It costs around £5,000 GBP for a bespoke SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) website — approximately $5,870 USD, or €5,850 EUR (at the time of writing).
Very few startups have that kind of budget available for a website; if they do, they have usually earmarked it for something else.
The web industry is often less than transparent — one of the reasons we’re creating this site — and more than a few clients have gone a little pale when a realistic budget is proposed.
This article will explain where that total comes from and offer advice on what to do if your war chest is missing a zero.
Why is Developing a Website so Expensive?
Naturally, the cost of a website will vary depending on what you need. As with any other product or service, the market sets the final price.
If £5,000 for a website sounds expensive, you probably aren’t aware of everything involved. Brand assets, SEO (search engine optimisation), UX writing (user experience writing), responsive design, scaleable code, and many other factors push up costs, and none of them can be omitted.
Additionally, the cost does not vary much internationally — expenses may be lower for offshore companies, but in my experience, those savings are rarely passed on to the client. The additional problems with communication, accountability and quality mean that when companies outsource to offshore agencies, prices are pushed up by the remedial work that is typically required.
Designing and developing a website is essential for almost every business. The key is to treat it not as an expense but as an investment that will return your money many times.
How to Build a Successful Website Cheaply
A tailored, made-to-measure suit will fit better than an off-the-peg suit. Most of us start with the cheaper, ready-to-wear option, hoping and expecting that we’ll update our wardrobe later.
The same is true of websites: A bespoke site will fit your business better than any theme or site builder. A well-made bespoke site will outperform any other option for CX (customer experience), SERPs (search engine results pages), and conversions.
However, sometimes we have to make do for the time being. Making cuts in the right places will maximise your ROI (return on investment) so that you can afford to reinvest down the line.
The 80/20 Rule
In my experience, the most common hurdle in reining-in web development costs is the ambition of the stakeholders. The nature of entrepreneurs is to focus on the horizon, but if you don’t glance at your feet once in a while, you tend to trip.
The 80/20 Rule holds that 80% of your success metrics come from 20% of your website. Or, simply put, 80% of your website is all but redundant.
The challenge is to simplify your plans to find that profitable 20%.
Hire a Freelance Web Professional
To minimise costs, you’ll need to do as much work yourself as possible, but a freelance web professional can guide you through the self-build process and help you zero in on that 20%.
They’ll be able to explain problems in a jargon-free way. And when you hit an obstacle, it’s helpful to have someone reliable on the end of the phone.
A few hours of consulting time is considerably less expensive than paying for significant code revisions caused by a novice mistake.
Use a Site Builder
There are many site builders on the market — software that will allow you to design and build a site “with no coding or design experience.” I have yet to see one that lives up to its promises, but some are better than others.
When choosing a site builder, look for the ability to export your data. Many site builders lock you into their platform, which is detrimental in the medium-long term. If you can export your content freely, you can move elsewhere if a new option opens up.
Allocate Your Budget Wisely
There are some things you should not scrimp on: brand assets are always stickier than you expect, so a good quality logo is a must; Off-page SEO can be side-lined at first, but on-page SEO is advisable and technical SEO is essential; RWD (responsive web design) is a must to support the myriad of devices that will visit your site; Accessibility is a fundamental of good UI (user interface) and UXD (user experience design) and in many cases is a legal requirement.
Above all, you need to ensure that what you build is scaleable. When you set out to design and build a website, you are building a foundation on which your business can develop and grow.
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Creating a website is a thrilling and transformative process. Rather than view it as an expense, focus on the profit it will deliver by enabling your business to compete in the market.
There’s lots of advice on how to succeed online, but it can be difficult to find the wisdom amongst the cacophony of competing interests.
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