We know what it’s like trying to choose a web designer. It’s hard. Before we started Over Alt, friends and family running small businesses would come to us for advice. The online world is not only full of jargon, but it’s also, well, a little bit like the wild west.
This is most apparent in the prices that web designers charge for what appears – on the surface at least – to be the same service.
So, how do you set a budget for your website, and how does this help you choose a good web designer for your business?
First, decide what the website is worth to you.
First things first, you need to stop comparing the prices between two different web designers (for now at least – we’ll come on to that in a second).
Instead, ask yourself how much a website is actually worth to you.
To do this, ask yourself a simple question:
What do you want your website to do?
Perhaps it’ll be your online store front.
Or, you want it to attract new customers for your business.
Either way, the answer will let you put your own private price tag on what you think your website is worth for you and your business.
A good way to arrive at a figure is to think of “first year value.”
For example, let’s pretend you’re a plumber. Let’s say you want your website to attract new customers. Now, let’s pretend that each new customer is worth about £300 in profit for you, and about £300 for follow up work they might bring in – that’s £600.
Now, set your imaginary website a really reasonable target – let’s say that over the course of the first year, your website could potentially bring in 7 new customers. (Yes, I know, this isn’t huge, but this is just an example).
That leaves you with a first year value of £4200.
Now, websites don’t just work for a year, so that £4200 (or whatever figure you come to) is likely to increase year on year.
But, whatever “first year value” ballpark figure you arrive at is a good benchmark for your website budget. If you pay more than this, well it’s going to take more than a year to see a return on your investment.
So, half that figure, and you’ll arrive at a number that means that if you pay that amount, and the website does what it needs to do, then you’re very likely to be profitable within the first year.
So, our fictional plumber’s private budget would be £2100.
Next, consider what web designers are charging for the type of website you want.
Now you have an idea about your own private budget, it’s time to look at what web designers are actually charging.
The best way to figure this out is to do some googling. Search for things like, “web designers near me,” “web designers for sole traders” etc.
Have a click around and write down the prices that you see. If a web designer isn’t displaying prices, there’s no harm in reaching out to them to ask for a quote.
Once you have about 5 examples of prices, then work out the rough average cost of these prices.
This is now your bottom end figure.
For our plumber, let’s say that he sees that the average offer is somewhere around the £600 mark.
Now, use a top and bottom range budget to help inform how you think about the prices you’re being quoted.
Once you know the rough ballpark figure for what the average price for a website is, and you know what your own private budget is, you’ve now got essentially your bottom and top range budget.
So, for our plumber he’s willing to spend anywhere between £600-2100.
Now that this range has been established, it should then help you to think about web design prices a little differently.
Basically, it becomes less of a purchasing decision, and more of an investment decision.
This works in two ways.
First, it allows you to know that the closer to the top end of your budget, the less margin for error you can afford. If the website isn’t quite right, or doesn’t perform exactly how you need it to, then it’s going to cost you.
So, if our plumber is speaking to a web designer who’s quoting £1800, he needs to be fully confident and convinced that this designer is going to deliver what he or she is promising.
Second, it means that you can reflect on the prices at the lower end of your budget with a sense of perspective.
So with our plumber, a £600-800 site for isn’t now a daunting thing because if it delivers for him it’s an investment that he knows will easily pay out several times over in the years to come.
More than that, our plumber now knows that the closer he can get his website priced in at the bottom end of the scale, the better return on his investment he’s going to get.
Finally, start comparing what’s being offered for different web designers within the budget you’ve set.
Now that you’ve got a top and bottom end of your budget, and you’ve been able to shift your thinking from one of “buying” a website to “investing” in one, the final step is to try and get the most bang for your buck.
Of course, this is all assuming that each web designer is competent and knows their stuff.
The objective, then, is to get the most services and best website at the lowest end of your budget.
So for our plumber, that would be things like a multiple page site, content written for him, professional email set up, Google Maps Listings, and search engine optimisation (all things that we include as standard in our web design packages for sole traders and small businesses).
If he can get these things at the lowest price possible, then he’s basically invested wisely.
Let’s pretend he finds a web designer like us charging fair and affordable prices. Then, essentially, he’ll end up spending around a quarter of his budget knowing that he only needs one or two customers before he’s made his money back.
This principle works the same no matter if you’re a plumber, a shop owner or wanting to launch an e-commerce brand.
Hopefully this article has been of some help in helping to outline one way to set yourself a budget when looking to hire a web designer.
Of course, I’m sure that there are plenty of other (and perhaps better) ways, but what I’ve outlined is, I think, a really useful framework to think about web design prices.
I know it’s a term that’s often thrown around, but a website – at least in my eyes – is an investment for any small business, and that’s a really helpful way to think about it when setting a budget.