So, you need a website or a re-design?

A sea of influence. 

Not all agencies are created equal. There is a wide variety in pricing options from the $500 job your best friends high school kid will put out... to the $150K a month prototype that Microsoft is asking for, we have seen it all...and maybe we can offer you some insight on what to expect.


The DYI job.

WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly, Shopify - These days there are hundreds of companies that help the average person build out websites without hiring a web designer. If you have the desire and the time, you can have your own website built out exactly the way that you want it. Many of these sites can make you look like a pro. 

What you should know.

The truth is that there is a big difference between doing something that works and doing something just to do it. Questions you should ask yourself before you begin.

  • What is the primary purpose of your website?

  • Are you able to build it as responsive or adaptive for mobile devices? 

  • Who is going to maintain the site once it launches?

  • Are you planning to incorporate social media?

  • Are you going to try to optimize your website for search traffic?

  • Are you going to sell inventory

These are just a few of the questions you will need to be prepared to answer. Beware that a website is not just a set-it-and-forget-it product. This is the face of your company. Statistics show that the majority of traffic is going to come to your website from a mobile device. You have 3 seconds to catch their attention or they will bounce and of those that do, 80% never return.

Websites on the cheap!

Student web designers are a great option if you need to find some help in updating, maintaining or building a web presence.  There are a lot of situations where a student is trying to get some high school or college experience building a web site, and they need a little money on the side. There is no shame in capitalizing on these situations.  The kids are eager and excited to build you an amazing site. The knowledge is fresh in their mind and they get credit for the work. You are helping them as much as they are helping you. If they are in college...your money will probably help them eat something that isn't on the dollar menu at the local fast food restaurant. Maybe a vegetable or two? Congratulations - You are a good person and you got something out of it.

What you should know.

As a business owner - you have a company to run and this website is going to be the first thing your clients see when they find you online. Not all students are at the same level. You also need to know that the website they are help you with probably aligns to their homework. If this is the case - They are on a tight schedule and will need you to stick to that schedule or they may have to abandon you to pass the class. This can mean that you may only have a few weeks to a few months to get everything done. Your website is also your clients first exposure to your business and so you need to know that this student is going to be able to do something that aligns with your brand. If your site looks like it was hobbled together or contains broken links or unfinished work, that is going to be the perception of your company.

You need to keep in mind that you will often get what you pay for. The occasional rock-star-for-a-deal, is extremely rare.  For the same reason you wouldn't hire someone learning to drive a car to run a taxi company... You may want to invest a little more into making sure things are done correctly. 

Websites under a couple grand.

Websites at this price are usually built by a freelance designer using a third party solution (WordPress, SquareSpace, etc) - Or a template. The site has been built as a generic solution and the content is changed to pertain to the business at hand. The person building your site probably has limited web knowledge but enough to wrangle a template together.  There is nothing wrong with these sites if they fit your business needs. If you need quick options with a lot of out of the box functionality - You might find yourself a great deal.

Another place you might find help is called an ODC (Overseas Development Center.) This is when you export your website services overseas to be build where rates are cheaper

What you should know.

First I want to address the Overseas Development Centers. There are many great companies out there but Buyer beware... Make sure you do your research and find which companies have a good track record. Be aware that if something goes wrong, you may be out your cash unless you want to travel to the country where the company is located to take legal action in their courts.

On to the freelance Guy/Girl

This is tough because there is a little leeway here. The truth is that these solutions are sometimes viable...but you want to know what you are getting.  Usually these websites don't include much, if any, dynamic content, or have limited functionality. If you need anything customized beyond the what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface, you are probably going to be in trouble.  Also, often times  customizing anything other than what comes in the template, will likely get expensive quickly. If a Content Management System [CMS], such as Wordpress is being used, You are still going to have to manage the day to day requirements of the website. Maintaining a website may also require you know HTML and/or CSS. Some questions you need to ask yourself. 

  • Who is going to maintain the site once it launches?

  • Will you need to do any kind of online marketing/SEO/SEM ?

  • Will this website scale with your business as it grows?

If the answer is "I don't know" to any of the above questions... you may want to look at your alternatives.

Websites over 5G and where the money goes.

In Seattle the average salary of a web designer is around 90k a year.  A lot of people that code can even make north of 150k a year.  Also - Web development is a specific skill do not assume you will have someone that knows Search engine optimization, how to design user focused interfaces, handle social media etc.

Assuming you have a couple rock stars that can handle all the work between them, and assuming they would do it for less than the going rate - You should still be prepared to pay anywhere from $10G and up. There is a lot of labor that goes into building a website well. The thing is, as I mentioned before, this is an extension of your company. This will be a representation of your brand and, when done right, your website can actually increase your traffic and grow your bottom line. 


This was a playful approach to generalizing something that shouldn't be generalized. The truth is just this. Building a website take time and money. It is a skill and there are a lot of moving parts. Often there are multiple people working together to put something together that meets the clients needs and benefits their business. The prices are set by the industry and the time it take to complete the job at hand.  If you are running a business and need a website to grow your business, you should make sure you aren't investing in the cheapest possible option.

Talk with different agencies and find people that align with your vision. This is your business and it is important that you take it seriously, because if you don't, how can you expect anyone else to?

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David Wall