How Much Should Your Website Development Project Cost. And Why?

From experience talking with potential clients over a possible website project, the topmost question has always been about the cost.

There's no fixed pricing model for a website project. Every developer or agency tends to determine their own rates differently, and this varies from one to another. As a result the above concerns of potential clients are understandable. They all just want to get the best price and not get cheated.

Given the importance of cost to potential clients, I am going to address this issue thoroughly in this article. What follows is a summary of the best answers I have given to potential clients on this issue time and again, and perfected over the years.

What You Will Learn

  • Why cost alone is not the most important factor
  • The right way you should look at the pricing question
  • The 4 key factors that will guide you to determining the right price to pay
  • What to do if your budget is not up to the least price you can negotiate

Website Development Pricing

Why Price Should Not Be Your Most Important Consideration

It may be desirable to get a low price for your website project, but it is also important to not let cost be the only consideration. It may not even be the most important consideration.

Remember you want a website for your business for a reason. That reason, I hope, is much more than just having a website because others are having them. Also the benefits you intend to derive from the website is worth more than whatever amount you pay for its development.

If this is your case it will not be wise to go for the lowest price offered, at the expense of the benefits you are hoping to reap from the website. So your goals and objectives for the website should come first. You would not sacrifice these for a few cost savings.

A lot of web developers comes cheap for a reason. With most of them you will get exactly what you pay for, a poor quality website that would not deliver on your intended goals. The end result would be complete waste of time, effort and (roll the drums) MONEY. Reminds me of an old English saying, “Penny wise, pound foolish” (or “Kobo wise, Naira foolish”).

So while getting the lowest price possible is good to consider, looking at things from a different angle is much better. Now lets explore the right view points from which to look at the website development pricing question.

The Right Way To Look At A Website Development Project Cost

Now lets step back a bit and ask what, in my opinion, is the most important set of questions when thinking about a website development project for your business. Why do you really need a website in the first place? What are you hoping to achieve with a website? How would having this website make a difference to your business?

A website for your business should be an investment from which you should expect some kind of returns. Any thing less would mean a failed website project. So unless you have definite answers to the questions above, the issue of how much a website project should cost is less important.

From a business point of view, a successful website project is one that has a stated business aim from the onset and delivers on it at the end.

No matter the amount you end up paying for the project, if it ends up brings in more value to your business than you spent on it, it is a success.

So the primary concern when considering a website project is to ensure you will be getting a successful website. A website that delivers on stated business objectives.

The price, while still important, should be secondary. Of cause you will still want to get a reasonable price that you can afford, while still getting a successful project. Its a balancing act. Next we explore how you actually balance these acts by taking into considerations four key factor.

The 4 Key Factors That Should Determine How Much You Pay For A Website Development Project

As I said above, the actual price you pay for a web project is of secondary importance to the benefits you are hoping to reap. But this article is about website development pricing, and not about what makes for a successful website. (A topic we will explore in another article). So, let us return to our main question: How much should your website project cost?

The best answer is that it depends. While there are no set standards for pricing a web development project, the price you should actually pay should be dependent on these four key factors:
1. The importance you place on the website. How valuable is it to you or your business?
2. The complexity of the website. Simple website should cost less, more complex ones, more.
3. The competence level of the web developers or agency. More competent developers tend to demand more, less competent ones, less.
4. How much you have budgeted for the website.

Lets look at each of these factors in details. How they are inter-related. How you should use each of them in a way that might just lead you to the best price you should pay for that website project you want.

Key Factor One: How Important Is The Website To You Or Your Business?

The more valuable and important you consider a website project to your business, the less cost will be a critical factor. The most important factor now is getting the website that would lead to the business goals you envisioned for it. Hopefully, these goals would prove much more valuable than the amount you spend building it.

In this case your primary concern should be in getting the right developer or agency that would deliver the right value you want. Here your website project is a capital investment from which you hope to get back your expenditures many times over in the long run.

Key Factor Two: How Complex Is The Website You Want?

Obviously, you will expect to pay more for a more complex website than a simple one.

The complexity of a website is more than skin-deep. So be careful not to measure the complexity of a website by its visible interface alone. A busy looking website does not imply a complex one. Its what lies beneath that counts.

Take Google website for instance. It consists essentially of two pages, a minimal input page and a result page. Judging by interface alone, its the simplest functional website you can imagine. But what lies under those two simple pages is, perhaps, one of the most complex component that ever powered any website in the world.

So it's mostly the less visible works that goes into making a website that determines its complexity, and not just its visual design.

Key Factor Three: What Is The Competence Level Of The Web Developer Or Agency?

The consideration here is related to the other two above. If the web project is important to your business, or is complex, you would prefer to have a competent developer or agency handle it. You would not want to play dice with your investment, would you? I hope not.

The flip side as it relates to cost is that you would expect to  pay more. While the price may be higher, you can be almost certain you will be getting the quality work you desire.

Although an amateur developer or agency will give you the lowest price possible, you can be almost certain the quality of work will be lower.

Apart from the quality of work, there are other factors that established hands in the web industry brings to the table. Briefly, these includes:

  • long-term relationships
  • after-launch support
  • a better understanding of industry standards and best practices. These includes things like performance, security, SEO, mobile compliance, user experience factors, future proof,etc.
  • and so on

These extra factor could mean the success or failure of your website project.

Remember that quality websites design and development takes more time, effort, resources and expertise. And that not all web developers can give you that quality of service you desire.

So you would want to verify the competence claim of any developer or agency you will be working with. There are several ways you could do this, but the most direct means is just to check up on their previous works and clients. This will usually give you a fairly reliable idea of the quality of work to expect.

Because a website is much like an iceberg, the majority of what makes up a quality website lies beneath it pretty interface. Beside a developer's portfolio there are a whole lot other things you should do to verify their competence. But I digress here, this is a whole new topic for another article and another time. (You may want to drop your email on the blog's subscription form on the sidebar. We will keep you informed as we post more informative articles).

Unless your website project is not important to you, or is simple, it is wise to let a more competent developer or agency handle it. Even if this comes at a higher cost than others quoted.

Key Factor Four: How Much Can You Afford For The Web Development Project?

I may talk all I want about the importance or complexity of your website, the competence of the web developer, but the most critical factor is the amount you are willing to pay for it. After all a website may not even be the most important factor in your business at the moment.

So when you factor in the most amount you are willing to pay into the mix you should be able to come up with a rough idea of an optimal cost.  

To summarize, given the importance of the website project to your business, you would go for a web developer or agency that is competent enough to give you the desired result at a cost not higher than the budget you have earmarked for the project.

But, in a situation where the cost is above your budget, there are solutions. I will explore these next in the last part of this lengthy piece.

What To Do If Your Budget Is Below The Least Amount You Can Get/Negotiate For The Quality Of Website You Desire

In a situation where all the above factors are met but you cannot reach a final agreement on price with the chosen developer or agency, you can still move the project along.

What to do in this case is to ask the developer to scaled down on the features and functionality set of the web project. You should make sure that the most important  features and functionality, necessary to achieve your project goals, still makes it in the final selection.

If the other features left out are still important to you, you should request that they be kept standby for future iterations of the website (version 2.0 perhaps).

This might even be a smart idea to adopt on purpose, even if you can afford to have the whole thing build at once. For one, it will let you assess the viability of your website idea at a lower cost first before investing so much into it.

Second, it will also allow you to assess the competence claim of the developer without committing to the cost of a full-featured website upfront.

Last, it fits in nicely with the principle of the “Lean” philosophy. An idea borrowed from the reining Startup culture. The idea suggests that you start off with building a website with the least amount of features necessary. This will allow you effectively judge the viability of your ideas at a cheaper cost and at a shorter  time frame.

After this you can then decide to either, continue with the original idea, change it or drop it altogether. So whichever decision you makes finally is not based on guess work or speculation, but on tested and verified facts.

Conclusion

In summary, the answer to the all important question “How do I determine how much I should pay for a website development project for my business?” is:

First, you should have a specific goal or goals you want to achieve with your website. Also, you should decide how important this goal or goals are to your business.

Second, you should consider how simple or complex your website idea is to carryout.

Third, you should decide on the quality of service you desire. Then you should consider the competence level of the developer or agency needed to get you this quality of service.

Fourth, you should look at how much you are willing to spend on the project. And if the project cost threatens to overrun this budget you can always scale down on your website requirements for the moment.

Finally, armed with these four factors, you can start to negotiate with several developers. At this point you should be confident that whomever you choose at last, you will be getting the optimal value for your money.

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