Q: How much does a website cost?
A: The prices depend entirely on what you want.
Example 1: I just want a small and simple website and I want it to work. You want a simple website, nothing fancy and doesn’t need a lot of animation or dynamic content. The design is clean and detailed but fairly basic in form. The website has a content management system (WordPress) where you can add and edit your content.
Example 2: I want a website that will have a catalog and multi-language options. The site can include everything from example 1 but we will add code that will allow you to add products in a predefined template and for every page in a base language you can choose to translate the content to more languages.
Example 3: I want a website and it will have personal accounts with log in system. The site can include everything from example 2 but we will add code and design for customers to register and log-in to their own personal space on your website. You can protect pages like downloads or news pages and require your customer to log-in first.
Example 4: I want an e-commerce website where customers can buy my products. The site will have everything from example 2 but we will add code that will allow you to sell your products online. We build your website and add the localization options and payment portals that you need for the countries where you will sell. Customers can create an account, log-in, pay, checkout, etc. You as the website owner will get a feature-rich backend that will show you sales history, invoicing, CRM, etc. This is a fully featured e-commerce solution built on either PrestaShop or Magento depending on the size and requirements of the job.
Example 5: I want much more as that. You know exactly what you want, a corporate website with catalog, with customer specific log in, visitor tracking capabilities, name it… Great! Well we are able to create any kind of website you require… there is no limit to functionality or features. The price depends on what you want or need inside your website!
Any other things I should know?
Above were only the basics, following points also influence the cost and time it takes for your website to be created.
Structure. How many pages, how to sort and organize the pages, how to navigate around and usability.
Layout. Headers, footers, sidebars, call-outs, quotes, check boxes, social icons. Someone has to think through where to put what so the site stays recognizable.
Functionality. Forms don’t design and program themselves. Nor do shopping carts or other features. There is a flow to follow like “what happens if” and “what next”.
Design. There’s high end customized, there’s minimal, there are templates, but someone has to consider fitting colors, fonts, graphics for your brand.
Photos. Whether they are your own or royalty-free stock, someone has to find, organize, retouch and properly size and output them for web.
Content. You can do it yourself or hire someone to do it, your website should have keyword optimized content, human reading optimized, spell-checked and proofread. Nothing looks worse as a professional website full of typos.
Code Optimization. This is often where things go totally wrong in China, to naturally rank a site high in search engines, time should be spent for code quality, site speed and meta data.
Compatibility. With a ton of browsers and twice as many versions, multiple operating systems and platforms, not to mention mobile phones and tablets, your site should work on as many of them as you can afford.
Launch. Someone has to install your site on a hosting server, set up the DNS, get your analytics, Webmaster tools and sitemaps in order and make sure everything is working in real life, including all those opt-ins and contact forms.
Some other costs that indirectly influences the pricing
Location. A design company located in the dense office district of Beijing will probably ask a lot more as a design company located on the edge of Hangzhou. The cost of running the company is a lot higher, hence the customer will pay a lot more for getting a site from that company.
You, the customer. Part of developing a site is project management. If you are one of those picky, indecisive people who will disappear for months on end, holds up the project and don’t feed back when asked to, then show up with instant demands and wants the shade of a color changed with each revision – well, you will end up paying a price for that.
Experience. It’s always a risk when you’re working with freelancers who build websites on the side, self-taught people or others who are just starting out in the industry. More experience means less pitfalls and faster turn around… But more expensive.
Size. Of the company… If you compare the costs between a local company using hacked versions of Photoshop and writing code by using Baidu to copy paste then it will for sure be a lot cheaper compared to a proper design company that has project managers, copywriters, website testers, experts, etc. It surely pays off though because a single person only has single person capabilities… A great designer is never a great programmer.
Relationships. The entire world is built on relationships… Referrals and knowing the company should get you a more favorable pricing.