Why are prices so different in these quotes for a website?

My phone rang. I answered and heard “Hi. I found you on Yelp. I need a website. I called 3 companies to get a quote. Prices are all over the place!”

I could tell by the tone of voice the man speaking was frustrated. I could practically feel his tension pouring out of my phone. He went onto say “Why is it so hard to answer a simple question? How much will a website cost? I keep getting bombarded by questions. Don’t sell me anything. I just need a website. How much will it cost?”

I listened and learned Michael had 25 years of experience as a skilled craftsman. He had no sales or marketing experience. He didn’t know the basic costs associated with a website. He didn’t know where to begin, what his website should do, how it should look, or what it should say. He didn’t have a strategy, site map, any content or assets (photos or videos).

I asked “If I called you to ask how much a kitchen remodel would cost would you blurt a number right away? Or would you want to know more about the project? You’d want details to write a solid estimate. How big is the kitchen? How will I use it? Am I cooking for 1 or do I want to entertain for groups of 10? Do I know what type of materials I want it built with?”

He replied “It’s just a website. You type things into a computer. It’s not like you’re putting in new cabinets. Why is this so hard?”

Clearly, we needed another example. “If I needed a new truck and asked you how much will it cost before you could answer, you would want details. You might ask how I’ll use the truck. Will I need a tow package? What will I tow? Do I want a flashy new customized truck with all the bells and whistles or am I happy with a basic model? Do I have a budget? How soon do I need the truck? Where am I driving, in-town or rough terrain?”

It’s the same scenario with a website. A good developer wants to know what you want the website to do. They need to know how much work it’s going to take to build a website to suit your needs. Keep in mind while you evaluate them as a potential vendor to hire…they too may evaluate what type of a client you’re going to be.  

I then inquired “Did you give the developers the same information?” He replied, “No. I just asked how much a website would cost.”

One proposal he received was for $2,700, another quote was for $5,000 and yet another was for $12,000. Why the swing? I helped him dive into the proposals. One proposal included training on how to update the site, others assumed the business owner will do the updates. Two proposals included ongoing website maintenance, updates, support, and security certificate. One developer included an SEO package while others included the development of the site only.

When it comes to getting quotes for work on a website it’s ok for prices to vary. It’s important to give each agency or developer the same information so when you compare costs you compare apples to apples.

Find yourself preparing to get a new website? Here are helpful things to keep in mind

  1. An expert web developer may charge more by the hour but because of their expertise, the project can cost less since they build quality sites quickly. Another proposal may have a lower hourly rate but if the developer isn’t as experienced, they may work slower and the project could cost you more in the long run. Look at the developer’s website. Does it load quickly? Is it easy to navigate? Is it mobile friendly? Do they have testimonials and sample websites they’ve built? If so, go look at the work and see if you like it.
  2. Think about what you need your website to do. Do you need to have an online store? Do you want to book appointments? Do you want an instant chat feature or customer support?
  3. Have you identified the timeline and your expectations? When do you want to see a first draft of the site? How many rounds of edits do you expect? When do you need the finished site to be live? How engaged do you want to be in the process? Do you want to write the copy or have someone do it for you?
  4. Do you know what content you want on the site? Do you have a photo and/or video library?
  5. Are you going to handle your own updates when you change products, services, prices, and shipping? Or do you want to email someone and have them update your website for you?
  6. Do you want a custom coded site or are you okay with a customized template? Do you have a preference for what framework the site is built on?
  7. If your site crashes are you going to fix it or do you want to call someone and have them do the work?
  8. Do you have social media channels to integrate with your website?

If you get a proposal with a wide variance ask questions. You don’t want to see an estimate with a wide swing. If you get a proposal from one vendor that says something like $2,000 to $20,000 that’s a red flag. Ask questions about that variance.

If you need to hire a consultant, I encourage you to look for a consultant with the heart of a teacher, not a salesperson. Small business owners and nonprofits want and need to get a return on your investment. A good consultant can help you understand what you’re spending money on and why. At Brighter Side Marketing I strive to be helpful. Contact me directly if you have any questions about my services, I’m here to help.

A frustrated man holds a phone and frowns
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels