Have you ever seen two websites that are exactly the same? Probably not. So when discussing price, it's important to remember that the process of building websites involves custom work (at least to some degree).
And like all things that are custom, the prices for different types of websites and the time needed to complete them can vary greatly - especially from one developer to the next. If you give the exact same specifications to three different web developers (and you should), you're sure to receive three completely different estimates.
Fortunately, we can generalize about the prices that you're likely to encounter. This will help you gain the best understanding of your costs and empower you to make the best decisions.
Costs for different types of websites
Let's define some general categories of websites and then provide a cost breakdown guided by our basic steps of designing and developing a website.
In this example, we've identified four different types of sites where each represents a broad category. We then detail the typical developer for each type along with their necessary skill level based on a normal "1-10" scale. The scale measures from "inexperienced novice (the '1')" to "highly capable and extremely experienced (the '10')." And finally, we provide estimates that represent the low and high ends of the website's cost. These are not limits - they simply represent each end of the range for that category (there are always exceptions). You also will see some overlap, but remember, these are very broad examples meant to represent the most common sizes and types of website projects.
The most important assumption we took into account for this comparison is that you would want each of these websites done the right way. So while you may be able to cut corners and find less expensive options, we wouldn't have the confidence that they could deliver quality at those prices compared to our suggestions. Moving on...
Simple Small Business Website
Mostly consists of static, unchanging information and few custom images. It will typically have no more than a dozen pages of content, a contact form, and will exist mainly as a "brochure" type website. It's nothing fancy.
- Typical Developer: Freelancers, 1-2 People Firms, Offshore
- Minimum Skill Level (1-10): 2+
- Low End: $750
- High End: $3,000
Moderately Feature-Rich Website
Will have one or more specialized functions, such as a user login area, a content management system, or some other third-party integration. The number of pages shouldn't matter as the site will typically contain a database that populates page templates on-the-fly and as needed.
- Typical Developer: Cooperatives, 2+ People Firms
- Minimum Skill Level (1-10): 4+
- Low End: $5,000
- High End: $15,000
The Ecommerce Website
While ecommerce has become easier as the web has evolved, it's still in a category all itself. There simply are more things to consider such as products, accounts, email notifications, orders, shipping and fulfillment, security, customer service, etc. Then there's choosing from available platforms and the inherent customizations, not to mention the need to really focus on customer experience details.
- Typical Developer: Experienced 4-10+ People Firms
- Minimum Skill Level (1-10): 6+
- Low End: $7,500
- High End: $30,000
Large Scale Website, Unique and Custom Functions, Big Ecommerce
This type of project requires extensive planning. It could have many custom functions, various integrations, and some commerce components. It will definitely have its own platform, one or more databases and require a team to develop and manage. Things like security, redundancy, scaling, disaster recovery and maybe compliance are going to be very hot topics.
- Typical Developer: Highly Skilled and Experienced 15+ People Firms
- Minimum Skill Level (1-10): 8+
- Low End: $25,000
- High End: $100,000+
How website pricing works
Whether it's referred to as a quote, bid, estimate or proposal, the ultimate price for your web project will be formulated using three things:
Any given web developer can have one or many hourly rates for their services. And these rates may or may not be disclosed to you. Rates are influenced mainly by the developer's location, capabilities/skills, and experience. There are, of course, other influencing factors but these are the broad driving forces for rates.
Amount of Hours
You probably don't know whether it takes five minutes or 40-hours to design a simple website, but everything takes time. From the time spent on the phone with you, in meetings, researching and thinking (yes, thinking!), to the long days and nights spent designing, coding, programming, testing and fixing all the issues that inevitably come up. Web development is extremely time intensive - and even more so when it's done right.
Number of People
Unless you're working with a one or two person team (which is sometimes better for less intensive projects), know that there will be numerous individuals contributing to the development of your project. There's the project manager, the designer, the programmer, and everything in between. But keep in mind that web companies are not typically very big, and a lot of people play more than one role. This is perfectly ok.
Rate x Hours x People = Price
These three simple factors are how the final price is determined (one way or another), and you should feel comfortable, and maybe even entitled, in asking what these numbers are (or at least any two of them) if they're not specifically disclosed to you. If a developer has just one hourly rate, that's perfectly fine. It simply means they are keeping things simple and probably have (wisely) averaged their costs to arrive at a single rate.
Apples and oranges
When comparing prices from different developers, be sure to understand that their prices can vary, sometimes wildly, because they are influenced by the developer's own location, experience and capability (and sometimes, unfortunately, their own financial situation).
For example, prices from developers located in cities such as New York, San Francisco, London and Paris will definitely be higher than those from smaller markets or rural areas. Moreover, a single person working out of their home office may calculate their prices based on a nominal rate of $35/hour, while a firm of 10 or more people may use $150/hour or more for their basis. Rest assured, this is all very normal.
A quick word about website packages
While there are some developers who offer pre-defined, all-inclusive packages for a set price (for example, 10-pages for $299), we suggest avoiding these offers in favor of working with developers who give you a detailed and customized quote (after all, your website IS custom).
Wild cards: the other things that influence price
There's always some intangible that can influence and effect the final price you pay for your website. These include:
- High-Touch Clients
This is when the developer believes that you're going to be a pain and require extra hand-holding. Don't be shocked - this happens.
- Easy Clients
Are you very prepared, organized, efficient, readily available and, well, nice? If so, you may be easy to work for and that may get you more favorable prices, if not some extra stuff done for free.
- Type of Project or Client
The project price could be influenced downward for special causes and non-profits, or made more expensive for socially unpopular clients or projects that the developer can't use in their marketing.
If the project is a rush job or has an unrealistic timeline, expect to pay for it.
If the client is known for any of the following, look for it to influence the price: being unfair or litigious; not paying their bills; too big/small to go after if they don't pay; etc.
- Scope Creep and Changes
If it's found that you might change or add to the scope of the project frequently, a developer might enforce change orders to revise the budget and the timeline.
Get a price estimate for your website project
DevFinder offers a free service where you can submit your project to get different bids and offers from interested designers and developers. It's a great way to get your new website moving forward while saving a lot of time in the process.
As an added benefit, you'll be assigned a helper who will contact you to review and fine-tune your project's details before it goes out. This way you don't have to worry about getting everything right - they'll help you do that. Be sure to check it out.