When someone asks me “What does a website cost?” I’ll usually ask them: “What does it cost to build a house?” Is it a 1 bedroom, 1 bath little cottage? Or a 16 bedroom mansion with 2 kitchens and a pool? There can be quite a cost spread with a house, and the same is true for a website.

This is a very front-loaded business. Most of the work is done in Design and in Development of the foundation of the site and creating its main functionality. When a potential client asks us for a “small site with just a few pages” (we assume in order to keep the cost down) what they don’t realize is that page count is the least of our time concerns and really doesn’t make a huge difference in overall cost.

There’s one thing we know for sure: every site is unique and needs its own consultation to fully estimate the cost. Call us today at 818.974.7900 to get a free consultation on your site or read on to see the process that comprises most of the cost. And then call me, because the biggest cost is having an ineffective or outdated site or worse, none at all.

Building a website entails 2 main components: Design and Development. Sounds simple enough.


Design is probably just what you’re thinking – it’s the look and feel of the site. It’s the color choices, it’s the shape of buttons, placement of images, etc. But most importantly it’s the placement of elements to carry the visitor’s eye and attention from one point to the next so that they go where YOU want them to go, not just randomly around your page and site. You may have heard the terms UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface). That’s what this is. It’s the science part of the art.

Design does follow function in our world and that means you design for what the client needs. It may be straight eCommerce sites like Amazon, informational type sites like duffweb.com or a mixture where there’s information but you can also buy a few specific products. Some sites have full-function shopping carts, some only have a few links to things like Paypal or Amazon. They all have different needs and have to be designed to fulfill those needs.

There are also design schemes which are “in-style” at any given time which change fairly often and it’s a pulse we as designers need to keep our fingers on. You don’t want to have a site that looks out-of-date as soon as you launch it, right? And the old adage: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is what this is all about.

Design is ultimately responsible for the visitor’s entire experience.

With some platforms you can buy pre-designed “themes” which may cut down some of the design cost, but even when we’ve used them there was still a fair amount of design work that had to be done in order to get the site the way the client wanted it.


Development is where the design is crafted into a “living & breathing” site. All of the site functionality gets created here. It’s not only some very creative, problem-solving activities but also where all the i’s get dotted and the t’s get crossed. Part of this process is some mind-numbing minutia, like: Does every link and buttons work? Do they all go where they’re supposed to go? Then what happens? Does the shopping cart calculate the Coupon code correctly? These and hundreds of other tiny little details get painstakingly ironed out so that your site visitors will (hopefully) never notice them. Things like that kill a site’s effectiveness.

If you notice the development, it’s just not a good site.

Designers will often work closely with the developers to make sure that their vision is carried through as they intended. Remember it’s the designer who is ultimately responsible for the user experience so they want to make sure it’s right.

Time and Money

It’s always best to know what you want as your ideal scenario when getting pricing on a website. You can always scale back if your budget doesn’t allow but it’s always going to be less expensive to do it all at the same time rather than trying to save some money now and adding to it later.

I often need to remind clients that with most people going to a company’s website before ever contacting them, their website is potentially the ONLY way they will have to deliver their communication to their public. If a site is done well and correctly, the experience will be a positive one. If not, maybe the site looks outdated or doesn’t work properly, you are losing sales. End of story. And with most companies, one or two good sales gotten from a site-generated lead will more than cover any site costs.

I hope this gives you a useful little peek behind the Web Design and Development curtain. And again, if you or your business need a fresh, effective website to boost sales, give us a call today.

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