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Understanding The True Cost Of Web Design

The Cost Of Building A Website
It's time to build a website for your business but you want to know what it will cost. When you ask the question you'll get answers that are literally all over the map.

It’s time to build a website for your business but you want to know what it will cost. When you ask the question you’ll get answers that are literally all over the map. Unfortunately it isn’t a simple question to answer. There is quite a bit of leg work, understanding and expectation that goes into the price of a website.

The True Cost Of Web Design Depends On What You Want Your Website To Do

You might think it should be obvious what a website is meant to do. But wait! Consider the questions below.

Is my website a place for people to see my products and services?
Is my website a place where people can send me a message?
Is my website a place where I can grow my email list?
Is my website a place where people can buy my products or services?
Is my website a place where people can book appointments?

It’s not as straight forward as you may have thought. Once you figure out exactly what you want your website to do, it’s time to go out and get some quotes.

The Hidden Cost of Web Design

Any website designer worth their salt is going to have a discovery process of some kind. They should want to pick your brain; have you fill out questionnaires and understand what your target market and competition are all about.

Do you have branding in place or is the designer going to build a site without an identity guide? That requires some expertise that the average armchair web designer simply doesn’t possess. Your designer will need to walk you through these decisions, and manage your expectations all the while delivering the best website for your business and purpose. You can start preparing by doing some homework upfront.

Also, how much experience does your designer have? How many completed projects can they show you and what is the caliber of their clients?

Just like any business, web designers have fixed costs to run their business that are also considered when pricing their work.

The Costs Of Designing A Website

The design phase can be as simple or as detailed as you want.

Do you want to see wireframes and layered PDF design samples? If so, how many design options do you want to see? Then, how many rounds of revisions do you want?


Designers are very protective of their time so it’s important to keep in touch with them. Reply to their requests for feedback in a timely manner, because the longer you take to communicate, the longer the design phase will last.

Scope Creep

Scope Creep is a term that somebody coined to mean all those little side requests like a color change here, and a design tweak there, that are over and above the parameters of your contract. The time it takes to do these little things add up, and as we all know, time is money. When it comes to any kind of design project, be prepared to be organized in order to keep your project on track and on budget.


What is the timeframe for your project? Generally speaking the faster you want it done, the more expensive it is. This short video demonstrates a fundamental truth of any design project. When it comes to “Good, Cheap or Fast” you can only ever have two of these.

What does Meatloaf say? Two out of three ain’t bad.

Video poking fun at how you can only have two out of three from the options of Good, Cheap or Fast when it comes to web site design.


Then there is content for the website. Do you have your copy ready? Do you have photography or do you need stock photography sourced on your behalf? Again, if you don’t have an established brand, the sourcing of photography for your website needs to fit some kind of framework, which hasn’t been provided. The skill of your designer in choosing content like photography now comes into play.

The Costs Of Building A Website

The actual building of your website will involve many of the same considerations as designing your website – so, does your budget account for this stacking of steps? Designing can happen on the page before any technology is ever touched, but for lower budgets, you can have your website designed online and view live webpages to give your feedback and edits.

Similar considerations to the design phase are:

  • Number of design iterations
  • Timeframe for this phase of the project
  • Design complexity

Additional considerations to the design phase are:

  • Number of actual web pages
  • Number of layout templates used throughout the site (does your home page layout repeat for every page or do your supplementary pages have a different layout)
  • Custom code and css required
  • Extent of search engine optimization for the content. This does not mean “whether or not SEO is implemented, but rather how much is implemented. If a designer doesn’t mention on-page SEO in their project quote, move on.
  • Website security
  • Speed and page caching

Then, over and above all of this is the functionality you want and need so your website does all things you want it to do. Things like calendars and bookings, portfolios, video, in site search capability, e-commerce, mapping and locations, translations, accessibility and the list goes on.

Opportunity Cost

One of least understood hidden costs is opportunity cost. An experience designer – with a higher price tag, who has more projects under their belt, will in fact have the edge that will create more return for you down the road. This is opportunity cost and this is why, when you ask the question “how much does a website cost?” you literally get answers from $50 to $10,000 and more.

Imagine your website is a piece of furniture. If your furniture comes from IKEA, the reason it is so cheap is because they effectively pass on much of the work that other furniture manufacturers would do, to you the customer.

Things that make your opportunity cost higher:

  • Education
  • Credentials
  • Experience and expertise
  • Specialization
  • Client list

When considering the cost of web design, here’s my advice

If you want my advice I would say this. If you have a genuine budget of, say $2000 to build your website, but your sisters boyfriend will do it for $500, make sure you look beyond the immediate gain of going for the cheaper option.

Do an honest assessment of what you can and can’t afford, get at least three quotes and DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE. Check references and ask questions as if you were hiring an employee. If they don’t have the time to answer your questions or you get the feeling of being rushed, pressured or otherwise overlooked, take it as a sign to move on.

There are a ton of web designers out there and I promise you, there is one that is perfect for you and your business. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve actually been hired for design fixes, tech fixes and even entire website do-overs, because of one bad decision. So do yourself a favor and be methodical about it.

If you want to have a chat about your website dreams schedule a free discovery call.

Best wishes!

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Easy Artisan Websites

Supporting Women in Business since 2011

About Julie

🙌🏻 I design, build and maintain beautiful Wordpress websites for women entrepreneurs so they can spend more time doing the work they love. 💖

I am also the creator of an all-in-on website solution made especially for women entrepreneurs ready to scale. A tool to strengthen customer relationships and accelerate business growth. Find out more at Creative Website Builder.

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