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How Much Does a Website Cost? 1 of 3: Initial Purchase

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"How much does a website cost?" These are six words — when spoken in sequence — that most web developers dread. There is reason for this anguish; asking how much a website costs is like asking "how much does a house cost?" With this amount of information, you can't just use the median sale price of a home, but have to include tents, tiny houses, and ridiculous mega-mansions in an estimate to truly get this comparison right (so the answer to this question could range anywhere from free to billions of dollars).

All of that said, what most people mean when they ask this question is "how much should I pay for my website?" The answer to this question depends a great deal on who you are and the reason you want a website. My recommendation for establishing your budget would roughly be described by this table:

You are... How much you should pay (in $)
An individual Hundreds
A very small business Thousands
A small/medium business Tens of thousands
A large business Hundreds of thousands
A giant enterprise Millions

This may seem a little abstract so I'll get a little more specific. For most small/medium companies that need a professional website and have a marketing person on staff for content entry, spending $30K to $50K is pretty much industry standard. Most ethical software developers will tell you this, and given these constraints they can deliver a modern website to you. To further clarify, a modern website should include:

  • A nice look and feel that also looks good on a phone.
  • An admin login so you can edit your content directly.
  • A contact form that sends you an email.

Beyond these features, the reason for the cost increase for the larger-sized organizations are as follows:

  • You need to integrate with other systems (accounting, marketing, etc.).
  • You need more security.
  • You have to support multiple locations.
  • You need more features (ecommerce, different administrator permissions, etc.).
  • You have more stakeholders you need to satisfy (which means more revisions).
  • You have important deadlines and you need status reports.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is akin to talking about a house. If you are okay living in a tent, you'll be fine with a tent but you might want running water, more bedrooms, or even a built-in espresso machine and top-of-the-line appliances, each of which would drive up the price tag.

So to review, if you are a medium-sized company looking to build a website for your marketing person, you should spend $30K to $50K. All good? Not really. The price tag for building a website faces two really major caveats:

  1. Are you replacing an existing website?
  2. How long are you expecting this website to last?

As I will discuss in the part two of this post, website migration cost and website maintenance cost are two very often overlooked costs even by professionals. Much like a house, the initial purchase is only the tip of the iceberg. It does not include the cost of moving or the significant cost of home maintenance. This oversight can have a dramatic affect on the cost of a website and these are elements that any website buyer would do well to educate themselves on.

Next Article: How much does a website cost? Rebuilding

Date posted: April 5, 2017

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About the Author

Joaquin Lippincott, CEO

Joaquin is a 20+ year technology veteran helping to lead businesses in the move to the Cloud. He frequently speaks on panels about the future of tech ranging from IoT and Machine Learning to the latest innovation in the entertainment industry.  He has helped to modernize software for industry leaders like Sony, Daimler, Intel, the Golden Globes, Siemens Wind Power, ABC, NBC, DC Comics, Warner Brothers & the Linux Foundation.

As the CEO and Founder of Metal Toad, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, his primary job is to "get the right people in the room".  This one responsibility is cross-functional and includes both external business development functions as well as internal delegation and leadership development.

A UCLA alumni, he also serves in the community as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, and Stand for Children Oregon - a public education political advocacy group. As an outspoken advocate for entry-level job creation in tech he helped found the non-profit, P4TH, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of entry-level jobs in the tech industry, and is in the process of organizing an Advisory Board for the Bixel Exchange, a Los Angeles non-profit that provides almost 200 tech internships every year.


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