Business owners always ask what a website will cost. Anytime a business owner is considering an idea they are not knowledgeable about, they look for parameters and information that will guide them in making a sounds business decision. It’s cost vs. value — will the value of the service outweigh the initial expense?
Answering the cost question is not simple. When I buy a widget, I am purchasing a specific, defined product, but a client rarely knows exactly what their website will encompass. They usually have a general idea and may even have a well-thought-out plan, but revisions and additions often surface and will affect the final price. Outlining the set-up costs, such as domain registration and web hosting, I then give clients a price range for design and coding. When/if I reach the upper limit of that range, I consult with them before proceeding, giving the client the option of moving forward or limiting their expense. (See also http://websitewisdom.blogspot.com/2011/04/websites-what-about.html)
Today I found an online calculator buyers can use as a guideline. According to the calculator, the website I just completed, a 5 page custom e-commerce site, was worth up to $7,500. (They break cost down into providers charging the most to the least—Professional Firm, Freelancer or Offshore Provider. I found it a bit offensive that this implies that freelancers and offshore providers are not professional!) I charged less than half that amount, in part because the design and images were provided by another designer and needed only minor tweaking. Granted, I have lower overhead than a “Professional Firm,” but I am always walking the fine line between providing a service at a cost my clients can afford and under-pricing my services, since that sometimes leads to prospective clients undervaluing them.
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