One of the most frequent questions that I receive relates to budgeting for a new website. Clients are astounded at the range of quotes that they receive from design firms and it's no surprise! Website design is not a regulated field, meaning that we don't have set fees that we have to charge, with minimums and maximums in place. The amount of overhead that a company carries also impacts what they charge. From working in the Toronto corporate world, I can tell you that a great deal of your bill will include office space, taxes, lighting and staff salaries. As a small business you are tasked with the challenge of navigating through the potentially high fees while spotting the inexperienced person who might not be able to fulfill your needs. Here are a few rules of thumb that I hope will be of help:
Every website needs three things.
- A domain name (www.yourcompanyname.com) which should not cost more than $15/year.
- Hosting/Server: Where your website files are stored and served to the Internet from. This often includes your email address, content management system software and, potentially, site space and bandwidth limitations. Hosting varies depending on the level of customer service and restrictions, but you should be budgeting between $12-$15/month.
- Website Design: This is the art of putting your site design together to best exemplify your branding, requirements and end-user needs. This is where budgeting gets tricky and hourly rates are all over the map, so it's best to have a good idea of what you want your site to contain before calling around for quotes.
Design and Content Scope: How It Impacts Budget
The first question that I always ask a potential new client is what is their vision for their website? What pages/content are required, will they be selling online and do they already have an established logo and brand? The amount of creative graphic design and complexity of components (e-commerce, product galleries, specialized programming, etc.) will impact the number of hours required. Some businesses requiring complex, custom programming will need to approach a larger firm with website designers, graphic designers and programmers on staff (we have some great ones right here in Niagara, so no need to pay the big city dollars!). However, most middle to small sized businesses will do well with a carefully chosen website designer, especially if they design the site into a content management system (CMS) so that you can maintain your own site after the project is complete.
So, What "Should" It Cost?
Taking into account that each project is different, I typically budget between $500-$750 for a basic site with a cross browser, mobile friendly design of 5-7 pages and no e-commerce. A site with more content, e-commerce or a large directory requirement will typically be between $1500-$2000. Interestingly, as I was doing research for this article I came across this website design estimator. It has various criteria to enter and for the later example above, it generated an estimate of $14,000 - $28,000! Let the buyer beware, ask lots of questions, value customer service and look at the examples of their other work. If they are local, ask around to see if others have enjoyed working with this designer. Unfortunately we website designers are not known for our bedside manor or client care, so try to find someone that works well with your business!
Melissa Wells, Ex Nihilo Website Designs
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