In this article, you will learn about how website design service providers charge for their services. We will show you why websites can be so cheap and so expensive, what are the pros and cons of different website design types. We will also explain how you can prepare for an efficient, timely and cost-effective website design and development project.
The nature of website design service
Website design service is basically a service, the total cost of a website is a straightforward formula:
Time * Rate charge = Cost
Depending on the provider, the formula may grow a bit more complex to take into account possible risk factors etc, but the basic formula stays the same.
How is rate charge calculated?
In most cases, rate charge is calculated based on the market value and the skill level of the team. This explains the reason why websites built in countries with lower living costs may be cheaper given the same quality of work. Website development is among the top IT jobs to be outsourced to third-party development teams. It's very important to note that team with better skills and experience will produce higher quality results in less amount of time.
How is time calculated/estimated?
Based on the initial requirements, the service provider can calculate the necessary time to complete the project. Given the same requirements, each service provider may have different time estimation (based on skills, experience, previous works, etc...)
In a website design and development project, the tasks are often broken down into several categories:
1. Meet with clients: this task is extremely important. Simple
information request forms and emails cannot replace face-to-face to live meeting
sessions to understand the clients' business, needs, and goals. Meeting are often held
once per week from the start of the project till the final delivery.
2. Research project materials: to create a brand-focus design which
reflects the client's identity and vision, the creative team must go through a number
brain-storming sessions and collect necessary images and other assets. Depending on the
project's complexity level, development team must research new technologies to satisfy
the client's requirements.
3. Actual design and development: the main component of website design
and development project. This tasks usually takes a good amount of time especially if
the client does not have good planning and keep changing requirements.
A good creative must spend a lot of time to research, design, test, revise until they reach the final version that can speak for the brand and user-friendly. We recently wrote an article on website design for furniture retailers
, you can check it out to understand the research and design process we do for each project. On the other hand, budget service providers usually do not spend much time if any on these important tasks, they simply pick and apply a ready-made template with a few minor modifications. The final result may still look great, but since it was not researched, designed and developed specifically for your business, the customer conversion chance can be hit and miss.
In website development, one can develop a website with the desired layout and features in many way. A professional team will ensure that they will pick the best way for performance, search engine friendly, and extensibility in the future. A bad team will take any shortcuts they can and deliver work that may look good on the surface only.
Hint: spend a good deal of time working with the service provider from the start to ensure they understand your requirements clearly. Service providers that jump directly to quotation without first understanding your needs and goals should be avoided as they surely have not put enough effort into discovering hidden requirements that you may have.
4. Bug fixes, maintenance and support: no
programming project can claim to be bug-free. The website project once done needs to go
through a process of checking, testing, fixing and improving to reach the final
As you can see, the requirements and the quality of work can greatly impact the total amount of time spent on a website project. A hacky job can be done in hours while a carefully implemented job can take months. As a client, you need to clearly understand your requirements, acceptable quality of work, and thoroughly assess the skills and experience of your website design service
Note that depending on your service provider, the actual cost may vary due to different rate charge and execution time.
“ Website is an investment that can generate great results if done right. ”
Different types of websites
Assuming that we custom build a website without using template, the estimated costs for different types of websites are listed below:
One Page/Landing Page
This is basically a website with a single page. Many small businesses are employing this new single page website to keep the website content minimal and straight forward. Sometimes this type of design can be also used to introduce a single product/service/event to keep the visitors focused on a single purpose. In this case, the web page is also called a “landing page” because people will land on this single page when they click a specific link from an ad or email, etc.
Because these websites are so focused, it usually minimizes the amount of effort required to build them. Total hours for this type of website can range from 40-80h+ depending on the project scope.
Small Business Informational
This website is the most common type of business website. It usually has 6 – 12 pages. The types of content areas you will see on these sites are;
The website is focused on promoting the brand, marketing the businesses services and providing information. Total hours for this type of website can range from 80-160h+ depending on the project scope.
Medium Business Informational
This is similar to the above website type but there are additional needs for more content pages and/or special functionality:
- Custom Customer Relationship Management tool.
- Online membership or logins.
- Complex integration with external services such as facebook
- Complex and custom information collection forms.
Total hours for this type of website can range from 150-300h+ depending on the project scope.
Small Business Ecommerce
This represents a simple marketing website with an ecommerce feature for show-casing or selling of products or services. An ecommerce website with basic, standard features takes from 100–200h+ depending on the project scope.
Medium Business Ecommerce
Bigger ecommerce companies usually requires a more complex website with more customized features requirements:
- Large number of visitors.
- A large number of complex products.
- Custom order, shipping, accounting, fulfillment, and other back-end functions.
- Custom price rules.
- Custom product presentations.
For this level of ecommerce website, the total hours can range from 400–1000h+ depending on the project scope.
Now that you know the rough number of hours a website design and development project may take, you can easily calculate the cost. You can also use this knowledge to calculate the amount of time the agency will spend on the project. For example, if the project is quoted at $5000 USD and the rate charge is $50 USD per hour then the total project will take 100h. With 100h, the project can be a little more complex than the small business website but cannot be too complex.