Free drag-and-drop sites, can help you save money on web development expenses. However, many clients approach me for help because they could never feel quite settled with these services. Pre-designed themes are not created with your photos, colours, logo and features in mind. So there is always something that feels slightly off. Many times, there are features you need that can’t be accommodated in a free site. Sometimes there are features that are technically-tricky to incorporate. Work-arounds leave clients with websites that are difficult to update. Some important features cannot be added at all.
A self-hosted WordPress site with a custom built theme provides a framework for any design you can imagine. All of the tweaks, that help the site feel “right” to you, can be built right into the design. Everything can be properly compressed for faster speeds and updated easily. A custom built website will truly represent you and will work for you, by attracting customers.
This does come at a cost, however. Web development expenses are not simply about the number of pages anymore. In this day and age of “drag and drop” website builders and “just add photos and choose options” social media pages, it is easy to miss what is going on behind the scenes to make it all work.
What’s Involved in Website Development?
A website is composed of many, many elements, each of which someone has to create.
- A type designer draws out each letter and punctuation mark of each font you’re using.
- A graphic designer creates a memorable logo.
- A photographer ventures out into the world to take photos for you to display.
- Several programmers code your site’s CMS so it appears as intended.
- A copy writer writes all of the words you are using to sell your products or services or wisdom.
- That web designer organizes the layout in a pleasing way.
- A website developer must make the layout rearrange itself for at least 20 screen sizes, all major web browsers and all major operating systems.
- The speed and performance of your website is set-up for visitors, world wide, on different devices with different operating systems by your developer.
- Your developer makes your website accessible for search engine robots, a wide variety of people of different ages and abilities, and people using screen-reader technology.
- The security of your website must be monitored on an on-going basis by your website administrator as well as by website security services.
All of these aspects put together involve a lot of work.
It is not necessary to hire each professional individually. Most people purchase a font from a font shop or use some stock imagery. You may be a writer yourself and not require the services of a copy writer, for example. However, my point here is that all of this work will be done, at some point, by someone. That someone requires fair compensation for the work that they provide for you.
Every website is required to be accessible to a wider variety of visitors than you might expect, to be a safe and secure place for visiting, and to work seamlessly across all devices, in order to achieve an adequate standing in search results.
These services only represent the time and expertise involved in website creation. I haven’t even touched on the day-to-day costs of running a web development business. This can include fees for any of the font, hosting, and plug-in developer licenses, software, computer maintenance costs, building maintenance costs, marketing and more. Running any business based on technology also involves learning on a continual basis to keep up with the lightning pace of change.
What budget range should I be considering?
Although there can be ways to reduce costs of website development, if you want your website to look professional and work in a fast and user-friendly manner, expect to compensate your designers and developers fairly. Upwards of $5000 is a common minimum cost for a small website, where you have provided all of the content, photos and the logo. Although the content is a crucial piece of the puzzle, there is so much more involved. Please be aware that this is not including any on-going costs of website hosting, maintenance, and plug-in and font subscriptions. Most of these custom designed websites can take a month or more to fully complete. Your investment will be going toward a lot of important work.
I’ve had several clients who, on initial discussion, claim that they don’t require this or that or say that they want a simple site that shouldn’t require much. This never turns out to be the case. Once they understand why features are recommended, they inevitably realize the options they thought they didn’t need were really requirements and not options at all.
Remember, a secure, fast loading website that is easy to navigate will more than pay for itself. Understand that, as a developer, I am working hard for you, making you a priority and helping you grow your business.
It’s worth it!