Here at Mediagin, we want you to be informed of your website options regardless if you choose us to work with or not. If you’ve decided that you need a new web site, but are unsure of how much it costs, here is some information that will help you determine the budget that is required for your web design project.

Plain and simple… you can get a web site designed for between $100 or $100,000+. That is the reality of the web design industry. And how much you spend does not necessarily determine how good your web site will turn out. So how do you determine how much to spend for your web site? Every web site is different, and that makes it impossible to give a flat price for all. This being the case, all web developers use different methods to determine the cost for web design.

Pricing Methods

Some of the most common methods for web site pricing are hourly rate, per project price, package rates and Cost Per Page. Over the years, we have used all methods in one form or another.

Charging Hourly

A very common way for web designers to charge is by the hour. Depending on the experience, location, and many other factors, the hourly rate can be anywhere from $8.00 (outsourced overseas) to $500.00 per hour (for a high-level consultant)! This is a huge difference but we have seen both and just about everything in between. The important thing is to make sure the web developer is worth the rate they charge. Always check with the designers past clients and remember – you really do “get what you pay for”.

Per Project Pricing

Many web design firms will give you a set price to complete your project. This is our preferred method at Mediagin. This is why we require a thorough and complete requirements listed before the project begins. Features, specification and assumptions for each section of your website should be listed. We like to have everything in writing so that we both have clear expectations.

Package Rates

Many web designers will have pre-made packages (templates normally) that are usually cheaper than a complete custom design website. The drawback with packages is that they are probably going to try and fit your business into a pre-made template that might not have all the bells and whistles a custom site has. Some can be “cookie-cutter” if they are not tweaked enough. Most designers will have a flat package rate then allow you to request customization at an additional charge.

Per Page Pricing

Some web designers charge a flat rate per page, this can be as low as $50 although most designers in the USA will charge $100 – $200 per page. This pricing is usually for basic static brochure web sites that do not require a lot of custom features. The per page price may go down (with a bulk discount) depending on the number of pages you need. In my experience, you will usually find the designers with less experience (and who charge lower prices) are the ones who usually charge per page prices. Also this pricing model seems to be more popular in rural areas.

Beware of Outsourcing Overseas

There has been a huge trend in corporate America to outsource IT and web development work overseas because of the drastically lower rates that people will work for in countries like India, South America and eastern Europe. Large companies have built offices in these locations to enjoy the low cost of the local labor pool, this can help their bottom line. The big difference between a large company using a overseas workforce and small company or individual is that the large companies usually have management in place to keep things running smooth. When budgeting for your site, don’t forget to add the monthly cost of a webhost.

The Price Tiers Of Web Design

$2,000 or less

It is very hard to build a professional quality, custom web site for this price level. The labor hours needed to create an original graphical design, and then convert that into a web site alone, will quickly surpass this level.

What you may be able to get is a web site that is based on a pre-existing template or theme, in which the design of the web site has already been created. WordPress web sites, for example, have a huge selection of professional themes that you can choose from. So if budget is an issue, this may be the way to go.

$2,000 – $4,000

At this price level, you are able to get a small web site of professional quality, but things can get tight at times. Any web designer may need to cut back a bit on the graphical design hours to meet your budget. Or, some additional features may need to be omitted in order to meet your budget. You may want to consider moving up to the next level in which more funds are available to cover these tasks.

$4,000 – $10,000

Most small to medium web sites fall in this price range, and you can get a very good, professional web site for this money.

At this price level, your web designer should have enough labor hours to create a unique, professional graphical design, custom tailored to your business. You should expect your home page to be a high quality design on par with your competition. The site can include drop down menus, online forms, search features, and other common elements that you find in most professional web sites. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should also be included for this price. The turnaround time is usually pretty quick given the small size of most web design firms.

$10,000 – $20,000

If you need advanced features, complex programming, or if your web site is larger than normal, then this higher price level may be needed.

For example, a database driven web site with advanced features may fall into this price range. The extra costs go into the development of the database, and the associated programming of the various technical features. An example may be an online dating web site that has a membership database, match-making tools, messaging, and security issues.

So if your web site requires the programming of advanced features, then you can expect quotes in this price range or even higher.

$20,000 – $50,000

At this level, you are probably dealing with a PR firm or marketing agency, which charge a premium for their services. You are paying not only for the web design, but also for the expertise and resources that the agency offers.

Agencies usually work in a variety of mediums including print, web, video, and audio. They also offer other services beyond web design, such as marketing and PR services. Most popular agencies have done high-profile work for top name companies. Agencies have an abundance of resources in terms of assets, equipment, personnel, and such. You can expect to have a dedicated project manager, who manages a team of professionals that all work on your project.

The downside is that you are paying for all this, and that not all of your web design dollar goes directly into the web site. You are paying for all the overhead, all the management, and the reputation of the agency. Agencies also tend to move much slower than smaller web design companies, since they have many other high paying customers to please. You may get lost in the shuffle, and not get the priority that you desire.

$50,000 or more

Very large companies or enterprises will build web sites at this price level. Such projects may make use of a design agency, in-house programmers, database managers, and security experts all working together to build a complex, enterprise level web site.

Factoring In The Return On Investment

One important point to consider in determining how much to spend for a web site is to figure out your return on investment (ROI). One question you can ask is how many new customers must the web site generate in order to pay for itself. If you are a realtor, for example, and you get one new customer from the web site, which results in a sale of a home and $10,000 commission – then your website has probably already paid for itself! Of course, each business is different, so you’ll need to figure out the ROI for your own business.

An ongoing relationship

The Internet isn’t a static marketing device like a print ad in the yellow pages. Customers expect positive interaction at a similar level to what they’d experience from your organization in person. Your site will need regular updating as your information or products change, and to keep content fresh and interesting. So, you’ll need to be able to edit your website often yourself or stay in contact with your web developer. It’s smart to choose someone reliable and innovative up front; you’re looking for a relationship here, not a one-night stand. A good developer will also be able to keep your site in style alignment with the rest of your business far more than designers with limited skills, armed only with generic templates and excessive Flash.

First impressions don’t come around that often

What’s your business worth to you? Is it worth it to save a few bucks in the immediate, knowing a chintzy-looking site could turn off untold numbers of potential customers for the unforetold future?  If the site takes too long to load, visitors won’t want to waste their time waiting, and certainly won’t return in the future.  If graphics or layout look outdated, they’ll assume your company is too. If the content is misspelled and lacking in professionalism… well, you get the idea. In the end, cutting corners with a cheap web design is far more likely to hurt your business than help it.