Knowing When to Spend $5k or $20k on Your Company Website

Partnering with a professional web design agency can be tricky if you’re not sure what you should expect from your budget. After all, the market is cluttered with hosting platforms, CMS solutions, and languages you can use to build your site.

So how do you know whether to spend $5k or $20k on your company website?

At OSE we regularly meet with potential clients who come to us with a budget in mind, yet have spoken to a handful of other agencies only to become confused about what they should be spending on their company website. From a clients’ perspective, usually they’re simply looking for a website that’s easy to maintain, affordable, looks great and can be enhanced over time. Surely this isn’t too much to ask right?

In this article we’ll break down what your budget will get you when purchasing website development services in the Australian market. This will include an in-depth feature comparison, limitations of each service, and a look at the quality of the product you’re likely to receive.

Understanding the fundamentals of the entry-level market

When it comes to purchasing a website solution for your company, as much as the salesman might tell you otherwise, you do get what you pay for. So if you’re getting sold on a $5k website that can do everything, be wary, as they'll almost certainly be a limit to how much can be achieved with this type of solution, and certainly questions around the quality of the product you’ll receive.

For the most part, customers who are looking to spend $5k to $10k on their website will choose a solution built in WordPress. The reason WordPress is commonly the solution of choice for customers in this price bracket is because it’s built to offer a simple to use content management solution for blogs and brochure-style websites. Outside of this, if you’re looking to achieve something more, then likely this isn’t the solution for you.

WordPress is a fantastic product and is widely used to deliver economical blogs and company websites that require little maintenance and can run on affordable hosting packages. However, if your traffic begins to spike or you’re looking to deliver more complex custom functionality, using WordPress to deliver more complex functionality is likely not the best means of doing so.

Over the years WordPress has gained massive popularity because of the number of handy-third-party plugins available on the WordPress marketplace. This has meant that development agencies have been able to quickly produce attractive functional websites for customers, but all this has come at cost. Performance.

When using third-party plugins, you really don’t know what you’re getting. The code could be poorly built, slow your site, or worse...conflict with other plugins resulting in your site malfunctioning. So beware when you buy an affordable WordPress solution that includes excessive use of plugins.

The other ‘cheap and nasty’ trick out there many agencies use is purchasing $50 WordPress themes and customising them for their clients. Almost all of the time these themes are poorly built, difficult to enhance, and a bad choice. If you’re purchasing a WordPress site, make sure your theme is custom-built.

So what should I expect from an entry-level WordPress solution?

As mentioned, WordPress is a fantastic option for entry-level websites, however there are a few things to be aware of before partnering with a web development agency for your first WordPress solution. Here's a list of what you should expect to receive when spending $5k and $10k on a WordPress website.

Item $5,000 $10,000
Page Count 5 - 7 7 - 15
Custom-Built Theme
Mobile-Friendly Design
Design Revisions 1 2
Special Features
Contact Form
Basic Blog
Newsletter Subscription
Social Media Feed
SEO
SEO Plugin
Optimised Title Tags
Optimised Meta Descriptions
SEO-Friendly URL's
Load-Time Testing
Google Analytics

An emphasis above in the above table is placed on the quality of features not quantity. Sure, you can get more for you money, but you will risk decreasing the quality of product you receive.

Moving through the mid-market.

When people talk about WordPress it’s often associated with entry-level website development, and for good reason. Although WordPress can be scaled and used in much higher traffic scenarios such as popular blogs, if you’re looking to do more than just serve static content from your CMS you’re going to want a solution that offers you a more advanced feature set.

The sorts of features commonly sort by customers looking to spend up to and in excess of $20k on their company website include the following:

What about hosting?

As you’d expect, there are a number of variables which can affect the type of hosting required to support your company website.

If you’re looking to purchase an entry-level solution, the good news is you can purchase affordable hosting which will most likely be a great fit for your needs. For example, you can purchase hosting with companies such as GoDaddy for as low as around $10/month that will be a great fit for your site. This is what’s called Shared Hosting. However, did you know that your site may end up sitting on a server with up to 500 other sites and could be potentially affected by their performance and traffic?

This sort of setup although affordable can be quite risky, so you may want to consider a slightly more expensive service level called VPS Hosting. This service does include other customers on your server, but a whole lot less. In generally VPS hosting is much more powerful and less likely to experience performance issues. Services such as Amazon Lightsail are a great option in this space which OSE support.

However, if you’re looking for a solution to power an enterprise-level CMS such as Squiz Matrix, you’re much better off looking at a dedicated service built on Amazon eC2. Services such as this are still affordable, can be scaled up or down as needed both in terms of performance capabilities and storage, and are pitched at customers looking for more from their digital marketing infrastructure.

Which languages should my site be built with?

Choosing a language to build your company website in can be tough, especially if you’re not a programmer. Even worse, programmers and agencies tend to have favourites when it comes to programming languages, and at times can be less than objective. That being said, we’ll try our best.

Below is a table which provides a summary of the common languages you’re likely going to hear about when deciding what service to build your company site in. Each has its benefits and associated support costs, which will hopefully assist you to make an informed decision.

Language Role Base Price Range
HTML Front-end Core Low
CSS Front-end Core Low
JavaScript Front-end Supplementary Medium
jQuery Front-end Supplementary Medium
PHP Back-end Core Medium
Ruby on Rails Back-end Core Medium
.NET Back-end Core High
ASP Back-end Core Medium
Angular JS Front-end Supplementary Medium
Node JS Front-end Supplementary Medium
C/C++ Back-end Core High
Java Back-end Core High
MySQL Database Supplementary Medium
SQL Database Supplementary Medium

As you can see there are a number of languages to choose from to build your website (and this is just a handful). The interesting thing however is that in most cases you’ll need to use a combination of these languages to get the job done right. However, what most agencies don’t mention is that the variance in price that we pay to source developers for various pieces of work varies greatly and will have a major impact on how much you pay. For the most part, unless you’re building an app, all of the above languages can be used to build a website, so try and stay away from the expensive ones!

Conclusion

If you’re looking to design and develop a website for your company, you should now be equipped with a whole bunch of questions you can ask the agencies you’re interviewing.

Purchasing a website is all about finding the balance between quality and quantity of features and hopefully building your visitation over time; however, if I was to put my dollars anywhere, it would be with a provider who emphasises quality.

There are a number of providers out there who will promise the world and under deliver, so if you’re looking to partner with an agency who builds high quality website content and infrastructure for their clients day-in-day-out, why not give OSE a call.