Web development costs

Breakdown by stages 0 to 10

I believe my web development rates are quite affordable, but sometimes I still get questions like “some other designers make websites for 300 euros, why are you so expensive?”

In this article, I’m talking about calculating website development prices and what’s included in my fees.

0. Website brief

In most cases, the prospective client doesn’t have a clear website brief. I have a nice simple questionnaire that can be used as a basic website brief for a relatively simple site.

But if we’re talking a more complex project, a detailed website brief is necessary. What’s your target audience, your user persona? What will the website structure be like? What will we place on the front page? How will we persuade site visitors to perform the desired action (like purchase, sign-up, or start a chat)? How many contact forms, sliders, carousels? How many products in the shop? How will customers pay for products on your website? Any third-party integrations? We need to know all this in order to estimate project cost and timeline.

If you don’t have someone in your team who can write your website brief, I can help you with that. This fee will be included in total project price.

1. Design

Depending on complexity of project, I will create 2 to 10+ page prototypes in line with your website brief. Page prototype is an image (it can also be interactive) that actually shows how the page will look like. For small websites, I usually create a front page prototype and another prototype for a second-level page. More prototypes are needed for bigger sites like online stores, corporate sites etc.

The costs at this step will also depend on the number of revisions (2 rounds of revisions is standard).

2. Website setup

Once the prototypes are ready, it’s time to set up a basic WordPress installation on a temporary server. It’s a common practice to host a website on developer’s server until all payments have been settled. So, at this stage, I create a new database, a new sudbomain, upload all necessary files to the server and install plugins.

3. Website development

What we have at this point is a naked WordPress website. Now the “real” work begins – I need to create and code all the pages, menus, content blocks, add CSS animations, buttons, contact forms, galleries, sliders, configure plugins, set up caching, crop and optimize images etc.

Every website is unique, so the costs at this stage depend greatly on project scope.

4. Review

The number of revisions made to each section/page is another factor that noticeably affects total project cost. Perhaps you want to leave room for tweaks and edits even if everything is done in compliance with website brief. So it’s wise to include 1-3 rounds of revisions in the contract. Please remember, changes that seem very easy to make may require hours of work.

5. Paid add-ons, graphics, fonts…

You might need to pay an annual or one-time fee for some WordPress plugins that enhance website functionality. Most of the essential WordPress plugins are free, but sometimes a paid plugin is needed to solve a specific task (like connect to a third-party service, manage shop items in a very specific way etc). It’s anyway cheaper to buy a ready plugin than pay for custom code. Most often there’s an annual fee of EUR 20-120 per plugin. You can choose to pay directly to plugin provider or include it in total project price.

It’s also very likely that the fancy font you’ve chosen can not be used for free. You might have downloaded it from a freebie website, but that doesn’t mean this font doesn’t have an author. Many font designers charge a one-time licence fee for their fonts, but sometimes you have to pay a monthly/annual subscription fee based on volume of website traffic. If this is not something you’re ready to pay, there’re plenty of fonts that can be legally used free of charge, Google Fonts being the most well-known directory of such fonts. Free fonts always come with a corresponding license.

If you don’t have your own images or videos to use on your website, and you want something more sophisticated than free stock pictures, you’ll have to pay for visual content from paid stock sites.

Payment gateways also charge for their services, so whether you’ll be using PayPal card processor, Stripe, 2CheckOut or any other service to process payments in your online store, be prepared to pay a small setup fee (and a percentage on each transaction later on).

There can be other external costs related to building a website, but these are the most common ones.

I believe it’s better to pay all necessary fees than have copyright problems later.

6. Communication

Another thing that is maybe not so obvious, but it’s also included in website price: communication with the client. Your comments, feedback, answers to your questions, discussing drafts, communicating about third-party integrations – there’s a lot of communication going on while developing a website. It can take up to 30% of total work hours spent on the project.

Actually this is the part that all low-end web developers skip. That’s why cheap websites never look anything like what you expected.

7. Testing

Testing and debugging includes optimizing website load speed, checking if all elements are working correctly (contact forms, subscription forms, payment gateways etc) and of course viewing the website on different browsers and screen sizes and making it look equally good on all major devices. I pay a monthly fee for a service that can remotely connect to real devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops of various brands and sizes. I use it to test and optimize websites for different screens because there’re just so many of them nowadays!

8. Basic SEO

Serious search optimization should be handed over to SEO agencies, but it’s a good idea to technically optimize your new website for search engines from start. This includes setting up a SEO plugin, creating meta tag patterns for different kinds of pages, generating a sitemap, writing alt attributes for images, connecting your website to Google Webmasters service and more. This can be skipped if you want to do all SEO entirely on your own, but if it’s included, it will affect the price too.

9. Hosting, domain name, CDN

When the website is finished and all payments are settled, it’s time to transfer the website to client’s server. I can help you choose a reliable (and affordable) hosting provider, buy a domain name and SSL certificate, create mailboxes etc. Publishing the website on the server includes uploading website files to the new server, transferring the database, updating URL structure, setting up https, debugging, sometimes making minor changes to hosting settings.

In some cases I also recommend using a CDN (Content Distribution Network) like Cloudflare, which improves website speed and protects your website from attackers. So this is another task that may be included in website price.

10. Training

You will probably want to learn how to edit website pages, add new photos or testimonials, add new products to your online store, manage your shop sales and so on. So I’m here for you for a live training session on basic website administration. I will also email you a written manual with screenshots.

There’re also always some minor tweaks and edits after webite launch. An image to replace, a block of text to edit, a content block to move. These works can be included in website price upfront, but we can also add them later as extra maitenance works.

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