How Much Does a Website Cost?
The answer to the question "How much should a website cost?" has a lot to do with the purpose of the website. Morey Publishing’s pricing model, for example, has evolved over time to make sure that it falls well within the comfort level of our clients and what their needs are. Like most things in life, the answer is far more complicated than the question. Unpacking the question itself should somewhat clarify the answer.
The first, most basic question we ask our clients is: "What is it you hope to gain by developing or re-developing your website?" There are many types, from the most basic “brochure” style site that is intended to reflect the mission and professionalism of a company to sophisticated lead generation websites that help our clients grow their businesses with timely, measurable results. And, of course, there are several options in between. We can’t speak for other agencies, but below is a guide to how we evaluate projects and ultimately determine the cost.
Reporting and Writing
Before we quote any prospective client on web design services, we do our best to fully understand not only the purpose of the website, but the client’s business model. Because we are fortunate to have a wide array of clients, we have learned a great deal from each one of them and subsequently applied this knowledge to every new project we take on. This is where good, old-fashioned reporting and note-taking comes into play.
Morey Publishing is a full-service advertising agency, but we have retained the “publishing” moniker in our name because everything begins and ends with great reporting and solid writing. By conducting extensive interviews with our clients in advance of any project, we are able to move quickly when it comes to building their digital presence without wasting critical time. Most of the time, we are able to save clients money by merely understanding what it is they are trying to achieve and then building exactly the right solution. So much time is wasted in this industry NOT getting it right and having to constantly rewrite or alter content. That’s why we frontload so much of the editorial responsibility when building out successful models for our client base.
The one thing we don’t frontload is money. Every project we retain, without exception, is financed over twelve months. And nearly every client asks us why we would extend financing when most have reserved the funds to pay for a project like this in advance. The answer is simple: Our goal is for our clients to view us as an extension of their marketing departments. An important psychological shift occurs when clients view us as a business expense instead of a capital expense.
Knowing that our relationship will endure over an extended period of time creates a sense of partnership between our companies and leads to greater, ongoing communication. Communication is essential to getting it right. More often than not, the needs and objectives of our clients evolve over time. We have a saying in the office–building websites is a process, not an event. By taking the long view, projects turn to partnerships and our financing plan supports this objective.
As mentioned above, the purpose of a website has a great deal to do with the cost. But even the simplest of websites demand a polished presentation and proper functionality. Our basic “brochure” style websites are built on open source platforms such as Wordpress to ensure the durability and responsiveness of the site. By choosing platforms and themes that are flexible and created by industry leaders, we help our clients avoid the costly pitfall of having to constantly adapt to unforeseen changes in the industry.
Researching a client’s industry is important because there are industry standards and protocols that must be adhered to as well. For example, as developers we need to stay abreast of standards in industries as diverse as the legal and medical professions to import/export companies and financiers. Having a professional team of researchers and writers means we have the ability to conform to a wide set of standards and protocols.
Some of our larger institutional clients require a high degree of sophistication and programming that goes beyond the aesthetics of a site. So it’s important to align with firms who have depth of knowledge in areas that aren’t our expertise. Here again, transparency is essential. Morey Publishing doesn’t “white label” outside resources and pass them off as our own. Instead, we introduce outside partners directly to our clients and create third party billing relationships so everyone understands one another’s roles. In cases such as these, we take on the role of project manager to ensure the proper integration of technology and teamwork.
Now that we have address some of the philosophical reasons behind website design and development, it’s time to talk turkey. What’s it all going to cost?
When you pay for a website you’re paying for talent, time and resources. Individually, these can be difficult to measure and forecast. That’s why we put together a transparent pricing model and actually publish our rates online. Once we have ascertained the scope of a project by interviewing the principals of the company and gaining an understanding of the task at hand, we let our clients know what level we suggest and direct them to our rate card. Believe it or not, this is somewhat unusual in our industry, as many agencies tend to look at a client’s ability to pay and charge accordingly.
Another saying we have in our office is that our pricing falls somewhere between your cousin who works in his or her home office building out-of-the-box solutions and the fancy big city agencies that have unnecessary overhead to cover. Some of our so-called “biggest clients” have straightforward websites that fall on the lower end of our price scale. Likewise, some of what might be considered our “smaller” clients have the most expensive solutions because their entire business model is driven by their web presence.The size of a company matters little to us. What matters most is that we understand what our role is.