Why is website design so expensive?

In the last website design article, written by Cy, he talked about “What makes Professional Website Design Different,” a question we get asked all the time. In this post, I’m going to look at why website design is expensive, which is the other question we get asked all the time, especially with the rise of Odesk, Hibu, Wix, and others that use stock templates.

(Do not use these places/services ever, for the love of all that is good – the amount of people we get coming to us after they have had ‘software’ or ‘websites’ built by these people, where we have to burn it to the ground and start again is just painful. Save yourself the heartbreak and just don’t do it. )

Why such a high price for Website Design?

Let’s look at a website’s build, and see what it looks like here at Serious SEM, just to give you a good outline of why things cost what they do. A website can range anywhere from the incredibly inexpensive $800 range all the way into the hundreds of thousands and more. The reaction to this fact would typically be, why is there such a huge price gap? Let’s look at websites like they were any tangible object that you would normally go out and buy, and apply the same logic most people use when making any big ticket purchase.

You get what you pay for. Period.

BMW car

It’s impossible to buy a new BMW for the price of a used Ford Pinto. There is quite a large amount of time, research, and planning that can go into building a website, and that all gets added to the price tag. After all, when you are looking for a website designer you’re looking to buy their know how, just as much, if not more so, than the end product they will produce for you. Think again about the cars reference from above. Sure if BMW dropped out testing, wind tunnels, safety inspections, re-working design flaws, and making sure the engine was stable, they could in theory lower their price a ton! But would you want to pay for a car that looks nice on the outside, but it’s insides were just slapped together quick and easy? No way! No one wants to drive a death trap! The same elements can be applied to a custom website design. The higher end of the spectrum will have hours of time poured into your website’s internet marketing strategy, which will cover things like: market research, competitor statistics, content strategy, information architecture, user experience, conversation tracking, client funneling on the site, typography and color psychology. As I mentioned above, you’re not really paying for the pretty end package, you’re paying for the mind of the team behind it, for the longevity of your site, its adaptability, and overall its ability to make you more money.

The trickle down effect

The trickle down effect happens in all industries that are driven by technology. One company comes out with something new and when they are first on the scene and it’s hot off the press, then it will cost more to get it. The newer that functionality is, the more it costs. But over time you start to see the third party brands pop up with similar or the exact same feature. But the reason for the price starting high, is the amount of time and effort invested to make sure that new gadget functions reliably as often as possible. The same can be said for website design. Think about mobile friendly design; when it hit the scene, mobile friendly websites came at a premium. Now that this feature has spread to the rest of the internet, a mobile friendly site is nearly expected.

Technology will always drive prices up, before it helps bring them down

Staying with the idea of cars, think about how the price on them goes up and down. Do you want a sunroof? A GPS? Rearview reverse camera? If you want any of those things added, then the price will go up. Now, some come with those things pre-built into them, but they also have the price tag for that built into them as well. You can take the same thought to the price tag of your website. Options such as CRM integration, API connection, and event management are just a few of these types of “options” that can affect the final price.

Lets speak about creation.


Moving to what you can see on the surface. Have you ever looked at the fit and finish of a car like a Dodge Viper? The paint is immaculate, the trim fits perfectly, there are no rattles, and the engine roars like a lion. Compare that to the basic rental car you can get anywhere. The paint is cheap, the interior rattles, sometimes it feels more like a roller coaster than a smooth ride, and the cloth seats have already faded within ten thousand miles of use. I bet you can guess already where I am headed with this! On the internet, we call this a website’s polish. And where you really start to see the difference between that professional site you paid a bit more for and the simple slapped together one. On one end of the scale you have hours and hours of attention to detail going into the handcrafted beauty like the Dodge Viper, whereas, on the other end, there is the assembly line built car that was performed by a machine in minutes. This can translate directly into website’s build: the more animations, rollovers, and polish a website contains, the more time and customization was put into it, and the more the price will rise. Alternatively, template websites, similar to vehicle assembly line builds, aren’t nearly as customizable as something designed from scratch, complete with solutions tailored to your users and goals.

Get in where you fit in

Now, a high end Dodge Viper, while beautiful to look at, and fun to drive, is not always the right car for every job. You probably wouldn’t take your Dodge Viper camping because it isn’t built for that. Websites, like cars, can have a specialty. You want a car that’s made to go fast? It will cost more. You want a vehicle that can climb a mountain? It will cost more. The same goes for websites. Creating a website to specialize and outperform in one area, can affect the site’s price. But can also lead to you being able to make a lot more money in the long run, because it will be built for your business and your customers.

Time is money.

The more time put into a cars functionality, technology, specialization, or fit and finish, the more the car is going to cost. Websites are the same. The time involved will directly affect the final price tag. Having so many options out there when it comes to choosing a car or having a website built, can make it difficult to decide. The decision may come down to needs, goals, or budget. Understanding what can affect the price of your car will always help make that decision easier. It is the same for websites; understanding what can affect the price of your website will help with the decision-making process and lead to a better fit for your needs and goals.

Do you need help growing your business? We have upfront pricing and we are the best website developers in Middle Tennessee – hands down! We look forward to helping you with any web projects your business has now or in the future!

Cy SearsWhy is website design so expensive?