So you’ve decided that you need a new web site, but are unsure of how much it costs and what sort of budget to set aside.

This article covers this topic and offers recommendations that will help you determine the budget that is right for your web design project.

The Price Tiers Of Web Design

You can get a web site designed for $100 or $100,000 – that is the reality of the web design industry. How much you spend does not necessarily determine how good your web site will turn out. So how do you determine how much to spend for your web site? The answer is that you must determine what price tier you are most comfortable with. Each tier has its pros and cons, as described below.

$2,500 or less

It is very hard to build a professional quality, custom web site for this price level. The labor hours needed to create an original graphical design, and then convert that into a web site alone, will quickly surpass this level.

What you may be able to get is a web site that is based on a pre-existing template, in which the design of the web site has already been created. These are often called “cookie cutter” web sites since the design is not unique, looks common, and may look a bit ordinary in appearance. With such sites, your logo and text would be placed in the predefined areas of the web template.

The end result is a web site that is not all that unique, and looks a bit generic. Such sites may be appropriate for individuals, families, or others needing just a basic web presence.

$2,500 – $4,000

At this price level, you may be able to get a small web site of professional quality, but things are going to be tight. The web designer may need to cut back a bit on the graphical design hours to meet your budget. Or some additional features may need to be omitted in order to meet your budget. You may want to consider moving up to the next level in which more funds are available to cover these tasks.

$4,000 – $10,000

Most small to medium web sites fall in this price range, and you can get a very good, professional web site for this money.

At this price level, your web designer should have enough labor hours to create a unique, professional graphical design, custom tailored to your business. You should expect your home page to be a high quality design on par with your competition. Flash content, if desired, can be added as well. The site can include drop down menus, online forms, search features, and other common elements that you find in most professional web sites.

At this level, you should also expect to receive a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to update your web site on your own. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should also be included for this price.

Your web design team will be fairly small with 1-5 people being typical. You may only make contact with 1 or 2 of these people during the project. The turnaround time is usually pretty quick given the small size of most web design firms.

$10,000 – $20,000

If you need advanced features, complex programming, or if your web site is larger than normal, then this higher price level may be needed.

For example, a database driven web site with advanced features may fall into this price range. The extra costs go into the development of the database, and the associated programming of the various technical features. An example may be an online dating web site that has a membership database, match-making tools, messaging, and security issues.

So if your web site requires the programming of advanced features, then you can expect quotes in this price range or even higher.

$20,000 – $50,000

At this level, you are probably dealing with a PR firm or marketing agency, which charge a premium for their services. You are paying not only for the web design, but also for the expertise and resources that the agency offers.

Agencies usually work in a variety of mediums including print, web, video, and audio. They also offer other services beyond web design, such as marketing and PR services. Most popular agencies have done high-profile work for top name companies.  Agencies have an abundance of resources in terms of assets, equipment, personnel, and such. You can expect to have a dedicated project manager, who manages a team of professionals that all work on your project.

The downside is that you are paying for all this, and that not all of your web design dollar goes directly into the web site. You are paying for all the overhead, all the management, and the reputation of the agency. Agencies also tend to move much slower than smaller web design companies, since they have many other high paying customers to please. You may get lost in the shuffle, and not get the priority that you desire.

$50,000 or more

Very large companies or enterprises will build web sites at this price level. Such projects may make use of a design agency, in-house programmers, database managers, and security experts all working together to build a complex, enterprise level web site.

Factoring In The Return On Investment

One important point to consider in determining how much to spend for a web site is to figure out your return on investment (ROI). One question you can ask is how many new customers must the web site generate in order to pay for itself. If you are a realtor, for example, and you get one new customer from the web site, which results in a sale of a home and $10,000 commission – then your website has probably already paid for itself! Of course, each business is different, so you’ll need to figure out the ROI for your own business.


So if you are in the market for a new web site, determine which price tier is right for your company, and then interview web designers who work in that price range. Most web designers will be up front and give you the cost range that they typically work in.


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Filed under: WebSite Budget

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