The Cost of Good Web Development

Many people approach a website with a mixture of fear, trepidation, and assumption.

It's true that there are lots of companies building easy-to-use templates so that people can have a website designed with a mininum of effort (i.e. Vistaprint's out-of-a-box options).

Reasons for Web Development Costs

At the same time, there always seems to be a surprise factor at the cost and time involved, and what goes into making changes. When these dual feelings are combined (“that's what I pay you for” and “it can't be that hard”), it's difficult to remember that you often get what you pay for in these areas of web development:

  • Coding
  • Experience
  • Changes
  • Quality of existing content and/or concept
  • Length of project

Basic Office Setup in Web Development

Endless repetitions of “your company message should reflect who you are” may be gag-worthy, but still true. (See Ilya Pozin's Forbes post on how complicated it can get.) Getting a custom design in web development is like taking on an interior design project for an office. These are necessary but basic items, like having a working bathroom, an installed telephone system, and computers with web access:

  • Branded logo
  • Existing domain name
  • Hosting
  • Multiple web pages (home page, “who we are”, contact page)
  • Comprehensive sitemap
  • Terms, conditions, disclaimers and privacy policies

Getting Beyond the Web Development “Online Brochure” Stage

Selling your business to a customer, like selling a house, requires more interaction and curbside appeal. Websites without signs of life are like working offices with unpainted signs, threadbare carpet, and a pile of grungy newspapers on the doorstep. Websites with web development appeal have all the color and life of a trimmed lawn, flower tubs, a smiling receptionist in a suit, and glass doors that open smoothly. These are vital factors that most people don't consider:

  • Website maintenance and training (deciding which changes the designer makes versus what you can make)
  • Interface design (turning the structure of blueprints into each united webpage's look and feel)
  • API's (verification between applications so the eBay seller sends what you bought)
  • Graphics (custom or stock images, avatars, and photos)
  • Payment Processing (shopping carts, Paypal access, GoogleCheckout, Authorize.Net)
  • Social Media Integration (buttons for comments on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Interactive Contact Page (customer info sent to you and entered onto email newsletter list)

Added Layers of Marketing and Management

This would be like asking the interior designer to make room for the really attractive office tools that the big players take for granted – an aquarium, mini-fridges stocked with drinks in the plush conference rooms, travertine floors, and oak bookshelves.

  • Interactive Lead Generation (email marketing tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact, targeted landing pages, surveys)
  • Content management (incorporating existing blogs or having blog capability)
  • Multimedia ability (Flash, YouTube feeds, MP3 files, Google maps, stock tickers)
  • Embedded tools (calendars, instant messaging, web conferencing)
  • Online marketing (responsive design so that pages look the same on laptops/mobile phones/desktops/netbooks)

Comparative Costs: Web Development to Brick-and-Mortar

What would it cost your business to do things the old-fashioned way?

  • Rent the building(s) or warehouse(s)
  • Pay for building maintenance and upgrades
  • Hire extra employees/services for administration and marketing
  • Integrate the interior design with business logos and letterhead
  • Rent or buy necessary equipment for creating the product/service

Depending on your industry and location(s), plus any franchising fees, this could mean anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000 – or more. Building a website doesn't sound so bad now, does it?