Web Design is one of those services where the price can vary drastically. Even doing a quick Google search you will see companies offering web design and development for as low as $199 to as much as $50,000 plus. As a business owner, it can be really hard to know what you need, how much your web design development should cost, and how to get the best value.
As I will illustrate in this article there is a big difference between what you get with different web design and development companies.
In this article, I will share the average costs for professional web design and explain what the differences are between hiring a professional web developer and hiring someone to just build you a website. Typically these are novices that may or may not be graphic designers.
What is the real value of a professional website?
Some business owners go with the cheapest option. These are the people that the $199 web design companies target. This is for people that simply think they just “need a website”. The flaw in this is that your website is your most important business asset. It’s where people go to learn more about what you offer and evaluate whether they want to hire you. Your website can either be a huge source of revenue generation or just a site that is barely visited.
A true professional website designer understands the deep value they offer. They know the time, expertise, and details that make a website generate revenue for your business. Web design and development that provides the most value for any business is a blend of graphic design, branding, marketing, SEO, Conversion Rate Optimization, and the understanding of buyer psychology.
What’s the difference between a web designer and a web developer?
Partly semantics, partly not. A web designer can be someone without any coding knowledge at all. Like not even basic HTML or CSS coding knowledge. A Web Developer typically handles the backend programming side of things but often will not be gifted when it comes to designing high converting websites. The challenge with hiring a freelance web designer or web developer is that if you hire a web designer that doesn’t program, you can run into issues if you have features that need to be custom-coded. But if you hire a web developer or programmer you will likely end up with a website that functions well but doesn’t convert or may not be visually appealing.
If you have to make a choice between the two then it’s best to approach it like this. If you have very specific complex function requirements then a developer may be your best bet. But if you don’t need any crazy custom functions then a marketing-based web designer is the best way forward.
For instance, Radiant Elephant is a web design company, but we have programmers on the team to handle any custom-coded features, but the websites we build are designed to convert and look beautiful. This is the best of both worlds.
What separates a professional web designer from a novice?
Well, web design can be more of an art form than other types of web work. Often a professional web designer will have years and even decades of experience in marketing, branding, and graphic design. They also typically find ways to make sure your site looks good across all devices which is not always the case with novice web designers.
Most novice web designers charge so little because they don’t understand branding, marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, or SEO. They spend very little time on a website design and this creates an end product that fails to differentiate you from your competition. So bye-bye competitive advantage.
So you may pay little, but you also get little.
Before I jump into the average costs of web design and development I first want to elucidate on the most important aspects that go into a professional website design and why these are such a benefit to any business.
The different web development platforms
There is no lack of platforms to build a website on. On the lower tier, you have things like GoDaddy website builder and Wix. These are suboptimal platforms that are prone to issues, slow loading, and a dated look.
On the more mid-tier, you have platforms like SquareSpace. While they are good for certain smaller projects with very limited budgets, they do lack the control a professional web designer needs to be able to create a high converting website.
Then you have the higher tier platforms. These are WordPress, Shopify, Drupal, and Joomla. These platforms can be custom-developed to meet nearly any business function needed and any style that is best suited for your industry.
And at the top tier, you have a completely custom web design. This is the most expensive option, and while great in theory, with the advances made in the higher tier platforms, it is typically overkill unless you are a Fortune 500 company with money to burn.
Novice web designers will typically develop on lower and mid-tier web design platforms because they are easy and fast. But it comes at cost of uniqueness and customization.
Website platforms like SquareSpace and Shopify self-host. So there is no need to purchase web hosting. But for most of the rest, hosting will need to be bought. Choosing the right web host is a challenge unto itself. It is also another example of “you get what you pay for”. Sure, you can find cheap hosts for a few bucks a month, but the number of challenges that brings up makes it not that great of a deal.
I prefer to use higher-level hosts such as Kinsta and WPX. You should expect to pay anywhere from $25-$100/month for a reliable web host depending on what’s needed.
Mobile Responsive Web Design
These days a website MUST be mobile responsive. A professional web designer will design mobile-first, knowing that the majority of website traffic comes from mobile devices. You want someone that designs your website for several breakpoints. Breakpoints are device sizes. For instance smartphones, tablets and desktops are the 3 most common web design breakpoints. If a web designer doesn’t build out a site to look great across all devices then they are not doing a good job.
Professional web design and developers will often have a solid background in content creation. And a good website design agency will have U.S.-based content writers on staff. Content is such a crucial part of your website. And let’s face it, just because you own the business doesn’t mean that you can write the best content for your audience. Content development is a worthwhile investment into making your website the best experience it can be. It’s not your services that sell, it’s the website and the messaging that leads visitors to turn into customers.
If you’re looking to sell products on your website you will need an e-commerce setup. Like all things, this can vary greatly depending on your needs. If you are selling a few products without many variations the cost is going to be a lot less than if you are selling thousands of products with many variations. Some other aspects to consider are different payment gateways (Paypal, ApplePay, etc), shipping calculating, cart abandonment remarketing, using Affirm or other installment services.
Landing pages are an integral aspect of a successful website. So you have the normal pages, home, informational pages, product pages etc. A landing page is a webpage that is used in your marketing funnel as a one-goal destination page to convert. These are the pages you run ads too. You don’t want to run ads to your website, ads are the most successful when they have one goal conversion. Whether that’s buying a specific product, selling a service, gathering emails with a lead magnet, or booking an appointment. Landing pages don’t have the header or the footer, there are no distractions. the entire point is to convert that one goal. Really good marketing-based web design companies will offer landing pages as an add-on to use in the marketing strategy that comes next.
Here’s a place where the difference between hiring a novice web designer or graphic designer to build your site gets even bigger. A novice web designer will not properly SEO your website. On-page SEO is a technical and time-consuming project in and of itself. Some cheap website design companies may say they include on-page SEO, but the work is subpar and won’t be properly executed to really drive traffic to your website.
SEO is an in-demand skill. Many fake it, but a real SEO charges between $150-$500/hr. So as you can imagine, you’re not going to get great SEO with a budget website.
Hiring a novice web design can also cost you more money if you ever do decide to hire an SEO. A professional web design company will usually either include on-page SEO or offer it as an add-on. And even if they don’t, a professional web designer will usually build the site in a way that it won’t be nearly as time consuming for an SEO to perform on-site work versus a graphic designer that builds websites.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Not many web designers are versed in Conversion Rate Optimization but it is a growing field and one of the best investments you can make. Conversion Rate optimization is the science of getting visitors to take more actions on your website whether that’s filling out a form, buying your product, or signing up for your webinar. There is basic CRO, where standard CRO best practices are implemented. This can be done as a one-time project and built into the website design. Then there’s a more advanced CRO which also integrates deep tracking capabilities and will run tests on your website to continually optimize for conversions. Split testing, similar to what is done with digital ads, makes relatively small changes to content, layout, images, etc to see what converts best. It is amazing to see what some minor changes can do for conversion rates.
You’ve probably noticed that the web has changed A LOT in recent years. The days of putting up a website and just “hope” people find it is gone. This is why CRO is so important. The purpose is to squeeze every last bit of revenue out of your site by implementing the best practices of how users make purchasing decisions. CRO has completely changed the web design and development game. We are one of the only Web Design & Development companies in New Jersey that specializes in CRO.
This stands for User Experience and User Interface. Your on-site experience is so important. A poor user experience loses the trust of the visitor and just makes your business look bad. UX is a specialty that holds a lot of value. You want the website copy to flow in a way that makes sense to the visitor and fits how they process information. You want everything to be simple and intuitive to the user.
Website Load Speed
Website load speed falls under both SEO and CRO. Most people will hit the back browser if a website takes too long to load. I’m sure you have, I know I have. Creating a fast-loading website is best done during the initial build. there are a lot of factors that come into play. If using a theme or template it should be well-coded and small in file size. This is a mistake a lot of novice web designers make, they look for the easiest fastest theme without taking into account performance. Some other important considerations are; image sizing, caching, font loading, video embeds, and much more. A website that loads in under 3 seconds will rank better and will convert better.
So how much does Web Design Cost?
The average hourly rate for a professional web developer starts at $50/hour for a pretty inexperienced freelancer up to over $200 for a seasoned pro with a decade or more of experience.
An average small business website starts at about $5,000 and can go up to $20,000.
Huge difference right? The lowest starting price we have found for a reputable web design company is around $5,000. This is without bells and whistles and is the pricing for a small site of about 5-10 pages. Depending on the web design company this number can easily jump to $10,000-$20,000 for a web design company that implements more of the aspects listed above and if the website is larger.
Why is it so expensive? Because it is an investment into your business. A beautiful modern mobile responsive website builds trust, authority, and revenue. It is not uncommon for a professionally designed website to give an ROI in the first 6 months to a year. This is why professional web designers charge what they do. They know the value they offer.
Typically copywriting can range from as low as $100 a page to as much as several thousand a page depending on the page, use, and writer. To write 800 words on a product page may only cost a few hundred, SEO optimized a few hundred more, but to write the copy on a proper landing page can easily cost upwards of a few thousand dollars. This is because writing content for a sales page is a unique skill and a great landing page copy can easily make back the investment.
Standard website page copy (SEO Optimized): $200-$1,000
Sales Page Copy: $500-$10,000
E-commerce is the setup to be able to sell your products through your website whether your product is a digital good like a course or a physical product. A lot goes into setting up an online store especially one that is conversion-driven. The needs of an E-commerce site can vary greatly. This is based on the number of products and categories, product variations, shipping, and payment gateways.
Basic E-commerce setup: $2,000-$10,000
Advanced E-commerce setup: $5,000-$25,000
On Page SEO
A professional web design agency will either include on-page SEO or offer it as an add-on. This is really important because what use is a new website if no one sees it? SEO is how you show up in search engine results and drives organic traffic to your website.
On-Page SEO: From $200 per page up to several thousand per page.
Sometimes offered at a flat rate based on the number of web pages.
Project-Based Cost Range: $1,500-$20,000
Conversion Rate Optimization
There are two main aspects of CRO. One is the on-site aspect of using best practices to optimize the website. The other side of it is the continued split testing to work on continuing to increase the conversion rate.
Basic On Page CRO – $2,000-$25,000
Monthly CRO – $5,000/mo – $50,000/mo
As you can see the cost of hiring a professional web designer varies greatly.