The short answer is ‘it depends.’
The more detailed answer is that the cost of a website is highly dependent on the degree of customization required. Generally the more time it takes to develop your site the more t will cost. Getting a good understanding of the costs and the drivers for the cost is a very important concern.
In any development project, there are well-known risks:
- Risk that the scope (a definition of what will be done) will be underestimated at the start.
- Risk that the scope will increase over time. This happens often and is not always a bad thing. For example, through our conversations you may discover that an additional feature will deliver additional value.
- Risk that the development firm will be unable to deliver any working solution at all.
- Risk that the project will take more time than anticipated.
- Risk that the project will take less time than anticipated.
In the traditional time and materials pricing model, you take on most of the risk, and this is generally justified because it’s your site and you will receive the benefits of a successful project. This is a common pricing model used by many development firms.
This model is common because of the problems with the other end of the spectrum– fixed-price contracts. A fixed price contract is a good faith attempt fully describe the project in advance, then specify a fixed price to build it based on an estimate of the time needed to deliver the result. In this model, the developer takes most of the risk, with some unfortunate side effects:
- The developer often interprets the business requirements as narrowly as possible. Often at the cost of benefiting the business value of the site.
- The developer and the client can end up in an adversarial relationship because of misunderstandings unchecked assumptions.
- The time required to complete a project specification and price can significant. Unlike other areas, there isn’t established data on how long it takes to build a website – often because there are so many variables involved.
However, a key benefit in the developer taking on some of the risk is that the developer is in a position to affect the outcome – he or she has skin in the game. This suggests a compromise.
At Tall Blade we are advocates of a compromise between these two models. The compromise is often called Shared-Risk Pricing. Shared Risk Pricing starts during the Discovery Phase. During this phase we will charge a fixed amount per hour and deliver a written document this defines our agreement on a basic set of core requirements that we will develop for a fixed price. This core set of requirements includes the wireframes, sitemaps, and detailed graphic layouts of web page templates. The requirements are intended to show the minimum features the site must have to be useful.
The client accepts some risks:
- Scope creep risk.
- Some of the risk of the project taking longer then expected.
The developer accepts other risks:
- Risk that the developer will be unable to deliver a working solution.
- Risk that the developer will spend more time than expected getting basic features working.
- Some of the risk of the project taking longer then expected
From your perspective you want to know what to expect. There should be no surprises and you need to feel as if you’re getting a fair price for the work. During the Discovery Phase we will be asking about your budget. Knowing the approximate amount you’re willing to spend will help both of have have useful conversations about design trade-offs. There are often many ways to deliver a project and knowing your budget will help focus on options that are affordable for you.