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Know the real cost of web design to get (more than) what you pay for

Finance - Funding

Investing in a new website is an exciting step for your business. But, how much can you expect to pay for web design packages?

Well, when clients ask me ‘what’s the cost of web design?’, the term ‘how long is a piece of string’ comes to mind! There are a lot of variables that will affect web design cost— the key to understanding price and value is to know what these variables are and what they mean for your business. It’s worth being aware of what you’re buying for so you can compare apples with apples if you’re getting website quotes.

The web design cost for your business will all depend on your needs and how much heavy lifting you want the website to do for your business. I know, that doesn’t answer your question at all, right? You want some ballpark figures so that you can budget and plan. So, that’s precisely what I’m going to give you. Let’s dive in and look at what you can expect to pay for web design in Sydney and beyond.

How much does a website cost in Australia?

What Do You Need?

Before you start investing time and money into your new website, you need to have an understanding of what kind of site you need.

Websites vary greatly in terms of size, functionality, ability and look. So, take some time to consider what your business goals are and how your website can meet them. Projected business growth will play a big factor here, alongside the role you expect your website to play in terms of both sales and operations for your business. There’s a reason why most new businesses can call themselves ‘tech startups’ these days—we’re all using technology to drive our operations and customer interactions in ways that seemed too ‘out there’ for many traditional professional services firms only a few short years ago.

If you are a fairly new business that is looking to establish a web presence, then you may only need a simple brochure-style website that drives enquiries and appointment bookings online. However, if you are looking to optimise your business operations for planned growth in the coming years, a more complex site with greater capabilities might deliver more value for your bottom line.

Remember that positioning your business for success will require investment in key business tools. And no tool is more vital than your website. Getting your website right will save your business time and money while simultaneously building on a foundation to continually grow your ROI. Understanding your needs will give you a starting point to work from with your chosen web designer.

Straight-up advice to help you work smarter, not harder (+ subscriber-only discounts) — direct to your inbox.

What’s your strategy?

Websites should do a whole lot more than just look good. There is a lot of strategy that goes into creating a site that goes beyond looks to actually deliver on your business goals to drive growth. A great website should function in the way that you want it to and also create a smooth customer experience for your website visitors. 

To get this right, you are going to need to think and talk about strategy. This isn’t always easy, but an experienced designer will guide you through the process and will know what questions to ask to maximize the benefits your website can bring to your business. Will your website be a quick fix just to get you online or do you require a site that deeply connects with your business goals in a way that will move you toward your revenue targets?

Armed with the right strategy, your website can save a lot of manual work in your business. If built in the right way, your website can automate a lot of your business tasks. It may even remove the need to have an extra person on staff. So, these initial strategy discussions are vital for establishing your website parameters.

The investment in site strategy will be the difference between creating a glorified business card and a site that is actually working for your business. And that’s where the magic happens.

Our guide to web design cost

The cost of web design all comes down to the level of strategy and functionality you are ready to invest in. So, when you are looking at prices from various providers, it is essential that you are comparing apples with apples. While price is an important factor, considering the value of each offering will allow you to gauge if you are making a good investment or not. Let’s explore the different website setups and their approximate value.

Product design - Brand

Simple Starter Site

Need something to get you online quickly without too much fuss? Then, a simple, business card-style website is great for very early-stage businesses. It provides a great way to begin building credibility for your brand with a professional web presence. Due to its quick release nature, this kind of website is usually template-based, with little scope for customisation in the time available.

Expect to pay:

  • Simple one-page website with no integrations: up to AUD$2500 (as our custom sites are more strategic, we do these quick builds as a more affordable Clever Day for a one-day design for fast go-live)
  • Small brochure site that includes 3 core pages and a contact page: ~AUD$5,000
Digital marketing - Marketing

Goal-focused (clever) website: some customisation and clever integrations

If you’re clear on your audience and your business goals, you’ll want your website to do a chunk of the heavy lifting for you. That means, you’ll be looking for a web designer ready to invest time into deeply understanding your business to craft a website that aligns with your business goals and marketing strategy; all while offering a great customer experience for your users. In most cases this will also mean getting some help to define that strategy from the ground up to ensure your website is effective in helping your business succeed and maximizing the value of your investment.

Goal-focused websites include more customisation in their design and functionality. Your web designer will ensure your new website embodies your business branding and values, carefully reflecting who you are and creating a deep connection with your audience.

Your designer will have experience honing user journeys and will be able to advise on the best way to define your service offerings for success. An experienced designer will orchestrate a site that will make it easy for your leads to buy from you and will start the process towards value-alignment to help retain your clients long-term.

You can expect to include simple integrations like appointment scheduling, simple payment solutions, email automation, lead nurturing, and enhanced client onboarding.

Expect to pay:

  • Goal-focused (clever) site with 3 core targeted pages; 3 detailed services pages — user journey and services are clearly defined and the site architecture is closely aligned with your business goals to make it easier for leads to buy from you, often includes some simple integrations like an appointment scheduler combined with automated lead nurturing: ~AUD$5,000–$10,000.
  • Goal-focused (clever) site with additional sales landing pages for keyword search targeting, enhanced client journey optimization, integrations for better client experience and easier business management — i.e., appointment scheduling, simple payment solutions, email automation, lead nurturing, enhanced client onboarding: ~AUD$10,000–$20,000.
Responsive web design - Web design

Complex, goal-focused website: advanced development and customisation

Established businesses often want to offer their clients more. And they can’t do this without a powerful website. This level of design offers greater customization to meet more complex and sophisticated business outcomes.

These sites generally do far more than promote services or products. They can offer membership functions, enhanced client experiences (think client portals and the like), large eCommerce catalogs, or referral programs. 

We often find that sites with heavy content needs will be a rebuild of an existing site. So, our web designers will need to ensure the existing content is managed without losing any of the SEO status created on the original site.

Expect to pay:

  • Goal-focused (clever) site with advanced development features like members area to improve the experience your clients have with your business and enhance ongoing loyalty: ~AUD$20,000–$60,000, depending on the number of pages and customizations required.
  • Complex, goal-focused (clever) site with heavy content migration needs or complex custom integrations, such as deep integration with CRM and other software for seamless client management across your entire business. These sites usually include careful management of analytics and new reporting setups for enhanced data control. When these larger websites come our way, they are usually redesigns of existing sites with heavy content migration requirements to be managed without losing SEO street-cred: ~AUD$30,000–$100,000 depending on the number of pages and customizations required.

Extras that might impact the cost of web design for your business

While most web designers will try to give you an all-inclusive price for a web design package, there are some tasks that you can expect to fall outside that scope. They are:

Advanced Integration Tools

Establishing your tech stack at the beginning of the process can greatly reduce the chance of cost blowouts or messy tech conflicts from trying to get your website to ‘talk’ to your external systems. Most of the advanced tech needs I come across are for service-based businesses looking to digitize a previously offline process. There is so much clever stuff that can be done in this area to help make running your business easier and to really leverage technology in ways that make you look more capable and help you stand out against your competition. Oftentimes this might be in ways you hadn’t even thought of when you started thinking about creating a website for your business, but the more you learn, the more you realise your website can be the driver of your product and your sales in ways that make your business (and your life) better.

Most established designers will have a suite of quality go-to tools that they can recommend specific to your strategic needs. Oftentimes the ongoing costs for these tools will be covered by the care plan of your designer, so going with a well-established studio or agency will keep your costs down for the many moving parts that can add up as your site requirements get more sophisticated. In most cases, the ROI of using these connected tools will far outweigh the cost of their inclusion. This discussion should always be part of the strategy stage to ensure the tech you use meets your business goals and that there won’t be any integration conflicts with the technologies you choose to use.

Professional Copywriting

You will need to supply the written content for your website. Most web designers don’t include this as part of a standard package for web design (we include copywriting as an optional add-on). If you don’t have the time or skills to do that yourself, you will need to hire a professional copywriter to undertake this task for you. Copywriting rates vary greatly depending on the complexity of the content and the volume needed. You could be looking at anywhere between $100 and $1000 per web page.

Professional Branding

It is always recommended to work with a branding expert before building your website. That way, you are clear on the visual elements of your brand, along with your messaging and values. These elements can then be woven throughout your website. Again, the cost for branding packages varies significantly depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. Pricing can range from AUD$1,000 to $15,000.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps establish your website’s authority with various search engines. Optimizing the back end of your website and the content on the pages to be SEO-friendly helps you to be found by your ideal clients when they are browsing online. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for this service, depending on the size of your business.

Ongoing website costs

There will be ongoing costs associated with your website once it is completed. You will need to invest in ongoing maintenance and security to ensure your site is protected (not keeping your site secure can be costly in case of a breach). You’ll also need your web developer to update various parts of your website when things change externally or within your business. Plus, there are the ongoing running costs of web hosting, domain registration, software licenses, and subscriptions to the tools that help power your website. Established designers will include a lot of these costs as part of your care plan, which can save you a ton of money by leveraging off their agency licenses.

Getting the most bang for your buck

Now that you know the real cost of web design and what kind of investment to expect, it is time to choose the right web designer for your business. Our Buyer’s Guide to Web Design is a good place to start.

Don’t simply go for the cheapest quote you receive—trust me, I do a lot of redesigns for businesses when they realise website v1 is a liability in need of a complete re-do! But, also don’t take the highest quote thinking it will offer you the best website—the bigger agencies in particular tend to have equally bigger overheads, so need to charge more to cover themselves. Instead, take the time to compare the different quotes to see which will deliver against your business goals and operational needs—spending the time to get this right will save you money, time and a whole load of stress in the long run.

You will be placing a large amount of trust in your web designer, so ensure you choose someone that you can communicate with and who gives off the right vibe.

Finally, make sure you do some homework by looking at the reviews their past clients have left. Cheeky hint: you can find the reviews from my happy clients here.

And if you are looking for web design in Sydney, then I’d love to chat to see if we’d be a good fit.

Book a time to speak with me.

Web design - create

Hey, I’m Nic

I’m a digital design strategist on a mission to transform websites from ‘whatever’ to clever. I build websites that work harder for your business, make running a business easier, and give you more time to help your clients.

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