Websites Cost so much

Why do custom websites cost so much?

So you’ve finally got some dollars to spend on your online space, and you’re ready to go pro.

You figure out what you need, and start approaching web designers that you’ve been following for a while to get a quote. You had a figure in your head but when the quotes start rolling in and it’s really not what you expected.

When you opt for a custom website, it’s a good idea to understand the process to understand where your hard earned dollars are going.

Why do you get asked for a budget?

A lot of people THINK this question is asked so the Web Developer will bamboozle them with “techno-speak” in order to take them for as much as they are willing to pay.

The reason this question is asked is because there are many ways of doing things when it comes to developing and having a certain budget may rule out options.

It’s like when you want a car, can you afford the latest model Porshe totally kitted out or the Datsun 120b? Overall it will ‘generally’ do the same thing, which is get you from point A to point B (if the Datsun makes it out the drive way that is).

Understanding the Process

Unfortunately building a custom website is not as easy as pressing a button in PhotoShop and instantly we have a website (If only!). To understand the cost and time involved, it’s best to start with the process of how a website is built from scratch.

Step 1: Gathering Requirements

Gathering and documenting requirements is done so we don’t get to the end of the project and find out what we thought you wanted is completely wrong!  This can sometimes take a couple of days depending on the size of the project, for smaller projects you are looking at maybe couple of hours.

Step 2: Designing Functionality

This step may not be seen by you as the client. This is when we figure out how we are going to turn what you want into reality within the limits of your budget.

Step 3: Visual Design

Usually with custom designs you are presented with 2 to 3 different concepts of a home page. Once you have chosen a design, that design is tweaked and expanded upon to include all other unique pages layouts. The design process can be spread over a few weeks but all up in chargeable time it can take 1-2 days.

Step 4: Front-End Coding (HTML/CSS/JavaScript)

This is turning the design you have chosen into what you see in your browser window. Depending on the design, front-end coding can be extremely complex and we have to get it work on an array of browsers (all of which can render one site completely differently!!). So depending on how many uniquely designed pages your website has, front-end coding can take 1-5 days.

Step 5: Back-End Coding (PHP/ASP/.NET)

This is where we do all the tricky functions that make your website work.  If your site is fairly straight forward you may not need the expertise of a back-end coder. Timing and prices varies greatly depending on what the task is and how custom your website needs to be.

Step 6: Testing

Double checking that everything works under every possible scenario. Depending on the size and complexity of the site it can take a couple of hours to several. This time is usually included in the cost of front-end and back-end coding.

Step 7: Launch

We have to sit and watch that all the files we created make it to your server space. Then we have test again! This can take from an hour to several depending on how many files have to be uploaded and how many settings have to be modified for the new environment for the website.

Other time / costs

Other things you will have to allow for is project management, account management, adding content, resizing photographs & other administration tasks.

Why do prices vary so much

I am sure you have heard of the term “you get what you pay for”, this can certainly be the case for websites. There are definitely different levels of service and expertise out there. When looking for a web designer it’s a good idea to check the social proof – the portfolio and testimonials.

Most website fees are lump sum so you know what you are getting into at the get go. But if changes occur during the process it may become out of scope and additional charges will apply. To avoid this, make sure you have your requirements nutted out before engaging a designer, and if you have a lot of stake holders involved in your website, make sure you have a conversation with everyone involved as well.

As a guide an hourly rate scale for web development services expect to be charged anywhere from $80 to $200.

But…but…I just want a basic website?

  • You want a basic website that just has pages? Or has Blogging capabilities?
  • You don’t care that it’s not custom designed around your brand as long as it has your logo?
  • You don’t have special functionality requirements?
  • You want to get online fast?

If you answer yes to these questions then a solution is using off the shelf templates or themes that you can pay someone to setup or do it yourself or hosted solutions such as Squarespace. Already built designs have gone through the same process as above, but because they can be re-sold over and over again the price is lowered considerably.


  • They are ready to go and you can usually install it yourself.
  • They are affordable.


  • Your design is not unique.
  • You have to find a layout that suits your needs (sometimes a square peg in a round hole).
  • If it’s not hosted and it breaks, you may find you have to spend a lot of money to fix it.

If you’re really not sure what is the best option for your personality and where you’re at in your business journey, check out my free getting started training series.