The Small-Business Website Cost Conundrum

Written by | Creative Services, Websites

Building a website isn’t like buying a printer. Few programmers or designers will give you a fixed cost because so many factors come into play – making planning and budgeting a challenge for most integrated marketers.

Even Ilya Pozin, a Forbes.com contributing writer with 13 years’ experience in the web industry, waffles. “To this day, I still cannot answer that question,” she confesses.

According to Forbes’ “How Much Does a Website Cost?,” here’s why it’s so impossible to answer:

  • Web development and design is a service, not a product. It takes a creative and technical team and the knowledge of how to work with them. (Here’s a cheat sheet.)
  • Definitions of success vary. It boils down to what you want to accomplish with your site, not the ingredients or how it’s made.
  • The growing web industry has few standards yet plenty of platforms, systems and languages are available.

Still, with budget-planning season coming up for 2016, you’ll want to know how much money to forecast.

Writing for the FusionFarm blog, Joe Matar offers his opinion as well as recommendations about web development components to include your integrated marketing strategy:

  • Planning and project management to keep your site on deadline and within budget: $2,000-$3,000
  • Design that stands out from the competition: $3,000-$5,000 (For some starter ideas, read our take on inspired design.)
  • Development of overview and detail pages, possibly integrating with other systems: $6,000-$8,000
  • Content costs depend on what you might already have written, but you need also to factor in graphics elements: $200-$300 per page for copywriting (And you’ll need a strategy to keep copywriters engaged, like the approach we suggested in “The Care and Feeding of Content Producers.”)
  • Search-engine optimization needs to be focused on while planning and building your project, not after: $1,500-$3,000, excluding ongoing SEO
  • Testing by three-to-five people that includes browser testing and viewport testing: $500
  • Hosting: $10-$30 per month
  • Optional monthly maintenance to keep your site secure and plugins up to date: $100
  • Training your staff to update content and graphics: $500

The ranges represent variances in how the site complements your integrated marketing strategy; your sales, marketing and branding goals; and immediate needs. Add it up, and you may want to allocate $16,000-20,000 to create your next site, Matar says. Robust e-commerce sites can be even higher.

And to ensure your investment pays off, pick up some tips from our primer, “How to Build Your Online Brand Presence.”

Last modified: September 21, 2017

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