Why are Websites so Expensive? (Part1)

Home / Informational / Why are Websites so Expensive? (Part1)
Why are Websites so Expensive? (Part1)

Why are custom website’s so expensive? In short, because it takes a lot of time and effort. More time than most clients can imagine. But why?

Expectations are high

Today, people and businesses want options, customization, and the ability to manage their own content.  Users (and site owners) have expectations for highly-interactive functionality, for mobile (or responsive) design, for bells and whistles and personalized experiences.  Demands and requirements are more complicated and expectations are much higher than they were as recently as two years ago.  This makes our process far more time intensive.

You’re probably used to (and enjoy) the experiences you have on million-pound websites like Twitter.com or Facebook or eBay – and you expect similar experiences for your own site’s visitors. Unfortunately, this comes with a larger price tag.  This level of “simplicity” is difficult to achieve and takes time to plan, code, refine, and test.

How much does a website cost then?

We often muse at MB Graphics about people who call or email wanting a new site, saying things like “You know, like Facebook but with that Instagram feature but more like how Google does it…”… ‘Um, yeah that’s a great idea. Did you have a budget in mind?’ “Oh, well… we were thinking in the £500-£1000 range.” ‘Hmmm, well… This could be a shock, but your probably talking a few hundred hours of work.. So that budget, erm.. Its a bit small.’ We courteously try to explain that the processes, effort and time is complex and those examples provided spend millions of pounds on research and development every year to make those features a reality.

We can just imagine some jaws drop when they receive a quote from us. We have had people become annoyed, as if we were trying to bamboozle them. Why the confusion? Or rather, why would anyone assume what they’re asking for wouldn’t cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pounds? The internet products and services marketplace is almost an anomaly in the way it distorts perspectives about what things should cost. Lets talk about some of the processes involved in developing a website to help your understanding.

The Design

The design elements that comprise the visible face of your site are not just happy mistakes.  We spend time researching, creating and experimenting to arrive at the perfect font, style, colour, flourishes and design focuses that will communicate most effectively with your end user. It is our job to consider details such as branding, themes, concepts, design flow, user interface, image manipulation, typeface selection, and more.

The parts that we spend more time on include:

  • Initial concepts.  These include research into your industry, exploring your existing brand elements and/or creating new brand appearances.  We have to dig through libraries with thousands of typefaces to find web-friendly fonts, palettes with subtle, nuanced color shifts and layout elements that number in the dozens.
  • Revisions.  We will send you an initial version of the design for your feedback, and then implement any revisions you would like.  Just how many revisions you want will influence how much time we need to spend.  Sometimes, what you think is a “little change” actually involves many layers and masks that need to be altered.
  • Responsive Design.  If we’re designing a responsive website or app, we need to design not just one – but 4,5 maybe 6 versions of each page so that we can developer the site to react on various browser and screen sizes.  Don’t even get us started on retina displays.  We’re not just designing down screen sizes any more – we’re also designing up.
  • Interactivity.  Because websites can move and change when you hover or click, we need to consider what happens from an appearance perspective for each button, link, image, or element and design those too.
  • Page layouts.  Every site needs a homepage, but unless you’re looking for an off-the-shelf generic WordPress theme, we can’t make every other page look exactly the same.  Your blog post shouldn’t look exactly like an event calendar page, for instance. We need to create page layouts that help tie the copy and imagery together visually, in a creative and useful way.

In part 2 we will begin to explain the back-end processes of creating a website. We hope from reading these informational blog posts that you begin to understand just how much work is involved in crafting your next amazing website.