How Much Does a Website Cost: A Guide to Web Design Prices in Australia

How Much Does a Website Cost: A Guide to Web Design Prices in Australia

How-Much-Does-a-Website-Cost-A-Guide-to-Web-Design-Prices-in-Australia

When it comes to web design most business owners have no idea what goes into building an effective website.

And why should you?

You’ve got a hundred other things competing for your attention.  Truth be told, anyone can build a website, and get you a presence, but if I know you, you’re looking for customers and revenue not merely a presence on the web.

When it comes to websites, I’m always hearing things like:

  • Why should I pay you $5000 when someone else said $500
  • I paid a designer six months ago, but still don’t have a site.
  • Little johnny down the road said he’d build a site for me
  • I can build a site myself with WIX or Squarespace, why would I pay anything.

It’s true – how much a website costs can range from DIY (hours of your time) to thousands of dollars. However, price is a terrible indicator of how effective your website will be at bringing you business.

It’s even tougher for most business owners because you have no idea how to evaluate what makes a website convert.

(Hint: It’s not pretty pictures, sliders and fonts).

To the untrained eye, you probably can’t tell the difference between a website that never makes a sale and one that makes sales all day long unless you’ve seen or experienced it before.

Often your website is intangible, the value or importance of it is only realised once you see how much money it can generate you.

Things like the persuasive copy, analytics, search optimisation are critical elements of high performing websites and all work together with design to make your website profitable but they are most frequently the elements of websites that are ignored.

Unfortunately, too many businesses focus on getting the lowest price point, which usually ends up costing them thousands of dollars in lost sales and website redo’s to fix the mistakes. This realisation normally occurs when you start spending money, marketing your site, without seeing any returns.

Sure, pricing is important. After all, you are a business. Yet, most important is that you have the right goal in mind (i.e. leads and sales) and then you invest an appropriate amount to deliver the results you’re seeking.

A Website Shouldn’t Be Considered an Expense

I’m of the school that a website that never converts is always an expense, no matter how little (or how much) you paid for it.

Instead of focusing on the lowest price, let’s consider what can happen if your website becomes a high-performing asset.

Yes, website strategy can impact your business in a big way. Imagine if your website doubled or tripled your conversions.

What if it increased them by 10x? How would that impact your bottom line?

If you’re like a lot of business owners, you’d love to see that type of impact.

For many businesses, if you’re already receiving traffic then ask yourself – “How much money am I leaving on the table?”.

I’ve worked with some customers to turn conversion rates from 3 – 8% overnight, simply by focusing on the critical elements that turn clicks into customers.

website-conversion-rate-comparison

There’s no doubt that once you recognise the value of a profitable website, you’ll also see how your website can be an investment and not an expense. However, there’s a challenge here – while plenty of people will tell you they can build a high-performing website, your ROI depends on your ongoing strategy and the experience of those you work with.

Even if you get the design right, you’ll still need to put money into marketing it, with PPC/SEO or something different altogether, but if you don’t get the design right then there’s no doubt you’ll leave a tonne of money on the table.

As with anything, you get the quality you dish out for – professionals come with hard-won skills and knowledge, and they charge accordingly.

Hourly Rates for Experienced Web Specialists

When you break it down, building a performance website takes a lot of time.

There’s time spent reviewing your target customer and what they want, identifying your unique benefits and what separates you from competitors, optimising for searches with buying intent, dozens of hours in custom development, and time spent considering and testing out how your potential customer will use your new site.

These days, it would be stupid to simply pay for a website, just so you can have something to put on a business card but that’s what many businesses are doing. You need a website that will bring you sales (and not just look pretty), isn’t this what 99% of all businesses want?

When I build a website, I’m more concerned with the outcome of your website – its sales potential and whether it can attract customers organically.

To do so it needs to be a highly functioning website that attracts your target market and converts them into customers, while looking aesthetically on-point and making you stand out from the competition.

Australian Hourly Rates vs Offshore Hourly Rates

Many web agencies will charge a fixed cost for your site.

This is based on past experience and an idea of the number of hours it will take to build based on your requirements. Most web professionals, from Graphic Designers to Web Developers, will charge within the $50-$250 per hour range.

Sure, you could work with an overseas company (for example, India), and pay much less – maybe the equivalent to $25/hour or less – but there are major (read: not worth it) risks with this. Communication is often difficult, and assuring that you get all the components of a high-performing website is next-to-impossible.

It’s not to say that overseas development is not possible, it is, but what you need to understand is that either you, or someone in charge, needs to have a very clear picture on what you need so you can manage the outcome and overall quality of the project.

We recommend you work with local, experienced professionals with proven results and referrals. That way, you’re most likely to get the best results.

Designers Vs Developers

When I first started in the web design game I was designing and building everything myself.

While I like to think I have a fairly keen eye for design, I’m by no means a designer.  In fact, the same can be said for most in the web design game.

You see most developers are great with code and functionality but they have very little understanding about design, the difference to your finished website can be huge.

Trying to develop a site before you’ve designed it is like building a house without first approving the layout (hint: you’ll end up with your en-suite attached to the lounge-room).

A good designer should understand how their design plays a pivotal role in the psychology behind influencing more visitors to take action (i.e. what makes visitors convert).

They also understand how to create strong user experiences and make your content and key benefits stand out quickly in an age where attention is a commodity.

Comparing Design First vs Development First

The best way I can really show the difference between a designer and a developer is to highlight a recent project which I was a part of, the customer wanted to trial multiple agencies before they committed to the full project (hint: ours is second one).

developer-vs-designer

When you work with agencies who use proven designers, before developing, then you’ll also understand why you’re paying more.

The Risk of Cheap Websites

If you’re a small business owner in Australia, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000-$30,000+ for a lead gen website, depending on its size and complexity.

It’s important that you understand what you get for this type of spend.

Cheap websites come from inexperienced people. For example, Johnny Junior three houses down may be happy to slap together a website for you for under $500.

We’ve even seen some agencies offering website prices that low.

With this course of action, you’ll get a website (in most cases) but it won’t include any of the fundamentals of a website that converts – no strategy for sales, no SEO, no professional web copy that speaks to your target customers.

It will just dissolve into the archives of the Internet, ignored and wasted.

Sure, you can “add” conversion features later, but that will actually cost you more money. It’s like “adding” a kitchen upgrade after the rest of the house is finished, and realizing you want to move walls and appliances. There are things (like SEO ) that an experienced web design company will include from the beginning, so that you can (1) see the results right sooner, and (2) avoid wasting your money and needing a re-do.

Lead Generation Websites vs Ecommerce Websites

Let’s face it, an Ecommerce website is incredibly different to a standard lead generation website.

From the functionality to the testing required to the feature development.

Like anything, there’s always options from low cost to high cost.

It depends what you want. Let me try to explain.

Lead Generation – $2,000 – $30,000+

I define lead generation sites as anything that is non Ecommerce (just for the simplicity of this article).

On a lead generation site you’ll probably have a home page, an about us, some service pages, a contact us page and then based on how seriously you’re taking your SEO, you’ll probably have anywhere from one service page to hundreds.

The more pages you have or need tends to define the price of the project.

In terms of features and functionality, the most complex feature might be your forms (but they don’t have to be), the layouts and maybe a few fancy design elements like a sticky navigation.

Things like site speed are now becoming more of a focus too.

The price really comes down to a few things:

  • Are you getting it custom designed or using a template?
  • Are you developing a custom theme or using a template?
  • How many page designs do you need?
  • Do you need any mobile design optimisation? Mobile first is becoming far more important.
  • Do you want your site to be fast and the code to be optimised?
  • How involved in the process do you want to be?
  • Do you care about building strong SEO foundations?
  • Do you care about maintaining your existing SEO?
  • Do you want sales focused copy or will you just throw some text together yourself?

If you want something very basic then you can probably get something passable around the $2000 dollar mark but you might outgrow it quickly.

If you want something with all of the above, I’d expect you’re looking at $10,000 plus.

Cheaper websites tend to become more noticeable when you advertise because you constantly spend a significant amount of money attracting visitors but you never see enough leads to be able to justify the continued spend.

Ecommerce – $6000 – $100,000+

Fortunately today we’re seeing options now like Shopify and Bigcommerce where anybody with the desire can rapidly build an Ecommerce website, apply a template and begin selling from day one.

I’ve worked with clients who have built their own sites in Shopify and now have online stores that generate in excess of 5 million dollars every year.

Sure, they’ve probably had tweaks and changes over the years from a developer but it’s still fairly inline with the original template they chose.

When it comes to Ecommerce websites, design can help, but you still see plenty of cookie cutter websites making big money too. They typically follow the approach of keeping it clean and simple and letting their brand do the hard work for them.  Some Shopify Themes can look really good from the get-go.

If you’re a start-up and you don’t have any brand then you typically have to work much harder to stand out. Don’t expect to compete with JB Hi-Fi if you’ve got a poor quality website.

The price really comes down to a few things:

  • Are you getting it custom designed or using a template?
  • Are you developing a custom theme or using a template? Custom Shopify development can be incredibly expensive due to a shortage on developers who have the skills when compared to WordPress.
  • How many page designs do you need? i.e. home page, product page, collection page
  • What kind of functionality do you need? Upsells, cross sells, filtering, search, endless scroll etc.
  • Are you transitioning CRMs i.e. Woocommerce to Shopify? (this can be very time consuming)
  • How many products do you need imported? (this can be very time consuming)
  • How involved in the process do you want to be? (building the Taj Mahal vs pitching a tent)
  • Do you care about building strong SEO foundations?
  • Do you care about maintaining your existing SEO?
  • Do you want sales focused copy or will you just throw some text together yourself?
  • How many add-ons/apps do you need to purchase for your functionality?
  • Do you need custom features that aren’t available in common paid apps?

Now you might say that 100k seems extreme.

It’s certainly not the average but many of the top end Ecommerce website developers, especially around systems like Shopify & Magento, are charging $50,000 to $100,000 for development. It’s for big brands wanting great shopping experiences.

For small businesses, you can get away with your own theme as I mentioned above but then you need to work really hard to build your brand if you want to get more momentum.

Between 10k – 20k you should be able to get a custom design and site built that leaves you in a strong position.

I’ve seen many small businesses attempt to build the Taj Mahal when all you really need is a tent.

Don’t spend 100k if you haven’t even validated if your Ecommerce will be successful or not. Validate and then start to implement the pieces to build the Taj Mahal otherwise you’re on a fast track to losing a lot of money.

Search Engine Optimisation

I constantly hear of horror stories involved with new websites launching and the traffic disintegrates upon launch of the new website.

It really depends where you’re at in your journey, a brand new website versus and established site is going to have to treat SEO very differently.

So what do you need to worry about with SEO?

Launching a new website/brand

When it comes to launching a new website, you don’t need to worry about losing any of your existing traffic. What a relief!

But there’s still some areas you should consider if you want the best chance to attract organic traffic post launch.

  • Do you have a page for every service and sub service on your site?
  • Is my home page optimised for a specific search?
  • Do you have enough copy? Are you saying the right things? Tools like Surfer SEO can be great at showcasing how you can improve a page (see image below).
  • Is the site launching with a fast speed on Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Have you optimised your Meta titles & descriptions (blue & grey text on Google).
  • Do you have a post launch plan for getting Google to notice you?
  • Are you using a CRM or platform that is great for SEO? i.e. WordPress is still one of the best platforms out there for SEO. We’ve seen significant challenges with WIX and other website builders.

Updating an existing website

When it comes to updating an existing website this is where you really need to take care.

Too many cowboy web development agencies will launch your new site, making it look pretty and shiny while ignoring everything to do with your past SEO.

If you’re updating an existing website you should consider the following:

  • How much content is changing from old site to new site? (this could significantly impact your rankings on launch)
  • Have you migrated the any old content e.g. existing blog posts, service pages, location pages.
  • How much has the URL structure changed? Do you need to implement redirects?
  • Have you changed CRM? i.e. WordPress to Shopify? Again, did you implement redirects?
  • Have you reviewed the Meta Title and Meta Description (blue and grey text in Google)? Has it changed and if so will it impact rankings?
  • Have you crawled the site with a tool like Screaming Frog to check if there’s any broken links?
  • Upon launching, did you crawl again to see if there’s any links to staging URLs?
  • Anything I’ve mentioned in the new site options.

The list could go on.

If you have any kind of organic traffic to your website then you need to work with a web developer who understands it or integrate and SEO expert to assist with successfully launching your new website.

The outcome of this could significantly change the costs of the project as well.

What Investment Do You Need to Make?

Too many business owners think they can maximise returns but with a minimum investment. However if you’re running a business with the right mindset, you’ll recognize that a website created by an experienced web development team is a smart investment. One that can pay off in very tangible ways.

What’s the ROI of a Website?

Consider a small (5-8 page) custom designed website that costs $6000 to build, just as an example. Let’s also say that on average your customer is worth $1500 dollars to your business and you take 50% margins, you only need 8 customers for a website of this cost to break even. If you get 8 customers per month for twelve months from it that’s $72,000 dollars in additional annual profits.

It’s ironic that most business owners will spend thousands of dollars per month on SEO and PPC while ignoring the design process, your website will potentially have the greatest impact on your future conversion rate and campaign ROI.

Creating an effective website is more complex than you think, as it’s the basis of your entire online presence. So, instead of basing your decision on price, we recommend asking any potential web designers some key questions first:

  • “What kind of results can I expect?” – There’s not much point in having a great looking site that no one ever sees. Discuss the types of results you can expect to see after your website is completed. Also ask, “What type of marketing can we do once the site is complete, and how is that baked into the design elements?”
  • “How do you design your websites?” – If they talk about cookie cutter themes and immediate development rather than distinguishing your business from it’s competitors and using designers to produce a custom look and feel then you’ll begin to see the difference in what you’re paying for.
  • “Do you have examples of your work?” – A good designer will be able to show you a portfolio of their designs so that you can begin to understand the level of quality they can produce.
  • “What do you recommend to improve conversion rate?” – A good development agency will be able to talk about call to actions, trust indicators, professional photos, above the fold and other key areas of your site that have the biggest impact on conversions.

Don’t be swayed by fancy swagger or proposals – ask better questions, and you’ll get better results. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying expensive is better, I’ve seen plenty of expensive websites provide little returns, but what you need to understand is that performance websites will be charged for accordingly.

You Get What You Pay For

The reason I wrote this article is that I’m tired of hearing the same old story from business owners:

  • Our website doesn’t do anything for our business…
  • We get traffic, but no sales…
  • I paid a designer $1000, but I never received a website…
  • We’re bleeding traffic but don’t know why…
  • Our site is nowhere to be found in google.
  • We tried to upgrade our site and the whole thing fell apart
  • We’re locked into a rental agreement for 48 months for our website

Too many websites just serve as a “www” to put on your business card, and I hope you realize by now that your website can be so much more.

The success of your website is directly proportional to the web marketing knowledge you put into it. To maximize your return potential, you need to hire a web designer who understands conversions and SEO, with proven experience and referrals, and they’ll likely charge $75-$200 an hour.

If you’re tired of the stress of an under-performing website and you’re ready to generate more leads online, then get in touch with me today. I’ll happily provide you with a personalised video review of your website and highlight the exact methods I’ll use to bring you results. No hard selling – just a real view of where your website is costing you money.

6 comments on “How Much Does a Website Cost: A Guide to Web Design Prices in Australia

  1. Dan Kelly on

    I lost a lot of money dealing with overseas cheap web designers, the end design was horrific and full of spun content that didn’t make sense either. They even took my domain and tried to sell it back to me… No phone calls just emails back and fourth, a cheap service that caused me a heartache and emptied my wallet. This article is great and makes sense! Thank you

    Reply
  2. Mark on

    While everything you say rings true, unless I’m misreading it. I wouldn’t rely on a design company for my copy.

    Unless the agency or person has good knowledge of your industry or area you are looking to promote you are basically overpaying for most likely little result. Yes they may know ‘how’ to get good search results, but page content is still king

    Reply
    • Byron Trzeciak on

      Thanks, Mark! I agree with what you’re saying. You can have copy without SEO and SEO without copy. Somewhere in the middle ground is a good place to aim and writing for customers not a robot is always key. I’m a big believer that traffic for the sake of traffic is typically a waste of time. Many clients have worked with us for “SEO” and the first thing we’ve done is completely rework the copy/design on their website. If you have traffic already then it can make a huge impact on the leads you receive from it. It’s strange how many businesses think more traffic is the goal but traffic without more leads/sales often ends in disappointment.

      Reply

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