Clients often ask me “How much do you charge to build a website?”, and my standard response is: “How long is a piece of string”. See, the cost of website design & development in South Africa can vary from anything between R 1500 to R150 000 and even more.
Essentially the cost of a website depends on many factors, and as with most things in life you tend to get what you pay for. In my experience the two main factors driving the cost of a website are:
- The requirements of the website:
Do you need to integrate with 3rd party systems? Do You need eCommerce functionality? Are you using an existing platform such as Magento or WordPress?
- The team working on your website:
Is it a one-man band? How much experience do they have? What platforms & tools do they use. Is there a project manager? Can they write your copy?
Why the disparity in pricing?
With more and more South Africans getting access to the internet daily, the demand for businesses to have a website also increase. Along with this increased demand, there is also an increase in suppliers with many amateurs, self-taught web designers, and so-called “webmasters” looking to make a quick buck. Now don’t get me wrong there are self-taught & freelance web designers who are really good, and who would do a really good job of building your company website. The reality is however that a good design is simply not enough and as with most things in life when building a website, you tend to get what you pay for.
Prepare to spend some money
It may be tempting to go for the cheaper once of fee charged by your sister’s friend’s niece who did a web design course on Udemy, but in the long run, this may prove to be a naive choice. And if you pay peanuts you’ll probably end up working with monkeys.
In many ways building a new website is like building a house. In fact, that is exactly what you are doing, building a new digital home for your business. You can choose between cheap laminate floors or the more expensive, luxurious, and hardwearing solid wood floors.
Asking how much a website is going to cost in South Africa is like asking how much it would cost to build a house before thinking about where you want to build it, how big you want the house to be, or knowing what sort of finishes you want to use. There are several elements that will determine the final cost of a website. Let’s take a look at the essential elements needed to create a functional, robust website that can add value to your business and continue providing value 2 years down the line.
The design elements that make up the overall look and feel of your website need to be coherent across different pages and need to fit in with your brand identity this does not just happen by accident. Time needs to be spent on this and it is the designer’s job to consider details such as Branding, design flow, concepts, user journey, font, colours, and imagery. Your designer should spend time on the following:
- Responsiveness(Multiple screen sizes)
- Page layouts
The back-end is what brings everything together and is usually built on top of a Content Management System (CMS) which allows the website administrator to make changes to the text and images on the website without the need to make changes to the backend code. It is often connected to a database to which stores and organises all the web pages and related information which is in turn displayed on the website front-end. This is also where business rules and logic is implemented and may require thousands of lines of code and hundreds of files.
Some elements that influence the cost of development on your website include:
- Project scope & requirements
- Device support
- CMS platform or technology used
- 3rd party system integration
Copy Writing and SEO
Simply put, a beautiful website is of no use to anyone if you can’t find the information you’re looking for. Or if the information provided is simply not useful or outdated. Content is a very important part of your website and is often neglected. Providing your website visitors with the right information at the right time is what will ultimately sell your product or service. And we’re not just talking about just having words on the website. This copy needs to be targeted, relevant information that will prove valuable to your site’s visitors. This involves keyword research and careful planning and incorporation of these keywords in the copy of your website to deliver relevant information to your website’s visitors. And like development and design, this too takes time and effort.
So are you saying I have to spend a fortune on my company website?
No, but I will reiterate what I said earlier: as with other things in life when building a website “you tend to get what you paid for”. I understand that if you’re a new or relatively small business you may not have the R60 000 budget to spend on a website in which case I recommend you speak to a reputable web design company who can help you get the best bang for your buck. Be prepared to discuss your budget. Don’t expect champagne on a beer budget. If your supplier knows you have a beer budget then at least they can craft you the best damn beer your budget can buy.
In reality, an efficient, modern, well-functioning website requires a lot of planning, time, attention, effort, and skill. If you’re looking for a branded site that tells your story, reaches your target audience, and is easy to manage, then you should be ready to pay a little bit extra – but keep your expectations in check as well.