Is Your Web Design Company Overcharging You?

You’re just starting your business, and one of the first few things that you probably need to do is to set up a website as it is not wise not to have a strong online presence nowadays, with abundant opportunities lurking in the virtual world. And if you’ve narrowed down your choice to a preferred web design company, how do you make sure that they are not overcharging you for web development? Depending on the nature of your business and your requirements, prices could range widely, and, as well, different web design companies or freelance web designers will give you different quotes for your needs. How then, do you determine whether you are being charged a fair price, and whether or not to proceed with a particular quote from a web design agency? This article details what actually affects the price of setting up a website and what you will need to consider before accepting the quote.

There is also a guide showcasing the different ranges of prices of website design in Singapore for different kinds of businesses (updated 18 September 2017), so that you know if you should go ahead with the quote, or if you have already established a site but is looking to revamp it, you will know if what you’ve been quoted is a reasonable amount. However, do note that different agencies will charge fairly diverse prices, with some ranging from SGD1,000 to as high as SGD100,000. There is really no exact formula to calculate how much exactly your website should cost, as the following factors will greatly affect the prices.

Is Your Web Design Company Overcharging You? 

So, is your web design company actually overcharging you? This will depend on a few factors, including your goals and requirements, whether it includes any domain and web hosting, whether there is any usability test that you need them to conduct and so on. 

(1) Your Goals and Requirements

What are the different pages or segments that you need for your new website? Do you need it to be an e-Commerce site, where your customers can pay online for your products? E-Commerce requires a huge effort in design and implementation as well as plugins such as shopping carts, payment options, shipping systems, for instance, and your cost will definitely be higher. Also, do you need any special programming, or special graphical representation or infographics? If so, it is very likely that your website will cost a bit more too.

(2) Domain Registration and Web Hosting

The price of a web design also depends on whether it includes domain registration and web hosting and although the price is insignificant, it is good to take note in case you are slapped with these additional charges you are not aware of.

The cost of registering for a domain name, which is your web address or URL, for example, www.yourbusiness.com, is cheap. It is an estimated SGD10 – 20 per year. Some hosting companies will include it for free if you use their web hosting, which is the space you occupy on the web, or for that matter, your ‘home’ on the web, while the domain name is your ‘home address’. Both domain name and web hosting will not cost you more than SGD250 a year, unless you have special requirements for your website which needs  you to get dedicated hosting. Usually, a web host like Hostgator for normal web hosting is sufficient and GoDaddy or NameCheap are good for your domain names.

(3) The Number of Specialists Working on Your Site

If you get a quote from a smaller agency, chances are the cost will be cheaper than if you get a quote from a bigger agency, because they will factor in the cost of a team of experts working on your website which might not exactly be necessary for your project, such as a web designer, an SEO specialist, a programmer and a copywriter. There also has to be a coordinator bringing together the project as well, hence increasing the cost. 

(4) Experience, Brand and Reputation of the Web Design Company

Sometimes, the experience, brand and reputation of the web design agency also make a big difference to the price of a web design or a web redesign project. Bigger or more reputable agencies usually charge more for the same kind of work or details because of the brand. Of course, if you eventually choose a freelancer, and his cost is only a fraction of what the bigger agencies are charging, be sure to check out his background and experience too. 

(5) Templates or Custom Design

Previously, it used to be the case that every web design agency will customise a website for clients. The cost for a custom design web portal depends on how complicated the design is, how many pages need to be customised and in the initial stage, how many design concepts you will be provided with.

However, nowadays, with so many different kinds of themes or templates available online, especially for WordPress content management system, it is not necessary for you to ask for a custom design anymore. You can just choose from any of the themes or templates available, and very likely, you will be able to find one that you like and this will be much cheaper for you and a better option if you are just starting your business. There is no need to ask for a customised design, which is more expensive – you just need someone to help you turn the ready-made theme into your own brand.

(6) Usability Tests

For custom designs, your web designer or web design company will usually include this as part of the cost of building your website. This means they will help to organize your web pages and lay them out in such a way that is optimized for your target audience. Eventually, they will ask a few customers that fit your target profile to test the website, and then amend accordingly to their comments and feedback.

But more or less, I feel that there is no need to do such a test anymore nowadays. Using ready-made themes and templates make more economic sense, as these templates have already been tried and tested to be user-friendly many times over.

(7) HTML vs Content Management System (CMS)

With a proper CMS, you will be able to make amendments to your website on your own easily, and a CMS can significantly reduce website implementation and design costs, which increasing the ease for you to change the web content or add a new page easily. A CMS will allow you to edit information on your website without having to edit any programming codes or files.

Currently, some of the more popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Magento. The web design company’s costs stem from configuring the site for you, and customising it to your business colours and theme.

If you are still unsure of which to choose, here is an article which compares the difference between HTML and CMS websites.

web design company

(8) Additional Requirements

Often, there are certain items that usually web design agencies will exclude from their quotation. It is your responsibility to make sure that you let them know what you want, so that they can include necessary items into the price. If you are unsure, just let them know the general details and they will be able to work it out for you. 

Some additional requirements include installing plugins such as Google Analytics, making a Google XML sitemap, integrating Google Web Console, an autoresponder such as MailChimp or AWeber, and making a photo or video gallery. Do you also need them to include search engine optimization (SEO)? A word of caution: SEO is basically a marketing function, and not all web design agencies or freelance web designers know how to execute this properly, although they might say that they do. It involves crawling into the minds of your customers, and knowing what they are searching for online and then optimizing the website to capture their attention. SEO and copywriting are interrelated, as the content on your website needs to contain the keywords relevant to your products or services. Only a trained writer with extensive knowledge of SEO will be able to create appropriate content that contains the long tail keywords needed to generate visitors to your site.

Overall, just as a guide, it is not a usual practice for web design agencies to add on the price of copywriting, SEO, logo design, banner designs for your social media accounts or stock photos into the quote of the website.

(9) Maintenance and Staff Training

Finally, find out whether the quote includes a maintenance period, as usually it does. Your quote should include a reasonable period where your customers can test out your website properly, and the tweaks made subsequently, if needed.

Also, there should be free training for your key staff that will be in charge of amending your website eventually.

A General Guide: Prices of Website Design in Singapore 2017

There is no hard and fast rule, or any exact figure for the cost of a website design. As mentioned above, how much your website will eventually cost will depend very much on your requirements and the factors above, but in general, here is an estimated price guide for web design and development in Singapore in 2017.

An Estimated Guide: Prices of Website Design in Singapore 2017
No. Details Estimated Costs Suitable For
(1) Basic website without frills, non-eCommerce and usually using ready-made templates or themes that enables you to kickstart your business smoothly and in a short period of time. Usually does not include SEO and copywriting or a content marketing plan. SGD1,000 – SGD3,000 Small businesses and individuals
(2) Customized web design usually with 2 – 3 design concepts to choose from, with all design elements included. Usually involves simple eCommerce customization. SGD3,000 – SGD20,000 Medium-size businesses with eCommerce
(3) Customized web design usually with 2 – 3 design concepts to choose from, plus all branding and design elements included. Usually involves eCommerce online store with many products and variations and custom programming. Might also include some simple onpage SEO, copywriting and a brief content marketing plan to kick start your web traffic. SGD20,000 and above Large companies whose main businesses are online

How Can Some Web Design Company Charge Below SGD1,000 for a Website?

One reason is because the web design company is using a pre-made theme or template, but they still need to do the works to get it integrated into your web address and hosting, blend it with your logo and brand colours and help you integrate the necessary elements such as Google Analytics, an autoresponder such as MailChimp and contact form. 

Some web design agencies who are charging sky-high prices will often question the viability, as using templates will essentially mean that your website will be the same as others who are using the same theme. But I disagree, because those agencies who are offering a ‘customised design’ are most probably also copying from these templates or merely tweaking some elements of it, mainly because using these templates to make slight tweaks save them a lot of time and all these templates have already been proven to work well and have been fully tested by millions of users.  Also, a good web design agency will be able to do wonders to the template or theme, and make it suitable for your business’ target audience.  

Some have also commented that a cheap package equates to lousy service and after-sales support. It depends, really, on the person or agency you are working with, and even if you are using an expensive web design agency, you might experience this problem too.

As a general guide, look for registered businesses who are smaller in scale, as their costs are lower and can provide you with more flexibility and also professionalism. Freelance designers are an option too, but do beware of the pitfalls of engaging them – most of them might not be able to provide full commitment to your project, and personally, I’ve had the experience of working with a couple of them who just went missing after a few changes of the sites. Find out before you sign on the dotted line of the contract the entire package of items that are included in your development and make sure there are no hidden costs such as the need to buy a domain or copywrite your content. And if you are a business just starting out, you may not need everything that the web design company includes in the quotation. Functionality and plugins can always be downloaded as and when you need that extra function. 

And finally, in case you need the cost of each individual items, here are some examples.

Estimated Costs of Individual Items in a Web Design Project: 2017 Prices
No. Item Estimated Costs
(1) Domain Name (new) SGD10 – SGD20 per year
(2) Web Hosting (shared) SGD100 – SGD250 per year
(3) Web Hosting (dedicated) SGD500 – SGD1,000 per year
(4) Shopping Cart Integration & Programming SGD300 – SGD20,000
(5) Content Marketing Plan (not including consultation)  SGD150 – SGD200 per article
(6) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) SGD1,000 to SGD6,000 per month

When comparing your quotes, check out also the agency or web designer’s experience, reputation and portfolio, the quality of his own website and its content, and his social media accounts. Also try and speak to the person that you will be working with directly, especially in the case of the agency when you are dealing with the frontline sales staff first, as it may not be him that you will be dealing with eventually. 

Are you looking for a professional web design company with reasonable prices? Contact us for a chat using the form below – we’ll be able to offer some advice for your website development plan

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Bei

Bei

With over 20 years’ of experience in training, copywriting and integrated marketing communications in the F&B manufacturing and leisure, travel and tourism sectors, Bei possesses a unique understanding of all aspects of marketing practice, with a passion for content marketing and SEO. She is also the author of 4 English guidebooks for students and a book of sketches on Amazon. Connect with her at [email protected]

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