Today, it’s easier than ever to get a website online. There are site-building services that you can use to build your own site, freelancers all around the world that would love to work with you, and full-service web design agencies and development firms that can craft a world-class website for your business. With all of these options available to you, each with a dramatically different price tag, how do you know which one is right for you?
In this article, we’ll explore these different website development services, and help you decide which one fits your budget and needs the best.
Build Your Own Website
Strong communication skills are one oft-overlooked characteristics you'll want to be sure your web designer has.
- The cost of using a website builder includes the price charged by the website builder, as well as the time you and your staff spend working on the site. Don’t forget to include the financial and opportunity cost of your own time when considering building your own site.
- If you and your staff are new to using website builders, you can plan on spending between 20 and 50 hours developing a fairly simple site.
- If you aren’t very tech savvy or well-versed in design principles, it may be best to avoid website builders since the product you turn out will be the public representation of your company. A poorly done website can turn off tech-savvy customers.
While website builders are the cheapest, and often fastest, way to get a website online, in many cases busy professionals find the opportunity cost is too high, and that it’s too much of a hassle to deal with. If you find yourself in this situation, consider hiring a web design consultant to do the job for you.
Hiring a Web Design Consultant
Not all web design freelancers and agencies are created equal. Far from it. There are countless independent freelance web designers and full-service firms you could hire, and the quality of the product you get from each will vary wildly. As you consider different firms and individual freelancers for your website design and development process, here are a few tips to help you avoid a bad experience:
Write a detailed scope of work. If you want to be able to compare one firm’s quote to another, you need to be certain they’re quoting the same thing.
Ask to see a portfolio of previously completed projects. The surest way to gain a sense of what a website designer is capable of producing is to look at work they’ve completed previously.
One of the best ways to find consultants for your project, whether for web design or a different task, is by referral from a friend or colleague who has had a positive experience.
Think about communication. How smoothly has communication with this firm or freelancer gone to date? You’re going to be working with them for weeks, or maybe even months. Is their written communication clear and concise? It’s likely this firm will be adding copy to your page. Are you confident they will write content that reflects well on your business?
Get all of your questions answered before sending them a contract. Don’t accept a proposal without taking some time to reflect on it. Does it include all of the elements you need and requested? Now that you’ve seen the proposal, are there things you’d like to see changed? Take a day or two to mull over any proposal you receive before moving forward.
Hold regular meetings. Once you’ve entered a contract, plan on regular meetings to go over progress, answer questions, and make sure the project is on track.
Some Typical Prices
The cost to develop a website varies dramatically from one firm to another. While we’ve provided some estimates below, bear in mind that these are ballpark figures. Prices vary considerably, depending on geographic location, experience and desirability of the designer, and complexity of the site.
For the estimates below, we’re envisioning a website for a small business that includes a Home page, an About Us page, a Pricing page, a Contact Us page with a contact form, and a Blog page.
- Build your own website: $10 to $50 per month, plus the cost of the time you spend working on it.
- Hire an independent freelance developer to build a simple website, based on an existing template with custom styling: $250 to $2,000.
- Hire a web design agency to build a simple website, based on a highly flexible framework, with custom graphics and styling: $2,000 to $5,000.
- Hire a full-service web design and development firm to create a simple website built completely from scratch: $5,000 to $10,000.
- Monthly hosting, “on call” fee, and website maintenance of a simple website: $25 to $250 depending on the firm.
If you want something more than a simple website, costs can rise rapidly. A full-fledged ecommerce site, with social media integration, a product review and rating system, real-time freight estimates, and live customer support chat would typically cost at least $25,000.
Finding the Right Firm
The best way to find consultants is by referral from a friend or colleague who has had a positive experience. Another way is by seeking out the developer of a site you like, and that is similar to the site you have in mind. You can then contact the company to discuss your project and get a quote. Of course, you can always use Google to find thousands of firms all over the world that would be happy to take on your project.
The key to finding the right firm is to follow the steps we’ve outlined to ensure you’re working with a qualified and experienced firm that values your business.