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The true cost of building a website

Buying a new website isn’t like buying lunch meat; you decide how many pounds you need, pay the per-pound price and you’re out the door. That would be nice, but it’s more complicated than that.

By answering a few questions, you’ll be able to begin to figure out how much you’ll need to put in your budget for a new website. That is, assuming that you need one.

First things first

Do you need a website? If you don’t have one, the simple answer is yes, every business needs one. It has come to be that if you don’t have one, you essentially don’t “exist.” Yeah. Kind of brutal, but it’s true. And if you don’t already have one, why not?

Certainly you’re tired of people asking you for your URL and you’re tired of telling people that you don’t have a website, no matter what the reason. So you’ve decided to cut the hassle and “get one.”

Not good enough. No matter what you’re hearing or feeling. Some folks are pushing back and resisting the perception that they HAVE to have a website, but they are few and far between. Still, feeling that you need a website just because “everyone else has one” is not a good enough reason.

Give it some thought. Talk to someone you trust and engage in a debate. Understand your needs.

You need a new website

Which best describes you?

  1. It’s been five years since your current website was created and “it’s time.”
  2. You’ve added new products and services. The current site needs so many changes that you may as well just start from scratch.
  3. You used to get a lot of leads from your website, but lately that activity has tapered off.


These are all different issues which require very different solutions, but they’re all relevant reasons for you to consider a new website. It’s no secret that the technology changes at least every quarter, so your site might just be obsolete.

There are a half dozen companies within a ten mile radius of your location who will be happy to do an audit to determine whether your current site is salvageable.

Perhaps you don’t need a new site after all

Maybe your current website isn’t generating enough leads. Is your website even being found?
If folks are not finding your website, you may not need a new website, but a marketing company.

Digital marketing is complex, and multi-faceted. Things change literally every day and frankly, it’s hard to follow unless it’s your business and it’s what you do all day every day. Companies in this industry research trends, investigate new technologies and follow the industry so they can make intelligent recommendations.

You’d be wise to engage with a digital marketing company that provides myriad solutions so they’ll truly guide you to find the best way to achieve your business objectives. If the agency primarily provides SEO options and SEO isn’t really the best way to get you new customers in a short amount of time, you may waste time and resources needlessly.

It turns out that you do need a new website

If it is determined that you do need a new website, do your homework. Jot down the web addresses of sites you like. Do the same with sites you don’t like. Look for web design companies in your metropolitan area and visit their websites. Review their clients and previous work. Do you like their style? Do their case studies and testimonials resonate with you?

Develop your RFP. (Helpful hints on this in another blog post (read more). Send your RFP to the three web design companies you chose. In your RFP, be specific about WHY you need a new website and that should spark a dialogue that will get down to the nitty gritty.

How much will a new site cost?
Well, it depends. There are few questions you should ask yourself.

  • What is the purpose of the site?
  • What Information will be included?
  • Will it be used for lead generation?
  • How many pages will it contain?
  • What sorts of functionality would it require?
  • Is the site going to sell something and require a shopping cart?

These are but a few of the questions that should be considered.

Websites can range from $1,000 to $100,000. Seriously. It all depends on what it needs to do. Who it needs to attract. How much information it needs to present and in what manner. For this reason, again we suggest you do your homework.

Assuming your site doesn’t have to be done tomorrow (which is unreasonable to ask any developer to do, especially if you want a quality site), attend some free seminars (your local Chamber of Commerce might even have one) where web development is reviewed and discussed. Talk to local business associates whose sites you admire. Find out who created their site and how much it cost so you can begin to determine your own benchmarks.

Can’t you give me a hint?

  • Yes, we can. But don’t hold us to it. This is VERY general!
  • No frills, very basic website with 3-5 pages. Very little interactivity, no ecommerce. Be prepared to spend between $3,000 and $5,000.
  • Interactive website that collects visitor information and stores it in a database. It might even serve up different information or images based on data collected during the user visit. Be prepared to spend between $12,000 and $20,000.

Ecommerce website that handles the order details, subtracts the item(s) from physical inventory, notifies the fulfillment team to ship, notifies the buyer that shipping is initiated, and handles the charge- or bank-account transaction. Be prepared to spend between $35,000 and $100,000.

Notice that, as functionality increases, the price range widens. This is not only because of additional functionality, but all the things that go along with it. More images, more copy, more approval levels, more testing, more revisions and more project management, among other things.

If it doesn’t make sense to pay someone to create your website, you can get a domain name at GoDaddy and do something really simple on your own using Wix or Squarespace (but this comes with its own inherent confusion and pitfalls).

If you choose this route, once you start to get traction, you should “graduate” to a professional web design company at a later date. When that happens, let us know and we’ll steer you in the right direction.

It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it

If this seems confusing, it’s because it most always is! The world of digital marketing is full of questions and answers, problems and solutions. However, cyberspace is where it’s at. The web is where business is conducted and products are sold. There’s no getting around it.

So, understand your situation and goals. Ask questions. Seek advice from pros. And don’t give up, because the rewards of doing business online will far outweigh the initial hassles when you’re going full steam ahead and accomplishing your goals.

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