We’ll be honest — this is by far the most difficult question to answer in this series. Every web development company has its own way of quoting a web project, and some are better at it than others. How a company quotes tells you a lot about them and how they think, so pay careful attention.
They should be business minded, demonstrate impeccable attention to detail and listen to you as you share budget restrictions and concerns. They should come up with creative solutions that will help you get the most value for each dollar you spend.
Here’s a quick rundown of the kinds of web development companies out there:
The quick bidder: All a quick bidder needs to know is that you want a five-page website, and they’ll be willing to give you a number. They usually don’t dig any deeper into the goals of your website, the desired call to action, the functionality you need or the long-term plan for the site.
Be warned: The scope of the project won’t be clear upfront. The price might be right, but if you don’t understand what value you’re getting for that dollar amount you might be sorely disappointed by what they deliver. It’s also likely your new website won’t achieve the goals and outcomes you hoped it would.
The web strategist: These web development companies are business-minded. They know that it’s in your best interest and in their best interest to understand the needs and desired outcomes of the website before proposing a solution and associated cost. In crafting a web strategy, they successfully consider the user, the business, and the technology. You can expect a detailed quote that demonstrates their understanding of your needs and your business. It will also define the scope, so customer and service provider expectations are clear.
Be warned: These types of quotes take longer to generate and may require some Q&A with the potential web developer before you commit. That extra time spent at the beginning of the project will be well worth it.
Keep in mind that web developers typically quote projects either on a fixed fee or time and material basis. Some web development companies are open to either approach, so be sure to share your preference if you have one.
It’s important that you and your web development company are in alignment with both the quoting and billing process. Make sure invoice terms, ongoing maintenance costs, and recurring costs (such as hosting) are clearly outlined in the quote in order to avoid any surprises. If the web development company you are interviewing didn’t include these foundational components in the quote or at least educate you on these future costs, you may want to keep looking.
Hourly and project rates will depend on various factors, such as geographic location, size of the web development team, project type (basic website versus web application), technical complexity of project, and more. Here’s a breakdown of website development cost comparisons.