Number Crunching

Number Crunching

The cost of a website is a bit like the cost of a car. You can spend $5,000 for a ‘get around town’ car, $75,000 for a luxury vehicle, or millions for a transportation fleet!  With today’s open-source platforms like WordPress and with a vast array of design templates, a business can deploy a professional responsive website for $10,000-$20,000.  With professional help and custom design elements, a site can cost more of course. A website is so vital, I think most companies should invest more into the design and ongoing management of a website.

So, how can you estimate a website’s cost and scope and plan the right approach?  How do you effectively work with a web consultant or write a website RFP?  It helps to understand a range of factors as you design and deploy your website.   Rightsize this checklist to develop a budget and plan.

Factors in Estimating Website Cost

The following are some of the factors that you can consider as your scope and implement a website that meets your needs. How important are these in your plan? What resources are needed? How much time will it take?

Strategy Considerations

  • Business Requirements: Are you clear about your business requirements?  This includes but is not limited to: business vision, strategy and goals, and the role of the website in delivering on this strategy?  Do you need a business case or rationale for investment in this website? To what degree does a business case need to be developed? What are the drivers for the business case?
  • Branding: Is your core brand identity (logo, colors, etc.) and your naming already in place and agreed? Do you have the graphical treatments for the logo and other related design elements?
  • Target Audience: How well do you understand your audience segments and product positioning? Who are the users? What personas? How do these users fit with your business target markets? What are the important attributes of these segments?
  • Competition: Do you need a competitive analysis and assessment? How will your new site fit against the competition? Are their peers you want to emulate? How do you stack up?
  • Planning: Do you have an overall roadmap and timeline? Are your priorities clear and agreed? What are the dependencies? Have these factors been built into an overall timeframe for deployment? Are you deploying in releases or as one integrated solution?
  • Alignment: To what degree do you need to bring people along with you? Is an extended team alignment needed for this website launch?

Design Considerations

  • Visual Design: Do you need new brand standards and a style guide for the brand implementation?  What is the degree and range of content and creativity – including custom or stock images?
  • UX Design: What do your visitors intend to do when they visit the site? What do you expect them or want them to do? In what context will they be visiting your site? How important is the user interaction design? Is there a page inventory and sitemap plus page flow diagrams for the site? Do you need written and visual user interface specs?
  • Content & Copy: To what degree is content for the website new, repurposed, or required? Is it multi-media? How will this be developed?
  • Functionality: What are the levels of functionality and database systems required to deliver on the experience?  Are functional use cases needed to define user interactions?  What are the priorities of the feature sets needed within the site? Are there integration points with external systems / APIs?
  • Development Approach: What are the risks and dependencies that need to be managed? Have you defined an articulated scope for design and build? What types of technologies and skillsets are needed? How should development happen?? Out of the box template?  Iterative design phases?
  • Technology Architecture: Do you understand the required technical architecture? (CMS system, web platform, plugins, and hosting environments, security, performance)?
  • Alignment: How many iterations are required for IA and visual designs? Are the releases of functionality in stages agreed upon and understood? Aligned with business priority, dependencies, and effective design?

Launch Considerations


  • Development Environment: What are the development environment and production environment? How will these be managed?
  • Testing: What is the level of testing required, e.g. mobile, web, cross-browser, and systems testing? How will testing take place? What constitutes a defect or bug?  How much should be spent to address these bugs or defects?
  • Optimization: To what degree is this project going to configure and optimize for SEO and Analytics?
  • Launch Plan: How will the launch logistics be handled? What webmaster services are in place? Will you need a coordinated launch & PR plan?
  • Training: How will website management and admin training requirements be handled?
  • Warranty: Is there an expectation that the site will be fixed if something breaks? What is the timeframe for this ‘warranty period’?

Related Issues

This article highlights some of the issues you may want to consider when budgeting for a website. It is also important to think about the website as part of a broader brand presence ecosystem of technology and services that make up an online presence. Factors include but are not limited to your social media presence, web services for marketing automation, and CRM. Quite often, these related areas need to be a part of the plan.

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