This is the question that I am asked the most. "How much should I pay for a website?" Of course, there isn't a simple answer.
The price ranges from zero to millions. I'm sure you've read news articles about some web startup that has gone bankrupt after spending 15 million developing their website. That gives you the an idea of the amount of money that can be spent. Web developers and programmers are relatively well paid. Complicated, innovative web software is notoriously difficult to write and debug. Often a startup will begin with a concept that, in its original iteration, is found to be unworkable, forcing the team to start over with a different concept. That is one of the reasons why taking the time to do a proper discovery on a project is such a good idea.
But the price can also be zero. WordPress is a very good blogging program that has evolved to become a very good Content Management System or CMS. Most web hosts have programs that will automatically install WordPress for you for free. There are many good, free, tutorials available, both articles and videos. A CMS lets you create new pages and enter your content into them without having to know any code. You can edit or change anything that you've already entered. You can add items to your site's menu, and change the order of pages. But like any skill, it takes a while to learn. If I give you a sewing machine, some fabric, and some patterns and point you to some articles and videos on sewing, you can probably make a pair of pants. But those pants, in most cases, are not going to look like they were made by Armani. And how much did you save if you factor in what you could have earned, doing what you do best, during the time you spent learning?
For most business people, your best choice is to choose a web developer to help you design and build your site. Especially if you want your website to make you look like a prosperous, quality business.
Web developers come in all types and sizes. Vancouver is fortunate to have some of the top web development companies in North America, such as Blast Radius and Habanero, who are working with some of the largest clients in the world, such as Coca Cola and BC Ferries. They are an excellent choice for larger companies who are looking for a complete branding solution. They are much like the classic ad agencies, but with a web focus. They tend to only look at projects with budgets in five to seven figures. These shops have the expertise to do any type of project.
There are also smaller, independent shops, with five to ten staff, many that offer full branding solutions, and whose rates for a typical project usually range from the mid four figures to the mid five figures. Some of these shops can offer fully interactive database driven sites, and do great work. Other shops are more design based, and create gorgeous websites, but may not have the expertise to handle a site that processes a lot of data, or requires complicated coding. Be sure you understand the agency's capabilities.
Then there are independent contractors like me, who have worked on large projects for big companies, but also do independent work. Some, like me, have excellent coding and design skills, and can take on even the most complicated projects. Without the overhead of the larger operators, and with a lifetime of code in my library, I can often take on very complicated projects for a total cost that is significantly less than that charged by larger shops.
Then there are the students and part timers. You can get lucky and get a good site for a low cost. But often they are unreliable, and take off in the middle of your project. They often write sub-standard code that is difficult or impossible to maintain. They often get in over their head, and finally have to admit that they can't complete the project.
Of course I am biased. I believe that the skilled independent contractor is your best choice. You get to meet with us, and discuss your project. You are talking to the person who is building your site. With the larger firms, you speak to the Account Manager, and often never speak to the people actually building your site. With an experienced coder, you get the benefit of our extensive library of existing code, so often we can complete your project faster, and better, for less.
Whomever you pick, be sure you interview them and make sure that you are compatible. Do they understand your business and the functionality that you need? You are going to be living with them for a while, so try to make the process pleasant by dealing with people that you like.
So your options start at free, and can climb to seven figures. But, by using an independent developer like me, most basic business sites can be built for somewhere in the $1,000.00 range, and a basic eCommerce site would start at about $2,000.00.