Web Design Service Pricing — How Much Is Too Much? (…or Too Little)


How much does a website cost? Well, websites are for free. You can get them from WordPress.Com, Blogspot and tons of other places. But surprisingly you end up spending lots and lots when you want to get them working.

Here’s how: A .com domain costs somewhere around $15 an year (roughly) from GoDaddy. Then you have to buy hosting. Depending on your budget this will vary from $5 per month for basic hosting and upwards of $30 for a professional plan. This leaves you struggling to get your site up and running to at least have the website start paying for its own costs. That’s where the services of a professional website designer come in.

The reason you hire professionals is not because they do things right. It’s because they not only do things right but also because they have a fallback plan just in case things get nasty. It could be a bad web host, poor tech support or cooperation from their side or just the tantrums of a plain old site.

A website seems like a product, but designing & developing a website is a professional “service”

So after spending all this, you have a free website. It doesn’t rank, you hardly get any leads and clients are smart enough to tell that you are running a free website for your business. All that takes a toll on your business and approach. Most just assume websites don’t help business. Others get their sister-in-law do them a free design. That feels better. But then it doesn’t really work either. The logo still is trash.

You see, it’s not a website that you pay for. You pay for a website development service. A service that gets you up and running with business rolling in at the soonest.

A professional website has a great design, something that’s primarily built for great user-experience on all devices including mobiles and tablets, well-coded with top-notch SEO, newsletter integration, slider / portfolio and more. These little things add up to big returns—the same reason you go to a business school, dress smart and are a professional. This is a website that will put your business on auto-pilot—work 24×7 , attend countless customers from all over the world, work weekends without falling sick and continue to bring revenue day and night.

And depending on what all you need on your website to make it work to your expectations, it will take work and time to reach there. Nonetheless, to give you some figures, a la carte fixes start from around $45. This includes trying to get the hosting / ftp / cpanel details, configuring our tools like ftp client and code editor with the connection details of your website, understanding how things are currently setup and to fix them taking care and ensuring that everything else is untouched.

Basic WordPress website installation is tentatively around $100. If you want to have your favorite theme installed and configured including the WordPress installation and header / logo setup, this WordPress installation could cost $250. That’s because it takes time to edit the logo, header etc. to get the right sizes, make them retina ready, ensure they look good on portable devices and play nicely with the responsive design implementation. Did you imagine something as simple as configuring a header or a logo takes this finesse to get it right?

This site would still need a base set of plugins and configuring them to make it actually perform. Like the Yoast SEO plugin, stock images, inclusion of your address, a contact form so visitors can leave you a message, a Google map to help potential clients with your location, integration of your social media profiles like Twitter, Facebook, Google + etc. This would add up some hours, typically around 18-24.

Do you want your website to be mobile optimized? — a design that scales and beautifully adapts to the user’s screen? Add another 6-8 hours. This includes testing your design on various device resolutions so that everything plays nicely—regardless of device orientation or rotation. For this amount you get a good website which is functional and is powered by an existing WordPress theme.

Custom design involves creation of a custom design tailored to your business identity and requirements. And it takes an equal amount of time and work to implement this custom design into a theme coded to perfection and built to perform. From sliders, to galleries, portfolio, call-to-action, newsletter integration, membership-functionality, custom plugins and functionality — you don’t want to risk these at the cost of your business.

Realize the “value” in pricing

For an average small-business website, it takes about 4 weeks to finalize it. And then it’s ready to go live. That is 160 hours. Now $800 is very cheap by any stretch of imagination. $800 is 160 hours at the rate of $5 per hour. That’s peanuts. $25 an hour looks like a reasonable rate. At this rate the same website comes out to be $4000.

The catch is, the price is in no way a reflection of skill. A designer based in Bangalore / India would have clocked the same experience as a designer in the US. It’s just that the hourly wages are way too far apart that one looks so cheap while the other one looks inflated (for the lack of a word). And while $4000 could look measly to the US designer, $800 for a designer on the other side of the world is fair amount for a project—actually they’d find the earning to be more than fair.

The times when you lose money

There always are chances that the website you are paying $4000 for is actually being worked by a designer elsewhere away from your knowledge. There are middlemen who white-label these projects, get them done for cheaper and pocket the difference. While that may seem like a bad thing at the face of it, it’s just another way they do business.

So a great question to ask is “Are you going to design / develop it yourself?”

At Convertica, yes we do. Everything is handcrafted to perfection with my own hands. There’s no third-party or a middleman in between to call the shots and inflate the costs. You get bang for buck value!

Should I hire a US-based designer?

There’s no reason not to. Like I said the project cost would vary. Salaries in the US are perhaps the highest in the world. So you’ll have to have a budget. And this will be 500% more that the prices you could get elsewhere. An $800 website would cost $4000 from a US-based designer. Both would speak excellent English with the same experience and same clientele and everything else being the same.

On the flip-side, in the cheaper markets, there’s a lot of competition. So it becomes tricky to tell the good from the bad. I’ll cover this topic in detail in another post, including how to measure their skill and proficiency.

So how much does a website really cost!

So to answer your question and put a figure, without knowing what all you need for your specific requirements, and based on general experience, we’ve delivered fully custom business websites $800 on-wards. Depending on eCommerce, membership and custom functionality requirements it could go higher. And you get absolutely top-notch professional work — websites proven to have done wonders to our existing clients.

Recently, one of my clients wrote back to me saying,

I cannot describe how busy I was over the last week as my business was “exploding“. That’s pretty cool but I had not enough time for a few things like answering to some mails. I’m 100% happy with your work. My blog has an incredible high optin rate as I have never seen before. That’s awesome!

What’s most important to me is that the website is converting, so that it gets visitors into prospects and customers. The website I got from you is getting me exactly that. Totally recommendable if you would like to make more profit with your website.

—Ole Kannapinn (Sport-Starter.De)

Typical e-commerce, membership websites may cross the $3,000 mark. And we’ve delivered business sites that touched the $8,000. Typically most are in the range of $700-$1600. Really if you want to know how much does a website cost, the right question would be to ask yourself “How much will my requirements cost”. They keywords is “your requirements“. And once you have them jotted down along with the deadlines and the date of launch, it’s time to send them to us and find out.

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