Some clients may find this approach suspicious, as if we have no straight answer and hide something. They may have seen public price offers like “a turn-key webstore for $1999” and expect something similar every time. 

That is why we’ve written this post. Its mission is to clarify what a web project cost depends on, and why it’s natural for an agency to take time to think through the project and evaluate it. Evaluation errors may lead to substantial losses for an agency, and no one wants to hurry in such circumstances. 

In the post, we will discuss three major types of projects and speculate on their reasonable lower and higher price limits.

time and money to develop website

Web designers often tell an old funny story:

A client calls:

– I need a website exactly like Google, what’s your price?

– Starting from a billion, but it depends on some details…

– Come on, have you seen Google? It’s one box and two buttons! Are you asking a billion for that?!


It’s clear that drawing a Google-style home page costs around zero. But when it comes to making it actually work like Google, questions arise that have nothing to do with the look of the page. Same with any website. That is why approaches like “price per page” make no sense. Only UI designers and frontend developers evaluate their work per page, but first they need a specification. And a good specification may cost more than design and programming.



How does a specification contribute to the value of the website? 

Every website is created to perform a range of specific functions: increasing customer awareness, selling products, accepting enquiries, etc. To make it successful, we need to understand the expectations and behaviours of the target audience, our client’s business processes, products (services) and the way people buy and use them. We need to decide how customers will be landing on the website, and what typical steps they will be supposed to go through to reach the goal (this is called the user journey map, UJM). Based on the UJM, we can create the website prototype that schematically depicts all the functional elements required to lead the visitors on their journeys. The prototype is then used to draw the design, and then do the programming. 

These steps take different forms and require different efforts depending on the specifics of the project:

  • Whether it’s a completely new business or a new website to replace the previous;
  • Whether our client has done preliminary research or we need to do it from scratch;
  • Whether the website concept is standard (like a regular webstore) or unique.

There are many more criteria, but we’ll suffice with these for simplicity.

When an agency gets a request for a website, it needs to decide what type of a project it is going to be, what budget range it falls into, and if it’s worth the effort at all.

Based on the criteria above, we can describe three typical cases that a digital agency deals with. Let’s call them a template project, an individual development, and a multi-stage invention. We’ll now elaborate on each.

template website


Template project, around $8000

It normally takes place when the business is completely new, or it’s a one-off project launched by an established business, like a public event or a Christmas special offer. The concept of the project has to be standard like a tax return. Some research may still be required, but its impact is moderate because there’s not much to fine-tune in a template solution.

Typical template projects are simple landing pages, small webstores, corporate websites, personal websites, blogs, and event sign-up pages.

The natural shortcomings of this type of project are:

  • Limited opportunities to change styles, structure, and functionality;
  • Low SEO potential due to the lack of uniqueness at the sitemap level;
  • Interference in the business’s standard workflows. You cannot change the logic of the website, so you have to change your business processes according to it. 

The advantages are obvious. It’s cheap and there’s no need to think about how to structure it. 

When you see offers like “a turn-key webstore for $1999”, they are all template solutions. 

Template solutions can be developed without a CMS (content management system), in which case every change of the website content will require to call the developer, and new pages cannot be easily created. We prefer to work with a CMS to ensure greater flexibility and convenience.

The reasonable budget for a template project in Australia is between $2500 and $10000. This includes graphic design for elements that require personalization, template configuration, proper internal linking, synchronisation with third-party solutions, basic SEO preparation including headings, meta-tags, sitemap and robots.txt, deployment on the hosting, and go-live. Content creation and filling may or may not be included.

The reasonable timeframe for a template project is two to six weeks from the idea to the go-live. 

custom web development


Custom development

Established businesses normally prefer individual solutions based on their experience with the previous website. Startups also can take advantage of individual development, as it enhances business growth better than a template solution. 

Research is always required and has a great impact upon the project, but the client may perform it on their own, the agency then only has to internalise and validate it. 

The concept of the project may be unique or somewhat unique. For example, a webstore sounds like something very customary, but every webstore has its own operations and workflows. For instance, an online optics store has to process recipes and provide online fitting for glasses, and an online car dealer needs a car configurator, etc. 

All the user experience and interface design is custom. The website gets greater branding, personal outlook, unique calls to action, and perfect adaptivity for mobile devices.

The budget for an individual development may be virtually anywhere between a template website and a spaceship. To give you some clue, we disclose the budget ranges we normally think about when approaching a new project: 

  • A corporate website with typical functionality: $8000 to $15000.
  • A lead-gen website with specific functionality like configurators, calculators, product visualisation, etc.: $10000 to $18000 and higher.
  • An eCommerce website: $12000 to $20000 and higher.

The budget includes all stages from the briefing and research to the go-live, except for the creation and filling of the dynamic content like products and articles.

An eCommerce website costs more because of a complex structure and functionality: category pages, cart, checkout, back-end, discount systems, “my profile”, etc. The size of the product range and the frequency of transactions also influence the cost. 

The reasonable timeframe for an individual development project is between 4 months and a year.

Multi-stage invention

This is individual development for completely unique business models and functions, like innovative industries, governments, financial institutions, etc. 

In such projects, no one knows how the website should eventually look like, even approximately. This decision can only be taken after the first stages of the project. Besides the website, it often includes complex backend application development, CRM and ERP systems, branding, digital transformation, personnel training, customer invention, and many more.

For such projects, it’s recommended to sign a separate agreement for the first stages of the work, with alienable results, i.e. if your plans change along the process, you as a client can take the interim outcomes, store them, and then continue with them independently. 

The stages to be considered as the first part normally include research, MVP development, and a pilot project with this MVP. Based on the pilot results, you then decide on further developments. 

The total budget and timeframe for this type of project are impossible to tell in advance, but the first stage may take around the same budget as individual development.

what to pay attention web development


What to pay attention to

Content is not in scope

By default, web development does not include content creation and filling, it’s a separate job. But there are nuances to the concept itself. 

If the website is small (say, a landing page), and the content is basically almost all there is, including content creation in the development project makes sense. If the website is static (not using a CMS), all the content has to be inserted in it while it’s being developed.

On the other hand, if the project in question is a big eCommerce website, the agency will suggest you should take charge of filling the product images and descriptions, as well as the blog. But we recommend you insisting on their Writing the website SEO structure and content specifications so you optimise the descriptions based on it.


Small budget is risky

We’ve already mentioned that every agency has to consider the risk of discounting, because winning a deal you cannot complete within the budget is much worse than losing it. 

But the client also risks when accepting a low-budget offer. If you are offered an eCommerce website for $2k instead of $10k, that means that the agency is going to save heavily on everything: you will get a website without mobile adaptivity, zero SEO perspectives, clumsy user interface, and no fit with your business processes. Owning and running such a website is more expensive in terms of lost profit than getting a spaceship-cost website. 


Additional costs

When considering the web project, you should take into account additional costs:

Domain name. The cheapest domain names may cost a few dollars per year, but fancy names may cost thousands. 

Hosting is a running cost paid monthly or yearly. Web hosting cost in Australia ranges from $150 to $500 per year depending on the disk space, connection speed, and other server parameters. As some web platforms are resource-intensive, like Magento 2, you should take into account their server capacity requirements when planning the budget.

Support and maintenance. It is normally required for a complex website that has to be changed now and then, like an eCommerce project with ever-changing special offers and sales. Ongoing support may be provided and paid on a monthly basis, and the agency that has developed the website is the best support provider because the team knows all the ins and outs of their own product. The costs of monthly support are very individual, but the reasonable monthly support budget for a complex high-load website may range between 3 and 10% of its initial development cost.


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