I get asked a lot, what a website should cost. And surprisingly, even as a Digital Marketer, my honest answer is, ‘I have no idea, …..’

It’s not that I am stupid, but I have been asked an incorrect question.

New clients will get on the phone and give little or no information and hope to get a quote from a web developer or website agency, well if you do get a quote this way, then I can confidently tell you that you are working with an unprofessional individual and you run the risk of throwing your money away.

Having said all that, let me answer the question.

A website can typically cost £250 – £500 yes, do a search on the internet or visit any freelancer platforms and you can get ‘a website’ for that price.

A website can typically cost £1,000 – £5,000. Contact any freelance developers and you could negotiate a website for that cost

A website can typically cost £2,000 – £25,000. Contact any digital agency and you will receive a quote within that range

A website can cost, well over £25,000 and of course, this will depend on the website specification and scope.

So how much, do you think website costs. The correct answer? I have no idea, it depends….

My advice to clients is to understand what the cost of a website depends on, clarify what is important to you and why you want a website.

It is also important not to consider the one-off costs of a website, but also the maintenance, management and marketing of the website.

Noone builds a website, just to have a website? Do you?

Most people want a website as they believe it will bring them more clients which translate into more money, which gives them the life they want. Therefore the website is just a marketing tool.

Consider this analogy.

Imagine the website is a car.

You don’t buy a car to leave it in the garage, do you? Your car was purchased for several reasons, let’s take just one.a purpose, to take your family

You need a car to take your family for a holiday in Devon – You live in Cardiff.

So you want to buy a car? Same process as wanting a website.

The car already comes with a logo, colour, engine, chairs, stereo and perhaps other extras included;  check with the company that builds your website, what exactly is included? Do they include logo design? content development, copywriting, perhaps social media integration,  stock photos, an e-commerce shop, a blog?

You could get a cheap quote that does not include the items you want, but it’s still a website. Or you can specify what you want and watch the price of the website go up. If you are going to compare quotes, we ask that you compare like with like.

Let’s talk about the chassis your car is built with. Is it a Bentley, a BMW or a Ford?Same things in web development,  do you know if the platform is WordPress? – (Free open source) or ExpressionEngine at $299.00 or perhaps Kentico at £15,999.00.

You see, not all software is created equal.

OK, let us go with WordPress, it is free. Would you like a pre-built template costing $75.00 or a custom template designed in accordance with your requirements circa $1800.00.

What would your decision be based on? do you understand the difference? does it matter to you?

Sticking with WordPress, and the extras, what additional functionality would you include, how does the developer integrate the code? Does he/she use lots of plugins which hamper the speed and performance of the website and increase the risk of time money and stress if a plugin gets hacked or conflicts with a WordPress upgrade? Or does the developer integrate most of the code in the PHP files?

Is there a difference in the way a cheap website is built? Or perhaps you think you are getting a Bentley for the cost of a Ford Fiesta. It never works that way, pay peanuts and you will get monkeys.

Anyway, you settle for the BMW at £36,000…  (the website costs £6,000) and we continue with the analogy.

Your car is parked in your garage for 3 months. Luckily you own a garage, or else you would have had to pay for a rented garage – we call this website hosting – your website does not float around in cyberspace. It consists of files and these files have to be stored somewhere and you have to pay an annual charge, every single year.

Back to the car – the reason your car has not moved is that you did not budget any money for the fuel. But hey you have a car. It does not go anywhere and nobody sees it, but you do have a BMW.

Same thing, you have a website. Nobody visits it, and it does not serve any purpose, but you have it. Bloody waste of money, I think, do you?

I hope you agree you need to regularly put fuel into your car, well we call this a marketing budget. It could be social media adverts or posting, or writing blogs, or SEO, but you have an allocated amount each month for marketing, even if you do it yourself, you are spending time that would have been spent on your business, so there is a cost. There is no way out of it. Building a website without thinking of an ongoing marketing budget or resource is a vanity project.

But it does not end there, some management is still required

Luckily for car owners, the car can look exactly the same for the next 10 years. But with websites, it is important to update the content, especially if you have a blog. Why? because things change. Perhaps you want to highlight a particular service? or your address has changed, or a member of staff has left? or you have a vacancy? Your website should reflect the changes in your business. Do you know what to do when it is time to update your website?

Have you been given access or do you have to go back to your web developer each time to update the website, and do you know how much this costs?

Lastly maintenance, your new BMW will eventually need a MOT, or perhaps some air in the tyres, an annual service. However, it is not too bad with cars as the automotive technology does not change that fast. With websites, it is a whole different story. Changes in technology are the fast paced, with WordPress updating its software regularly 4 times a year, and you have to keep up if you have a WordPress website.

So there you have it. If you consider the lifetime costs of a website not just a one off build, then it is important that the website achieves a return on investment ROI, that is much more than the amount spent on it.

This is why we recommend a planning a Digital Strategy with realistic goals and returns before building a website.