How much should a website cost?

Or really, how long is a piece of string? With agencies varying hugely in their pricing structure, as well as what they can offer, putting a budget together for your website can feel like an impossible task.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide, to highlight key considerations, how the scale of your current business and goals might affect pricing, how your money is spent and ultimately, how much you might need to set aside.

How a website is scoped

Before we get into the nitty gritty of budgeting, it’s useful to first understand how agencies make use of your money at each stage of a website build.

Billable hours, not features

You might be inclined to approach an agency with a very detailed and specific list of features and sections you want on your website, in return for a quote.

However, in most cases, agencies who blindly design and build websites based on a list of features provided by the client have not taken the time to consider their unique business needs. You’ve done the hard work for them and essentially, they’ve taken money to carry out instructions without offering any of their own hard-earned industry expertise.

These kinds of agencies are of course often cheaper. Especially as the number of features on your website tends not to be the biggest factor in its cost. Why? Because features can be repurposed from previous projects; hacked together from templates and shoehorned into a site, all to fulfil the ‘box ticking’ brief you’ve unwittingly sent them.

What tends to cost more, (but importantly, will give you the biggest return on investment ) is strategy which can look something like this:

  • Dissecting the challenges your business is facing, and how you hope they could be solved within the context of a website.
  • Understanding your current and future goals so that the website not only achieves what you require now, but can also be a foundation for growth for years to come.
  • Researching your audience and ensuring the website engages them with messaging they relate to, and that generates sales or leads.

So, instead of trying to visualise what website features and sections you might need yourself, try to focus on breaking down the challenges and allow the agency to solve them. When given a brief of this kind, good agencies will come back to you with a proposal containing a set of recommendations based on these challenges. And that’s before you’ve even paid them any cash. So the more insightful their proposed solution is, the better they’re likely to be at delivering.
But there is one crucial piece of information they’ll still need you to provide first…

Why it’s down to you to establish your budget, not the agency

We’ve now clarified that the best agencies are the ones that come up with solutions. And this is also true for your budget.

The amount your business can spend is a challenge in its own right and a great agency will want to find a solution that attempts to solve your challenges and hit your key objectives within the context of your budget. The key word there being ‘your’.

Because when a budget is provided, the agency can ask itself questions like:

  • With the budget provided, can we strategise an ‘all in’ solution to achieve your goals in a shorter time frame, or do we need to prioritise and push back some features to a later phase to save cash?
  • With the budget provided, do we have enough to propel your business ahead of the curve, or do we need to be a little more conservative, focusing only on building a solid foundation for steady growth?
  • With the budget provided, can we be a little braver and break new ground for that first-class digital presence that everyone will talk about? Or do we need to be a little more cautious and risk averse, looking for more cost effective solutions to solve your core challenges?

So now you understand why it's up to you to set a budget, let's look at how you can do this…

How to establish your budget

The best way to establish a budget is not by the scope of the website you’re after, but by the scale of your business and how much return you (or your investors) expect from the project. If you're interested to see how much other organisations with similar needs to you are spending, you can try our website budget calculator.

Comparing the website with other expenses within your business can be a good benchmark. Let’s take your employees for example. If your business is in a position to hire a marketing manager at £40k-50k per year, and you hope that a good website will bring in a similar amount of value per year, then that means you may wish to consider a similar scale of investment. That could be £25k for an initial project, followed by a further £15k spread across the year in SEO and growth.

Or perhaps the project is to be compared with a smaller division of your business, which requires a junior or mid-level role on a £25k salary. In this case, a comparative website might not achieve all your goals as fast as you’d like, but it may still be enough for your needs at this time.

The key thing at this early stage is to look at where you are now: what you can afford, what you want to achieve, and how you want to get there.

Once you’ve got your head around these fundamentals, it’s time to give the agencies a call…