People frequently ask, “How much does a website cost?” I’ve heard one web designer reply, “How long is a piece of string?” Others use the car analogy: “How much does a car cost?” I like to use a house construction metaphor. I say, “Building a website is like building a house. I can build you a cabin, a two-story, or a mansion. It really comes down to what you want and what you want to pay.”
Process versus product
You see, the websites we build are custom creations, just like a custom-built house. They’re not a commodity you can pick up at the store, like a gallon of milk. As others web professionals have said, a website is a process more than a product.
When I talk to a prospect about a website, I have a questionnaire that guides the conversation. It helps me learn about the prospect’s business and their goals for the website. Here are just a few of the items on that questionnaire:
- What’s the website’s purpose or goal?
- What’s the target launch date?
- What’s your budget?
- Who will create content (text, images, video, etc.)? Do we a need to involve a copywriter, photographer, graphic designer, videographer, etc.?
- What functionality will the site need (e-commerce, forms, calendars, forums, etc.)
- How will social media be integrated?
- What does the design need to look like (logo, colors, fonts, graphics, etc.)?
- What level of SEO (search engine optimization) do you need?
- Do you need to be trained to use WordPress?
- Who will maintain the site (security, updates, backups, etc.)?
- Do you need ongoing consulting to make the site effective?
Based on the prospect’s answers to these and other questions, I can provide an estimate for creating a website that’s customized to them and their goals. As you can see, the answer to “How much does a website cost?” is always, “It depends. Let’s find out.”