What is the cost of developing a website in 2019?

This is one of the most common questions that a misguided, fresh entrepreneur asks.

The question seems extremely simple, right? But for those who have been in this space for long understand the complexities associated with it. In this blog, we try to look at the factors associated with the costing of a website and why only the cost of a website should not be the only factor that helps you form a decision.

A few things to consider:

The Platform – Websites can be created using a variety of different frameworks. The basic ones could be as simple as a 1-page bootstrapped website, the middle one could be a WordPress website (though WordPress can get very advanced in nature, but barely 5% of the so-called WordPress developers know any advanced programming, making WordPress the poor man’s choice with below-average programmers), and then we look at frameworks such as .NET, RoR etc., which are mainly favorable for advanced websites where you need better security and more control. There are a lot more frameworks we can talk about here (Django!), but we think you got the point.

Licenses – Some software are open source while some are licensed. For example, a website built using .NET should be coming from a licensed version of Visual Studio. Similarly, designs built using Adobe should be coming from the licensed version. As a rule of thumb, do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

The Design – More often than not, templates are used for the purpose of getting simple websites up. Some clients are cool with it, and some think that a custom design or a design from scratch is required. In most cases, we recommend that going with a template-based design is better, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Why do you need to reinvent something that works and is going to make your time to market shorter along with bringing not only your development costs down, but also your maintained costs would be greatly reduced?

Custom Designs – So you want a unique, one-of-a-kind design and have the budget for it too. That’s awesome! Let us try to guide you through this process as well. There are wireframes that need to be created, sitemaps that need to be defined and what may seem like a never-ending back and forth before the UX gets in place. After the UX is approved, we move over to creating the UI. If the brand assets are also in existence then it is a slightly easier process otherwise you will have to go ahead to create your brand assets including your Logo(s), color schemes, and more. Keep in mind that this process is an extremely involved process and will obviously take your costs high. This is usually for those who know what they are getting into. You would be needing a UX expert and a UI designer, both having a few years of experience.

Get the Specifications Right – Frequently changing the specifications will not only lead to delays in getting the website out but also increase the cost. Hence, it is imperative that you get these specifications right in the first few stabs. PS: This frustrates the hell out of a developer and you do not want bad code on your website.

Testing – There could be a dedicated QA personnel responsible for testing your product or if it’s a smaller company then it is usually the developer who tests it. Clearly, there is a better option. Psst, …it starts with a Q. Also, you should remember that in most (if not all) cases, no website can be 100% bug-free, so you must take things with a pinch of salt and not get too paranoid about it. Keep in mind that a dedicated QA is going to cost you money, but will give you a better product.

Hosting – You can start off with shared hosting when you are small and migrate to a dedicated machine or simply move to cloud (using AWS – “proudly using since 2008!”). AWS has a free tier for beginners and you can leverage that, but you need to have a team who understands AWS. This needs specialized skills and hence these costs add up.

TCO – TCO stands for Total Cost of Ownership, which most of the businesses, experience and inexperienced alike, do not understand! Being short-sighted hurts in the long term. You need to understand that just building a website and making it live is not the only cost; there are multiple costs that go into it in the longer run. For example, the maintenance costs, the license costs and if you required more people than necessary to handle a buggy website then your TCO grows exponentially. Hence it is better to invest more initially rather than sink a hole one year later.

After reading this article, we are assuming the writing is on the wall. Giving a rough estimate of a website is not the easiest of tasks. If you think there are some other costs that we missed considering, feel free to get in touch with us.

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