Design + Technology

These 10 things determine the cost of a website.

A response to the common, "How much does a website cost?" question.


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How much does a website cost?

I am often asked, “how much does a website cost?”. It’s a fair enough question, but it’s about as vague a question as asking "how much does a car or house cost?" These things can run the gamut, from the very inexpensive to some very mind-boggling sums. Why? Because not all websites are created equally and because when we talk about a website, it's is not just one thing. Much like a car or a house, it’s many things that when combined become the sum of all its parts.

Let’s break it down. Every website is comprised of these 10 things.
  1. Discovery/Strategy - Learning what the website needs to achieve business goals
  2. Set up and onboarding - The organization that needs to happen on every build
  3. UX (User experience) - Design and animations that create a pleasant experience
  4. UI (User Interface) - How people interface with the design
  5. Development (Programming) - The code that makes the website work
  6. Project Management - Calls and emails with the client to keep the project on track
  7. SEO - The notion that if you build it people will come is false
  8. Copywriting - Creating effective copy that creates buyers and donors but also ranks with high SEO scores
  9. DNS Management - Aiming your domain at the new hosting server
  10. Hosting - Finding a place for your website to live

If you leave out any one of these items you have no website. On top of these 10 essential factors, there are specific types of websites that do very different things. For example, an online store has much more functionality, design, UI, and UX baked into it than a simple 5-page brochure-based website.

Once we start assigning a value to each item on the list, it becomes a very different reality than the cost of a "web design". Let’s be honest, web design is only a small part of a website that is supposed generate income for a business or donations for a non-profit. Because a website that has solid copywriting and SEO, will always outperfom a visually compelling website that has cut the corners on just those two factors alone.

I hope this helps folks understand how incredibly broad a question they're asking when they ask, “how much does a website cost?”, my answer might be, "Do you want a used pickup truck or a brand new Mack Truck?"