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Web Design Costs - Important Design Considerations & Design Tasks & Elements

Connect Hebrides Web Design - Web Design Costs

There are a range of considerations and factors which contribute to the cost of a website.


There is the actual business itself to consider, such as its nature and size, and its competition and target market. Invariably, the mix of these factors will determine the type, size, and functionality of the required website, and, consequently, its cost.


The aim of any commercial website is to increase revenues and profits by converting poorly-informed offline shoppers into well-informed online buyers of a company's products or services. In order to fully engage these potential customers it is essential for a business to invest in a well-designed and constructed website that will generate a substantial return on that investment. A very important but underappreciated fact is that an investment in a website is a long-term investment in a business.


When a completed website is first published online, the Google algorithm analyses over 200 components of the site; it 'reads' every word, and it scans the content to understand how the site is structured. It then compares this to peer industry competitor sites. How well the site has been constructed will determine where it will appear on a search engine page in comparison to these competing sites. The better the design and functionality of the site then the higher the page ranking and the more potential customers it will attract. A well-designed search-engine optimised site can therefore give a business a significant competitive advantage.


Generally speaking, web design relates to the visuals and functionality of a website. The design has to visually communicate information through the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). However, the quality of any web design, as with any project, will be constrained by the project's budget, deadlines, and scope (its features). Each website is a unique entity, and, as such, its cost is determined by the design platform and the design method that is used, coupled with the site size, and the complexity of its components and functions.


Given that the focus of web design should be on the content, structure, and functionality of a site and how that is optimised for search engines, there are several elements that have to be considered, within the project's constraints, when costing a website.

What Factors Affect the Cost of a Website?


A website development timeline consists of several stages. The amount of time spent on each stage corresponds to its set of objectives and complexity.


Although there are several stages that impact the price of web design, the four most important factors are the website's size, complexity, functionality, and search engine optimisation. The larger the site then, invariably, the more challenging and costly it will be to design and develop.


1. Pre-Design-Fix Considerations


For larger design projects the discovery stage work may involve the examination of a company's branding and how to convert that into an online brand strategy where the following issues are analysed and evaluated :-


  • The company's purpose, mission, vision and values.

  • The company's strengths and weaknesses, its marketplace opportunities and threats.

  • The company's target customers' personas and their needs and wants.

  • The company's key messaging and its mode of delivery, its value proposition and messaging pillars.

  • The company's goals and the setting of timeline milestones.


The combination of the above factors may involve detailed project management and the production of several prototype design and content wireframes prior to finalising the choice of design.


This form of discovery analysis can also be modified on a much smaller scale for preparatory work on the content for smaller sites to include basic market research into online competitors and industry specific content, operating procedures, and standards.

2. Design Considerations - Bespoke/Custom Build Or Template/Themed Build


Following the business evaluation and analysis the next stage is to consider the design of the website.


The website design that is chosen will reflect the variety of functions and specific needs of the business and its target audience, and, as such, there are many different categories of site with differing layouts and formats to choose from.


However, there are just two basic build options, a bespoke/custom built website or a template based/themed site. These options and their availability, quantity, and cost, are determined by which particular web platform is chosen for the design task. This is especially the case for template based projects.

A bespoke/custom built website is one that is designed and built for a specific set of users or purpose, and has the added advantage of scalability as a business grows. This is the opposite of a template based/ themed site which is a ready-made design which can then be marginally customised to suit a specific customer design. However, this site type may be constrained in its future development.

A bespoke/custom website, with a totally unique design, is ideal for highlighting a specific business brand, or a niche product or service, or to exclusively showcase a business to the detriment of its competitors.

A template/themed site is best suited for companies requiring a ‘brochure’ type site which serves as a basic introduction to the business and to its products or services. Pre-built websites are usually an affordable option for small start-up businesses but won't be unique in design layout.

Although a custom built site is more expensive to build than a template based site, it is generally acknowledged that a bespoke site is more search engine friendly and tends therefore to rank higher on a search engine page (SERP) which will give this type of site a competitive advantage over a similar template based site.

3. Design Considerations – Website Size, Complexity, & Functionality

The next and very crucial stage of the design process is to decide the size of the website by determining the number of its pages and their content, and the complexity and functionality that needs to be integrated into the site.


These three factors, in addition to search engine optimisation, are key in determining the bulk of the site's design costs :-

(a) Website Size


The number of pages and the content required for the website has the largest effect on the price of a site. This cost factor will be determined largely by how much time needs to be spent on original content and design, and how much can be replicated across the site.


The variables to consider :-


  • Overall number of web pages.

  • Number of unique pages or templates required.

  • Amount of original content and copywriting required.

  • Amount of original media required.

  • Amount of automation allowed.


(b) Website Complexity


A significant factor in a website's cost is the number and complexity of its integrated features. The more complex the design then the higher the development cost.


The variables to consider :-


  • Complexity of website navigation.

  • Marketing requirements like persona targeting, company branding, product branding.

  • Custom visual design such as animations, video, illustrations, image galleries, and slideshows.

  • Complex user interfaces or page layouts with large amounts of content/data.

  • Integration with offsite or offline databases.


(c) Website Functionality


The number of unique tasks that the website will need to perform will be another significant design cost factor, especially time-intensive tasks, for example, in the design and development of e-commerce sites.


The variables to consider :-


  • Number of products.

  • Variety of products.

  • Amount of product details.

  • Customer/member accounts.

  • Booking or scheduling.

  • Plug-ins and extensions.

  • Content types.

4. Design Considerations – Website Content Copywriting & Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)


The ultimate aim for any website is that it should rank as high as possible on Google. The higher the rank then the more converting traffic will visit the site to the detriment of competing sites further down the search listing.


However, a website does not automatically appear on the first page of Google's search results. And research has also shown that 70% of website traffic in a Google search focuses on the top five websites that appear in the search results.


In attempting to give a website maximum impact and exposure in search results these facts present web designers with a difficult challenge in how to structure the design and content of a site to meet the stringent quality and usability standards that are set by Google. The challenge is further complicated in that search engine algorithms are constantly changing to find the best possible content for their users.


Good web design includes the use of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to ensure that every website is capable of reaching the highest page rank possible by maximising content quality and relevance.


An SEO strategy is one of the most important factors that must be considered in web design costs. It involves careful planning to optimise all aspects of a website's structure and content with a particular focus on compelling written copy that is trustworthy and professional, adding authority and value to the business.

5. Design Considerations – Other Tasks & Costs

(a) User Experience (UX)/User Interface (UI) Design Tasks


Both user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design tasks are integral parts of the web design process and impact on the complexity and functionality of the site's design.


The main difference between user experience (UX) design and user inteface (UI) design is that UX focuses on the entire user experience and how that affects the overall design of the website, whereas UI design focuses on specific web design elements of an interface and how they guide users on the page.


(b) Website Setup Tasks & Annual Recurring Costs


These are the website fundamentals and are required for every site, they are annual recurring costs :-


  • The website's domain name - the website's unique locator address.

  • The website's hosting plan options - a rentable server space to store the site for visitors' 24/365 online access.

  • The SSL certificate - this encrypts the site data to ensure maximum security.


(c) Website Maintenance Tasks


Website maintenance is the option of regularly checking a website for technical issues and keeping its content updated and relevant. It is advisable to do this on a consistent basis in order to keep the website 'healthy', encourage continued traffic growth, and strengthen site search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google page rankings.

6. Web Design Costs - Basic Summary


Building and maintaining a website is complicated. A myriad of factors determine the design and implementation and recurring costs; in summary as follows :-


(a) Required -


  • Planning – Discovery and Design Fix.

  • Design – Type, Size, Complexity, and Functionality, Possibility of Design Iterations.

  • Construction – User Interface, Front and Back-End Development, Plug-Ins and Extensions.

  • Content/SEO – Written Content, Other Content, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

  • Hosting/Other Costs – Domain, Hosting Service, and Security Certificate.

  • Maintenance – Weekly, Monthly, Annual, or On-Demand.


(b) Optional -


7. Types of Websites & Their Cost Elements


There are several different types of website, but, in general, these can be classified into four basic types depending on their degree of complexity and functionality. They differ not only in terms of design but also in the technical effort that is required to develop and maintain them.


These site types are listed as follows, reflecting an ascending order of technical difficulty and cost to develop :-


  • Basic Brochure-Style Websites.

  • Advanced Websites.

  • Bespoke Websites.

  • E-Commerce Websites.

(a) Basic Brochure-Style Websites


A custom-made small business ‘brochure/catalogue/portfolio’ website that showcases a company's products and services to potential customers. The basics usually include an about page, a products/services page, and a contact page, and possibly a testimonial and blog section. The site may be limited in terms of features and search engine visibility. Page numbers usually range from 1 – 10.


Cost Features/Inclusions :-


  • Hosting.

  • Domain.

  • Design.

  • Development.

  • Mobile Friendly.

(b) Advanced Websites


This website type is for medium to large sized businesses.


A medium business site is usually a more substantial 'brochure' resource, with a unique design and list of features based on the company needs. It may contain case studies, a blog section, and various customised forms. Page numbers usually range from 10 – 20.


A large business site is usually a uniquely specific design for a large digitally-focused brand. It routinely contains large amounts of content with multiple pages with different functionality, bespoke calls-to-action (CTA's) and user journeys, and a completely customised back-end content management system (CMS), with an integrated content database. It can generate high levels of visitor traffic. Page numbers are usually from 20 +.


Cost Features/Inclusions :-


  • Hosting.

  • Domain.

  • Design.

  • Development.

  • Multiple Pages.

  • Integration Of Social Media.

  • Fully responsive, a Content Management System (CMS).

  • Mobile Friendly.

  • High Standard of Functionality.

  • Integrating Third-Party Services.

  • Database Integration.

(c) Bespoke Websites


Larger businesses that want greater functionality or have a more significant amount of traffic would benefit from bespoke websites. A fully bespoke website is created to meet a specific set of criteria. Databases are used for bespoke power websites. They offer powerful features and an infinite amount of sub-pages. Bespoke websites would also elevate mobile adaptability to the next level, allowing for a more fluid layout on mobile.


Cost Features/Inclusions :-


  • Hosting.

  • Domain.

  • Design.

  • Development.

  • Multiple Pages.

  • Integration Of Social Media.

  • Fully responsive, a Content Management System (CMS).

  • Mobile Friendly.

  • High Standard of Functionality.

  • Integrating Third-Party Services.

  • Database Integration.

  • Infinite Amount of Sub-Pages.

(d) E-Commerce Websites


This can vary to include small to large sites.


A small e-commerce site comprises an online shop selling around 100 products or less in low-to-medium volumes.


A large e-commerce site sells hundreds or thousands of products in high volume. It is integrated with stock controls systems, order management systems, and shipment tracking tools.


Cost Features/Inclusions :-


  • Hosting.

  • Domain.

  • Design.

  • Development.

  • Multiple Pages.

  • Integration Of Social Media.

  • Fully responsive, a Content Management System (CMS).

  • Mobile Friendly.

  • High Standard of Functionality.

  • Integrating Third-Party Services.

  • Database Integration.

  • Infinite Amount of Sub-Pages.

  • Product Listing.

  • Product Reviews.

  • Ordering System.

  • Payment Options.

  • Shipping Calculators.

  • Shipping Tracking Tools.

  • Order Management & Analytics.

  • Webchat Option.



The challenge facing web designers is to understand, develop, and construct the often complex components of a website whilst presenting a simple, clear, compelling message to potential users.


The web design cost will depend on various factors ranging from the type of website, the choice of the content management system and its delivery platform, the choice of technologies, the functions and features that are required, the complexity of the website architecture, the user interface design, the site plug-ins and extensions, the choice of domain and hosting solution, and the site's maintenance costs.

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