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It can be exciting to get started on a new business, and in a lot of ways the Web has made it easy to get a new business website off the ground quickly and with very little cash. Pricing Web design work may be worth your time, however.

Here is a common scenario for small business owners (all prices are estimates):

  1. I’ve got a great idea for a website, and the perfect domain name for it is available! ($10)
  2. I’ll get a decent web hosting package, with a good price. ($150 for two years of hosting, pre-paid)
  3. I’m going to use WordPress, and this theme is perfect. ($40)

At first glance this looks great, $200 to start a business, and you don’t even need a designer. For many businesses, this will be fine at first.

Once you get past the initial stages of the business, however, you will notice that the theme you bought isn’t doing all that you want it to.

Many technical people will start looking at plugins in an effort to get the site to run the way they want.

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Ultimately, their site will look and act like every other commercially-themed WordPress site out there. To differentiate your site, you’re going to need more. This is where good Web design and development come in.

What to Pay For

The first thing you need to know when trying to budget Web design costs is what you’re going to need. There are a number of things to consider that can cost you money include:

  • Is this a new site or a redesign?
  • Do you need blog or content management functionality?
  • Do you have graphics for the site? Or are you using a template? Or do you need custom images created?
  • How are you planning on servicing mobile customers?
  • Do you need multimedia (Flash, video, etc.) on the site?
  • How much content do you have, and how much do you need created?
  • Do you need other special features like social media, SEO, ecommerce, or something else?
  • Who will maintain the site?

Below I will go into detail about all of these things, and help you get a general idea of how much you should budget for them. The prices I list are based on my experience; prices may be higher or lower in your area. Be sure to shop around and request proposals from any designer or firm you’re thinking of hiring.

New Sites Often Cost More Than Redesigns

When you’re starting from scratch, so is the Web designer. They have no previously created assets to work from, or to review with you in order to get an idea of what you already love or hate.

The advantage to starting from scratch is that you can work more closely with the designer to get exactly you want within your budget. You should assume that you’re going to pay at least an additional $100 more than if you were redesigning an existing website.

You should start your budget with at least $500 as a base cost for building a site from scratch, and $250 if you’re looking at a redesign.

Blogs and Content Management Tools

If you’re already running a WordPress site then you have the advantage of already having a form of content management system (CMS for short) on your site. Tools like WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal have their own challenges, and integrating a site using them requires more time than building a site from scratch with just HTML and CSS. Decide if you need these tools by reading this article: Dreamweaver vs. Drupal vs. WordPress – Which is Best to Use.

Also, don’t assume that if you already have a WordPress theme that working off of it should be cheaper. Many themes are sold as-is, and designers are not licensed to change them. Often, the cost of purchasing a theme that can be modified is as expensive as just building a new theme from scratch.

Your budget should include another $200 if you want a blog or CMS. Include this in your budget even if you already have the system running. If you don’t have it running, you should plan to include another $200 to get it installed and running.

Graphics (…)

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