So you need to buy a car. You start by setting a budget and picking a make and model you like. Determine if you want new or used. Do some research online; perhaps you consult a Kelly Blue Book. Then, armed with a good idea of what you need, what you’d like, and how much you can spend, you go to the car dealer. You shop around a bit. But you know for sure, if you want a Ford Fusion, you’re paying between $20K and $25K. There’s a sticker price and most dealers will stay within a few thousand of that. But what about website cost?
Pricing a Website is Hard – for Everyone
There is no sticker price for websites. There’s no Kelly Blue Book or MSRP. Web developers don’t talk to each other and determine how much “a website made by X with these features” will cost.
Because of that, if you need a website, you can’t be as prepared as you are when you buy a car. Instead, your process is closer to this:
- Determine you need a website
- Look at other websites to figure out what you like
- Checkout Squarespace or Wix or WordPress.com to see if you can do it yourself
- Talk to someone you know to get a recommendation for a web developer
This seems a bit more haphazard, doesn’t it?
There is no Set Process
The reason is that there is no set process, if you want a website that’s just for you. It depends on the level of involvement you’ll need from the developer that you hire. It depends on your exact needs, and your goals. These are things that you need to figure out before hiring someone, or at the very beginning of the process. The good news is you can find someone to fit your exact needs.
OK OK – So How Much Does a WordPress Site Cost?
The truth of the matter is that you can get a website for $500, or you can pay $20,000. I’ve worked on websites that cost over $500,000. It’s the difference between buying a bike, a sedan, or a private jet.
There are some things that affect the cost of a website. You can still pick and choose the things that will determine how much you pay. Here are a few:
- Experience of the developer. When I first started, I was making $200 websites. I was in high school and still figuring out what I was doing. Today, when I do freelance work, I charge a minimum of $5,000. That comes with 15 years experience working on everything from small business to Fortune 100 websites.
- Templated Theme vs. Custom Theme. If you’re OK with using an out-of-the-box, premade theme, you can cut down on cost. Then it becomes a question of how much time someone will spend setting the site up, instead of developing it. A custom theme will cost more money, but it can look and do exactly what you need it to.
- Is your content ready to go? If you have your content already, it makes the developer’s job a lot easier. You’re eliminating an unknown – the biggest, most important one. If you don’t have content, that could be something the person you hire helps you with. They can figure out who your audience is, and craft the perfect message and copy for you.
- What are your must-have features? WordPress has a lot of plugins available. An experienced WordPress developer will know what’s good, what isn’t and what needs custom development. If you list the things your site absolutely needs, developers can get a good idea of how long the site will take to make.
- Will you need someone to manage your website? This can be another added cost, but it acts more like insurance. If you need someone to update and maintain your website to keep it secure, that will be another up-front cost. It can also save you money in the long run.
- What is your timeline? Rush jobs cost more. If you work within a developer’s process, you will get a good website; it will be more afforable too. But if you need to rush something out the door, there’s usually a premium for that.
The Verdict: It Depends
The hard part is that even with this list above, it depends on who you hire. My price is both higher and lower than a lot of freelancers, some with the same skills. My best advice is to talk to a few folks you know about what they paid for their websites, and whether they are happy with the developer. Being prepared will go a long way, and being honest with your needs and your budget will help.
Originally published on the WordPress in One Month blog