Breakdown of Web Development Costs


So you need a website? You don’t want to hire a new employee to build one. Of course. Makes perfect sense. Just outsource it to someone locally, your friends neighbor… Your cousin… or the infamous “brother in law”, and spend just a few thousand dollars to get a reasonable project done. Typically that’s how it all begins. It’s downhill from there. But it doesn’t have to be. Last month we offered a few tips on how to outsource web development. Today, we’ll show that the costs involved with website development can typically get out of hand, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Outsourcing web development hangs on a few key pieces of information:

  1. Quality of the software requirements document created
  2. The use of wireframes and mockups to demonstrate expected functionality
  3. Sample websites found and referenced
  4. The level of experience and depth of the person who is building the site
  5. The skill of the designer involved
  6. The use of pre-created templates that already do most of what you need
  7. The leverage of social media and promotable content
  8. Graphic design using stock photos and icons that are cheap or even free

If you follow a typical software development lifecycle process, you will probably be okay.

Here are a few items that you typically have to pay for…

  • Website host provider, Windows equals $50-$100 per month. Linux = $20-40 per month. And you can score shared hosting for as low as $4/mo through HostGator.
  • Software development tools (Visual Studio costs $200-500 dollars, eclipse is free,… xcode is 99 bucks…etc…)
  • Database fees (SQL Server can be anywhere from $30-$100 per month, Depending on how large of a database you need, SQLite and mySQL are both free, but not as sophisticated or developer friendly, then there are other open-source database platforms are also available for free…)
  • Stacklead user information retrieval. StackLead is a new YC startup that helps companies capture information about their customers. $50-100 per month, depending on the plan you select.
  • Graphic design work could be anywhere from $300 for a single logo from the crowd source site like 99designs, to $3000, from a local graphic designer who will take a month to give you 100 different variations across five different iterations. It depends on how deep and how broad you want to focus your effort on this piece of work. We reviewed 99designs a while back, and I always recommend them to clients who need a logo.
  • Software development fees could range anywhere from $500-$5,000 for a basic website, (Of course it can be much higher… Depending completely on your features, requirements, and functionality that you need)…. but doesn’t have to be that high. Ziptask can ensure the right pricing. It’s a fully managed outsourcing platform, (a better option than oDesk or Elance), which employs the use of project managers who know exactly what type of software and website development needs to be done, and how to get the right programmers engaged on your project. They can save you a ton of money. Don’t “go it alone”. You’ll save way more money by using a professional.
  • SEO enhancements: Could be anywhere from $500/mo to a few thousand per month – it really depends on the difficulty of keywords that you’re targeting. Are you a local event planner in a small city, or a technology startup disrupting a tired market? To give you a better idea, Forbes has a really good piece on how much SEO should cost. SEO is one of those things that’s better off done right the first time, especially with Google’s latest round of updates that have penalized the likes of JCPenny, Expedia, Rap Genius,, etc. Work with a “white-hat” SEO consultant from the very beginning, asking the developer to work with your SEO consultant to breakdown the details. 90% of the time this does not happen. And developers have to go back and look at what tags they are using (H1, H2, Section, etc.) and see what the names of those tags are and how they relate to the content on each webpage… This is a disaster waiting to happen. On-page SEO is one of the ranking factors that is easiest to control – getting it right the first time can save you headaches down the road (and earn you a lot more organic website visitors).
  • Adwords and marketing campaign work: $400-$1000 To set up an Adwords account and create all of the various keyword entries for your website and your market. This can take 1 to 5 days depending on the quality and scale of your Adwords campaign. Of course then there’s the costs involved with actually spending that money on your google adwords advertising budget.

Did we leave out any website costs? Let us know below!



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