Today when I was googling "website design" and "website design plymouth" (I quite often do it to find out what's what), it struck me just how hard it is for a small business to really understand the variety and pricing for website design.
There's everything from the low-cost self-builders with "try it for free" including loads of free templates to the more exclusive local agencies. It's also changing all the time, I'm seeing different results hourly. Not that I usually do it every few minutes, I might add, but just out of interest whilst creating this article.
Whilst a lot don't post prices in their Google returned data, I can see figures of £199, £299 and £395 all being quoted. I know there are others out there that quote £99, but then there is the other end of the scale where I hear of quite simple websites for £15,000 and I realise it truly is a minefield.
Low cost options
So I looked up a couple of the lower cost options. I haven't included any of the build it yourself websites like Wix or Squarespace only professionals looking to build a website for you.
Generally, it goes two ways with these low-cost options:
- Hidden Costs & Extras
The initial cost quoted is never actually the price you are going to pay for what you actually need for your small business website. There are additional costs for mobile responsiveness, for SEO, for more than 3 pages, for a content management system, for every single thing, so the price gets higher and higher until, in the end, you're at the same price you were quoted for a fully functioning high-quality website
- High volume, low quality
These are companies that churn out website after website on the same template which is never quite finished off and never quite works properly.
With these lower cost options, you will often find their own websites are shining examples of poor quality being generally fussy and not following good practices for design. Often covered in pop-ups, adverts and hard sell discounts, they have links and buttons that don't work and a general lack of care and attention.
They'll be no nice "About" page where you can learn more about the company and even the staff and their dog (it's almost become obligatory to have a dog as a digital agency these days - we have two!). In fact, the companies will be quite anonymous in terms of who they are and where they are based.
There may be a "Portfolio" page with some nice website images but you will sometimes struggle to actually find these websites online and testimonials (if they exist) will be accompanied by a nice stock photo.
Whilst I acknowledge these are sweeping generalisations, it's what my research today, yesterday, last week and before has shown me.
So whilst these low-cost options may seem attractive, the cost to repair a damaged reputation after a poor website launch, is far higher.
Setting the lower cost options aside, what other options do you have for pricing?
Like ourselves, most of the other local agencies or companies don't post any kind of pricing. Our reasoning for this is, is that each website project we work on is bespoke, we don't have a specific website product or template that we sell.
We always try to work with a client's budget and provide quality over quantity. If a client has a low budget, we work to give them the best solution for the available budget, creating a core solution on which they can build pages and functionality as their business grows.
Agencies often have teams of people skilled in each of the disciplines needed for great web design - from design and UX to HTML and development skills. If they don't have the resources in-house for something, you can guarantee they already have a partner that does.
They often have a raft of industry experience too, which is usually what led them to setting up in the first place.
Agency costs will rarely be "cheap" because that's not what you're getting, you getting a level experience and knowledge which can't be bought.
Freelancer website designers can often offer pricing that's more competitive than agency due to their low overheads. Freelancers can be great to work with but they can also be elusive, disappear or unable to take on multiple requests at any one time. We often work with freelancers, but these are people we've known over years and if they're unable to help, we have others to ask - we're never dependent on one person.
What happens if they go sick? Get stuck? Working on another project when you need? There's always a risk, even if it's small that even the best and most genuine freelancer in the world may not always be available..
We put a huge emphasis on quality at Carbon Pixel. Our years of experience have taught us, that in the end a quality product or service is what gets you repeat work and keeps our clients and their friends and acquaintances coming back time and again.
We don't create WordPress template websites (to find out more see our FAQ: What is a website template?). Our expertise is elsewhere, in creating bespoke website designs that meet the needs of the particular website audience and business as well as implementing a really easy to use Content Management System (CMS), Umbraco.
What you pay for is our experience and expertise in the field of creative website design, technical web development and digital project management.
Our pricing is based on our collective experience which ranges from working on big brands like River Cottage, BBC Horizons, PwC, international brands like IPM Consultancy and Tide Forsikring as well as understanding the needs of small, local, businesses like Arrital Kitchens and SD Limited.
But you won't just get a website from us, we'll be thinking about your brand and how the website needs to complement it; we'll be thinking of your marketing requirements and how they will need to coexist and be enhanced; we'll be considering whether you need to integrate with a CRM to optimise the data your website captures; we'll be thinking of the bigger picture for your business and also how we can support you best moving forwards.
If this all sounds like a justification for our pricing, it really is as we understand how confusing it can be. Our websites start from around £1,000 for a basic mobile responsive website with a content management system that means you can update your website as and when you want to. For a unique, bespoke design with more extensive functionality, prices start from around £3,000 - all bespoke websites are costed after having spoken with you in some depth about your requirements and creating a solution that exactly meets the needs of your business and more importantly its customers.
The saying "you get what you pay for" stands just as true when talking about websites, with cheapest prices often offering the lowest quality and poor customer service.
But just in case you fear my bias is overshadowing this piece, this is a great article from startups.co.uk which echoes and expands on our thinking and has a great table of the kind of costs should be considering.