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Why Do Websites Cost So Much?

Almost two decades ago, business owners saw the growing potential of doing business on the internet – and they liked it. Having a website meant they could expand their reach and increase their sales.

Website technology was still in its infancy, and just about everything had to be coded and customized from scratch. It took far more time, effort and data to design and develop a site, so it’s not surprising that companies usually paid a small fortune to get one. Of course, one benefit of the high price tag was that companies that could afford a website – as opposed to those who could not – crushed their competition.

While happy that they had an advantage of the competition, companies spending a small fortune were not necessarily happy to do so, but it was considered the “cost of doing business”.

Fast forward to today. The CMS and responsive design have led the evolutionary charge, resulting in dynamic and engaging websites that weren’t possible even 5 years ago. On the ecommerce side, POS systems and self-contained payment processors have enabled even the smallest mom and pop store to sell online.

And what about the pricing for such wondrous advances in website function? Well, it’s far less than what those stick figure style sites of years past were, which also means that just about any business (much to the bigger companies’ chagrin) can exist on the internet.

Yet, many business owners are still asking: why does a website cost so much? In an age where websites are as ubiquitous as business cards, why should they cost so much more? Here are some possible reasons:

  1. Your site is outdated. A website, like your car or your house, needs maintenance. Your site content becomes stale and often incorrect over time, which potentially leads to lost business. From a technology standpoint, plugins and applications need to be updated to maintain compatibility and security, because ignoring these updates can lead to security flaws – and being hacked. If that happens, it’s game over for your website, and potentially your business.
  2. You used a website builder. A website builder seems like a great option, until it’s not. Aside from the aesthetics of a self-designed site (created by a non-designer), think about the time you invested to create the site, and now you need to spend more time troubleshooting issues or updating it. Don’t you have a business to run? What is the ultimate cost for your lost time as the business owner?
  3. You hired an unscrupulous provider. You thought you were getting a deal on your website project! Then the person you hired disappeared (with your money) before completing it, or didn’t bother to give you access information, or is now blackmailing you into a maintenance or hosting plan before providing you with access to the files that you already own. Any of these scenarios (and others) just adds more stress and frustration to your business.

You may be wondering why none of the above reasons seem to answer the question – but they do. The question is why do websites cost so much? The “cost of doing business” is something that hasn’t changed over the years that website technology has evolved. Websites are part of your business cost, which includes time as well as dollars.

The price you pay for a website is something else entirely. The difference between price and cost can be vast. You pay a price only once, but the ultimate cost of what you bought is something accrued over time and is incurred in many ways, many of them bad. Cost can be suffered not only in money paid out, but in wasted time, stress, anger, frustration, less sales and lost revenue, to name a few.

Thus, the question should be why are websites priced so seemingly high? Actually, they’re not. Here’s why:

  1. Competition. Google “web design MA”. Your query will return results in the millions. Although not all of them are web design companies in Massachusetts, the point is that there are enough companies to keep prices highly competitive, meaning that what you pay is actually what the market will bear.
  2. Technology. Advances in technology enhance products and services throughout the world, making them better, faster and yes, cheaper. Think about the first big screen TV or cell phone you bought, then think of the most recent purchase of those products and how much less you paid for so much more. It’s the same way with websites.
  3. What’s behind the curtain. Building a website seems simple, but there are aspects of the process you may not consider when pricing one out. They can include, but not be limited to:
  • Meetings/consultations/check-ins with you before, during and after the project to stay on track and ensure its continued success
  • Research and acquisition of the proper website theme for your type of business
  • Creation of pre-layout and/or sitemap to diagram site look and feel
  • Research and (legal) acquisition of relevant images to use (aside from what you might provide)
  • If required, correspondence/coordination with potential third parties to facilitate tasks

Most of all, there are the intangibles of a good web design provider. The right company for you will be the one that not only has the knowledge and experience to give you what you want, but will also be invested in your success – in short, they will care.

When it comes to marketing your business, your website is a crucial part of your success, don’t let a seemingly high price keep you from working with the right company. And if they offer you a maintenance plan, take it. The plan is not an upsell, it’s insurance that your site will always be worth what you paid – and never cost you what you didn’t.