What Does a Website Cost? (part 1)

Of all the questions I get over the course of a month, this is the toughest to answer – at least to answer with a number. While I completely understand the importance of the question, and the earnestness with which it is usually asked, I can’t help but shake my head. I’d want to know. And I’d want to know without having somebody try to sell me something.

So my typical response is “it depends.” Depends on what?

Well, in point of fact website cost depends on the caller. There are many variables to consider when building a website – from functionality required to how intricate the design needs to be. The caller, though, is most attuned to the number of pages. “But I only need 5 pages.”

While the number of pages may have an impact, it is not really a quotable variable. For instance, 10 product or service pages, all with the same layout, won’t take nearly as long to create as the home page or a custom form. The subject matter of the various pages – and their layout requirements – is thus more important than the quantity of pages.

Design (the look and feel of the site), on the other hand, is a very important variable. How much Photoshop work will be required? Is there a Flash component? How about navigation? How many layers are to display at once?

Obviously, functionality is a big issue. If the website is required to interact with the visitors in unusual ways, that may mean custom programming, or off-the-shelf-customization. Does the owner need to be able to manage the content – requiring a content management system. How about a shopping cart for ecommerce?

Last, but most important of all, what does the website need to accomplish? What are the objectives? A lead generation or ecommerce site require a level of search engine friendliness that will dictate certain decisions. A sales support site or a website for internal purposes is not so restricted.

So what does a website cost? Call me and I’ll tell you. OR, you can read Part 2.

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