If you’ve shopped around for web design, you’ve likely seen a wide range of prices for your project. But if multiple companies are agreeing to build essentially the same website, why do some cost so much more than others?

Overhead Costs

Every business has some kind of overhead – rent on a building, insurance, computers, printers, office equipment and decor, advertising – the list goes on and on. The biggest overhead cost is typically going to be rent. An office downtown along main street can run upwards of $5,000 per month. Those costs have to be recouped from clients. Smaller agencies and freelancers will typically work from cowork spaces, small offices outside of downtown, or even out of their homes. Those kinds of cost savings can make huge differences on the estimates you receive.

Consider a small agency with a handful of employees, typically takes on about 6 new projects per month. If they choose an office that costs $5,000 per month, they have to add $833 to each new project they take on to cover that overhead. If they choose an office that costs $1,500 per month, they have to add $250 per project, so their location can have a big impact on the cost you pay.

Actual Costs

You might think that a website is digital, and has no costs to produce, other than someone’s time, right? The time spent designing and developing a website is going to be largest actual cost, but there are plenty of others. Even during development, your website will have to occupy space on a development webserver, the designer uses specialized software which comes with monthly licenses, and your website may require themes, plugins and subscriptions to third party services that all get rolled into the actual cost of developing the website.

Long-term Maintenance and Hosting

Typically, you’ll pay a one-time project cost to have your website designed and built out, and you may even find a great deal on that part of the project, only to find out you need to sign a long-term contract to pay for maintenance, support and hosting. If someone within your organization is going to be mostly updating and maintaining the site, it’s easy enough for them to run plugin updates and you may not need to pay for additional support.

Hosting is an area that we see price-gouged quite a bit. For most people, be wary if you’re quoted in excess of $100 per month for hosting, unless you’ve got very high traffic in excess of 50,000 visitors a month or have a specific needs like an e-commerce store with thousands of products or variations.

We offer hosting to our clients for a flat annual fee and include nightly backups and SSL Certificates.

Does a cheap website have to look cheap?

Absolutely not – and a beautiful, functional website doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It boils down to who’s doing the work. Designing and building out an ugly site isn’t a result of cost, it’s a result of an inexperienced designer. An over-designed site with too much movement and graphics is often a cover up for poor planning and execution.

Websites today are clean and well-organized with a good balance of copy and photography, organzied into easily-digestable chunks and utilize simple lists, and clear call to actions. An experienced designer should be able to execute those standards quickly, without looky tacky. The old addage “You get what you paid for” is true in a lot scenarios, but not always true when choosing a web devleoper. Experience, or a lack of, can make all the difference.

Jason Pleakis

Jason Pleakis

Jason has over 10 years of experience developing in Wordpress and is the owner of Greenville Webworks. His Greenville, South Carolina company designs and develops modern websites for clients in a variety of industries using the latest web standards and practices.