How much should a website cost?

How much should a website cost

Three years ago, my husband and I set the wheels in motion to build a new house. We’d purchased an awkwardly shaped block of land so selecting an ‘off-the-shelf’ plan from a builder and making modifications to it was not an option. Also, this house would be our ‘forever house’, so the floor plan had to maximise the block while meeting the needs of our family both now, and in the future.

We hired a great building broker to commission those plans, put them through council, and then find a builder who could build our house within our budget. Fast forward to last August and we moved into our new house. Our builder did a great job and we loved working with him.

What’s this got to do with the topic of ‘How much should a website cost’?

Well, our builder nearly didn’t get the job. All because of his website.

  • First of all, we couldn’t find it when we Googled him.
  • Secondly, when we did find it, it did not reflect the words our broker used to describe him. (‘Specialises in quality, bespoke homes; pays attention to detail; is an excellent communicator.’)
  • Thirdly, it didn’t contain a single picture of any of the houses he’d built, nor any testimonials from happy previous clients.

His website was a one-page deal that didn’t say much at all, and suggested (via its imagery and logo) that he was a builder who specialised in Federation-style houses (something we were definitely not building).

Now, I don’t know exactly how much our builder made on our particular job, but I do know that our house cost ~$500,000 to build and that builders aim to make around 15% on our kind of project. So, for arguments sake, let’s say our job was worth around $75,000 (profit) to our builder.

How much does a website cost?

Anything from $500 to infinity. But, to narrow the range a bit, let’s say between $500 and $50,000.

  • $500: Will get you something a friend’s kid might build you as a project for school.
  • $1500: Might get you a half decent one-page website. But, because it’s only one page, Google isn’t going to give it a lot of love. Google prefers having a few pages to crawl and would like your website to contain useful information.
  • $5000: Will get you a nice-looking, multi-page ‘brochure-style’ site. It should reflect your business’s branding, contain all the information a client/customer would need and be set up so Google’s spiders can crawl happily through it, neatly index all the information it contains, and deliver up the site in relevant searches.
  • $10,000-$20,000: Will get you everything a $5000 website contains + professional consultation about your branding and messaging + some cool functionality (special contact forms, online payment forms etc).
  • $20,000-$30,000: Will get you everything a $10,000 website contains plus lots of extra functionality, bells and whistles, specialised consultation, cool animations etc
  • $30,000+: If you’re paying more than $30,000 for a website then it’s either a massive site, requires a lot of specialised consultation work, contains some very funky functionality/animations/interactive stuff … or all of the above.

How much should YOU spend on a website?

If you’re a builder, and just one sale will add $75,000 to your bottom line, then you should be looking at spending $20,000-$30,000 on a website. Minimum. Not just because of the immediate (and large) return on investment, but because that’s what your competitors are spending.

What if you’re a bookkeeper? Then you’d look at the lifetime value of a single client. For example, if your average client pays you $500/month and is with you for three years, then you can justify spending up to $18,000 on a website (although, truthfully, it’s unlikely you’d need to spend that much). Lawyers and other providers who work on retainer should apply a similar calculation.

What if you’re a not-for-profit? You’d need a website that clearly reflects your mission and values, gets a lot of traffic and gives excellent exposure to your major sponsors/supporters. What’s one of those major sponsors worth over the course of 2-3 years? $30,000? Then you should spend at least $10,000 on a new website. At least.

Do you rely on funding to survive? Your website should be designed in such a way that your value proposition is clear and the people you help are front and centre. A $5000-10,000 investment in your website could easily generate $50,000+ in extra funding.

Here’s the thing you don’t know

If your website is pretty average, no one is ringing you up to say ‘Look, I was considering using you/investing in you, but, because your website is horrible, I decided to go with/fund someone else.’

People who land on your website, and then click away?

You never hear from them.

Scary, right?

How to decide if it’s time to update your website

Well, you could ring a web designer (like us) and ask for an honest opinion. But, web designers do have a vested interest in telling you your website needs to be better.

So, here’s what I always tell people: Don’t trust me. Go to the Peek website and request a free review. You’ll quickly find out what impression Joe Average gets when they visit your site.

After watching the video the Peek user sends you, you’ll have a much clearer idea of where your website might be letting your business down.

Don’t have a website? Should you get one?

It’s still boggles my mind that so many businesses still don’t have a website. The fact is, people simply expect a business to have a website these days. If a business doesn’t, it sends the message that the business isn’t professional.

That said, I know many professional folk who don’t have a website because so much referral business comes their way they can’t keep up. Those people frequently ask me to convince them why they need a website.

Here’s what I tell those folk.

When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, we (Swish Design) were never busier. All the businesses who’d never had to market themselves suddenly needed to. So they came to us for flyers and websites and brand updates.

The only problem is, it takes time for a brand new website to get traction with Google and start showing up in search results. It takes a while for any marketing activity to produce results.

If you wait until an economic disaster hits and then get a new website, it’s going to take a while to work for you.

If you get a quality website designed and built while you are still busy, it will allow you to be choosier about the people you work with (a quality website will ensure the enquiries you get are predominantly from people you want to work for, while filtering out the types you don’t). It will also build up cachet with Google so that if the time ever comes where you need to dial up your Digital Marketing Strategy, you already have a great asset to work with – you don’t need to start completely from scratch.

In summary

How much should you spend on a website? If you sell big ticket items, look at the value of one sale. If you are a service-based business, work off the lifetime value of a single client. If you are a not-for-profit, or rely on funding, look at the value of one benefactor.

Do you need a website even if you are really busy? Yes.

How do you know if your current website is stopping people from calling you? Ask a professional for their opinion. Or use the free Peek user testing service.

6 thoughts on “How much should a website cost?”

    1. Hey Di – the higher estimates ($20,000+) might include copywriting but it’s always best to budget extra for that. Copywriting (writing copy from scratch) is also much more expensive than copyediting (tweaking existing copy) x

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