“Yes, but how much will it cost?”
I wasn’t at work. I was in the pub, nursing a pint. I didn’t have the luxury of context to explain all the variables involved with this most expansive question: how much does a website redesign cost?
Outside of the comfort of a proposal document, where design, functionality, purpose and UX collide to provide a logical framework, the question of redesigning a website is tricky.
The variables are many and the costs are changing all the time. With technology and platforms evolving overnight, we’ve more options than ever when it comes to redesigning our websites.
And the question is much bigger than the title of this article. The real questions are: What’s fact and what’s fiction? Who’s ripping us off and who’s being underpaid? How can I navigate the myriad of options to achieve an accurate, realistic and workable quote I can take to senior management and from which I can produce a website that will deliver reasonable return?
This in-depth article guides you through the elements to consider when redesigning your website. You’ll discover exactly what goes into quoting when redesigning your website, what factors will influence the figure and how to build a business case for your website project.
Because this article covers a lot of ground, we’ve included a contents that allows you to jump to the chapters you’re most interested in. Dive in and get redesigning!
- Where to Begin: Your Business, Your Ambitions, Your Budget
- Defining The Project: Is It a Redesign Or a Design?
- Building a Business Case: How to Achieve ROI
- The Benefits of Redesigning a Website
- The Challenges When Redesiging Your Website
- The Cost of Failing to Redesign
- How to Approach Redesigning Your Website
- What Factors into the Quote You Receive?
- What Should You Be Spending When Redesigning Your Website?
- Pricing Discrepancies
- Planning for Your Website ReDesign
47% of website visitors check out a company's products/services page before looking at any other sections of the site.
Where to Begin: Your Business, Your Ambitions, Your Budget
The costs associated with a website redesign process depends on the function of your business and what you’d like your website to do.
If you’re a service based business that attracts and delivers work predominantly offline, your website may be a simple shop window that showcases your services and skills.
With no expectations for the site to do anything more than provide a contact form for enquiring visitors, the custom design requirements are minimal. An ‘out of the box’ solution that requires only a little customisation anchors your project to the lower end of the spectrum.
If you have a more complex proposition, attract and convert clients online, sell products or services via your website or require bespoke design and functionality to display information, your project will be multifaceted and larger in scale. Expect the cost of your project to float nearer the top of the ladder.
In short: the more complex your project requirements, the more your redesign will cost.
Defining the project: is it a redesign or a design?
It’s important to understand the extent of the project. Is this a redesign or a design?
A website redesign presumes the site already exists. A design presumes we’re starting from scratch.
It’s not rare for redesign projects to abandon previous incarnations once a consultation has begun. Updated technology, more robust platforms and improved user experience, draw marketers and business owners away from existing platforms towards future-proof alternatives.
However, an existing site may contain valuable design assets and SEO rankings, making a redesign most appropriate. Your chosen freelancer or agency will be able to honestly advise you on the right approach for your business and ambitions.
Building a business case: How to achieve ROI
Historically, it was difficult to tie sales results to the effectiveness of a website. Not anymore. With more than 60% of marketers already adopting inbound marketing practices, websites are now integral to the delivery of ‘sales-ready-leads’. Today, reporting capabilities are extensive and approaches thorough. It’s never been so easy to justify the need for a new website.
But the website is just one element among many that contributes to overall marketing success. Central though it may be, traffic must be attracted from external channels (such as social media, content platforms and even offline activities), content must convert that traffic and behind-the-scenes CRMs must capture visitor details.
To build a business case for your new website, approach it from a strategic, business-wide perspective that places the website at the heart of your plans. This allows you to elevate the proposition to secure buy-in from senior decision markers.
Too complex for what you need? Read on for some equally compelling and highly tangible benefits.
44% of website visitors will leave a company's website if there's no contact information or phone number.
The benefits of redesigning a website
To build on that fantastic strategy you’re pulling together, here are three additional reasons to redesign your website.
- Enhance your brand image – a new website can take advantage of powerful, flexible features that may not have been available when you developed your current website. This can improve brand consistency and authority.
- Showcase existing content - maximise the investment and power of that content, and avoid reinventing the wheel.
- Attract and convert customers more effectively with appropriate, current techniques and applications.
The challenges when redesigning your website
Consider these challenges in your business case. Pitch a realistic project and mitigate the risks and you’ll position yourself as a level-headed problem solver who’s thought everything through.
A webmaster is another term for the person who maintains your site. They may be internal or external to your business. They may be your previous developer.
If the latter, are they up to the task of redesigning your website? Look objectively at whether he or she can provide the strategy, branding, design and development services you require for business growth. If you opt to stick with your current developer, ensure that he or she is taking advantage of the latest design trends and technology and can help build a framework that anticipates growth and scale.
Cost of redesiging your business website
Although costs have come down, that doesn’t mean your redesign will be cheap. Even with advances in code, if your old site was complex, the new site may require extensive programming. Don’t assume that advances in technology have made everything easier. Today’s more powerful frameworks require time to plan strategically and implement optimally.
Migrating legacy data
If you have an online store or databases of products, documents, members, customers, etc., one of your key concerns will be how to migrate that data efficiently and accurately to the new website database. Even though many methods are available to migrate data, be prepared for some manual clean-up. Ensure this is thoroughly considered by your website agency or freelancer before the redesign begins.
Maintaining SEO ranking
Your old website will have attained some level of credibility with search engines. It may also contain links to your pages from directories, social media, ads and partner sites. If the new site renames the pages, those links and SEO cache will be lost. Make sure you have a strategy for updating your links such as using 301 redirects to tell search engines the names of the new pages and how they match up to the old ones.
The Cost of Failing to Redesign
To add more fuel to your business-case fire, consider these three critical compromises you’ll be making should you choose not to redesign an ineffective website.
Poor brand execution
A website adds authority to a business. The minute someone hears of you they’ll be typing your business name into Google and checking out your website. What does it say about you? If there’s ever a moment of doubt when handing over your business card or calling out your website URL, there’s a good chance your website doesn’t accurately represent your brand.
At worse, this can be more damaging than not having a website at all. Does your online presence do your business justice?
More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan. Is your site mobile responsive? If not, you could be losing traffic simply because your site can’t resize to fit a mobile screen.
Data capture is the art (and science) of capturing a prospective client’s contact details. It could be a contact form, chat function or a valuable piece of content. This is a vital mechanism in lead generation. If data capture is absent or ineffective, driving an ROI from your website is near impossible.
How to Approach Redesigning Your Website
How much a redesign project costs relies in part on who is doing it. You? A freelancer? Or an agency?
On your own – from £50 per month
This is the cheapest option but the real cost is in the time and hassle required. Rule of thumb: the less money you spend, the more time and hassle you can expect to deal with.
Solutions such as Weebly, Wix or SquareSpace make website design and build available to everyone. With robust user guides and varying levels of support, you can create a website with relative ease. You’ll be saved the complexity of coding in favour of drag-and-drop templates.
The downside is the level of customisation available. If you take this route, it’s best to have an open mind about design and functionality. Be willing to change how you create something and look for work-arounds.
WordPress.com (rather than WordPress.org) is another option. WordPress.com is hosted by WordPress. Your domain will, by default, include “WordPress.com.” You can’t upload any custom themes, plugins or modify the PHP code behind your site. Premium options are available but, as with the options above, the level of customisation is limited even if you know how to code.
Key considerations to ask before choosing one of these solutions are:
- What analytics can I extract?
- What control do I have over hosting and domain providers?
- Will it integrate with other platforms? (e.g. email marketing providers)
- Can I effectively optimise my site for search with this provider?
The final consideration is project management. Projects take considerable time and effort. When it’s your own business, key decisions can be hard to make and the project often drags on, taking second place to client work.
With a freelancer - £1500-£5000
A freelancer has the specialist knowledge to provide a higher level of design and customisation. Typically, they will take an existing template with a wide range of functionality and customise it to your requirements.
They also bring outside perspective and will discuss your objectives and offer suggestions, building on your ideas. Usually, they’ll offer domain, hosting and website management solutions to give you complete peace of mind.
As one-man-bands, a freelancer’s expertise will be limited. You’ll be responsible for SEO, content and photography for example. Key elements your website needs to thrive.
You may also have to provide the strategic thinking behind your site. Lead generation tactics and inbound marketing practices are rarely the realm of a freelance website designer. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you’d like your website to achieve before you begin.
With an agency - £3000 - £30,000
An agency provides a level of creativity and strategic insight that takes website design to another level. An agency pools talent, employs problem-specific experts and offers a full-service solution for website design. They:
- Provide a level superior of creative and technical talent
- ‘Own’ technical knowledge, insight and abilities in-house, elevating the execution of your website
- Bring strategic insight to your plans, thinking beyond the webpages to determine a strong and robust ROI for the site
- Manage the project and coordinate the various elements so you don’t have to
This combination makes an agency great value for money. This is the only way to go to attain the kind of website that competes with the biggest brands in the world. Attention will be balanced between content, aesthetics, user-experience, conversion-rate optimisation and everything else that makes your website a valuable asset to your company.
It’s the combination of design, technical ability and strategy that makes this the only option for growth-orientated businesses.
What Factors into the Quote You Receive?
The framework for costing the project depends on three variables:
- How many different types of page are required?
- The level of technical functionality required
- The level of customisation required
The more of each, the higher the cost. Here’s a breakdown of some common website components and their costs.
Domain name - £10 - £100 per year
Essential for: staking your claim in the World Wide Web
Your website’s domain name is the unique name that appears in the URL for your website. It is the address for your site and specific to you. To get the rights to your domain name, you must register it annually and it should be considered an ongoing maintenance cost.
A domain name creates an online identity for your website. It establishes credibility with visitors and potential clients while reinforcing your brand. If you change your website hosting, your domain name will go with you.
The cost of your domain name depends on how popular it is. It must also be available to buy. It’s wise to buy variables of your domain name, such as .com, .co.uk and .co, to future-proof your brand.
Website hosting – £50 - £200 per year
Essential for: allowing your website to be accessed by other Internet users
While your domain name provides an address for your site, your host provides a place for you to store it. This is called a server and it is an essential website cost. A web host will provide space on its server for your website, allowing people around the world to view it.
The cost of hosting depends on the quality of the service provided. Factors include page loading time (the faster the better), tech support and site maintenance, and the provision of site expansion in the future. Don’t scrimp on hosting. It’s a fundamental service that has a huge impact on the quality of your site.
Content - £50-£200 per page or hourly
Often overlooked, this can make or break launching a new website. Without compelling copy to convince and convert your visitors, your website can flop.
Discuss this early in your project. Get clear about the tone of your copy – how do you ‘speak’ as a business? What messages do you want to impart and, crucially, what do you want your visitors to do?
If extensive copywriting is required, it might be an idea to outsource to a professional. Alternatively, you may like to engage someone to build a blueprint for the content – a guide, if you like – so you’re confident all the boxes of great copywriting have been ticked. This can be then passed to your team for them to write.
SEO comes into play here too. Researching keywords for inclusion and initiating a robust keyword strategy might be important to your business. If so, account for the expertise required to research this information and create a strategy for the copy.
The cost of content can range from £50-£200 per page depending on the expertise and complexity required, and the skills of the copywriter.
SEO - £200 - £1000+ per month
Essential for: getting your site to appear in relevant search results
If visitors finding you via search is central to your marketing strategy, SEO (search engine optimisation) is going to be a key consideration. Packages include keyword research, copy optimisation, targeted outreach, link building, content creation and more and as such, can vary wildly in price. It’s wise to set yourself up for success by researching keyword terms before writing copy. Once this is done, additional SEO practices can be implemented on an ongoing basis. Fees should be factored into initial and on-going costs.
Website design or theme creation - £1000 - £15,000 initial investment
Essential for: presenting a uniform, on-brand and aesthetically pleasing user experience
The cost of website design depends what you would like your website to look like and the desires of your target audience. The better the design, the higher the cost. At the higher end of the spectrum, design has the role of not only presenting your brand to the world, but telling your story, impacting user experience and converting clients. It should be eye-catching; it could be award-winning.
For some websites, for example those built on WordPress, creating a website design is as simple as selecting a ‘theme’ or ‘skin’ to apply to your site. A little customisation may take it to the level you require. In such cases, your site may look less unique and lack some functionality, and fees will be at the lower end of the spectrum. The more unique your design, the more it will cost.
Animation or multimedia design - £500 - £10,000
Essential for: interactive elements and demos
Animated (or multimedia) design brings things to life. It can make static website elements engaging and interactive, and is also used to create demos. Animated design pricing varies depending on the functionality of what is being developed. A simple animation may cost a few hundred pounds, while the creation of an interactive on-site application or tool could cost tens of thousands of pounds to create from scratch.
E-commerce functionality/shopping cart integration - £500-£5000+
Essential for: selling products and services online
Adding e-commerce functionality to a site demands extensive testing of shopping carts, payment options and shipping systems, as well as the time taken to set up products or services and ensuring their individual pages display correctly to shoppers.
The e-commerce functionality itself is generally free. The costs come from testing the process, integrating a payment gateway and customising the solution to fit your site and other processes. Expect to pay between £500 and £5,000 as an initial investment.
Content Management System (CMS) - £0 - £10,000
Essential for: editing the site without touching the code
A CMS allows you or your team to edit information on your website without having to edit the code. It makes it extremely easy to take ownership of your site and adjust it as required. Today, it’s bad practice to provide a website with no back-end usability for the client. This should come as standard but that doesn’t mean it comes free.
Some content management systems cost nothing, while others have monthly or annual license fees or usage charges. Which you choose will depend on the functionality required.
Database integration - £5000 - £25,000 per integration
Essential for: displaying rich information in a useable way. Popular on retail, finance, bespoke intranets and directory sites
Database integration allows visitors to access reams of information in a useable way. If your business deals with catalogues of information such as products or personal data, this may be fundamental to providing a useful service to visitors. The cost will be defined by how much development is needed and how much time it will take to fully implement and test the integration.
Ongoing website maintenance and support - £500 - £1250 per year
Essential for: maintaining the functionality and performance of your site
Website maintenance ensures your site continues to perform to the best of its ability. Updates to security, hardware and software, products and features ensure your website continues to look and operate as was intended. Failure to monitor and maintain these elements can affect how visitors see and use your site and search engine rankings. This is an essential service. Factor it into your ongoing monthly costs.
Project management and information gathering - £500 - £2000
Essential for: smooth projects that finish on time
Every agency and freelancer wants to help you and your website succeed. To do that effectively, the project must be managed and communication must flow. Under this line item comes initial consultations, phone calls and any time taken to understand and accumulate knowledge about your brand, site and objectives.
Testing and training - £500 - £3,500
Essential for: ensuring you or your team know how to update and maintain the site; ensuring everything is working correctly
While your site will no doubt be built on an easy-to-use CMS, not everyone knows how to use them. Training includes time with an agency expert to explain how the system works and that you can confidently take the reins of website updates and maintenance. This time also includes a thorough walk-through of the site to ensure everything is as you’d like it and to make any necessary changes.
What Should You Be Spending when Redesigning Your Website?
Ballpark figures serve as a useful guide during initial stages. This table provides you with an overview of website design costs by type of business and website.
These could be billed monthly or annually
- Hosting and site maintenance - £50 - £250+
- Domain name renewal - £10-£100
- SEO - £200 - £1000+ per month
Plus any apps, plugins or additional services bought on a licence basis to enhance your site.
Why are some web design companies so inexpensive while others are outrageously priced?
With the evolution of technology, websites are at once easier to pump out than ever before and require more thinking because there’s so much more to take into consideration. It’s the thinking behind a site, the level of expertise and experience that can alter a price.
Time should be a leveller, however many companies under- or over-estimate how long a project will take. Others may cost a project based on how much they perceive a business can afford. Others are just starting out and uncomfortable asking for a fair amount that will allow their business to grow and prosper. Sometimes, freelancers and agencies fail to include a contingency for unexpected emergencies.
To navigate the territory, be very clear about what you want to achieve and balance this with what you are willing or able to invest.
Why have website prices increased?
When the internet was relatively new, businesses didn’t understand how valuable a website could be. Over time, the role and function of websites have increased, making them valuable assets companies are willing to pay more for.
We have a saying in the web design industry;
“If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire the amateur”
Over the years, we've seen this become so very true. Many prospects who decided to use a freelancer or a friend-of-friend to build their site, ended up with a third-rate website. They soon realised, if they had invested with an agency from the start, they would have saved money and achieved greater online success.
Today, web design agencies know that building a website is not just about design, but about user experience, lead generation and conversions. They have adapted, building websites that balance analytical data and design. An agency may give you a range of prices, based on what level of project your budget will allow.