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The Bottom Line - What is it going to cost?

article by: Lindsey Fair

I just got off the phone with the third person this morning asking me how much it will cost to get a website. I wish it was that simple! The cost of a website varies depending on the purpose, the needs and the technology being used to build it. There's bells, there's whistles and then there's marketing too.

From a client's point of view, finding out the price of a website can be very difficult. The web design industry is so diversified in the way in which services are priced that it's almost impossible to compare apples to apples. Even if you get a customized quote for your website you also need to look at:

  • do I own the copyright, can I fire this web developer and hire a new one without starting all over again
  • what is the marketing track record of this web development company
  • is support included
  • what is their customer service like
  • does it include hosting and domain name, if I want to add features like email lists, and e-commerce can I add it with this hosting company
  • what technology will they be using to create the website, will it be flexible and can I expand on it easily
And, that's just some of the things that vary from company to company. So, where do you begin? Let's look at the different components of building a website.

Consulting: You may not require any consulting. However, if your not extremely organized, or you don't know exactly what you need, paying for consulting can save you a ton of money down the road.

Web Hosting: The price for quality hosting is around $200-300 / year. The price will vary based on space needed, type of hosting required, and other features you require such as certificates for e-commerce or email list management.

Domain Name: The price for a domain name is around $15-25 / year, depending on if you get a .com, .ca, or other.

Images: To make sure your site is professional and modern, stock photography is often required. Images can cost anywhere from $25 to $1000+. You can also take your own photographs, or some web designers have a wide range of their own, but you don't want your site to look second class.

Graphic Design: Some of our clients use their current graphic designers to design the look of the website as well. This can be a large expense, and the price really varies. You also want to be sure that your graphic designer has thought of all the important points (download speeds and screen size of your target market)

Web Development: Now, I said web development as opposed to web design or web programming because development encompasses both design and programming. Some developers price per page, some per hour and some per project. An average hourly rate is $60 per hour locally and can be as high as $300 per hour in larger centres such as Toronto or Montreal. Some companies may price much lower but don't include dynamic programming such Cold Fusion, PHP, ASP, etc, which are used to allow user interaction, dynamic content or components that can be easily updated by your staff.

When you're budgeting for a website, besides doing a lot of planning and getting estimates, how can you be sure to budget an appropriate amount? A quick method to analyze how much to spend is to take 20% of your overall advertising budget and direct it to your web marketing initiatives. So if your total advertising budget is $15,000 and you're in a service industry catering to a large geographical region (ie. hotel) - take 20% of the $15,000 = $3,000. Stretch that over 3 years (the average life of a website) = $9,000. You should then spend $9,000 on web development, hosting and a domain name. This theory is based on your overall advertising budget and should be directly related to your sales. Of course, every industry and almost every business will have a different formula, but be sure not to cut yourself short where it really counts.

If you need help to figure out how much you should be spending on a website feel free to contact us at any time - we'd love to help.

Lindsey Fair is a project manager and partner with Inter Kingston Web Design, Founder of Market Me, Co-Founder of the Kingston Young Entrepreneurs Group, and Immediate Past President of the Kingston Junior Chamber.