How Much Does It Cost to Design a Website?

So, you’ve decided to take your company to the next level by building its first ever website. Or, maybe you’re leveling up and refreshing your current website.

This is a great business decision. After all, your website is an opportunity to show potential customers your offer—and hopefully convert their interest into sales.

However, for a website to be effective, it needs to be designed well. That’s why you need a professional website designer on your side.

Hiring a talented and experienced web designer does require an investment, though.

If you’ve started approaching web designers in the Washington, DC or Baltimore, MD area, you’ve probably received quotes landing somewhere between $3,000-20,000.

In reality, that’s how much it costs to design a website.

Why is there such a big difference in price?

Of course, there’s a sizable difference between $3,000 and $20,000.

If you’re first quoted $20,000 and the next designer says they can do it for just $3,000, you’ll probably be tempted to bite their hand off.

In comparison, this sounds like an incredible deal!

But before you commit to any one service, you should check what’s included in each of these quotes. Many different things can weigh into the cost of building a website, and all websites aren’t built equally.

For example, a very basic brochure website will cost less than one that includes features such as:

  • E-commerce
  • A booking system
  • A client portal
  • Chat services
  • MLS search

How much you’ll be expected to pay depends on how interactive and comprehensive you want your website to be.

Naturally, every advanced feature that you add requires time, labor, and specific skills. That’s what will move your quote closer to the $20,000 side of the spectrum—and beyond.

You should also bear in mind that more established and reputable web designers are likely to charge more for their services, as in any other industry.

It’s up to you whether you want to gamble on a cheaper but less experienced option…

Comparing website design estimates: Crucial questions to ask

When you’re weighing up which web designer’s proposal is best for you, here are 8 points of comparison to use.

  1. How experienced is this designer? For example, have they shown that they know how to craft unique and compelling brand stories?

    This is important because your website is where you can differentiate your business from the competition and really connect with your intended audience.

    Your web designer should be invested in your entire brand, not just your website. That way, your website will clearly communicate exactly what your company can do for a customer.
  2. Are they using templates or providing custom design? There’s a huge difference! Using a template suggests that “one size fits all,” which goes against the fundamental principles of branding.

    Your website should differentiate your service from your competitors, but a template won’t reflect the nuances of your brand like the right custom design will.

    A custom design requires significantly more work and creativity than simply applying a template. Make sure that if you’re paying good money for your website, you’re receiving one that’s tailored to you.
  3. Is technical and on-page SEO included? If your web designer isn’t optimizing your website for search engines, they’re putting your website at a huge disadvantage.

    Search engine optimization is a long-term strategy and takes an ongoing investment in time and resources. However, when a website is designed from the ground up, it should be built with search engines in mind. That means that the technical SEO and on-page SEO should be optimized at launch. Always be weary if a web designer wants to charge extra or doesn’t seem to understand/value this concept.

    A properly experienced website designer should have a solution for ongoing search engine optimization either in-house or with a referral.
  4. Is copywriting included? Web design isn’t just about visuals. Content is equally important. Your copy should be clear, concise, and compelling.

    Otherwise, you risk confusing your customer base! And in a busy online marketplace, you can’t afford to do that.

    Believe it or not, effective copywriting is more of a science than an art. There are proven strategies that can be implemented to activate your audience.

    If your web designer includes this vital element in their quote, then their offer automatically becomes more attractive.
  5. Is brand photography included? Do you really want to make a fresh website using stale old photos? They might drag the energy of your new design down.

    Any quote that includes a brand photography session boasts a serious selling point.

    Polished brand photography adds a layer of professionalism and authenticity to your website. This creates brand recognition and generates customer trust.
  6. Is their design guided by strategy? In other words, will it just look pretty or will it be designed with its purpose in mind?

    One way to determine this is to ask your web designer how they plan to capture leads through your website. If they respond that they’ll do anything you want, that means they’re leaving the strategy side to you.

    If the web designer is going to leave all of the copywriting up to you or simply extract from your previous website, then there is very little to no strategy involved in the development of your website.

    The importance of your website copy is like a double-edged sword. It’s important not only for the user, but also for search engines. Leaving this responsibility up to you the client or simply reusing from the previous site is simply irresponsible.

    A website guided by strategy is the best way for it to meet its true purpose: to generate sales.
  7. Can they handle complex website solutions? Custom development solutions can make the difference between a site that looks great and a site that truly serves your customers and your business.

    Some of the features you might consider adding include a customized quote builder that allows your customers to select the services they require in order to receive an estimate price.

    Or, maybe you’re a realtor and you’d like to add the ability of searching the MLS to your website.

    Solutions like these allow your customers to enjoy more personalized attention as they get to know the unique services you offer, and they can also be a great way for you to gather contact details of potential leads.

Is a website worth investing in?

Yes! In fact, we’d go even further. We’d say that if you were to invest in one thing and one thing only to market your business, then your website should be it.

Your customers will undoubtedly expect a high quality site to meet them when they search for your services. Remember that a website optimized for search engines will do the hard work of bringing new leads to you.

It’s the ideal place to demonstrate your industry authority and make a positive first impression. When you include specific features, such as chat support and e-commerce capabilities, your website can also be a way to better serve your customers.

The right website ensures your audience chooses your company over your competitors—and that they keep coming back.

At Sharpen Creative, we design websites that engage, connect, and convert. Tim, the brains behind the business, has 20 years of experience in graphic design, branding, and website development.

Our objective is to help you cut through the noise of a crowded marketplace and become unforgettable to your audience.

Every website we design and develop is custom made in alignment with your business goals. Our approach is informed by the latest in SEO and Storybrand best practice.

We don’t just design appealing aesthetics and refresh your brand photography (using pre-screened and experienced photographers, of course); we also provide the copy you need to convert your audience into customers and the features you need to serve them efficiently.

Interested in sharpening your website? Join the many small businesses and entrepreneurs that we have supported with web design, and book your free creative consultation today.

Alternatively, you can contact us here if you have any questions about our 5 step website design process.

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