Budget 💶 for web design - How much should a website cost?

Webdesigner und Kunde bei der Ãœbergabe eines typischen Projektbudgets. Quelle: amc

In this article, you will learn how to get the best offer from a reputable web designer with the help of a systematic, goal-oriented approach.

It feels like the internet agency and web design industry changes completely every few years. Understandably, it's not only laypeople that are often uncertain about the flood of possibilities and want to avoid sinking unnecessary budgets. Different approaches and terminology also make it difficult to compare offers.

What does a serious web design offer look like?

The first time you make enquiries at an Internet agency, you may be surprised by the different offers you receive. It's not always easy to compare these offers based purely on content. However, some aspects will speak for a serious offer right from the start.

  • Is the information you've provided reflected in the offer? Information such as "according to the email of 17 May" would be a start. However, it's better to clearly include existing information and additional assumptions in the document.
  • Important: Do not forget time milestones at this point.
  • Are the individual services listed separately with their costs? The more detailed an offer is, the more understandable and realistic the total costs will be. Offers along the lines of "website: 1,000 euros" should be rejected from the outset.
  • Is it clear how the figures are calculated in detail (e.g., based on expenses)? Items that are more or less identical for every website (e.g., "set-up of development environment") can certainly be a flat rate, at the same time expenses should be shown at the latest if they relate directly to the scope of your project.
  • As a layperson, do you understand what work is hidden in which position? Even if you can't understand everything in detail, you should still know what you're paying for in which position.
  • Is it clear for each position what concrete result has to come out? If, for example, the conception is offered, then the result of this position should be a complete information architecture, understandable to all participants and leaving no questions unanswered.

Are all positions offered in full? Information such as "Content maintenance per page: 2 h" can become a trap if it's unclear how many pages your website will contain. In any case, try to close these open positions.

How do you get good comparable offers for a website?

If you ask five web design agencies for quotes, you'll probably get five barely comparable offers, starting with the agencies' services and work processes, each with different names for the same services: Some call it "concept", others "user experience design". This can mean the same thing or something completely different.

This actually happens. Source: revision6

Put yourself in the position of your web design service provider: A website is a complex product that takes months of intensive cooperation to develop properly. On receiving the question "How much does a website with ten sub-pages and a blog cost?" the service provider must estimate and assume any information you do not provide.

Some will set the bare minimum to meet your meagre specifications, while others may think sensibly and round off the offer as they see fit.

Here's a short checklist of the information you should include in your request:

  • What is the goal of your website, and who is your target audience?
  • Do you have a rough outline or any other conceptual documents? Provide anything that helps you imagine the desired result, even if it's just a rough sketch.
  • What do you expect from the visual design? Do you have any examples of other websites (not necessarily from your sector) that are benchmarks for you?
  • Do you want your website to provide certain additional functions? The connection of an eCommerce shop, for example, a newsletter function or CRM system?
  • How important is the topic of search engine optimisation (SEO) to you ? The question here is whether you want to actively pursue (possibly time- and cost-intensive) optimisation in the future.
  • To what extent are you able to deliver the website content yourself? Do you need help with this, for example from a photographer or a professional copywriter?
  • Do you have a particular deadline in mind (e.g., due to upcoming events)?

Give a very rough budget framework - plain text saves both parties a lot of effort because: You can build a decent site for 5,000 or even 30,000 euros - the result will still be different.

Where can you save money on web design?

Creating a website is no small matter, whether for an individual or a medium-sized company. A good service provider will point out where you can take action yourself.

Not all internet agency services are purely technical. If you, as the client, have the corresponding manpower or time, you can either greatly reduce the following items through good preparatory work or, if necessary, even take them on completely yourself.

This way, you save valuable budget:

  • User-Experience Design (UX):
    Information about your target group and the goals and wishes of your users and potential customers – researched and collected by you – save budget and provide an excellent basis for a solid concept.
  • Concept:
    Here's where you can help to minimise the planning effort. A good service provider will take you by the hand in this process. But it's even better if you already have certain ideas about the website structure (a sitemap) and the individual sub-pages. At this point, even hand-drawn sketches are helpful.
  • Content:
    A good internet agency will offer help here or put you in touch with editors, photographers or illustrators. In this respect, it is, of course, advantageous if you've already done some preliminary work yourself. You can also write your own texts or take your own photos – ideally in close consultation with your internet agency or web designer – if you have the necessary know-how.

Content input into the CMS:
An introduction to the content management system of your new website is part of the process anyway. It's an advantage if you can gain experience while your website is still being created. Why not just enter the desired content yourself?

What are the running costs of a website?

You certainly want to make your website investment sustainable. In doing so, it's important to consider the following cost factors.

  • Hosting
    Whatever the case, you have to plan for certain monthly hosting costs as your website must, of course, be accessible to  users. Depending on performance and security measures such as automatic backups, you can expect monthly costs from 20 euros upwards for serious high-quality hosting.
  • Software
    It may be that your website is managed by an open-source editorial system such as WordPress. At first glance, this appears to be free of charge - read more about this in the Maintenance section below. However, if your internet agency opts to use a proprietary software-as-a-service system, you will pay a monthly fee (sometimes hidden in the hosting) that is invested in the further development and security of the system. The best-known representatives are the construction kits from 1&1, Strato or Wix. However, there are also high-quality solutions such as Webflow, which are primarily aimed at professional agencies.
  • Maintenance
    Especially for open-source editorial systems like WordPress, it is highly recommended to conclude a maintenance contract with your agency. Here you can calculate with costs from 100 euros per month, which flow into updates, maintenance and care of your system. This prevents outdated plugins from giving up their function or unauthorised persons from gaining access to your server. The latter, by the way, is the responsibility of the site operator.

For larger projects, there may be additional running costs such as the operation of a staging environment, a content delivery network (CDN) or other services. These can vary greatly and would go beyond the scope of what is reasonable here.

Steve Jobs

Design ist nicht nur, wie es aussieht und wie es sich anfühlt. Design ist, wie es funktioniert.

Steve Jobs
früherer CEO of Apple Inc.

How do you compare web design offers?

First of all: It's not always easy! There are no standardised service specifications in web design as there are in the construction industry. The biggest mistake – which is indeed often made – is to compare only the large number at the bottom right, assuming that all service providers have understood the same thing and will offer the same thing.

If you do not want to compare apples with coconuts, you will have to bring all positions into line. You can save yourself a lot of work here if you make sure you provide all service providers with complete, comprehensive and equal information. If you have neglected to do this or the offers still seem hard to compare, these steps can help.

Source: revision6

  • Set up a table. The horizontal axis is labelled with the providers.
  • Write the services on the vertical axis. Derive from the offer  structured in the most understandable and detailed way.
  • Fill in the expenses or figures of the other providers in their respective columns. Not all offers will contain all the positions,  so the first gaps will already appear. Either the offer was not comprehensive or the service was included in a neighbouring position.
  • For example, one provider may see testing as an independent position, while another already covers it as part of development. It is precisely these facts that need to be clarified so that you can divide up the positions accordingly for your comparison.
  • Another finding will be that the positions of individual providers differ significantly downwards or upwards from those of competitors. Clarify this with the providers as well. It is very likely that different expenses are simply assumed.
  • The result will be a clear table that gives you a good visualisation of where you stand with each provider.

Rule of thumb: The less the sums for the individual bid items of a provider stand out, the more realistic and accurate the calculations probably are.

What mistakes should you avoid when designing a website?

As a matter of principle, and as already mentioned here: Never choose a provider for a project simply based on the total sum without comparing exactly what is included and, in particular, what is missing. So here are the biggest mistakes you should avoid when asking for quotes and choosing an internet agency or web designer:

  • Under no circumstances should you choose the cheapest provider. The likelihood is that the services offered are reduced to the absolute minimum of your request, poorly executed or even resold.
  • Do not choose a provider whose offer and service description does not specifically address your request and does not include your requirements and wishes.
  • If you compare two offers, only compare the services offered to the same extent in both offers.

Don't be dazzled! There are agencies with excellent salespeople where you only get to know your actual contacts or project staff – often interns or students – after you've already signed.

Will the new website help you to attract more customers?

Or will you just end up with a functioning website? What is the point of this question? What does "functioning" mean? Isn't the creation of a website simply a technical service? Depending.

Here is a question you need to ask yourself before choosing an internet agency or a web design agency, in plain English:

Would you like someone to set up a technically flawless website for you, to whom you can tell what you have in mind in every respect?

Or would you like to work with a service provider who thinks for you like an entrepreneur and designs your success, for whom technical functionality is a matter of course anyway?

Good conception is based on many factors, but the visitor to the site is always at the centre. You can only create a website that's successful with both users and search engines if your service provider understands you, understands your business model, understands your potential customers and acts accordingly.

This is the difference between user experience design and an aimlessly clicked-together website that is also somehow "pretty".

All well and good. But what does a website cost now?

OK - enough talking. Here you will find a rough corridor of how we at revision6 would offer an average project, for example, and in full.

Of course, our detailed offers meet all the above criteria. These here are only example figures (PT = person days):

  • 0 - 3 PT: UX design (analysis, requirements)
  • 1 - 3 PT: Information architecture (wireframes, taxonomy/sitemap)
  • 3 - 6 PT: Screen design (design, style guide)
  • 0 - 5 PT: Content creation (texts, photos)
  • 3 - 6 PT: Development (prototype, frontend)
  • 2 - 4 PT: Development (CMS)
  • 1 - 3 PT: Content maintenance
  • 2 - 3 PT: Testing and launch

= 12 - 33 project days at €720  each.

Fazit

Summary

Choosing the right service provider and offer is not something you should do on the toss of a coin if you want to make the best possible decision.

This guide deals exclusively with the hard facts - but, of course, other factors such as "can I work with them, and do I really want to work with them at all?" also play a role.

Nevertheless, we hope we've provided a helpful approach here.

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