What does a website cost?

This question comes up a lot. And to be honest it’s not easy to answer. The price to develop a website depends heavily on what exactly you want the website to do. The person who typically asks this question is probably asking about a pretty simple brochure site, so that question can possibly be answered with an answer of between R5000 and R15000. You aren’t going to get very much for R5000 to be honest. Web developers worth anything, that are going to make sure you end up with a product that you expect, work at anything from R250 to R600 per hour. A good one could probably build a 10-page site off an existing template in under 2 days, but then the good ones are GENERALLY more expensive (not all expensive developers are expensive, and not all good developers are hugely expensive, but there is enough work out there that they don't need to be cheap). Good developers are good at project management as well as coding, so they can get what they need from you efficiently, and can translate your corporate image into a site properly in that time.

Cheap web developers will do it in that time. It will be poorly designed, it will not look professional, and will not do all the things you asked for. And as a result you will not use it until you get a proper developer to rebuild it for you. Its your choice, you may get lucky. But then, you may get lucky buying a R10000 second hand car. I doubt it though.

Content management systems (CMS) allow you control over your site content. With an administration section, you are able to change your pages in the same way as you might change a page in a word processing program like Microsoft Word. These sites require a bit more setup, so come in at a higher price. R10000 to R20000 might be a reasonable estimate for these, obviously depending on how many different types of content you would need, and how you want the content organised. These make a great base for a good search engine optimised (SEO) site, but to get those properly setup you are starting to look somewhere in the region of R30000 up. Some of our clients have paid hundreds of thousands over the life of their sites with us. These sites are paying them back many times more than they are pay us to maintain and upgrade them, so the maths works in their favour. One customer of ours shared this knowledge with us once: she figured she was earning R1600 for every R100 she put in to her site over a given period. Obviously, she doesn’t need much convincing when it comes time to upgrade or update her site.

Client relationship management (CRM) sites allow you to manage information about your customers. Again, these site’s prices are contingent on their function. Simple custom CRMs might cost R25000; more complex ones can cost R200000, or even much more. Some customers survive fine off one of the ready-made CRM systems, but for some, they do not answer the right questions. They are great products, but don’t kid yourself that they are the cheaper option. They need a lot of configuration and some of them are only properly setup by developers specialising in that task. And again, the guys who do it correctly don’ come cheap.

My father in law gave some great advice to my wife and I once: research the product and then buy as expensive as you can comfortably afford. He was talking about buying a house, but the same holds true for many things, and web development is no different. Note: Research the product! Don’t just go with the most expensive web developer and assume that means they will do the best job. Talk to their clients, look at their previous product. Make sure you choose the right web developer.

I hasten to add: these figures are very rough estimates to an impossible question to answer without a proper specification. You don’t walk into a car dealership and ask: “How much is a car?”

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