The Big Question:
What is this going to cost?

How to think through your project to arrive at an answer.

Factors that influence cost

It helps to think about building a website like building a house. How many rooms does it need? Do you want upgraded floors, countertops and fixtures? Does it need to simply serve its purpose as a home, or do you want it to impress and wow people when they visit? Now let's carry that analogy over to a website:

  • How many pages are anticipated?
    Examples: Home, Services, About, FAQ, Contact
  • What functionality is needed?
    Examples: E-commerce, Event Registration, Email Opt-in, Online Invoice Payment, Calendar/Appointment Integration, Membership System
  • Is there a gallery of photos to display as a portfolio?
    Editing, scaling, formatting and optimizing photos for presentation on the website are important steps in the process.
  • Do stock images need to be incorporated?
    Stock images/photos add an important visual element to the website. If you don't have many images of your own for use, then stock images may be needed.
  • Do you have content developed, or do you need help writing it?
    There are defined strategies for writing effective content for the web. A website can look great, but content is king and can make or break the effectiveness of the website.
  • Is it important for the website to generate traffic through online search?
    SEO (search engine optimization) is an extremely important piece of the website development process if you want your website found and visible in online search results.

The answers to all of these questions will help determine the cost of developing your website. Some people simply need a basic website to legitimize their business and provide simple information. Others need a website to convert visitors into customers, and the business depends on the website for success. Maybe you fall into one or the other, or maybe you are somewhere in-between. The point is to think through these questions and to pinpoint your needs ahead of time. The initial stages of website development is effectively consulting, so I am happy to discuss all of this with you to arrive at conclusions where there may be uncertainty.

The Cost of a Custom vs. Templated Website

Returning to our analogy for a moment, a custom website gets you a personalized exterior elevation, floor plan and interior finish-out. Websmith develops fully custom websites, which means you can get just about anything you want. Using a templated website from a popular service like SquareSpace or Wix is like buying a spec home. You can paint it and put your own stuff inside, but you are constrained in many ways, and eventually those constraints can become frustrating when you are limited by what you can accomplish.

Another consideration is the ongoing expense of using a service. A fee of around $300/year is the absolute minimum you can expect to pay, and it will typically be more as prices steadily increase, or as you need to purchase add-on services. In this scenario, you are leasing and have no equity to show. If you stop paying, the website is gone because you don't own it.

Your ongoing cost for a custom website could be as little as $50/year for a domain and hosting, and you own the website. If your host raises prices then you can simply move the website elsewhere. You don't need to worry about paying into a service that might close its doors or get bought out and leave you scrambling.

So... what's this going to cost?

Once you've thought over these questions I will be able to take the information you give me and arrive at an estimate. Estimates are based on an hourly rate of $115/hour. As a developer and consultant in the industry since 2006, I believe this rate is very reasonable for the expertise and experience that will go into your project.

I do require a deposit equal to 50% of the provided estimate before beginning work, with the remainder due upon completion before the website is published to your hosting server. All progress during the development phase will be shared with you via a private URL on my hosting server, so that you can track progress, provide feedback and approve the final deliverable upon completion.

I hope that this information has been helpful. Please contact me with questions or to move forward with your project!

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