Don’t believe anyone who tells you that social media accounts are enough for a business. No matter how large or small, with over 80% of individuals using the Web to look for products and services, every company, firm, doctor’s office, store, and restaurant needs a website.

It’s one of the most important arrows in your marketing quiver — a website is your operation’s 24-7 salesperson and receptionist all rolled into one. It’s the first impression most potential customers have of your company, and people are prone to make snap judgments. Don’t believe it? Check out these statistics:

  • It only takes people 0.5 seconds to decide if they “like” your website or not. Talk about judging a book by its cover!
  • In a study, nearly 60% of people said they would not recommend a business whose website doesn’t look good on mobile. Plus, 85% of adults believe that mobile platforms should look and work as well as desktop versions, if not better!
  • 88% of users will not recommend websites on which they have had a bad experience.
  • Google handles over 70,000 searches per second! And that’s not including the other search engines. In short, search marketing is still very much alive.

So what’s the bottom line? Websites matter! And a good one should cost more than a month’s membership at a gym.

A Brief History of Web Development

Google UX Update

Believe it or not, the Internet’s origins date all the way back to the 1950s. At first, it was strictly the domain of academic institutions and scientific research centers. In fact, the first website was developed by CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

But the “Information Superhighway,” as it was called back then, became a commercial portal by the mid-1990s when most homes in the western world hopped “online” with AOL.

Search engines started showing up around 1993, and Google hit the scene in 1998. Since then, web development has gone through several phases, and many programming languages have come and gone. (Does anybody remember when Flash was all the rage!?)

These days, websites aren’t a nice-to-have item; instead, they’re a must because most people spend a large chunk of their non-working time online.

What Are SERPs?

Are you scratching your noggin over the word SERPs? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. It’s search marketing jargon that stands for “search engine result pages.” When you pump a query into Google or another search engine, the resulting lists are the SERPs. The goal is to land as high in the rankings as possible. After all, when’s the last time you went beyond page three of link returns?

Perfectly programmed, attractive websites with quality content that’s genuinely helpful almost always win in the SERP wars.

The Democratization of Website Development

Website design and development have been democratized over the past 20 years. When the Internet first popped onto the scene, programmers charged the GDP of a developing country for a basic, static website. Today, however, site builders are a dime a dozen, and many people believe in their own ability to create effective digital platforms without the help of professionals.

But they’re usually wrong. It’s a tale as old as, well, the Internet.

Pros and Cons of Different Website Development Options

pros and cons of diy website design

You have three primary options when it comes to creating a website for your business. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Do-It-Yourself Websites

The market is oversaturated with DIY website builders that don’t require programming skills to use. And truth be told, some of them work well. People with an innate sense of style and design can produce credible-looking sites.

But there are a few hurdles.

For starters, most folks aren’t as great with design as they think. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but there’s a reason why people go to school for graphic arts. They know how to polish a site and make it stand out in the crowd.

And you should never underestimate the importance of having a beautiful website. As we alluded to above, the Journal of Behavior & Information Technology once published a study concluding that people judge digital platforms and their corresponding companies within a half a second of seeing them. If it’s ugly or looks outdated, folks will pounce on that back button quicker than you can say, “Wait!”

Moreover, many DIY website programs are bloated with code that slows the site down — and the last thing you want is a sluggish one. Search engines like Google push molasses sites down in the SERPs. In other words, using a what-you-see-is-what-you-get, or WYSIWYG system, can prevent your platform from performing.

Pros of Do-It-Yourself Websites

  • Cost: The biggest bonus of building your own website is the low initial cost. But the operative phrase in that sentence is “initial costs.”
  • Learning Curve: Since there are now builders that don’t require coding or programming knowledge, it’s easier than ever to slap up a website.

Cons of Do-It-Yourself Websites

  • Slow: Since many DIY programs are WYSIWYG, the code is bloated and slows down the site, which is awful for search engine rankings.
  • Ugly: It’s not as easy to create an aesthetically pleasing website as many people think. You can have the best taste in the world, but putting graphic design elements together takes experience, knowledge, and skill.
  • Hidden Costs: They seem like a bargain at first. But something always rears its ugly — and frequently expensive — head. People end up paying more to fix a problem than they would have paid by hiring professionals at the start.
  • Functionality: Although many DIY systems promise storefronts and other advanced functionality, it’s often not as easy as they suggest. Moreover, you’re often limited in what functionality you can implement. If you want a truly custom website, it’s best to enlist professionals.
  • Unsafe: People who build their own websites usually don’t know much about digital security. These days, that’s a nightmare waiting in the wings.

Budget Developer

The middle-of-the-road budget option is hiring a budget developer. Often, they’re located overseas; otherwise, they’re stateside developers just starting out. Either way, it’s almost always more of a headache than it’s worth.

Typically, budget developers will charge between $1,000 and $8,000 for an entire site. They will promise you the world and swear that it will only take a month. However, it rarely, if ever, works out that way.

Pros of Budget Developers

  • Cost: It’s right there in the name. Budget developers usually cost less than the average professional.
  • Better than DIY: In some cases, budget developers will be able to do more than you can with a WYSIWYG program.

Cons of Budget Developers

  • Cost: Budget developers may cost less than seasoned professionals, but they can also end up costing you a lot more. All too often, they don’t have the skills they claim.
  • Time: If a budget developer says something will take four weeks, bank on it taking at least 12. This happens because they’re usually beginners who haven’t yet learned how to time things properly.

Professional Digital Marketing Firm

A professional digital marketing firm is the way to go for any serious startup or business. The return on investment is worth the initial output. It’s akin to the adage about surgery: Would you rather have a seasoned doctor with experience handling things or someone in their first year of medical school? The same sentiment holds for website development and digital marketing. Professionals just do it better.

Pros of Using a Professional Digital Marketing Firm

  • Design: To butcher a turn of phrase from Jane Austen, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a professionally designed website looks better than a DIY or budget one.” The better the design, the less likely people are to click away. The less likely people are to click away, the more likely you are to gain a new client or customer.
  • Functionality: Professionally developed websites are faster and work better.
  • Security: Hackers are everywhere these days. When you work with a bona fide digital marketing team, your platform is safer than it would be under other options.
  • ROI: The return on investment of a professionally designed, developed, and managed platform is much higher than that of DIY or budget options.

Cons of Using a Professional Digital Marketing Firm

  • Cost: A professional digital marketing firm will cost more than other options. But you’ll probably make more as a result.

How Much Does it Cost To Design a Website?

Designing a professional website can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $50,000 — but that’s just for the design. Plus, it’s a range that includes the best of the best. Typically, design costs fall between $8,000 and $15,000.

Some people may experience sticker shock when they hear those figures, but designing takes time. True professionals research your target demographics and figure out what will best resonate. And like writing, quality work takes lots of editing!

Plus, professional designers know what looks good and what does not. They’re trained and can create work that appeals to the greatest number of people. That costs a bit more because you’re paying for their expertise.

How Much Does it Cost To Develop a Website?

Developing a professional website can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $100,000, depending on the size and functionality. The average platform usually falls somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000.

Elements that will impact the price tag include:

  • Database integration
  • E-commerce checkout
  • Number of landing pages
  • Navigation functionality
  • App integrations

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain an Ongoing Digital Marketing Campaign?

In 90% of cases, launching a website isn’t enough. If you want your platform to generate leads, you’ll need to implement a digital marketing plan, which requires the creation of ongoing content.

In days of old, content creation was fairly cheap because it didn’t have to be good. You could buy 1,000 articles written for one cent a word and win the SERP war. It didn’t even need to be legible. A keyword-stuffed piece of shlock worked a-ok.

But algorithms have gotten a lot smarter over the years, which you can read more about here. Suffice it to say that robot writing no longer works. SERP bots reward well-written content and punish pablum. To be clear, we’re not suggesting that everything must be Pulitzer-quality work — but quality almost always trumps cheap.

So how much does good writing cost these days? If you want a quality web content writer, expect to pay anywhere between 7 and 80 cents a word. Web content writers are in a slightly different class than freelance feature writers, who may command as much as $3 a word.

Why is there a stark price differential? Web content writers also consider speed and volume. Is it true that a trained feature writer will produce better quality work? Yes. They’re compensated for spending time crafting the perfect sentences and excavating the ideal words. A feature writer may take a whole week editing one piece. A web content writer, on the other hand, handles volume. So while their work may not be award-winning, it’s engaging, SEO-friendly, and the turn-around time is shorter.

Interested in learning more about web content writing? Check out the following links:

Website Design and Development Costs FAQ

What should I expect from a $500 website?

Five hundred dollars will get you a bare-bones, static website with a landing and contact page. But don’t expect much more. If someone offers to create a digital platform with data integration and e-commerce for that price, it means one of three things:

  1. It’s the first website they’ve ever done, and they’re looking to build a portfolio. In these cases, expect the project to take quadruple the amount of time. Plus, in 9 cases out of 10, the final product will fall short of your expectations.
  2. They’re an overseas developer who will promise you the world and deliver Rhode Island.
  3. They reuse sites they’ve already done, so your site won’t be unique.

What is “project creep”?

Project creep is when the expectations of a website development project grow over time. For example, a client will start off saying they want a simple, five-page site, but, over time, they decide they want a massive 100-page e-commerce platform.

In most cases, clients initiate project creep, and many don’t expect to pay more for their requested addendums. The situation can often grow fraught.

The best way to avoid project creep is a solid contract. Moreover, it’s the developer’s job to set clients’ expectations. Make the parameters crystal clear from the beginning and put everything in writing. When off-scope enhancement requests arise, explain that it will be an additional cost. Don’t assume anything!

What’s the average yearly cost to hire a digital marketing firm?

Hiring a digital marketing team that will design, develop, and host your website, plus provide ongoing content creation and online promotional services, runs anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000. Which end you land on will depend on the scope of your build and content calendar.

What’s the hourly rate to hire a digital marketing team?

As always, the exact price you’ll pay to enlist a digital marketing team will depend on your industry and the contract’s scope. Typically, though, expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $100 an hour to $300.

Can a digital marketing firm handle branding?

It depends on the firm. However, these days, most marketing and advertising companies offer branding services, which are increasingly important.

Connect With a Professional Digital Marketing Team

Are you ready to speak with a digital marketing team that can elevate your site to the next level? If so, let’s talk. You can contact us on HubSpot, by phone at (720) 507-7360, or via email through our secure contact form.

We look forward to chatting with you about your wants and needs.