How much does a website cost?
Determining the cost of a website can be difficult to pinpoint. One thing for sure, people have been asking that same question for the last 15 years - and gotten the same answer: "It depends."
There are so many factors that can determine the final cost of a website. Firstly, I think it's important to understand what developing a website actually is. It can arguably be a better fit as described as a service, rather than a product. For me, I like to categorize something that I can touch as a product, and those you can't, are more likely to be a service.
There will be those that argue that a website is a product, and they could be right. I just see it differently and more fittingly, a service.
So why can website costs vary so much? There are so many things that can ultimately dictate what a website will actual end up costing. Please read on for a few significant factors that can determine the cost of building a website today.
DIY Site Builders
If you have ever considered using a do-it-yourself website builder, it's one way to build a site. The cost for such a tool is usually not expensive. Most people end up paying $30-$40 per month, usually with hosting thrown in. So for arguments sake, you can have a very basic, but functional website for about $500 per year. For some people, that’s all they need. DIY site builders normally allow subscribers to edit the site, create new pages and it doesn't take a scientist to follow the WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) interfaces used to create those sites.
The upside is that the cost can be quite reasonable. You can usually edit your own site, and sometimes you can even use a different "theme" which can drastically change the look of a site.
The downside is that there usually are limits as to what you can do with those DIY site builders. Ultimate control of layout features is not always easy. Sometimes, it's near impossible to affect small but necessary changes to an interface. If you wanted to add some new cutting edge functionality, you probably cannot. SEO, other than a couple of minor effects, is usually out of the question.
But the biggest complaint about DIY builders from new clients is that they could not move a site to a new hosting facility, even if they wanted to. Why? Because websites built with DIY builders are tied into the back-end as a server function, and as such, those web pages cannot be extracted or moved.
Websites created in HTML have been the de facto standard for web development since the mid 90's. HTML sites are fairly easy to create, easy to modify and usually easy to move if you want to change hosting facilities.
The upside also includes cost. Standard or "basic" HTML sites can cost anywhere from $500 and up. They are fairly easy to edit and maintain and they are can be very fast loading when it comes to "page rendering" times.
Where there may be issues, is when the site needs some advanced functionality, say a dynamic header with moving/sliding images. While a lot of functionality can be built into HTML sties, it can be expensive to sub-contract this work out. This is so, because most general web developers use Web Editors to build sites, which don't usually offer drag and drop coding for for advanced features. Adding new functionality for one specific page, for example, may also end up "breaking" the interface, making some pages look slightly different or skewed than the other site pages.
Dynamic and Responsive Designs
There are other solutions like Drupal, Joomla and WordPress, all of which include a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS allows just about anyone the ability to update their own site pages - when they want and as often as need be. For us at IFM, however, we decided a while ago to offer clients WordPress for the above reasons and many more. In fact, we've has a number of new clients contracting our services to redevelop their Drupal sites, in WordPress.
We like dynamic sites for many reasons. The functionality available in WordPress is quite extensive, the support and framework stability is another good reason. The biggest change of late are responsive WordPress designs. Responsive sites are optimized for desktop, tablets and smart phones. WordPress sites start at about $1500 and up, however, most of our client's projects end up at our around the $2000 mark - and include WordPress hosting free for 12 months (BONUS!)
So the cost of developing a website really depends on what platform a site is to be built on, the type and level of features and functionality required and the over-all size of the site (number of site pages).