How Much Should I Pay For a Website?

How much should you pay for a website? Many of us want to have an asset that will pay us every month but in our busy busy world time is precious.  So to avoid the grunt work involved in getting a legitimate, profitable website up and running we can just buy one. The question frequently asked is “How much should I pay for a website?’

This is yet another one of those excruciatingly vague questions that most people in the online industry will hear quite a bit. The fact is, some websites are only worth $100 or $200 (like a custom design for a blogspot blog, as an example). Others have literally millions of dollars of value in them (like a website and database for a major car dealer, which keeps track of and can search for tens of thousands of cars, and has complex search criteria, a user sign up, custom made graphics, custom made promotions added on a regular basis, etc., etc., etc.)

Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend millions for your website. But you should know what you’re paying for. But it is important for budgeting that you understand the cost of an online store website.

One way to separate “types of websites” is by comparing Custom Design websites to Template websites. There are several major differences to these types of sites.

Web Design
Photo by Ruben Bos (under CC)

Custom Website Design

Here are some positives about what you will receive with a Custom Website Design:

  • A fully unique website, built to your specifics.
  • The opportunity to modify or tweak specific features that you would like to change or alter.
  • The option to have special “moving aspects” on your website, such as a “flash banner.”
  • Added customization.
  • Your banner creation is generally included. You could also purchase a logo design from the same designer or design company.

Here are some downfalls to getting a Custom Website Design:

  • They cost significantly more. Designers charge anywhere between $60 and $150 per hour (on average). Even a simple website, to suit small business’s needs, will generally cost well over a thousand dollars. If you want to have more than a couple of pages, or any additional features, or if you want them to put in your products for you, it will cost well more than that.
  • You’re “stuck with it.” Once your website has been given to you, you cannot easily modify it yourself. This means your website is stuck as is unless you learn HTML, or continue to re-hire your designers for changes and revisions. With a website that’s not changing, it’s far more difficult to adapt to your market, and you will generally not be as well ranked with the search engines.
  • It’s a little risky. Because you’re hiring someone for their time, not necessarily for a specific product, it is very difficult to get a refund from a design company if you’re not satisfied with your design. Most design companies have a contract which specifies that they only do a set number of alterations once they’ve made the website, even if you don’t like it. This means that if your number of alterations runs out before you like the website design, you may be stuck with a low quality site.

Template Website Designs

Here are some positive things about getting a template website design, or template website builder.

  • They are generally the same quality as custom website designs. Despite what designers will try to convince you of, most templates were made by professional designers in the first place, so the quality will be similar.
  • They are far easier to modify. If you don’t know HTML coding, or have access to expensive photo editing software, it is far easier to modify a template website. Templates usually come with easy to use website modification tools, which allow you to change and add text, images, and more on your website. This means you can update more frequently, adapt to your market, and become more “liked” by the search engines.
  • They come with all the features “built in.” While you have to pay a website designer to add a store for your online store website, all of the important features are already included in a template website.
  • They are easy to expand. It can be a large and expensive task to add a page on a Custom Website Design. However, adding pages, products, categories, etc., is very easy with Website Templates.

Negative things about Template Website Designs:

  • Other people will have the same templates. It may be attractive and effective, but it’s not unique. Other people will have the same borders, backgrounds, and navigation that you do as a result of what a template is. Of course, most people visiting your site won’t notice this, and most won’t have seen the other sites with the same design, but it is still a downfall.
  • You have to learn the builder. Even with dedicated customer care or technical support, you won’t be given step-by-step-by-step directions on the website builder you are using, and there are some basic things you will need to learn. They may not be as complex as HTML code, but it is still something you’ll have to pick up on.
  • You’re limited in the templates you can choose. If you know for sure that you want a pure black website with gold navigation and and baroque styled frame around the site, with a maroon colored pattern outside of that, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find that specific of a template. If you’re really picky about those aspects, templates may simply frustrate you, because they are confining in that way.

So which do we recommend? Well, neither and both. Each suits the needs of different people (or, more importantly, the needs of different online businesses).

In brief:

  • If you know basic HTML, are okay with spending a little more, and don’t mind spending money when you want to make changes, the advantages provided by a custom website design are likely worthwhile for you.
  • If you don’t know HTML, are on a tight budget, and don’t mind investing little bit more time into your site when you need to make changes, then a Template Website Design is probably the best fit for you.

So, what can you expect to pay for each of these? Well, prices range and vary for each type of website, and especially with custom website designs you will need to do research into the special features of your site.

However, we can say that Template Sites that include an online store, an ability to expand pages, and the ability to add products/images/etc., should cost between $700 and $2000. Custom websites that have the normal pages for a store website (Home, About Us, Contact Us, Privacy Policy, Shipping Policy, Store, etc.) should generally cost between $1500 and $4000.

Guest author Terry Roper maintains the blog of Thrive Learning Institute (thrivelearning.blogspot.com) and has been involved in web development for over 4 years. You can also write a guest article and share your expert advice.

This is a guest article and represents opinions of the guest author