How much should a website cost?

Like anything in life, with websites you generally get what you pay for

Whenever I speak to business owners about the possibility of developing a new website for them, I am perfectly aware that my sales pitch is merely a preamble to the one piece of information they really want to know.....How much will it cost?

Like anything in life, with websites you generally get what you pay for, but you really need to decide what functions your website is going to perform for your business before you make a decision on whether the price you've been quoted represents value for money.

Then there is the matter of service levels - does your new website come with support and advice, and are business or marketing skills going to be beneficial to you during development of the site and after it has launched? Are you confident in producing the wording and graphics required to make your website a professional shop front for your business?

It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that is all.
When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.
John Ruskin 1860

 

Entry level websites - the cheapest option but really not for business

These are either the DIY websites you see advertised on the television, or sites that are generally offered for under £500. There are literally hundreds of providers to choose from in this price range (and my comments here can't possibly do them all justice), but if you are serious about having a business website that generates business then you really need to be looking at a higher price range than this.

For less than £500 you pretty much have to do everything apart from the technical stuff. That will include graphics, copywriting, deciding on structure, SEO etc etc. This can be a great solution for personal websites, but not for a business owner whose time is at a premium. Doing the majority of the work yourself is false economy, as not only will you spend dozens of hours working on your website content (how much is your own time worth per hour?) but you will find that asking for assistance incurs additional fees.

In short, the vast majority of these cheaper option websites that I have come across are unfinshed, unprofessional and unproductive. More than a few of my clients came to me complaining about their existing website, and if you decide to go down this route it's only a matter of time before you are forced to do the same.

High level websites - the most expensive option but only if you absolutely need it

I would class high level websites as being either highly asthetic and interactive, or having to perform their functions on a large scale. If you spend anything over £10,000 you could class that as a high level website, but you can spend much more.

For the majority of business websites this is an unnecessary amount to spend, and you will struggle to see a return on your investment, but having said that there might be exceptions. If, for example, you have a strong brand to protect or you're launching a major new product or service, then the extra cost might buy you peace of mind. You might also have a bespoke technical requirement that needs advanced skills or technology - these are all factors that can quickly send your website into the 'premium' bracket.

Mid level websites - somewhere inbetween and suitable for most SMEs

Gillespies provide (in the main) what I would class as mid level websites. These are bespoke websites, built by experienced professionals with the focus on delivering something that genuinely benefits your business.

Mid level websites can cost as little as £1200 for the basics, or as much as £10,000 if your business demands certain functionality (eCommerce, animation, medium levels of interaction). What you should get within this price range is the support, advice and experience needed to deliver an effective website. Your chosen developer should work with you to ensure that everything is considered with your business and customers in mind, and ultimately you should end up with the website that you wanted in the first place - one that you can be proud of.

A mid level website (whether at the top or bottom end of the price scale) should improve your business and generate the income that gives you a quick return on your investment through increased sales leads and better customer support. It should drive (or respond to) your marketing strategy and, through the development process, give you a better understanding of how you are projecting yourself to your customers and where your business is going. 

How to choose which level of website is right for your business

Affordability is always the driving force for new or small businesses. Most don't have more than £5000 to spend on a website, but that doesn't mean that you can't start small and work your way up over time. Gillespies offer entry level business websites from around £2000, and for most businesses this is where I would encourage them to start. As long as your new website is designed with growth in mind, you can deploy something effective within a few weeks and build on top of it as your business evolves.

Spending a lot of money and trying to launch a finished product in the first instance is a stressful experience. It can take months to achieve, which means you are not feeling the benefits of your new website for that time.

Most website companies, like Gillespies, offer a maintenance or update package. This involves buying some 'developer time' each month to help you grow your website and get the most out of your investment. From personal experience I can honestly say that this service is popular with all of my clients, and the smaller initial development fee allows for ongoing investment which truly reaps rewards.

So, when deciding how much to spend on your website you first need to decide what you want your website to achieve. Then I would suggest you try to work out how much ROI you could reasonably expect from your website over 12 or 24 months (a decent website should pay for itself within 6-12 months). Then I would speak to a few website companies around your local area, present your requirements and try to get a feel for whether your business is important to them. At the end of that process you should find a price and a developer that you are comfortable with.