How Much Does “This” Website Cost?

Picture the business owner that is thinking of creating a website and is scouring the web for inspiration. They may see a competitors’ website and think to themselves, “I wonder how much it would cost to make a website like this one?” Generally you can’t call up the website’s owner and ask, “I’m in a similar business, how much did you pay for your website?” So – web design agencies, like ours, get inquires all the time from people who want to know how much it would be to create a similar website to something they’ve seen. Here are the pros and cons of this approach.

PROS

  1. We have a benchmark in the website you like. It helps to define what you want to build and reduces potential costs.
  2. You have identified a visual design or look-and-feel that appeals to you.
  3. Using web tools we can quickly look at the website code and see how it was built and what components are being used.
  4. It opens the conversation to website design and development for your business.
  5. An experienced web agency can look at a website and determine how much it would be to emulate the features and design.

CONS

  1. Although we can clearly see the website you are referring to us, we don’t know how much effort went into the planning, design and development. For example the client and the designer could have gone back and forth for months over the visual design and spent hundreds of hours, all we are seeing is the final result of that effort.
  2. Your expectations may be out of sync with your budget. For example, we get inquiries from people who’s example websites are too complex to reasonably duplicate. A person may state “I want a website like Google but simpler.” or “I want a website like eBay combined with YouTube.” People tend to ignore that these Fortune 500 websites took millions of dollars to develop and require hundreds of people to maintain. Providing examples like these are somewhat helpful but it takes some severe expectation setting to arrive at website requirements that are affordable.

This demonstrates that since we (the internet nation) are so familiar with big business websites like Google, eBay, YouTube, Travelocity, Amazon, etc., we expect a similar level of features on our small-medium-size business website. For example we can easily add a “Search” feature to a website BUT to make it function “just like Google” is unrealistic and could take thousands of hours of effort depending on what the requirements are. This issue underscores the importance of a solid website requirements document or scoping document that clearly describes the desired features and functions. We have a Client Questionnaire available right here, that helps us determine website scope so we can provide an accurate estimate.

One additional thing to stress is that we don’t believe in copying or duplicating other website designs – it’s bad karma and doesn’t serve your business well. A creative website agency will be able to look at examples of what you like and then combine those aspects with your brand and messaging to create a custom, branded presentation of your business. So the better question to ask is “How much would it cost to create a website with features that are similar to this one but designed to reflect my brand?” We are here to help answer that question.

Richard Parr
by Richard Parr
Posted: March 6, 2015