The digital age has led to drastic changes in the world of business. A website these days is not just preferred; it has become a necessity.

Think about the first action that you take when you’re handed a business card. Don’t you find your eyes immediately fixating onto the company’s website? This phenomenon is what we call, “the first digital impression”.

However, there is a ton of variance that goes into the costs of building a website. If you’ve requested for a few quotations for a web design project, this is something that you would have witnessed first-hand. Some web design companies quote tens of thousands of dollars for a seemingly straightforward corporate website, while others plunge their prices to mere hundreds.

This leads to the question that plagues the minds of all business owners… “What are the actual costs involved? And how can I, as a business owner, get the best bang for my buck without paying too much? “

Fret not, this detailed post will explain everything that you need to know from an unbiased perspective, and introduce some much needed transparency into an industry that’s begging for it.


Factors to consider before finding a web design company

Fundamentally, web designers and agencies alike charge based on one thing: time. Service-based industries follow a similar pricing structure; be it a consultancy, an accounting firm, or a law practice. Web design is no different.

The more complicated a project seems, the longer it’s estimated to take, the higher the costs. That is the general rule of thumb. There are, however, other factors involved that affect the prices. Here are some of them that you need to know about.


1. Web hosting and domain registration

All websites require a domain to be registered and a web host to be purchased in order for it to be live for public viewing. Think of web hosting like a rented computer, where all of our website’s files, content, and images are stored and made live for the world to see.

The costs for both of these typically start from $100-$200 per year for entry level packages (shared web hosting), ranging up to thousands of dollars per year for dedicated servers.

Dedicated servers are typically used for enterprise systems or websites that receive millions of visitors in monthly traffic. If you’re not looking to create something of a similar scale, then an entry-level web hosting package will suffice.


2. Content Management System (CMS) installation

A Content Management System (CMS) is a back-end administrator panel that allows you to make simple adjustments to your website on your own. Yes, this means you won’t have to go through the hassle of contacting your web design service provider just to upload an image!

These adjustments typically include creating and editing posts, creating and editing pages, and uploading various forms of media. It’s an intuitive and user-friendly system that makes maintaining your website so much simpler. The most commonly used CMS in WordPress, which currently powers approximately 27.5% percent of all websites.

As you can see from sheer numbers alone, WordPress has certainly come a long way over the years. Its once amateurish reputation has been washed over by its sheer popularity amongst bloggers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and internet marketers. In fact, the once-blogging platform has now become a powerhouse brand in the CMS industry.

Other CMSes do exist as well, such as Drupal and Joomla. WordPress, however, remains to be the most versatile and widely-used system. A CMS typically does not increase or reduce the costs involved for your web design project.

Additional costs are only incurred if you require training for both you and your staff, integrations with external applications, or a fully customised layout. Once again, these additional services require time, which equates to higher prices.


3. Need for a responsive or mobile-friendly website

Most, if not all WordPress themes or templates are already mobile-optimised. It is, however, still important for developers to test mobile optimisation features and ensure that everything is functioning correctly.

While the costs involved for a responsive website are nothing exorbitant, it does slightly affect the overall quote for the project.

Unless your project requires a customised website, in which a mobile-optimised version would equate to building an entirely new website from scratch. In such cases, the costs involved would be far more extraordinary.

Nevertheless, responsiveness/mobile-friendliness, is a feature that is worth every penny. Online user behaviour is gradually shifting from desktops to mobile devices, making it important for businesses to invest their efforts into mobile marketing. Within the core of any mobile marketing strategy, lies a mobile-optimised website.


4. Technical function needs and requirements

This is where costs and prices get more complicated, and a little less friendly. If you’re looking to create a website with complicated and unique technical functions, the costs to develop your website will be astronomical. These functions can come in the form of booking systems, listing systems, or eCommerce systems. The software involved can be far more complex if the system needs to be built from scratch.

However, if an existing open-source system will do the trick, then you shouldn’t be looking at something too expensive. This includes eCommerce web designs built on OpenCart or WooCommerce.

Now that we’ve understood the factors involved in the pricing of web design services, we can now discuss the different price tiers, what they usually include, so you’ll know exactly what to expect.


Different Pricing Tiers

Business owners tend to be a little bit more conservative when it comes to communicating their budgets. While it is understandable, is not ideal.

Being aware of the client’s budget allows agencies to determine if a solution is feasible and implementable right from the start. Communicating your budget right off the bat will save you a whole lot of time duringn consultation sessions.

As a business owner, the more time you save, the more time you can spend on what matters to you – making money.


1. Web Design Prices Under $1,000

Websites that are priced within this tier are typically done by freelancers. While there isn’t anything wrong with hiring freelancers, it’s important to understand that sourcing for a reliable freelance web designer can be difficult, and it’s unlikely that the work presented to you will be of satisfactory quality.

We have encountered numerous cases of clients approaching freelancers, but being presented with work that wasn’t up to their standards. This isn’t a service that we would recommend unless there’s no possible way that you’d be able to stretch your budget.


2. Web Design Prices Between $1,000 to $2,000

The services that fall within this category are typically provided by smaller sized agencies to cater to the tight budgets of start-ups and newer SMEs. For a slight increase in your budget, you’ll be able to tap into the experience of a small team of specialists. The features included for services within this category usually include:

  • CMS (WordPress)
  • Responsive web design
  • Between 5 to 10 custom designed pages
  • Contact form submission
  • Entry level web hosting and domain registration

3. Web Design Prices Between $2,000 to $10,000

This is typically the ideal budget for a fully functional and professional corporate website. It equips web design agencies with the much needed resources to create a website that’s aesthetic and user-centric. An eCommerce website’s costs will be within this range, with some agencies charging in the low $2,000s. Features for services within this price range usually include:

  • Full-fleged eCommerce systems
  • CMS (WordPress, OpenCart, Magento)
  • Between 30 to 40 customised pages
  • Between 500 to 1,000 product uploads
  • Contact form submission
  • Social media and Google Maps API integration
  • Entry level web hosting and domain registration
  • Multilingual websites
  • Booking and appointment setting systems
  • Analytics and reporting

4. Web Design Prices Between $10,000 to $50,000

Enterprise systems for SMEs typically fall within this range, which includes both front-end and back-end web development. These powerful systems are highly complex with numerous functions that allow businesses to automate their processes and improve productivity all-around. Despite the hefty price tag, enterprise systems provide businesses with an enormous amount of value in terms of scalability. Systems within this price range include:

  • Human resource management
  • Basic accounting and invoicing
  • Project management
  • Workflow management
  • Other customised functions

Determining the success of your website

It’s always important to talk about prices, costs, and all of the monetary concerns related to web design and development. But the more important thing that needs your attention is how you determine whether a web design project is successful. If that’s something that you can’t determine, then that means your goals and objectives weren’t set to begin with; and that’s a huge mistake.

Before any web design project, it’s always fundamental to outline what you want your website to achieve for you. Is it necessary for your website to convert visitors into customers? Is it required for your website to spread awareness about your brand? Is it important for your website to make a memorable impression on your visitors? These are all questions that you should think about before creating a website for your business.

Apart from that, you’ll also need to think about traffic generation strategies. After all, a website’s pretty much useless if no one gets to see it. Do you already have an existing customer base that will visit your website frequently, such as an e-mail list? Will you be looking into paid traffic? If so, what are the specific channels that you’ll be looking into? Is SEO and link building something you’ll look into? These are the questions that you’ll need to have answers to in order to ensure the return-on-investment that you’re looking for.

The success of a website ultimately boils down to whether it’s able to support your initial goals and objectives, and ultimately achieve them. For most of our clients, getting more conversions is the primary goal. In order to remain accountable to our clients, we make it a point to track, measure, and analyze all of the visits that their website receives. We look at metrics such as bounce rates, durations, client acquisition channels, on top of other related numbers to determine if the work that we did is successful or not. If that isn’t something that your web design company is doing for you, then you might want to start learning analytics on your own, or start looking towards other options.


Starting a web design project can be tricky, but if you pay attention to the details of what you want to see and what you want to achieve, you’ll be able to stretch the overall success of your website that much further. The initial costs of going with a web design company might be higher than a freelancer, but the value that you’ll get out of it will eventually bring you a positive return on your investment.