It’s a question we get asked every day, and it’s not as easy as you might think to answer…
It’s similar to the question how much does a house cost? The cost of a three bedroom house can vary immensely based on the size, materials, location, design, layout… you get the idea.
In short, there are many factors that impact the cost of a business website design project.
At Hudson Fusion, we’ve developed hundreds of business websites over the last 18 years, so we know the “ins and outs” of website development.
Bells and Whistles
Just like houses, websites come in many shapes and sizes, all offering different bells and whistles, including:
- Custom design or templates
- Ecommerce capabilities
- Search engine optimization
- Content management systems
- Responsive design for desktop, tablet, and mobile
- The list goes on...
In addition to different site features, you also have a choice of who to hire to help you build your site. You may choose to have your site developed by a freelance designer, a boutique agency, or perhaps a large agency. All of these factors will impact the cost of your website.
Developing an effective website to be your business marketing tool requires more than a nice design and some solid HTML, which is usually the only thing you’ll get with a freelancer. They don’t typically include the services you need in order to develop a site that will serve as your most important marketing tool—that, you’ll need to go to an agency for.
Depending on which of the above factors you choose, the cost of your website could range from $2,000 to $50,000 or more.
What's a Fair Price?
Let’s start by looking at what services are needed for a quality web site.
1. Branding - A.K.A. Let me introduce myself.
Before you start thinking about the design of your site, you need to take a step back and make sure you have a solid visual and verbal brand developed. This includes the visual representation of your company as well as the key selling messages that you know resonate with your target audience. Your website should support your brand and be consistent with other communications/marketing materials you share with prospects and customers.
There’s no sense in building a pretty website if it doesn’t look and sound like your company, or if it doesn’t connect emotionally with your prospects.
This is often the starting point for many of our small business clients and ensures that the site we build serves as a powerful selling tool.
2. Competitive Review - A.K.A How will we stack up?
Imagine your potential customer who has just realized that they have a problem they need to solve. Once they ascertain that they have a problem, the next step in their buyer’s journey is to research possible solutions. More often than not, the prospect gets on the internet and does a search for the product or service they need. Or, maybe they have gotten referrals for a few companies, or picked up business cards at a local networking function. Chances are, at some point they will get online and start researching.
Your prospect is going to look at your website side by side with your competitors’ sites. Knowing what they will find before you start building your own site will give you a competitive edge.
That’s why we like to do online competitive reviews for our clients. It allows us to see what the competition is doing well, or not so well, and make decisions as to how we can make your website stand apart.
3. Information Architecture & User Interface - A.K.A. How do I organize all of my good information?
One of the services we provide is assistance in developing a common sense organization of your site’s content. Knowing how site visitors might want to move through your site and how you want to move particular segments of your audience through the site requires developing clear navigational paths. This means developing a sensible information architecture so that users can find what they are looking for without having to think about where to go next.
The reason User Interface design is such an important element of your website planning is because a website is not at all like a printed brochure. Everyone who looks at a printed brochure does so in the same way. However, a website is interactive, and different people are going to interact with it in different ways. When designing your site, we think about how different users may interact with your site and we make design decisions that ensure their experience is intuitive and enjoyable. Site visitors should not be wondering what to do next, how to get from point A to point B, or how to use your site. The user interface should enhance their experience and not hamper it.
4. Website Design and Content Creation - A.K.A. How do I look?
This is the part of the website development project that most people think of when they start to envision their new website. However, there is a method to creating a site that not only looks and speaks well, but also supports the brand of your company. In broad terms, you want your site to give users the same emotional connection they would get if they spoke to you in person, walked into your office, or met one of your team at a networking function. The design and imagery of your site should make the site visitor think “I belong here,” and “This is a good fit for me.”
Or, maybe not….
It’s just as important to weed out prospects that are NOT a good fit. You wouldn’t want a hundred phone calls a month from people who would never buy your services or products. You can accomplish this “weeding” by making sure that your design and content resonates with your target audience.
A simple example might be this: pretend you are researching a fine restaurant to take your girlfriend or boyfriend to for a special dinner. As you look at different websites, the design, photos and copy of each site convey an individual tone and virtual ambiance. If the site looked like a fast food joint, you’d leave and go on to the next. But, if you were looking for a fast burger, you’d be evaluating from a completely different perspective. The fancy restaurant site would look too expensive and wouldn’t be what you were looking for.
Visitors to your site make the same decisions as to whether or not your business fits what they are looking for. Are you the solution to their specific problems? Do you appear to be “right” for them? Decisions are not always made based on the services you list on your site.
5. Post-Launch Strategy - A.K.A. Build it and they will come?
What happens post launch? Remember the reason that you decided to redesign your site in the first place. For most businesses, the redesign is done because they feel that the current site is not attracting qualified leads, and converting those leads into sales or even phone calls.
Let’s assume that your site project went well and the site does a brilliant job of reflecting your company’s brand. How do we get site visitors? And if we DO get visitors, how do we get them to call or buy?
Part of this challenge needs to be addressed within the strategy of the site design itself. Is it easy to contact you? Are there multiple opportunities for site visitors to connect with you via forms, or via phone? The larger part of this challenge is to develop an ongoing plan to continue to drive new qualified traffic to the site, and then a plan to convert that traffic to a customer.
Now we’re talking marketing!
This forward thinking approach is part of what an agency like Hudson Fusion brings to the table even before the site is designed. We’re thinking about how your site is going to support your ongoing marketing efforts. Do we have the right tools in place? What are those tools? What kind of content will drive traffic to the site and how will that content be created and managed? Is search marketing important for your business? Should we create your site pages around strategic search keywords?
The bottom line is, your task doesn’t end when the website is launched. That’s really where the value of strategic planning begins, because now, you have the tools in place to market effectively and to use your site as a marketing workhorse!
What else impacts cost?
There are other factors that impact the cost of a website, including the platform the site is built on, whether or not it is responsively designed, or if it has ecommerce capabilities. But, when shopping around, if you talk to freelance designers as well as agencies, you may wonder what the reason is for the difference in pricing for a site with specific development requirements.
It may sound cliché, but up to a certain point, you get what you pay for (for more on this read this blog post “5 Ways Cheap Web Design can Cost You.”) If you want someone to be your “hands” and do exactly what you tell them to because you know exactly what you want and need, then a freelance designer might fit the bill. A designer may be very good at design, but it’s unlikely that you would get the additional support in regards to branding, user interface, information architecture lead generation tools or a strategy for post launch. If you want a more consultative relationship with ongoing strategy recommendations and support, then an agency is a better match for you. The ticket price may be higher, but you are getting more services, better value and better results for your budget.
We're here for you to help you figure out which marketing services would serve you best. Get in touch to start your journey to better business, discuss your needs, and get a quote.