What are you paying for?

Website pricing differs from one agency to another and from one implementation method to another.

Prices range from free “Do-it-Yourself” tools to as low as $1,000 if done by a freelancer or $100,000 for a fancy site built by a professional web development firm.

So where is the difference really coming from?

Generally, the price of a site directly relates to the total time it takes to create it. It is based on estimates of the time required for design, programming, and communication.
The reason is simple. There is no material cost, no shipping and no logistics involved.

(Total Hours of Resource A x Hourly Rate of Resource A) +
(Total Hours of Resource B x Hourly Rate of Resource B) +
(Total Hours of Resource … N x Hourly Rate or Resource … N) = Project Cost

Not to forget content (writing and images) whether handled by the web firm, a freelance team, or the company itself, hosting, and registering a domain name; items that are priced on top of the cost of building the site.

Here are the 10 major cost factors:

  1. Project Management and Communication: Who will manage the project? Will a number of people be giving feedback and approvals?
  2. Process: This is a very important factor in determining the website development cost. Professional firms use international processes such as Wireframes Design, Usability & Navigation, UI Design, Development, Testing, Content Management, Going Live, Support and Improvement.
  3. Design: Is the brand well-established or it is being revisited? Is a ready-made template being used?
  4. CMS: If the back end is a custom made, it usually costs more than using open source CMS such as Joomla or Wordpress. With Open Source systems, modules might be available online for purchase, plug and play. While with Custom Made CMS, every piece of code is written, every table in the database is created as needed.
  5. Functionality: The more functionality you need, the higher the cost. The website's technical components, such as online booking, ecommerce, message boards, photo galleries, and webforms.
  6. Mobile Friendly Website: A website specifically designed for viewing on a mobile device or tablet. A responsive design of a website adds time and effort and therefore adds cost.
  7. Add ons: Services such as photography and content writing add to the project cost. Stock photography however is a cheaper repository to use nowadays where millions of professional photos are there to use
    Search Engine Optimization: SEO has always been an optional service after going live. However, nowadays, with more than 250 million sites out there, SEO became a necessary factor for a website’s success. Being a process, SEO adds time and effort and requires specialized resources in order to be done the right way and return results.
  8. Supported Languages: Not every site needs multiple language support, but the ones that do will definitely be paying extra for it.
  9. Reliability: How many times we hear the statement: “our web guy was great, but then he disappeared.” In addition to the technical expertise, hiring a reliable company saves cost on the long run, but can add to the current project cost.
  10. Testing and Quality Assurance: GUI and Usability Test Scenarios, Responsiveness and Cross-Browser Test Scenarios, Performance Testing Scenarios and Security Testing Scenarios

Even so, a website is not a place to save money. The difference between a $10k and a $30k price tag might seem high, but a great site will produce dramatically better results than a good site, which may translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars over time.

Wissam Abdel Baki - PMP, ITIL, CITP

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