We are always asked “how much does a website cost?” and spoiler alert – the answer is “it depends”. Much like any large project, planning for a website redesign project begins with identifying your unique requirements, defining the scope and deliverables and then determining the resources to get there. There are many questions to ask yourself during this phase – from the type of resource you want to work with (e.g., freelancer vs. agency team), whether a pre-designed template would work versus pursuing a custom design, whether an open source or a licensed content management system (CMS) will work for you and more. Explore what factors go into the price of a website so that you can plan this important project.
Defining your project resources: where size matters
It’s obviously less expensive to hire a single freelancer versus hiring a full-service agency with many resources. A single resource or small team is often cheaper and faster, but a full agency brings breadth and depth of experience and expertise to your project. It’s like hiring a handyman to remodel your kitchen instead of a contractor who can leverage a full project team, each with specific expertise in kitchen design, cabinetry, flooring, plumbing, electrical, countertops, and finish it off with professional painting. Either can get the job done, but in both cases the process and end product are so vastly different that reason behind the cost differential is obvious.
Websites are no different, and your first step is to decide if you want (and can afford) a full-service agency as your digital partner, with specific expertise in strategy, SEO, analytics, design, marketing, copywriting, ADA conformance, development, quality assurance testing, security, hosting and ongoing support. For most larger companies and organizations, especially in highly regulated industries such as financial services, a full-service digital agency is the wiser investment. When comparing website redesign costs, take a look at your field of potential partners and ask yourself if you are willing and able to hobble together many vendors to address your many needs, or if partnering with one agency who can become your proactive, strategic partner makes more sense.
Redesign approach: weighing theme vs. custom design and development
Most larger business and institutions have custom design and development needs, but sometimes if budgets are lean, a pre-built theme-based option is a wise choice. With a “theme” approach, a pre-built website “theme” would be selected from a CMS such as Umbraco, Squarespace or WordPress. A designer will integrate your branding elements, including your logo, colors, fonts and imagery, a strategist will reimagine your site architecture, a copywriter will write or rewrite your website copy, and a developer will build out all of your site pages including this content in the selected theme. Theme based websites vary with their license fees but the price is less expensive than a custom, license-based model. This approach saves both time and budget by leveraging an existing framework on which to build your website, giving the project a head start and passing significant savings along to our clients. The negative of this approach is that it may not suit your business’s unique needs, and may limit how much you can customize depending on the CMS selected.
In contrast, you could consider a fully custom website solution. Imagine going to an architect to build your dream home, where every aspect of that home is bespoke: custom-crafted according to your brand personality, unique needs and a wish list of requirements. Compared to the theme approach, which would be more aligned with modular home design in this example, the cost for a custom site is greater and timeline is longer, with obvious benefits including more time to spend on content strategy, unique design and development, and options for more sophisticated digital experience platforms to deliver content personalization, marketing automation, and email marketing for to enhance your site’s user experience and ultimately ROI.
What else is considered when factoring price?
There are other significant factors that go into pricing a website such as the number of site pages, the complexity of features/functionality, initial and ongoing CMS/DXP costs (considering an open-source or a commercially licensed platform), and additional services rendered (i.e., are you writing your own copy or paying someone else to lift that load for you and potentially add advanced SEO benefits as a result?).
Let’s consider for the sake of simplicity all of these variables have been normalized and we assume a simple “typical” website with around 75 pages, with most redesign services included, and both options leverage an open-source CMS platform so license costs are not a factor. Now can we ask, how much would that “typical” website cost?
Factoring in all of the caveats above, the short answer is “typical” theme-based sites that we might see here at ZAG can run about 40-50% of the cost of “typical” custom-based sites. The difference in timeline and cost is based on the strategy, design, and development required for a custom website, versus leveraging a pre-built theme that has less involvement in those areas. After approach, next factor we see at ZAG in determining cost would be size (page count) and site complexity (features/functionality), with both of these heavily dependent on specific client needs.
Interested in getting a price for your specific website?
With decades of experience and hundreds of successful website launches, ZAG can quickly estimate and provide high level quotes for either theme or custom redesigns based on your specific website needs. If interested in learning what a website redesign might cost, get in touch with us whether you are considering a website redesign now or planning one in the coming year.