Website design pricing explained (sort of)

Part two of a series discussing the messy, messy world of creative services pricing.

"How much do you charge to design a website?"

The range can be super vast and the process like a gameshow. So here are some things to keep in mind. This general overview covers value for your money and why it’s important to consider things beyond cost.

The last article I wrote covered logo design pricing. The first question to help bring things into perspective was—“What is the logo for?”


A small business website really is the same sort of animal on the face of it. Understanding what it’s for and what role it plays in the marketing cycle helps put a few pricing parameters in place. Is the website a direct catalyst to make sales, like an online store, or more of an online capabilities brochure?


Equally important is how much is ready to go. Is there a marketing strategy, branding and content already in place. It seems obvious, but many small businesses will need a bit more preparation in order to launch a successful website. That upfront preparation can be the most time consuming, but also THE most crucial.

Whether you’re starting from ground zero or updating existing information, a large part of true success is knowing your brand and how best to communicate it. It helps to also put into perspective that a website is an investment. How much weight is put on the website for the overall ROI? At the end of the day you want to know the website accomplishes its goal. Will the money spent (invested) for the website pay off?

Today a small business website can range from $2,500-$10,000. That range is mostly derived from time spent whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a professional.


There are many off-the-shelf (drag and drop) solutions out there promising a website in minutes—usually a very overhyped exaggeration. We’ll get back to that in a minute. But, what’s really great about the new templates and themes is that so much of the function is in place. In most cases it eliminates a lot of upfront development time and cost. That is a really good thing for small businesses on a budget.

If a well done template based website costs roughly $3,500 today, that same website may have cost $15,000 five years ago. Template and theme solutions are a wonderful way to keep money in your pocket. Now you can focus on how to represent yourself in front of your audience and prospective customers with smart messaging and accurate brand representation.

That brings us back to the purpose. Most small businesses are seeking a marketshare for themselves so the website usually becomes a differentiating factor. If anything, it needs to represent who you are and what you do best. It really doesn’t matter how big or small you are, unless you’re a part of a franchise, you’re unique and need to stand out and tell YOUR story.


Yes, there are many template based solutions. Grab a template off the shelf and simply swap out the photos and add your message. Could be. But, chances are you need more than that. A good web designer understands user experience, your audience and is able to deliver an appropriate tool to support your purpose. They should ask questions that will get the best job done as efficiently and creatively as possible.

If you venture off to do it yourself then it comes down to how long you think it will take you, and are you objective enough.


If you believe that then you don’t need to read this article. Most small businesses will need a skilled professional to take the template or theme and put your brand spin on it. Hire the right talent!! Many times the client that has come to us has already dumped all kinds of time and money on a designer who just didn’t get it and wasn’t the right fit. No one wants to throw money out the window, especially a small business.

It really comes down to time and resources needed to put a tight bow on it. A good designer with good advertising and marketing minded experience can generate more business. THE most important factor is accuracy of branding, clear messaging and purpose. The skilled professional will get you the best ROI. A creative and knowledgeable professional is key. Invest wisely.


More often than not, the website represents an important aspect of the small business brand and needs to echo what the business does and perhaps how and why. If you have the content ready then the time a professional takes to implement is obviously reduced. Again, the templates and themes available will make the process much less complicated. Most times, the online brochure is most reliant on good branding, strong messaging.


For a small business ecommerce platform typically relies much less on messaging and more on user experience and back-end logistics. As a rule of thumb, to get an online store off the ground, it is more purely about technical logistics. You may be able to hire an entry-level designer or developer to help you get things organized and lock in the overall function so you could take it from there. Your budget in this case should be spent on inventory photos and ongoing maintenance. Again, the off-the-shelf templates are a very powerful starting point. You may want to do a bit more digging to find the best platform depending on your backend needs.


Our background is branding, messaging and advertising. We recognize the importance of upfront planning, marketing strategy, strong and consistent branding and targeted, clear, messaging. Our experience has allowed us to see the website experience, not as one entity, but a part of the whole marketing cycle. The whole marketing cycle includes getting people to visit your website and convert sales. The brand, timely incentive campaigns and other tactics to get you noticed and keep you top-of-mind goes beyond the website. We can’t stress more emphatically how important it is for small businesses to invest wisely in good website design and always plan ahead as a part of the big picture. 312 388 3969

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