During the last few years the economy has been a driving force to look for high degree of value rather than the glitter. In the Atlanta Metro Area, there are 3 important factors businesses now look for: Quality, Value, and Price. So, if you are building a new website, or just re-tooling it, how much should you pay? In Atlanta the price varies.
Let’s take first things first: Where Does The Cost Of A Website Come From?
In a DIY world, most non-developers don’t understand the work that goes into building a website. There are plenty of tools that let you drag-and-drop your way to an online presence in a few hours and call it a website.
That’s not the kind of site I’m talking about. I’m talking about a website that reflects your business, your goals, your brand. I’m talking about a website that adds value and is a strong tool in your marketing arsenal. One that is optimized for search. One that works across browsers and operating systems. One that doesn’t stick you with another company’s logo at the bottom of it because you got it for $49.00 and now you’re obliged to perpetually advertise someone else’s brand.
So assuming we’re not talking drag-and-drop, “stick your logo here” types of websites, let’s talk briefly about what goes into building one.
Content. Whether you pen a few paragraphs or hire someone to do it, it’s got to be written, organized, keyword optimized, human being optimized, spell-checked and proofread.
Photos. Whether they’re original or stock, someone has to find, organize, retouch and properly size and output them for web.
Design. There’s high end custom and there’s minimal, but someone has to consider colors, fonts, graphics and how they all work with your brand.
Structure. Someone has to think about pages, navigation and usability, and the best way to get users from here to there.
Layout. Headers, footers, sidebars, call-outs, pull quotes, opt-in boxes, social icons. These things don’t magically place themselves on the page, nor should they be stuck somewhere haphazardly.
Optimization. Beyond keywords, there are considerations for code quality, site speed, meta data.
Functionality. Opt-in boxes don’t program themselves. Nor do contact forms, shopping carts or other features. There are fundamental questions like “what happens if…” and “then what?”
Compatibility. With half a dozen common browsers and twice as many versions, multiple operating systems and platforms, not to mention mobile, someone has to make sure your site works.
Launch. Someone has to install your site on a hosting server, set up the DNS, get your analytics, Webmaster tools and sitemaps in order and make sure everything is working in real life, including all those opt-ins and contact forms.
If this sounds like a setup for “…and that’s why a website has to be expensive!” it’s not. It’s just the practical reality of building a site. There are things to do and things to consider. These are just some of those things and they all go into determining a cost.
Things That Can Affect The Cost Of A Website That Have Nothing To Do With The Website
Experience. A less experienced person may charge less because he doesn’t have the full-blown skill of a seasoned professional. That’s not to say he’ll do a bad job, but it’s always a risk when you’re working with freelancers who build websites “on the side”, self-taught “learn web design in 21 days” types and people who are just starting out in the industry. If cost is a big factor it might be a risk worth taking. Just do it with your eyes open and don’t expect things to be as thorough as they might have been with a more experienced professional.
Experienced developers can charge you more because they bring the weight of their expertise to bear on your project. An experienced developer may be able to do your site in half the time and charge twice as much, but remember you’re dealing with value and not cost. You should expect an entirely different experience and result.
Let’s Talk Money
$2,000-$4,000. This is most likely your entry-level range. In this price range you can expect a decent professional to put together a site for you that includes common functionality such as a content or image slider, contact form and opt-ins, photo gallery, blog and a branded design. While this range will afford you a site that goes beyond the generic template-look with features like a designed header or background and consideration for colors, fonts and layout, it’s not going to buy you a completely custom design. Often, sites in this price range are based on a WordPress theme or HTML template.
Even at an entry level you should expect basic optimization. That means your site is built to current code standards and optimized for speed, functionality and fundamental search requirements. While your content may not be optimized, the rest of your site – from basic meta data to sitemaps and other essentials – should be.
What you will not get at this level is copywriting or any content creation. You should come prepared with whatever content you want on your site and that includes copy, photos, videos or whatever else you need, plus your logo and branding requirements.
$5,000-$8,000. In this range you can add a fully customized design. This is where you get to sit down with an actual designer and talk specifics when it comes to branding, style and layout. Custom sites tends to be more time consuming to plan and build, so if you have specialized site requirements whether for design or functionality, you can expect to hit the higher end of this range.
You can add basic ecommerce in this category but don’t expect too many bells and whistles.
$10,000-$15,000. In this range you can get quite a robust website with accommodation for more custom requirements when it comes to programming, photo galleries and portfolios, forms, or other functionality.
You should also be able to get some keyword optimization here and depending on the size of your site, you may also be able to sneak in some copywriting. As with the last price range, you should come prepared with your branding materials.
$20,000-$30,000. In this price range you can sit back and relax because you can afford to work with a copywriter who will take care of content creation and full-on optimization for you.
It also buys you sit-down time with a designer, not only for your website, but for logo and branding development plus mobile considerations, too, although it won’t necessarily afford you anything specialized like custom photography or video.
What A Website Should Not Cost
$500. If that’s what your site cost, I bet you’ll find at least one fuzzy pixelated photo, at least one mis-programmed form validation, at least one missed optimization opportunity. Maybe you can get your blog set up for $500, but you cannot build a professional web presence for that little. Even an unskilled developer charging $50 an hour can’t put together an optimized, functional, professionally branded site in 10 hours. Please do not tell me how you know someone who did it because I promise you won’t want me to look at that site and pick it apart.
Finally, you should consider one of the biggest and most often neglected questions…
…and than what?
Once your website is built, you’re barely part of the way there! You need an “and then what” plan for making sure your site is hosted securely and your data backed up properly. You need a maintenance plan, whether that’s you on a WordPress CMS or your developer making changes for you periodically. You need to stay on top of errors and alerts in your Webmaster tools and you need to get out there and market your website, track its progress via analytics and keep making changes as you learn what your visitors want and need.
That may be the job of your developer, your marketing company or simply you, but it’s certainly something to think about.
At the end of the day, I want you to approach your next web project with a bit more information than you had before so you can read the bottom line on your next proposal and feel confident that you’re being neither stupid nor swindled. With these guidelines, I hope you now have a place to start.
Read more about this marketing idea: http://www.websearchsocial.com/how-much-should-a-website-cost#ixzz1sDTC8GvW