How much will a new website design cost?

How much will a new website design cost?

When I’m asked that at meetings, I chuckle, and reply “how much does a new car cost?” The inevitable reply is what type of car? To which I respond, exactly. You can buy a Yugo or a Lamborghini. They both have four wheels and an engine…but they’re very different cars…and so is their cost.

Subcompacts - the Yugo or VW Beetle

You can get the neighbor’s kid to cobble together a website or rely on several readily available online services, such as Intuit’s website service. There are tons of SaS (software as a solution) web solutions available to the general public and to niche markets too. You have online services that sell to photographers ( or sites dedicated to weddings (by the knot). You can even choose to build your site within an online Flash CMS (e.g., MotoCMS). Or you can purchase a complete site template for a myriad of open source solutions from

Typically, for any of these simple, smaller sites, one of these solutions will work - maybe you just need a personal website or a blog (which is essentially just a basic website). Any of these types of sites will cost you either a one time fee or if you choose a SaS provider - you’ll likely pay a monthly service fee. These basic and simple solutions generally work well, some are more robust than others, and some offer additional capabilities or the option to add modules for growth.

Mid-Range - the Sedan and Coupes

Now you’ve grown and you need more and more functionality. Maybe you’ve added ecommerce (though most of the simple sites can add this too) or you’re expanding your team and want to delegate editing or managing your site. You’ve moved up to a robust CMS. Again, there area many choices. You can use existing open source solutions, such as Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, or switch to a more robust online CMS, such as Or perhaps you’ll work with a better known SaS provider, such as Microsoft’s Office 365 or Adobe’s Business Catalyst.

In this scenario, you’ll again be paying either a one time fee or a recurring charge. So that’s the same. But you’ll get significantly more options, modification opportunities, and better support. Especially if you work with a enterprise class SaS provider. But even in this glamorous environment, you’ll likely also run into a wall that will require some type of customization.  Or perhaps, you simply desire more control, more ability to distinguish yourself from the competition.  So you’ll likely evolve to the next level.

The Luxury Class - a BMW or Porche

Funny thing is, many of the previously mentioned solutions can perform well at this level too. You’ll simply be investing in a lot of custom development to tailor the basic offerings to your tastes. Most sites today are built on top of some type of web framework or incorporate CSS, Javascript, PHP, or similar frameworks. It’s how it’s done - nobody is sitting and typing our a humongous website line by line anymore.

So now you’re driving a Lexus or a Mercedes if you prefer…and you most likely have a team of developers, designers, database engineers, social marketers, and web managers. They can build or customize anything you need or desire. Your site is probably critical to your business and touches every part of it.

And at this level, your site probably changes frequently - maybe monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly. You may have started small, progressed through the mid-range, but now you’re cruising around in your humongous web application. Or maybe you’ve grown past the Ferrari and Bentley even - and you’re into uncharted territory - all custom.

The cost of a web site, like a car, depends on many factors

You can purchase a compact car Ford Escort or a massive Land Rover SUV. The bigger or better the website, the more you’ll pay - for performance, for luxury, or for customization. First, you need to determine what you need and what you can afford. Then go shopping in the right place. If you have a Hyundai budget….don’t shop at the Jaguar dealer.

Apr 06, 2011

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