What goes into the cost of a wordpress website

Wordpress pricing website

If you're reading this article you're likely either a business owner doing their due diligence to avoid overpaying on a new WordPress website or a website designer, trying to figure out a pricing strategy. 

For this article, i'll mostly be focusing on WordPress as it's the CMS and framework we use and it's also the most popular one on the internet holding over a 27% market share. To clarify further we're talking about developers coding with the open source code from WordPress.org - not the wordpress.com version which is a more closed off version.

You don't have to look far online to see people promising the world for some very affordable looking prices, yet when you email some experienced digital marketing/web agencies you may get some eye-popping numbers back. So if they're both on WordPress - what's the difference when the price differential is in the thousands? Everyone is a copy cat in their sales pitches these days so its up to you, the consumer to do your own research. 

Typically, I've seen WordPress websites offered from anything from $75 to £20,000+. The variables for what you need to spend will vary from company to company but consider the following - then make your own mind up on what your new website is worth to you. 

Pricing will vary for other platforms so if you're not sure if WordPress is the right CMS for you, have a read here more about it.

This article is going to be fairly comprehensive but stick with it and you'll come out a lot clearer about what to demand from your next website

What contributes to the cost of a WordPress website: The basics to consider 

Web Agency or Freelancer 

Agency example
Many hands make light work

If you're working with a web agency you need to consider they have more mouths to feed, each bringing their own skills and experiences. They also will have larger overhead costs. They might be located in a more central location with higher rates also. This will play a large factor in their costs. Working with an agency comes with the benefits of having multiple experts working on each individual specific task. This is reflected in the cost - agencies are more suited for large scale organisations as a result. 

What goes into the cost of a wordpress website
Freelancers work with you every step of the way so communication is never lost in translation. 

Freelancers and small design companies are more suited for small to medium sized businesses. The cost of working with a freelancer will depend on their hourly rate and experience. Generally freelancers come as full stack developers with varying degrees of graphic design ability.

Regardless of if you're considering a web / digital agency or freelancer, you should look at their recent portfolio and client feedback - you should also consider the rest of this article first! 

Research

What goes into the cost of a wordpress website

Consider the time it will take to establish early on what your businesses goals and objectives are both as a brand and for the website. Then time spent researching both your competitor strategies and your demographics habits. From this research, the designer can build an idea of design style and user experience as well as the SEO strategy to pursue. 

Premium theme, Pagebuilder or Custom made

WordPress has themes like Wix, Squarespace which are ready to install and with some tweaking could represent your business. Themes are often the cheapest method and they often attempt a one glove fits all approach. The issue here is you're often left with a lot of unneccessary code and functionality - known as bloat which slows down the website. So the developer then has to both customize the website for your brand and remove all the unnessary code. The theme may then also be lacking in comapablity with future necessary functionality and require a developer with a lot of php coding experience to fix it (expensive)

Page builders allow developers with the knowledge to more quickly put together a website and whilst the downside is the unnecessary bloat, can be optimised easier and are very scalable. 

Custom made themes are the most expensive option for a reason, they require extensive coding, maintenance and design. It's very rare to see custom made themes only for one business due to their high development & maintenance costs. This is where you start to see the money go into the tens of thousands. 

Functionality

I'll get into this a bit more later but essentially what do you need your website to do? The more complex the website, the more data and information it has to process, the more complicated the database setup - the higher the cost will get and this is where the cost varies a lot from developer to developer. If it's something that can be easily handled by a plugin - lower cost, if it's something a bit more complex and requires a lot of custom coding - higher cost. 

Then the customisation required to make it work seamlessly and look a perfect match for the rest of the flow of the website? This all takes time and therefore money. G

Graphic Design

What goes into the cost of a wordpress website

Whilst the value of graphic design isn't quite what it used to be with all these premade options out there, it's still a rare skill that takes time to hone and happens to transfer quite well to website design. 

A website without graphic design experience is just a jumbled bunch of content and pictures and this directly affects user experience and bounce rate. If your website isn't visibly appealing with a clear navigation flow, your visitors won't hang around and your bounce rate will suffer, this is a problem because when your bounce rate suffers, your SEO suffers as Google takes this as a signal that users aren't interested in your website.

Graphic design knowledge goes beyond the image design, it also contributes to the colour scheme choices based on the branding and the font choices that will accurately reflect the tone and style of your brand. 

Website development experience

Drawing from experience is vitally important, an experienced web developer will spot problems a mile away and save everyone the pain and wasted time of revisions by avoiding them early on in the communication stage. Experience is often invaluable also as you can take what worked from previous websites and build on it. 

If you're a new web developer you're more likely to make mistakes from ignorance though this is part of the learning process - this is also reflected in your pricing as being lower.

Optimisation

Building a website and designing it isn't enough. It also needs fine tuning from a speed and conversion standpoint. This is usually the most obvious mistake experts can spot when looking at bad websites. Unnecessary code bloat, unoptimised images, excessive javascript and poorly designed homepages will hurt your website more than you know. 

So again the knowledge and experience of this plays a factor in the website cost, you also can't do most of this on ready made website packages offered on the cheap. So this is where the separation in ability really begins to come into play. 

If I had to point to one area most web developers fall short it's right here

Size of website

As the website grows generally so does the cost. Simple enough

Hosting, emails & Domain fees

What goes into the cost of a wordpress website

Cheap developers always use cheap hosting, this comes back to bite you with slow server response times, website crashes and server limits. For example if your website or business went even remotely viral, it would instantly crash - what a look that would be for your business.

A good developer as part of the communication process will have analysed the traffic flow expected to your business and sourced the best server to ensure your website runs fast without overpaying. A good developer will include hosting in any maintenance plan unless you want the headache of managing it yourself. If you do however want to DIY it - I recommend Siteground for their excellent support team.

Emails are another consideration for cost that most overlook. If you want a stressfree life, we recommend signing up for a GSuite account - *cough - free setup with every Creative Wavelength website*.

Without a dedicated email platform you're getting into other issues such as - using up your server space with emails, the risk of your server being marked as spam and not having access to the same level of security - which ultimately puts your finances, your business and your customers at risk.

Domain fees are another headache to consider and will vary depending on the extension and popularity of the domain. If you haven't already chosen your domain, talk to your developer first to find out which extension would be most suitable for your business and if it's worthwhile to purchase multiple.

Creative Wavelength always recommends clients buy their own domains to have management over them, if you lose access to your domain, without getting too much into the specifics, be prepared for headache and stress as you've never seen. 

Domain Names for $0.88 with Namecheap

SEO Knowledge - More than just a buzzword

What goes into the cost of a wordpress website

Used by many as if it's a buzzword but it's in my experience the most vital aspects of building a website. If your website developer can't clearly explain the strategies used, or show a track record of success with previous clients for ranking for search terms then buyer beware. 

SEO is vital for a number of reasons

  • It gets your business easily found by those looking for it
  • More importantly, It gets your business found by those not looking for it. It's hard to put a value on ranking in the top 3 for search terms in your industry as the benefits go beyond just more traffic to your website. 

Making sure your website designer has great SEO and up to date knowledge goes beyond just the benefits however - picking the wrong SEO specialist can have dire consequences if they use banned practises such as black hat SEO - whilst it may possibly gain short term success, the long term risk is your company being blacklisted from the search results. 

Great SEO experience is priceless as afterall, what good is a great looking website if no one ever finds it. Sure I mean you could just up your printed advertisement game with your website address on it but then what was the point of the website?

A good SEO specialist will know their value and be happy to show you proof of success. 

Software expenses

Running a business isn't free for anyone and that includes website developers. A good website developer will have a multiude of industry standard software at their desposal including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator,  SEO Software and that's only just the basics.

Whilst many good things on the internet are free, not many of them are associated with good websites. For example - it is possible to get free image compression software but the best ones cost money.

The difference between free and paid could be the difference in a customer waiting around to buy/read about your business or a couple of spots on the search rankings.This isn't including the numerous software developers use, such as photoshop, SEO software and the list goes on..

Testing & Feedback

After everything else we've covered already and now imagine the extensive time needed to test the website and the functionality across numerous devices.

Then the feedback stage to make sure everyone is on the same page and head with the direction the websites heading. 

In Summary

If I told you every step of the above is vital for having a good performing website and it's a tried and tested process. Ask yourself, what shortcuts are those promising the world for very little really taking?

If your next response is 

"not everyone needs a website with all the bells & whistles. Some of us just need something very simple".

I would say that's ok until you consider your website will be lost among all the other very simple and cost effective websites that disappear into the back pages of the search engines. Making it nothing more than an extension for your business card you pay for every month / year.

A website is an investment, invest poorly and it's money wasted - especially if you had no SEO strategy. 

So how do we check if a website company is worth investing with, how do you know what websites are good if you don't have the expertise to begin with? Well that's coming up in the next section!

What's the difference between a great website & a bad one?

When you're researching companies to design & develop your next website you should consider the following 

A Good website 

  • Will load quickly consistently, as website speed plays a huge role in both user experience and SEO. The website developer will have considered complicated issues such as mobile data speeds and balanced aesthetics with functionality
  • Clear navigation. The website developer and the client they're working with have been able to clearly communicate the flow of the website, so the user is able to be directed to the areas with the best ROI for the client. 
  • Written copy is written for the brand's demographics
  • Users want to share it
  • Designed to be responsive, this means the website will work seamlessly across devices. The user will have a great user experience with mobile and desktop devices.  
  • Visible on search engines. The business will rank for terms beyond just the business name. When the business ranks for multiple terms in its industry - it gains more traffic, new leads and grows as an industry leader. The search terms won't be by accident, part of the process with any good website developer is examining competitors strategies, working with the client to analyse the current digital strength of the business and working towards growing it. Starting with easier to rank search terms moving up over time, it's a long-term strategy - one that is completely lost when you choose cheap website alternatives. 

A good website will act like a great employee, it will advertise you 24/7 and make you look fantastic. It will work continually to expand your brand reach even when you sleep. It's also a lot easier to track the success of than your average employee! 

A Bad Website 

  • Has long loading times - use a speed checking tool like GTMetrix to get the real statistics.  ( Consider most users will abandon your website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load )
  • Hard to navigate - No real thought has been put into user experience
  • Unclear communication - No real thought has been given to the users impression of the website 
  • Users rarely stay on it more than a few seconds
  • Key information hard to find - The purpose of the website hasn't been given clear enough thought
  • Language too vague - Content has likely been copied and pasted without thought
  • Doesn’t work on Mobile devices - Has definitely not been designed by a website designer as any good website developer knows up to 70% of internet traffic for B2C websites are now mobile users. 
  • Can’t be found on search engines - No SEO knowledge 

Bad websites really are a dime a dozen, whether it's because owners are convinced they can DIY it or having chosen the cheapest seller out there, a bad website is truly easy to spot and often, does the company more bad than good. After all, what is a first impression worth to you?

This doesn't just concern your potential customers, it matters to Google too as they put a focus on promoting websites which follow good design and user experience principles first. 

The real cost of a cheap website is, you'll often find you'll be back at square 1 in a few months wondering why your website is slow and you've gained no leads and no traffic from it. 

What kind of website do I need?

Websites are really complicated until you split them into categories and be very specific about what you actually need. Once you're able to priotise what you need from your website - you can measure its success. Trying to do everything will either be very expensive or a very big waste of time. 

Brochure websites - Why not use Wix / Squarespace?

Brochure websites are what more or less what the majority of small - medium sized brick & mortar businesses actually need.

The problem here is many just take the cheapest / easiest option which is a page builder like Wix or Squarespace - sometimes even paying someone to design this for them. I get why people are attracted to these services, they're cheap and easy to use and if you don't have the technical knowledge to understand their flaws - seem like a no brainer. 

The issue with these content management systems is whilst they may be easy to use, they're also very limited technically. SEO is very lacking especially from a speed standpoint. When your SEO can't be worked on effectively it affects you negatively in the search rankings and those with SEO worthy websites will swiftly overtake you in the rankings. 

Consider this also, if every other Tom, Dick and Harry is also using one with the same limited selection of templates - how does your business stand out in any way if the customer does find it? 

Finally, you don't own the website or the code associated with it - you're just renting it. Which isn't the best long-term strategy especially if your business experiences growth and requires more functionality from the website.

What makes a great brochure website? 

A great brochure website will clearly explain what the business is about, the industry you're in will be very clear and the benefits of choosing your business over the competitors. The page should load fast, be clearly laid out and be easy to navigate. 

It will be well optimised for SEO to rank for search terms relative to your businesses industry, being able to attract in both customers who haven't heard of you before and current customers and turn them into leads through sales funnels. This could be a well optimised converting page with a newsletter for future automated emails or a contact page. 

On the fancier end of things you have livechat, advanced CRM callback software and more! 

Other kinds of websites

Depending on the kind of business you run, you may need something specific to your needs. Each kind of website requires different design styles, functionality and advanced development knowledge. The prices tend to be a lot higher as the amount of development dramatically increases. Buy cheap and beware being embarrassed by mistake after mistake infront of potential *and often lost* consumers or much worse 

Here are a few examples of websites that go a bit beyond being a 'brochure website' 

  • eCommerce website - sell your products or services online - a good eCommerce website should be designed from the ground up as such and not just a shop page slapped onto an existing website. 
  • Booking website - Similar concepts to eCommerce website but generally much different styles and user experience. 
  • Membership website - Managing complex user matrixes, could be some integration with booking or eCommerce functionality. Generally more expensive a website to design and maintain. 
  • Landing page - a very specific page hyper targeted at a certain demographic for lead generation 

Buying Local or Online?:

First off you need to consider if you're buying from a local UK company or outsourcing to somewhere with very cheap labour costs like India or the Philippines. You may have an attitude of buy local - in which case you need to closely examine the company you're going to buy off - as a growing number are outsourcing the work anyway.

When outsourcing works

  • You have a trusted previous relationship with the developer or they have a very good reputation. 
  • They have demonstrated clear previous experience in your industry and with your local laws
  • They tick all the boxes for what has been covered so far
  • Excellent communicators with clear processes for design, development, payments and handovers
  • You live in an area with very high living costs and business rates reflect this and are trying to create a start up with limited funds. Think New York, London etc.

Why outsourcing isn't always the best idea

  • Language barriers - websites are like any creative project - good communication is key, so things can get lost in translation with limited language skills and lead to frustration. This isn't always the case but it happens a lot. 
  •  You're hiring a web developer with a degree of trust, especially if your website deals with private information sent via contact forms or collected in newsletters. This isn't limited to companies / individuals from abroad but be wary of buying cheap for they might be making their money back in other ways. Which leads to my next point
  • Your website developer needs to understand the laws your country is governed by. A developer from India, the United States etc may not take GDPR into consideration which for an EU based company could lead to fines and warnings down the road. Going cheap sometimes leads to a headache later on. 

In conclusion 

Research companies extensively, find out what their strengths are and aline them with yours. Here's a couple of examples to help decide where you might fit

  1. If you are hosting a one-off art event that has been heavily advertised in print and need a website to represent the event - a long term SEO strategy probably isn't the best idea so SEO specialists probably won't fit. A freelancer or company that excels at graphic design would probably be a better fit. 
  2. If you are a newely established brick & mortar business that needs footfall you'll want a good website designer with strong SEO & PPC experience to get you customers short term and help grow your business long term

If you want everything be prepared to pay for everything. 

If you've read everything here - serious props to you for making it this far and think Creative Wavelength would be a fit for your company or just need something explained further - why get in contact for a free consultation