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Website Cost – Are you Comparing Applies to Oranges?

How much does a website cost?

People contact me daily wanting to know how much does it cost to build a website?  I usually get an email with 1-2 – maybe 3 sentences describing the project, along with no mention of their budget or timeline to complete. I reply back asking questions to try to get specific details of the job so I can provide a realistic estimate.  I always ask what the budget is, but often get a response back “I don’t have one”, or “I am just getting quotes now”.

Simply put, to be able to give you a specific website cost, I need to know the specifics of the project. I will not give out “ballpark numbers”, as they never match a final quote once I know the details of the job. To get accurate website development costs, you need to fully define the needs of the project before gathering quotes.

When Calculating Website Costs, Consider:

  • Cost to host a website, domain registration, secure certificate
  • Web design costs (creating an vision of what it will look like)
  • Website development cost ( coding/programming/database development)
  • Website maintenance costs -(website hosting, domain registration, secure certificate ongoing fees, website code updates, and content related updates and additions)

I get it. Most people are out of their element when it comes to understanding technology involved in building a website and  have no idea what it costs to build a website. There are some areas that you can estimate costs, but others vary greatly.

If you are “price shopping”, you can get a general idea for some website costs,
but for the actual website design and development,
you need to have your project thought out before requesting a solid website quote.


Fixed, Ongoing Website Costs

In addition to actual web pages, every website needs to have a domain name, web host and secure certificate. (Secure certificates are quickly becoming standard in 2018). These  all have ongoing annual renewal fees associated with them. Pricing varies on these parts based on where you purchase them and features, upgrades associated with them.

Variable Website Costs

True to the idiom “The devil is in the detail”, what may seem simple enough to you to describe in a sentence or two, quoting a web programming accurately comes down to knowing the specifics of the project. How I design a database and code a website depends on the requirements of the project.

Professional Web Development

I ask lots of questions so I can understand a project before providing web programming pricing. This should be a clue to the level of experience you are going to receive if you decide to work with me.

For the project to go smoothly, I need to have a full understanding of what needs to be done. I want you to be happy with the result. I don’t want misunderstandings of “I thought it would do this”. If you don’t tell me that you need it to do something, how could I possibly know?

When I quote a project, the is the final cost of the job (barring changes made by you during the development process) based on the exact details you have provided to me.

If you are getting quotes from web development companies, vs freelancers based in the USA or overseas contractors prices are going to be all over the place.  You have different levels of experience and probably services they can provide to you.

This is where the “comparing apples to oranges” comes in to play.

Think about it. If you are gathering quotes from multiple web developers or companies,  but not providing each of them with the same list of requirements, prices are going to be all over the place. Assumptions will be made of what to include, or not that will effect the final cost.

Website proposals from different freelancers and/or companies will have different sets of deliverable since they have not been defined up front.  So rather than price shopping,  I see it more like “fishing” to see what you will get.

It’s your project though, shouldn’t you know what you need before you get started so you have accurate quotes to compare features and functionality that will be delivered?

My advice is to provide the same information to anyone you request a web development quote from, and then compare the website proposals.

You can break down your request like this:

  • Provide a list of fixed costs items that you need or don’t need. i.e. I need a domain name, web hosting, secure certificate…
  • Web design – communicate if you need a custom web design, or if you are open to customizing a theme or template to save costs.  Or maybe you already have a web designer that has created a design, so you need no website design work done.
  • Web Programming – this too is where the details come into play.  If your project requires programming functional logic, you want to spell out all functionality that you need.  Visualize yourself as a user and write out what they will see and what they should be able to do.  My expertise in the website development process lies in back end programming. Getting these details right will define the success of your project. It will also determine if the quote up front given matches the end result. If there are changes throughout the project with additions and reworking due to lack of or miscommunication, the final cost will grow.

Planning your website project up front will pay off. Trust me.



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