How Much Does a Website Cost?
Ranging from simple landing pages to complex web platforms, websites differ greatly from each other.
Ranging from simple landing pages to complex web platforms, websites differ greatly from each other. Even so, there are some factors which are inevitable parts of the basic website pricing algorithm. And we finally have some time to go over them, as transparently and as thoroughly as necessary!
However, before anything else, let’s first paint you a clear picture of the development process and its main contributors. Then we’ll see together which factors contribute to the costs and how they are usually estimated.
The Key Players: The Website Development Team
Website development agencies are almost ubiquitous nowadays. And most of them offer full-fledged website creation which includes everything from design and content management, to back- and front-end development, and testing.
More or less, all of these teams feature the same roster:
- project manager
- marketing specialist
- information architect
- copywriter and content manager
- SEO expert
- UI/UX designer
- software engineers (for front- and back- end development)
- Q/A specialist
In some agencies, a separate person is hired for each of the tasks; in others, one person is in charge of more than one assignment. As is the case in many other fields of human endeavor, in time, even specialists try to add some knowledge and experience from related subfields to streamline the processes.
For instance, front-end developers can be UI/UX designers as well; and copywriters more often than not grow to also become SEO masters.
How a Website Is Born: The Website Development Process
A basic understanding of the website development process should be beneficial to any client for more than one reason. You don’t need to learn all the details! But, knowing the whole picture and having some familiarity with the phases will help you get what you expect.
So, let’s walk you through the process from start to finish!
1. Research and Planning
A website is conceived, much before the birth of the very first sketch, in the heads of the marketer and the project manager.
Namely, they are tasked with relating the client’s needs and gathering all the relevant information. They get familiar with the mindset of the target audience and suggest the best way to communicate the values of a company through its website.
After the main features and functions of the website are agreed upon with the client, a wireframe (mockup) is created and passed for approval. Loosely speaking, a wireframe is nothing other than a skeleton of the website, featuring no design elements whatsoever.
Afterward, the project manager starts planning the principal activities of the web development team and organizes the work of its members in accordance with the methodology of his own preference (e.g., Agile or Scrum).
At this stage, the UI and UX designers create an interface of the website, suited to the client’s needs. All too often, one person is in charge of both user interface and user experience. Theoretically, it’s two different things we’re talking about, but designers themselves are unable to pinpoint where UX ends and UI begins.
The design phase often results in a website prototype which can be used for advanced client/agency discussions before any coding actually occurs. While the mockup from phase one is merely a rough frame devoid of designed elements, the prototype is a fully designed, but not functional website. This, of course, helps the clients decide whether the final product will fit their initial expectations.
3. Content Creation
Sometimes, clients want to fill the website with their content and, thus, don’t need the web agency to create it in their stead.
However, much more often, the situation is quite different. And if the client has no idea about the structure of the website, he/she seeks help with the content as well.
At this stage, copywriters and SEO specialists collaborate with the client to create the texts which communicate best the client’s ideas, while remaining friendly for the search engines. And after the website is finally created, these texts are inserted into the website frame, published and carefully managed for as long as necessary.
Or, in other words, front- and back-end programming.
Simply put, the front part of a website is the one you can interact with. Therefore, front-end developers are in charge of making sure that the interface design functions properly.
Back-end programmers deal with features which are not so obvious, such as databases, cloud operations, API integrations, etc.
Only a good communication between the front- and the back-end elements results in an exceptional and lean user experience.
After a website is designed and coded, it’s time to test it.
In order to do this, quality assurance specialists conduct a thorough inspection of the website. If they discover any problems, they report it to the programmers and the designers, so they can fix the issue immediately.
Obviously, the testing process lasts as long as there are issues to be reported and stops only when there are none.
6. Launch and Maintenance
After the testing phase is complete and the client confirms his/her satisfaction with the outcome, the website is uploaded to a server.
And – ta-da – anyone can visit it at a certain address!
However, the story doesn’t end there.
Just like everything else, a website has to be maintained to remain fresh and up-to-date. And this doesn’t concern content only: some issues may come up later on.
Moreover, if at some point the number of website users exceeds the initial server plan, there will be a need to change it; this, obviously, impacts the costs.
The Issue of Money: Website Development Pricing
As you can see even from such a brief and simplified description, web development is a pretty complex process.
It requires great management, quite a few specialists, and an exceptional expertise from each member of the web development team. And, of course, there are numerous intricacies and nuances we were unable to go over here.
But, we can, as promised, have a look at the main factors which contribute to the final cost of the website:
1. Website Complexity
This one depends entirely on the needs of the customer.
Namely, you may need a simple landing page to generate leads for a concrete service or a product you offer. Or, you may need a website with a fairly simple back-end segment, but with a sophisticated custom design to reflect the values and ideals of your brand. Finally, you may be interested in a very complex web platform which encompasses things such as between-user networking and/or automatic purchases.
And these three examples are just for illustrative purposes. In reality, every client has his/her own idea and his/her own wishes and vision. Consequently, most websites are tailored to the specific needs of a specific client. And, understandably, the website costs are calculated for each client separately.
2. The Agency’s Popularity
As is the case in any other business, the best agencies usually have the highest number of orders. And, consequently, their prices are higher than the ones offered by their competitors. This, of course, doesn’t mean that less popular agencies aren’t able to do some high-quality work.
So, really, the best way to decide whether an agency fits your needs is to look at its portfolio. Moreover, a quick discussion with its project manager (especially now, after you’ve become acquainted with the development process) may help you big time!
3. Type of the Agency
One final thing to consider in terms of website pricing is the type of the website development agency.
Namely, some web agencies are centralized, i.e. their teams are all working from within the same office. Others, on the other hand, are dispersed – while one part of the team works in an office, other members collaborate with the team remotely. Finally, some agencies don’t even have a physical location – all their work and communication are done remotely.
You can gather a team yourself via platforms such as Upwork! It’s probably the cheapest option. However, it may take some time to find the team which matches your expectations. And the communication isn’t too smooth.
As for agencies, it’s clearly most convenient to work with one with an office and a whole team located within it. That way, you’ll be able to visit their office personally and follow some parts of the development process in real-time. However, for obvious reasons, these agencies are also the more expensive ones.
Fortunately, it’s the 21st century – and you have plenty of options!
The actual cost of a website depends on many factors, but the following three are probably the most important ones:
- the complexity of the website;
- the popularity of the web development agency you want to work with;
- the type of the agency (centralized or dispersed).
All of these factors contribute to the price, but the price itself differs from case to case. A good way to find out the best solution for your needs is to see an agency’s portfolio. That way, you’ll know what to expect even before the project manager starts imagining your website.