the final say on all things aesthetic. End of story.)
The guidance and advice this type of professional can offer is invaluable. You would do well to engage your designer in a discussion about your goals, ideas, and vision for the website. Always ask questions, and be open to new ideas you didn’t consider. A professional designer will have a plethora of tactics to capture visitors’ attention, move them through the website, and convert them into a lead or sale while always staying true to your brand message.
3 – Planning & Prep
Another reason a website design costs so much is because of the planning and preparation that goes on behind the scenes.
Before a web design is created, the structure, organization, and navigation of that website must be determined through a process called Information Architecture (IA).
IA ensures that a website’s structure is created around a client’s goals and developed for the client’s target audience. That means that a client must have a defined brand, target audience, and goals before the website is designed.
IA requires industry knowledge and research, which takes time. It also takes talent and skill to connect a client’s goals to the actions of his target audience online. Many times, a website structure is determined with input from various experts, such as graphic designers, ui/ux experts, and digital marketing strategists.
The next step of the plan is to create a blueprint of your website, also called a wireframe or prototype. A prototype allows your design agency to finalize layout and content and test website functionality before the design is created. This allows for creativity, flexibility, and ultimately, creates a highly efficient process.
4 – Custom Content Made to Convert
Custom content includes text, images, videos, even podcasts – anything your visitors (read: potential clients) can consume.
Many companies find themselves in possession of some content, maybe from an existing website or company brochures, however, it’s usually outdated and stale. In most cases we see, content isn’t researched, optimized, or written for the company’s target audience, either.
Content creation is a cost that is well worth the investment; custom content attracts the right types of visitors, engages them onsite, and encourages them to convert. Content is the heart of your website; its value cannot be overstated.
Content development includes the exploration and definition of target audience personas, competitor research, optimization for search engines, and optimization for conversions.
Custom content is a sign of a professional website design, and reaps value long-term.
What’s a Website Worth to Your Company?
There are a lot of things that determine a website’s cost. We’ve discussed some of the major aspects, like design and expertise, but there are many more. The more you understand about these elements, the better able you are to determine their value, and ultimately, the value of your website design.
Knowing the value of your web design helps you determine how much to invest and what to expect. Once you decide to move forward with a new website, you’ll have a better idea of what a website design cost includes, and you’ll be prepared and ready to make a decision.