Why Web Design and Development Costs Vary

February 9th, 2016

You’re looking to redesign or build your company’s website or web application. You’ve spent the past week gathering estimates for your website, but you find yourself at a loss. When clients come to us asking for quotes, they often mention receiving wildly different numbers from other companies they’ve contacted. One company quotes the project at $1,500 while another claims it would cost no less than $8,000. What’s the deal?

web development and design costs

It’s normal to be skeptical or confused when you’re getting quoted vastly different prices for the same project. You wonder whether the company with the higher quote is just inflating their prices or if the company with the lower estimate can really provide you with everything you need. How do you get down to the true cost of designing and developing a website?

Research, Research, Research

The first thing you should do is educate yourself through good old fashioned research. Most people don’t know what they need or want and don’t understand the ins-and-outs of their project. Failing to do research can lead to choosing the wrong developer and/or designer for the job. There are countless trustworthy and honest web developers and designers out there who want to provide your business with something of quality. These developers and designers will take the time to answer all of your questions, explain the technical aspects of your project, and give you a breakdown of the cost.

The right conversation should always begin with your business goals. What functionality do you need? Where is your company now and how have you planned for growth? These are questions a developer or designer should ask. If you’re not sure how big your project is or what to look for in a developer, you can check out our past blog posts on these topics.

Freelancer vs. Agency

The next step involves deciding whether to go with a freelancer or an agency.

Hiring a freelancer can be a cheaper option, though this is not always the case. Freelancers are often very good at what they do. Most specialize in certain areas and hone their craft. For example, if you need a logo made for your company, print material for an upcoming event, or would like help with establishing the company’s overall branding, freelancers are a great way to go. However, if your project is complex or requires unique specifications, this may not be your best bet.

Sure, there are freelancers who do it all, but many don’t specialize in all the areas needed to complete your project. To combat this issue, freelancers often partner with one another on bigger projects. This would require more time and coordination on your end while possibly driving up the cost to hire a web designer or developer. At this point you may want to consider going with an agency.

An agency employs professionals with specialized skills and varying levels of expertise in order to complete more complex projects.  Web design and development costs at agencies are usually higher, but this option includes a dedicated staff with the combined experience to really deliver.

Agency employees are accustomed to working together and all tasks are coordinated by a project manager or management team. Everyone is organized and well equipped to handle complex assignments. For instance, two employees may be in charge of creating a custom Content Management System (CMS) for your website while another is working to implement e-commerce functionality.

Adding Features to Your Website or Webapp

There are many factors that go into formulating a web design and development quote, one of the most important being which features your business needs or wants to have available.

Here are some examples of questions you may need to answer for an accurate estimate:

  • Do you need to buy a domain name?
  • Do you have hosting set up for your website?
  • Is this a new site or a redesign?
  • Do you have existing content that needs to be brought over?
  • If you need new software or want to integrate software into an existing system, what are your specific business needs?
  • Will you require outside maintenance of the website or software?
  • Will your site have multimedia (video, sound, animations, etc.)?
  • Will you be selling products online? If so, will your customers need accounts to access their orders?
  • Will you need inventory management?
  • Will you be updating the content yourself on a regular basis?

The more functionality you want, the higher the total price will be. Your web design and development estimate should also include the time to be spent planning, designing, and developing the site or webapp. Take note that some freelancers and agencies give estimates at a fixed price while others go by an hourly rate.

Creating Content for Your Website or Webapp

When it comes to content, the client should provide as much material as they can to their freelancer(s) or web team. It is ideal for clients to provide the content because they know their industry best. However, any developers or designers you are working with should review this content to ensure that images are web-friendly and that text is formatted correctly to fit with the design.

If you do not have content ready, this will come at an additional cost. Content is what makes a website a website. Otherwise, it’s just beautifully designed empty space. Your team may or may not have a trained content writer on staff or all the proper equipment to take photos and record video, but many will offer these services if need be.

Get Started

To recap:

1. Make sure you know what your business needs and goals are. Think about what website and webapp features would best fit your company now and in the future.

2. When asking for quotes, pay attention to the questions that you are asked. You will know if the developer or designer is knowledgeable and interested in providing you with everything you need.

3. Lastly, decide how you will generate content. What is it that you want your business to convey to your target audience? Put just as much (if not more) time and effort into this part.

If you’ve done all your research and are ready to take the next step, start shopping around. Use everything that you’ve learned to make a final, educated decision on who’s hands you’ll put your business in. Remember, you can always contact us with any questions or concerns you may have along the way. Good luck!

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