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How much does a website cost?

Dave Belyea June 1, 2017 Web Design & Development 6 Comments

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One of the most common questions that prospects pose to us is why websites cost what they do. A fair question given that price quotes for a marketing website can run the gamut from $10,000 to $100,000.

There are a number of factors that go into the cost of a website, from using a virtual firm with freelancers versus using a full-service design firm, to using a pre-designed template instead of doing a completely custom design… and the list goes on. In this post, we’ll use the Jackrabbit website as an example and we’ll try and break down our process and the associated costs.

The Jackrabbit Website Design Process

1. Discovery

What you can expect
Documents around creative, brand, and communications strategy along with functional requirements

This phase is all about asking the right questions, setting agreed-upon objectives and solidifying a sound communications strategy that will drive the entire process.

The Jackrabbit Site

So this part was pretty easy for us. We met as a team several times, developed our wish-list, and outlined our design ideas and the functional requirements.

Discovery Time Rate Total Fee
32 Hours $175/hr $5,600

2. Information Architecture

What you can expect
Sitemap and Interactive Wireframes

What information do users need and how will they get to it? That’s what the information architecture phase addresses (and architecture is truly an appropriate name). The sitemap and wireframes—key deliverables produced during this phase—are the blueprints for the site, laying the groundwork for the creative team to work their magic, and the eventual site development.

Process_Discovery

Our wireframes are all interactive (we use Axure). This allows our clients to engage and interact with the site structure before we begin any of the creative design. It allows us to define the priority of information and how it will be displayed on a page. By investing heavily in the architecture, we avoid many problems down the road (but it also takes a lot of time to do).

The Jackrabbit Site

This can be a challenge, even for us. We had to organize our content into simple categories that would allow the various personnas visiting our site to easily access what is important to them. We knew our original site worked well, but we still wanted to improve on the way content was served up and make it more dynamic and compelling.

Information Architecture Rate Total Fee
40 hours $175/hr $7,000

3. Design

What you can expect
Creative user interface designs for the entire site and all of the subsequent page templates.

Creating a strong design for the website is a balancing act, and our designers are expert tightrope walkers. The design must equally serve the brand’s style, the business’s goals, AND the user’s experience—it’s not just about looking great.

Process_Design

This phase begins with us presenting a few initial concepts for a homepage design. From there, a direction is chosen and refined, eventually getting to an approved homepage design. We use that design direction to inform the look and feel of the various interior pages.

The Jackrabbit Site

Being a design firm, we wanted to showcase our creativity without over complicating the user experience.

Custom features affect the overall scope of a website, but they can also add that “wow” factor to a website. They take time and can increase the budget, but in the end they are well worth it.

User Experience Design Rate Total Fee
124 hours $175/hr $21,700

Custom Illustrations and Photography

Process_Illustration

The Jackrabbit site incorporated custom photography and illustrations to highlight our company culture and the people who work here. For instance, the designers spent hours meticulously cutting and photographing bits of paper to create the animated effect that illustrates our process.

Photography and Illustration Time Rate Total Fee
48 hours $175/hr $8,400

4. Content Development

What you can expect
All of the copy and content for your site.

We had a great design plan, lots of great images of our work and team, and then… someone actually needed to write the content. Our writers crafted the story about the company, the bios for the staff, the case studies, and all of the other content for the site.

The Jackrabbit Site
Copywriting Time Rate Total Fee
40 hours $175/hr $7,000

5. Development

What you can expect
Our rabbits will develop a fully functional, interactive website.

It’s all been building to this—the strategy and planning, the design direction and creative—the development phase is where all of the prep work turns into a final product. Our developers efficiently execute websites that deliver on the strategy, testing along the way to ensure everything meets Jackrabbit’s high standards of usability.Process_Development

The Jackrabbit Site

The Jackrabbit site runs on WordPress. We are big fans of this open source Content Management System (CMS). It is easy to use from an administrative point of view, and allows for great flexibility with design and future integration of functionality.

Development Time Rate Total Fee
160 hours $175/hr $28,000

So, what does this all mean?

Well, based on our site, the time looks something like this: We spent a grand total of 444 hours on our own site, which is pretty average for a site of this size, complexity, and creativity. In our world, 404 hours equates to $77,700.

Now keep in mind, this fee also includes a lot of additional features like the custom photography of people and product and the illustrations ($8,400). The site also includes lots of copywriting, which some clients take on internally ($7,000).

Process_Photoshoot

When people call, we tell them that our smaller sites start around $50,000. In order to provide our high level of service and creativity, we feel this allows for the minimum amount of time a site could take. The majority of our sites do fall somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000 and average about 6 months to design and build. Our bigger and more complex sites will run $80,000 to $100,000 and take 8+ months to complete. 

At Jackrabbit, we understand the value of great design and great service… and our clients do, too.

Our breadth of expertise in not only development, but branding, marketing, design, information architecture, and strategy allows Jackrabbit to create websites that achieve clients’ goals and surpass their expectations. This expertise is among the benefits of working with a full-service agency versus a smaller shop or freelancer. You’ve got a team of subject matter experts on your side: a dedicated project manager keeps the project on schedule and the budget on track, an information architect solves key usability challenges, all while our designers are shaping compelling visual concepts and our developers are working under the hood. Our clients see Jackrabbit as a true strategic partner.

6 Comments

  • Dan Stock July 19, 2014

    Great post, Dave! Very valuable explanation. A must read for prospects!!!

  • Myrna Greenfield August 22, 2014

    Thanks for this post! My clients ask me how much a website costs all the time. It’s so hard to answer that question. I hate to say: “Well, it depends on what you’re trying to do with your site,” but of course it does. You’ve done a great job breaking down what goes into creating a quality site.

  • BAKUNYA SIMON September 20, 2014

    Its a factual explanation, the only challenge is that the organization may not afford the costs given the fact that its in East Africa- Uganda which is less developed

  • Wade Morse February 10, 2015

    Great information. Thanks for the post Dave!

  • Aaron Gobidas August 11, 2017

    My clients get mad when I say our firm charges $300 a month for a website which includes design and photos. This really helps me explain what goes into making a site. Thanks Dave!

  • 9series @ Creative Design Company July 4, 2018

    Really informative info you have shared here.

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