You can create your own online site if you have the time and the inclination. There are lots of website builder tools out there to support your laudable efforts, and doing your own work eliminates the time and effort you’ll spend communicating what you want, a pain point for almost all design projects (just ask the two kindergarteners in a heated scrap about whether red or blue blocks should go on the block tower next).
You can also look into web design services, hire someone to create a site for you: someone well versed in web design, someone who really knows what they’re doing. Or maybe they just think they are experts. Maybe they don’t have the experience, the talent, the communication skills, the resources, or the training to do what they want you to pay them to do.
Either way, if you’re a regular everyday business owner, someone without deep pockets and with plenty of other things to do besides sit in front of your computer, you are probably thinking that no matter how you go about getting a website, design cost is your bottom line. Which makes sense, as money truly does not grow on trees.
So, just how much can you expect to fork over for a decent web site? Design tools and design services are certainly out there, as any five-second Google search will tell you, but if this range of cost were a strong swimmer, it could probably make it across the English Channel without much trouble, maybe even back again. It’s big, extending from free (though you can look here to see what free will get you), to doable, to a little bit beyond my budget… to terrifying.
Speaking of swimming the English Channel, small business owners who want to get online do feel that some propositions for web design leave them in the cold. Because the price is high, the expectations for assets (all the info about your business and brand that goes into a website) are too involved, or the lack of communication is preposterous, they are left floundering for a solution that they can actually afford, preferably one that looks, smells and acts like a decent website.
Enough chatter. Here’s some info on pricing. It’s subject to change, and can’t possibly cover what’s out there because that’s a compendium and this is just a wee article. Use well, and good luck.
By the Hour
Expect to pay between $1,000 to $10,000 for an ecommerce website, depending on how experienced the designer is and where he/she lives. You can get quotes online for offshore/outsourced designers, pay a student to do the work, or invest in the talents of a professional experienced designer. If your website is just an online calling card, or brochure site, the cost is about half that. You can look for the best deal online and shoot out the job for designers to bid on, or you can shop local. One benefit of getting a local designer to create your website is that you know where they live, and that simply means they have a local rep they probably trying to build, so other local merchants or businesses will use their services.
Whether you get an hourly quote from a random designer offshore or from a clever college grad who’s aunt goes to the same church as your sister’s dentist, you should beware of unexpected costs, a longer timeline than you expected, and a designer/client mismatch. You can guard against these issues by:
- Getting all the facts up front regarding cost
- Having a clear idea of what you want before you begin, since the more you know, the less leeway there is for the designer to get it wrong
- Taking the time before hiring the designer to see how they communicate, respond, etc. Ideally, you will speak with other clients who have worked with them and you will have reviewed their portfolio.
Some web design services are a mashup of website builder tools and professional web design services. If you go this route, you can expect to pay between $500 and $2000, depending on whether it’s a brochure or ecommerce site, what size of website you’ll need and how much help you want.
For example, you can get a basic five page website created by a professional using a website builder template that you selected, have a chance to look it over and request changes, and be up and running at the lower end.
Or you can spend more on a custom website that’s time-boxed (where a designer does most of the work, it’s customized, but it’s scheduled throughout and will move forward with or without your say-so) and customized. This higher end option still provides a custom result and you get more input, more opportunities to have the design changed if it doesn’t suit you, but the overall cost is much more definite. Instead of an accumulation of hours you get with a private web designer, companies that offer these hybrid services (elements of control + cusomization) can tell you exactly how much you’ll have to pay. Often you can request more modifications and tack on additional costs once the agreed upon work is complete, which is much different from finding out later that you’ve just spent more on your website than you ever planned to!
Software – You can make your own website for about ten bucks a month, depending on how you do it. If you purchase website software (Dreamweaver, FrontPage) you’ll pay between $150 and $400. Cheap versions are around too, but buyer beware. Sometimes it’s just worth it to pay more now and save later (on money, stress, time, do-overs, etc.)
Tools – HTML editors, Flash software, form builders, graphics, and more tools are out there. If you are comfortable with these terms or you have the time and energy to invest in learning about and using these free/cheap tools, you won’t be disappointed by the selection. In fact, the opposite is more often the case, and would-be DIY designers are quickly overwhelmed by too many options and no one to guide them through it all. That said, if you have the pioneer spirit and not a lot of ready cash, this might be your best bet.
Templates – Companies that recognize the time/capital limitations for businesses and anyone else have come up with solutions that make it easy and fast to set up a web site. Design templates that can be tailored to fit with your business and brand are better than ever. In addition to the basic website, you can expect a load of apps to make your site interactive, critical these days.
Reinventing the wheel is an option if you have the time and you want to learn to build websites. But it’s definitely not mandatory these days. As long as you know how to avoid the pitfalls of exponential costs and unending timelines, as long as you can sift through your options-and especially if you have on hand someone in web design who knows what they’re doing-you can expect to have your own unique URL in no time, a place for your current and future customers or clients to find you.
Author: Maura S. O’Neill