why is web design expensive? How much should I pay for web design?

Why Is Web Design So Expensive?

Date: November 4, 2019
By: Shaun Pingitore

There’s many factors that make web design expensive. What seems like the same job, from two different vendors, can be radically different in price. How can something I can do on my own–for free–cost $500 from one company, and $5,000 from another?

When you begin to scratch the surface, you’ll realize that Web Design is much more complicated than it can at-first seem. Remember, there are people who make a living, even a killing building websites–for a reason!

Among the many factors making web design expensive, here are a few I think are most often overlooked:

  • Technical Factors
  • Design Factors
  • Marketing Factors
  • …and the all too forgotten—Time & Maintenance Factors

If you’re wondering “Should I Design It Myself or Hire Someone?”, hopefully this article will help you find your answer, otherwise stay tuned for our take on it.

 For now, let’s get into it.

Technical Factors

In very simple terms, a website is a bunch of files being hosted on a server somewhere. Further, there may be many websites on the same server. The server may be old, have too many files & websites on it, or a plethora of other problems impacting its speed.

What this means is that your website may take longer than necessary to load. The longer you leave a visitor or customer waiting for your site to load, the higher the chance of them not sticking around.

As well, the larger your site is, the more space it will require on the server & the more expensive it will become. As an extreme example, imagine the enormous amounts of server space and power that sites like Google, Amazon, & Facebook might require.

Once you manage to figure that out, now you have to worry about whether these files are safe. More importantly, whether the information that your customers enter on your site is safe. Without proper encryption, information entered onto your site may be intercepted or stolen. This can obviously become very problematic if a visitor is entering sensitive contact, payment, or personal information.

Do-It-Yourself systems are great at handling a lot of these Technical Factors for you, but as your website & business expand, you will quickly outgrow the capabilities of DIY website builders.

Design Factors

Next there are Design Factors, and no—being a great artist isn’t enough to make you a Web Design expert. These Design Factors are part art and part science. People attend Design School for years to not only learn these concepts, but then master applying them.

Things like the impact on readability that different color & font combinations have will affect the quality of your final product. Designers understand the human attention span, colors that evoke various emotions, and the way your eyes are drawn to various images and elements. This knowledge is then used to master a skill that we like to call Intelligent Information Architecture.

The designer will use this skill to increase the likelihood that the visitor will explore & digest the information in a specific way, and ultimately complete an action. This action can be anything from making a purchase, to filling out a contact form, or signing up for a mailing list.

Marketing Factors

While you may be the best baker, or the best accountant, or the best home builder—effective targeting, branding & positioning is an entirely separate, often elusive skill.

As the good designer guides a person through information, the great designer (or more often, team) is able to apply targeting & branding expertise to make the site much more likely to resonate with your ideal person or audience.

Things like imagery and wording will affect who the site will and won’t resonate with, so you need someone who understands these marketing principles and understands the concepts of effective copy writing.

You need to make sure you’re effectively sending a message, and that you’re effectively sending the right message.

All this is provided that the right people are visiting your site in the first place. But how do you make sure of that?

So, you have a team of people who understand the way humans think and feel, now you need someone who understands how Search Engines think (and I guess feel??). In comes the Search Engine Optimization expert. Often versed in the principles of Marketing, the SEO person will know how to structure & organize your site, so that the site is easily found by whoever your target audience may be.

For more on Search Engine Optimization, see our other article “What The Heck Is SEO?.

Time & Maintenance Factors

Lastly, the often forgotten & undervalued Time & Maintenance Factors. Beyond the hours and weeks it can take to build a site, you’ll want to make sure that it is being maintained once it goes live.

For one, there are the content updates that will arise as your business or industry changes. Maybe you’ve just acquired a new line of products you want on your site, or maybe you need to upload a few pictures. Perhaps there’s an expired promotional offer on your site that needs to be removed. These are all tasks that take time, and if you’re not well versed in whichever platform you used to build the site, these tasks may begin to take a lot of time!

Next there are technological developments that may make your site obsolete. An advancement in technology may affect the way our smartphones and computers display websites, meaning that your site will no longer be easily viewed on a particular device.

You need to maintain the website so that information is being displayed correctly, the site remains secure & information doesn’t become vulnerable, and your site remains visible.

With Google’s ever-changing methods of categorizing and displaying websites, you’ll also want to make sure that SEO maintenance is being done to the site, to ensure that your site is still being found easily by the people you want to your site. All this can translate into several hours of maintenance every month. Time, that as a business owner or organization, you may not have.

Conclusion

As you can see there are many factors that make web design expensive. When you decide to build a website yourself, you pay for it in the form of time, as well as running the risk of your site not looking or performing as well as it should. While “look & performance” of a website may seem trivial, it can have a serious impact on your business’ bottom line.

When hiring a Web Designer (or agency, or firm), you should spend as much as your budget allows. Determining your budget is a decision that you will need to make depending on your situation, and more importantly—your expected results.

If you’d like to learn how to improve your business’ online presence while saving time & money, contact us today!

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