We’re a web design company so before I go any further, I want to point out that we have our way of doing things and a relative pricing model. Our pricing is not perfect for everyone and a different option may well be a better fit.
The point of this article is to help you figure out what is the best route forward for your own specific needs. I’ll provide the pros and cons for each of the different types of web design company as well as describe the key factors that impact the price of a website.
TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read)
- View your website as an investment, not a cost.
- Use a freelancer if price is the most important factor in your decision and you just need something to show you exist. Expect to pay £500-7k.
- A small web design company should deliver tangible results but may not be able to provide additional services under one roof and will charge £8k – 30k.
- Big web agencies will cost £30k+ and will be able to deliver everything in-house from design to video and PR.
- Specific factors that affect the price include functionality, turnaround time, SEO, artwork & size.
When the time comes to start thinking about getting a new website for your business, one of the first questions you are likely to have is how much will it cost?.
I know this because I’ve had thousands of conversations with people looking to have a new website created and along with how long will it take?, questions around pricing always come up pretty early on.
The problem with this is if you view your website as a cost and shop around to get it done for as little money as possible, it could end up costing you much more than your realise.
Let me explain…
The Cost Of A Website
Let’s say you speak to a handful of web design companies and you settle on the one that is offering to build your new website for the least money. We’ll say £1,000 for this example. Happy days, right?
Actually, maybe not.
Your web designer is a freelancer who meets with you a few times throughout the process, totaling around 5 hours of your time.
Your website is put together on a template and then you are asked that paralysing question that no business owner ever wants to hear; ‘can I have your content?’
After 3 months of stress and painstakingly writing a few hundred words of mediocre copy, you hand it over to your web designer who then asks what images you have. Completely fed-up, you do a quick search of Google for some industry-related images and find the best photo of yourself in your phone for your about page.
Your new website is now launched. But instead of celebrating, you just feel relieved that the whole process is over.
What’s worse is that you’re not even happy with the end result.
It’s taken 9 months, there’s hardly any text on it, the images look terrible and you don’t even want to show it to your mum!
Fast forward a year and the ugly excuse for a website that is presenting your business to the world hasn’t generated a single lead and is on page 149 of search engine results.
Now, I’m aware that I’m painting a pretty bleak picture but I promise you, I have heard variations of this story too many times before from miserable business owners.
But wait, it gets worse. This article is all about the cost of a website so let’s do some maths…
You spent £1,000 on the website.
You invested 5 hours in meetings, 9 in reviewing the site and making revisions, another 12 in writing the copy (not including procrastinating over getting started) and a couple more in reporting bugs back to your web designer.
That’s around 28 hours or 4 full days and let’s say you could have won 1 new client in that time and your average client value is £4,000, that’s a £4k loss to your business.
What about the leads you didn’t get?
Let’s say a decent website would have generated you just 1 new client per month.
Let’s also assume a decent web company would have turned your website around in 4 months. Your website took 9 months and you got 0 new clients in the first year it was live.
That’s an eye-watering £84,000 in missed business!!!
Choosing the ‘cheapest’ web design option just cost your business £88,000!!!
Ouch. So, instead of wondering about cost, perhaps you should be asking…
How much money will a website make?
With this kind of thinking, you’re on the right path to making an investment that generates you a return and ultimately helps you to grow your business.
So let’s take a look at how pricing works within the web design industry.
Web Design Pricing
What’s interesting about the web design industry is that few companies are willing to publicise their pricing strategy. Why? Well, if you ask a web designer, you’re most likely to hear one of the following responses:
‘Every project is different and the price will vary from business to business’
‘How long is a piece of string?’
‘We need to ask some questions first and then we can give you a quote’
Understandable. But not very transparent.
What makes things worse is when you do get some prices for a new website, it can vary wildly from one company to the next.
Company A might quote you £1,000 while Company B might quote you £15,000. That’s a difference of 15x!
You gave the same information to both companies so how on earth can the prices be so different?
To answer that, we need to look at the different types of web design companies…
The Freelance Web Designer
Freelancers will likely work alone, from home and so have few, if any overheads. This makes them typically your cheapest option when getting a new website created. Prices will still vary but you can expect quotes in the region of £500 – £4,000.
As you will be dealing directly with the person doing the work, communicating your requirements and any amendments will be quite straightforward.
There are some downsides to taking this route though.
Your freelancer is just one person, so their skills will be limited. It’s not possible to be an expert in user experience, design, development, testing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), security, and social media integration etc.
This means that your freelancer is most likely going to rely on templates and plugins to deliver your new website. This will cause you more problems later on when these 3rd party elements need updating and doing so breaks your new website.
Alternatively, your chosen freelancer may choose to outsource some of the work to someone else and if the price is too low to bring in a local expert, they may well decide to send your website abroad to places like India or the Philippines.
In addition, someone who is working on their own may find it hard to juggle multiple projects/clients. This will lead to much slower turnaround times and potentially a delayed project. Also, what happens when your freelancer is sick or takes a holiday?
When should you consider a freelancer for your new website?
This solution is best suited for start-ups, one-man/woman-bands, side businesses or any small project where cost is the primary factor in making your decision.
Also, if you have more time than money, using a DIY website builder could be the best route for you.
The Small Web Design Agency
By ‘small’, I’m referring to agencies that have at least one full-time member of staff up to around ten employees. They may well have additional freelance resources too.
A team of this size will have varying skill sets and therefore pricing will differ from agency to agency. Depending on the size and/or complexity of your new website, you can expect to invest between £8,000 – £30,000.
Smaller web agencies will usually have the blend of being more agile than a larger company but have more resources than a freelancer at their disposal.
Most of the work required to deliver your new website will be carried out in-house but additional services may be offered from outside the organisation e.g. photography, animation and video.
When working with a small web design agency, you will most likely have one point of contact who will oversee your project from start to finish. This person may also be involved with delivering some of the work but is more likely to oversee the designers and developers, ensuring everything they do is in line with your objectives.
Instead of a bedroom, a small web agency will have an office where you can meet the people who will be delivering your website face-to-face.
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows in the small agency world though.
Sitting between a freelancer who will work all hours to keep every customer happy and a big agency with much more resources available, you may find contacting a smaller agency out of hours more of a challenge.
Because of the wide variation of quality being delivered at this level, you may find pricing still changes significantly from one web design company to the next.
While a small agency will have a team of experts, they may have a particular style so it’s important to find the agency that fits with your specific business requirements.
Also, if you’re looking for one company to take care of all of your digital needs, smaller agencies are unlikely to be able to deliver additional marketing services such as PR in-house but may connect you with another company or offer white-labeled services as their own.
When to choose the small web design agency
If you have a clear idea about your wider business goals, what makes your business different and who your target market is and you want a website that will get results but you don’t require additional marketing e.g. PR or social media services, then the small agency is for you.
This is where we sit in the market so if this sounds like you then drop me a message as I’d love to hear all about your business – [email protected]
Wait a second. Did you just recommend your competitors?
Yep, I did. Why? We believe you should make the right choice for you, not us. We also believe that it’s important you have a few options to consider.
The Big Web Agency
The Mecca of web design companies!
They’ve got the beautiful Shoreditch offices complete with ping-pong, fussball, bean bags and all the macchiatos you can drink!
A large web agency will have the resources to solve all of your marketing issues. From animation and CRMs to influencer marketing and of course, web design, these companies can do it all.
Typically sporting a portfolio of beautifully designed websites for names you’ve probably heard of, you really want to work with these types of agency!
So, what’s the catch?
Well, those offices and expertise don’t come cheap so boy, will you be paying for them. Expect a web design agency of this size to charge you from £30,000 all the way up to hundreds of thousands.
Also, while everything might appear wonderful, high prices don’t always mean high quality. By that, I mean it’s easy to display the logos of the biggest companies in the world if the founder once did some advertising work for them back in the 80’s. So be sure to do your homework before remortgaging your house in order to pay for your new website!
When you should opt for the big web design agency
If you’re the marketing director for a big company with an even bigger marketing budget and you’ve found the perfect agency to work with then go for it!
Website Pricing Factors
At this point, hopefully you’re feeling pretty clear about the type of web design company that you want to work with. You may also be thinking that I gave some pretty wide price ranges for each.
Here are some of the key factors that will have the biggest effect on the quotes you are likely to receive for your new website…
Building features like booking systems, software integration and database systems, for example, take time and require expertise which will naturally push the price up.
In a hurry? Unless your web design team is sat around doing nothing (which is a warning that they may not be very good), they will have to delay other projects, pay their staff overtime and/or bring in additional resources in order to push your project through and this will definitely come at a premium.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
I’m often asked by prospective clients if their new website will be ‘top of the rankings’ or something similar. The practice of achieving improved rankings in search results pages is called SEO and this is a laborious, ongoing service. While many web design companies may offer such services, you can expect pricey monthly retainers for this type of service.
Note: Like most things in life, if the SEO service appears cheap, it’s probably not going to be good. As a general guide, expect upwards of £1,000 per month.
If you’ve spotted some cool illustrations elsewhere e.g. kinsta.com and want your new website to sport something similar, your web designer should be able to deliver some sexy bespoke artwork. However, this will most likely be viewed as an additional piece of work and will also have an additional quote.
Many web design companies will price based on the number of unique pages & templates. In addition, if your web designer is implementing your content for you (or even creating it) then, generally speaking, the more pages your new website is going to need to deliver the results you require, the more you will need to invest.
How much should you invest in your new website?
If I’ve done a decent job, you will now hopefully be feeling pretty confident about what level of investment you will need to make in your new website to get the results you need.
The key takeaway is to ensure you approach it as an investment (not a cost) and push your chosen web design company to demonstrate how they plan to achieve your business goals through your new website and provide a positive return on your investment.