Websites – You get what you pay for, or why do websites cost so much?

I would like to buy a Ferrari for the price of a used Honda. A house in Santa Monica, California for the price of a condo in Tucson, Arizona. But, the hard reality is that you will never find deals like these. I follow the classic saying, “You get what you pay for”. There’s a reason that Ferraris are so expensive. They are hand-built by a team of experienced and passionate technicians, feature the most advanced technologies, and are made from exotic materials.

The same holds true for websites. There is a reason that Google leads the pack, Facebook is so popular and why Twitch sold for $970 million to Amazon. These web businesses took years to develop, millions of dollars of investment, and teams of professionals to create them. Yet, every day at Executionists, we get requests for websites like Facebook or eBay or YouTube for the cost of a used Honda.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.48.10 PM


We’ve been around long enough to know that the key solution to unreasonable website budget expectations is “education”. The majority of us use websites like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc., everyday so it’s easy to wonder “why can’t my website work just like that?”  To help educate, we often provide this example of “Search”. A client asks for a “Search” function on their website. We can program a simple Search function very inexpensively in under an hour. Later the client sees the Search and complains,

“I wanted the Search to work like eBay’s Search.”

This is like someone asking for a discount plane ticket to Vegas and expecting a private jet. The onus however  is on us, as the web agency, to educate our clients on what is possible within their budget and what is not.

At Executionists we feel we provide a full suite of web development services at a reasonable price. Not an offshore-programming-sweatshop price, or a one-man-garage-shop price, or your cousin Joe’s price, but a US-based-professional-web agency price. Anyone who has contacted us can attest that we are also very free with our straight-shooting recommendations and advice because we want our potential clients to be knowledgeable about their website investment.  

Also, check out our 1 Minute Breakdown video on website costs.

There are two main methods that an agency uses to estimate a website; Project or Package deals.

Package Deals are clearly defined with restricted functionality to make sure that they are profitable for the website seller. Packaged websites are also heavily dependent on a “templated” design. This means that your website will probably look similar to the last 50 websites they made, lacking any unique aspect. The good news(?) is that a packaged deal is probably inexpensive. Just be wary of any ongoing fees or contracts that come with the website.

Project Price is open-ended and based on the time and effort required to create a custom website based on your requirements. SInce the price depends on your unique needs, it is really important to define it as clearly as possible to make sure you get what you paid for.

We have three great free resources to help with this:

Our website questionnaire that will help you describe your website requirements.

Our white paper on Scope Creep to point out potential issues in the website making process. 

Our sample website documents to help you understand the process.

The best way to understand why websites cost what they do is through education. This blog has many articles that provide information that is understandable and actionable. If you can’t find an answer to your question, please call and we will be happy to point you in the right direction.


Free Consultation


All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

Thanks to Jacob Benzie for this article.

by admin
Posted: October 23, 2015