Please excuse the length of this webpage, but I'd simply like to help you get a good idea of today's market for web development. I've been in the web design and development industry for over 10 years and I genuinely hope that by sharing this information I will help you determine what you need to do next.
There are so many different kinds of websites. Estimate precision is difficult.
It would be a little difficult for me to estimate how long something would take to build based on an arbitrary values received so far. But below you will find information that I hope will guide you toward making a better decision.
Time & cost estimates for small websites – ($500 - $800)
Small 5-10 websites take anywhere between 5 days and up to 2 weeks to complete.
What many people don’t realize is that a website template is actually very fast to design. A skilled designer can create a website template in as little as 5 hours of work.
Another hour or two are spent taking the Photoshop design and writing HTML code to make it work in a web browser. This is usually done by an assisting web developer.
It is common for freelance web designers to also be developers (write code). So don’t be surprised if someone tells you they can design, develop and ride horses – they really can and usually they are not trying to get your business by inflating their skills, as it may seem at first. Even the visual website design viewed inside browser is actually created by writing HTML code.
Then the website is populated with your website’s content. And that is also a very simple process. Be prepared to spend between $300 to $500, and sometimes up to $800 on a small website. The costs depend on the skill of the programmer and his ability to offer bargain prices while still producing quality content. Sometimes, the costs depend on the amount of content and data-entry work. If you have 30 pages with business information, be prepared to spend a few extra dollars on data-entry work required to put all of your content online.
Time & cost estimates for a larger website ($5,000 and up)
Larger websites that require greater amount and especially knowledge of custom programming (things you want to have other websites don’t) will end up costing a lot more. A large website can be considered a website that has custom functionality. For example, a bidding auction website requires custom code to be written to process displaying real-time products and the ability to bid on them by visitors.
Custom software development is the most expensive element of web development. Developers charge between $30 up to $80 an hour (sometimes more) to work on code using languages such as Java. It is not uncommon for projects that require custom software to be priced up to $10,000 or much more depending on the idea.
|Website Type / Services
|Contact Us Form
|E-Commerce web store
||$1000 and up
||$3,000 and up
||$5,000 and up
||$20,000 and up
You have a few options. . .
It really depends on the quality of software you are looking for. . . It's totally possible to make a website of many kinds for $1,000 by an incredibly generous freelance developer. But I guarantee that you will not get a great product. You will get a very basic site with a not very attractive user-interface. In other words it will not satisfy your target market.
You may still consider doing that as long as you know that this is only a starting point of your online business and more money will need to be invested in the future.
Requirements and standards of a modern website
Your website requires design, programming and user experience.
Your website will require an attractive homepage enticing people to browse and sign up.
Your website will require smart user experience (navigation, taking actions).
An individual or co. with multiple skills or a company should be hired.
The Freelance way - $300-$500 – Basic Website Design or Redesign
If you are looking to redesign an existing site or create a completely new one from scratch, let’s say for representing your small business, or to market your personal skills, hiring a freelancer is the best solution.
Hiring a freelancer (a single individual) to work on full-scale custom software development is probably not a great idea, and you will need to hire a company instead. But it’s still not impossible. Please read more about that below:
The Freelance way - $1,000-$5,000 – Custom Software Development
In our industry it's pretty easy to calculate the costs. Not many people would be willing to work on custom software programming for 2-6 months for $1,000 without getting completely miserable over the course of the project -- this will ruin your relationship with the freelance developer. Expect to pay up to $3,000-$5,000 to a freelancer for this type of work to make them happy.
In addition, working with a freelancer you are unlikely to get continued maintenance and software upgrades once the project is completed. There are no sites that will self-maintain themselves. Only to a certain point. So, a freelancer will usually move on to his next project rather than to continue maintaining your website for you (unless a reasonable offer is made). This is a little of a bargain, because each person has different circumstances, different level of skill and different types of websites they would be willing to work on based on their skills and experience.
No matter what freelancer developers will say to you, they will not give away the software code to you and delete it from their own computers. It is reasonable to believe that they will give you the right to use the site, and agree that the site will exclusively belong to you and will not be replicated. But it would be unreasonable to believe that they will actually delete the code they worked hard on from their computers. They will reuse it for their next projects.
Unfortunately, exclusive freelance software development for budgets below $10,000 is not a reality.
Indian Development Companies – Custom Software Development
An indian company would offer you a slightly better support and higher labor force, as well as increased probability that it will get your site done on time (because they employ several people to work on one project, between 3-10) for about the same costs of a freelancer. With a slightly higher top margin. $3,000-$10,000 One problem with Indian companies is that while they are great for rapid software development in languages such as Java, PHP (even Drupal) or others like Joomla, etc. they are traditionally known for being unable to provide great visual design for your website. So, while it will be functional, it is likely not to be designed well.
Again, the maintenance that a complex website such as one that requires custom software development is likely to be missing, unless additional payment agreements are made. This could be anywhere from $500 and up (per month) at the very low level.
Same thing with reusable software here. All companies will keep the software they developed to use later. They will just use the same web page design/layout for new projects but reuse the software that provides certain features. This is totally acceptable, and really isn't putting your website in particular at a disadvantage as long as the company will not copy and paste the entire site and make a cookie-cutter copy for future customers.
Most code to accomplish most things has already been written, and there is a lot of free, open source software that gives it away. So, unless it is completely brilliant and unique, for example Photoshop or the Google algorithms, the software itself has no value unless it is implemented strategically in the right context.
A professional co +all bells and whistles $20,000 - $100,000
A professional design and development company local to United States, would be able to construct this website starting $20,000, and development can continue up to $100,000 or even more the longer you employ them. They employ web designers and programmers with proper education in their profession.
This would be the holy grail of social network website development. You could get a homepage that looks like this and all other parts of your site would be excellent. . . your social network news feed would be on par with that of Google+, Facebook, Twitter and the likes. . . and prepared for millions of monthly visitors because it would be developed on a scalable dedicated server.
If you approach these types of individuals and companies, these are the types of cost estimates they will give you in today's market (as of October 2011). They will also take care of continued maintenance for your site.
This is the reality of the software development market today, for the project that requires a lot of custom software development.
An Affordable Alternative
Since I am a self-employed web developer who has been in this business for several years, my strategy is to offer a mix of services described above. I can't begin to pretend that I can give you the quality of a $100,000 project that employs up to 10 professional designers and developers diligently working on your website. But like many other professionals, I have a set of specific advantages and skills I can use to help people build any type of website.
I am extremely skilled in software development because it has remained one of my passions since I wrote my first video game at the age of 12. I never left the computer since then. Eventually, as Internet started to become popular I self-studied web design and web programming.
I can develop your basic website for $300-$500
I can produce quality software and can design a pretty-decent looking website that will look and work great. My basic websites cost the regular low-end market price of $300-$800.
I can develop your E-commerce website for $800-$1,200
I like to use software called ZenCart that has out of the box integration with PayPal. So, if you have a PayPal account (that you can obtain for free), you are ready to start taking orders from your ZenCart site.
I can help you create a completely original design for your Zen Cart website. Zen Cart also allows you to do some self-maintenance work, for example: if you want to add, edit or remove products from your store: you are free to do so yourself by logging in and clicking on a few items.
I can develop your Small Business website for $1,500-$3,000
Often I have customers requesting websites for Construction companies, Real Estate agencies, Hotels and many others.
I can develop your social network site starting $5,000
My personal estimate for a basic version of your social network website project is $5,000, and I can develop it in 1 month. My costs are reduced to pretty much nothing. But I would plan on reusing software I have written before.
You would get a completely original website design, and it would be yours to keep forever. Like others, I would accept reasonable offers for continuous maintenance of your website.
Want to Move Forward Faster? Things to Give to Your Web Developer Right Away
The main thing is that the features of any website are usually very specific. Because of this I would need to know what all of them are in order to offer estimates with precision down to $100. Until that, I can estimate it with precision down to $1000s only. And that is the purpose of this report.
Usually this problem is solved by creating a design document which outlines every single function of the website. This design document is then submitted for evaluation to the web developer.
This “Design Document” is incredibly useful for showing a web developer company that you are serious about building your site. Please spend a few hours to come up with one.
Which programming languages are the best for developing a website?
A lot of times people have asked me: which web programming languages are the best for a particular web project? This is almost as relevant as to say: Would you like to eat your soup with a plastic or a metal spoon?
Pretty much it doesn't really matter. Whatever the developer is familiar with will work. Ones who know Java will tell you Java is the best. Ones who know PHP (like Drupal) will say that is the way to go. People whose first programming language was ASP, will tell you it is the best one to go with. Of course it is – because it’s the only one they know!
But in the real world it has no relevancy as to which language something was programmed in. This is due to the fact that languages still run on computers. And as long as a computer is fast, it will be able to process the code swiftly. Most modern computers are pretty fast ;) My personal choice would be PHP with transition to Java later on.
In the end, the performance of a website is what matters, and in the beginning, for at least a year, many websites will not receive enough website traffic to consider upgrading.
Best Platform – Joomla, Drupal, CakePHP, ZenPHP – Ahh, my head is spinning!
Joomla and Drupal are PHP based CMS systems. It's really just a bunch of custom PHP code designed to help people make their websites more customizable without having to know about computers. But there is still a learning curve. I personally have no use for Joomla or Drupal – or any others. My code is based on a web platform (also written in PHP) I have developed over the course of 8 years myself. It’s based on functionality I developed because it was practical in accomplishing actual web development tasks I was familiar with.
Programmer's familiarity with code is very important, so even if Drupal or another platform is claimed to be great, the programmer may still stumble because of the learning curve. But at the basic level. . . they are all doing the same things in a logically different way. So It's always best for the programmer to stick to his own way and style of programming in order to be efficient.
Choosing a platform is more of a programmer’s personal choice. There isn’t a best one. It's a lot like owning the samurai sword; each samurai is familiar with the thickness of the blade, how the sword travels through the air and other properties that samurai finds in particular appealing to his or her taste.
Over the years I have forged a pretty good programming sword using my knowledge and experience with website development.
If you are looking for an expert web designer and software programmer, please give me a call and I will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your project.
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