How We Price Website Design

Written by Josh Dougherty

Ah, websites. We all have one (or we need one). Most businesses who have a website also have a wishlist of the ways they’d like to improve it. But making that wishlist a reality is no small undertaking. Before you get started, you probably want to know how long it’s going to take and how much it’s going to cost. 

That’s what this blog post is all about: it’s an explanation of how we price our growth-driven approach to the website design process (spoiler alert, it’s a little bit non-traditional. Go figure!) This process includes 3 phases:

  • Strategy Phase
  • Launch Pad Phase
  • Design Sprint Phase

We’ll walk through each one step by step to explain what it is, how much it costs, and how the price can be modified to fit your organization’s needs. 

checklist_blobStrategy Phase

We always start by understanding your business objectives, and mapping specific site goals to those objectives . That’s why this phase is essential: we’re drafting the blueprint for your website before we start building it. 

This phase begins with discovery meetings, where we collaborate with you to determine your goals and needs for the website. Do you have a specific wishlist of website functionality? That’s great! Got some general goals in mind? That’s great too. Still undecided on pretty much everything? You guessed it: also great. That’s why we love discovery meetings. We’ve developed some effective collaborative exercises to gather all the relevant information and help you prioritize.

We also want to hear from your audience. So to complement the insights we gather during the discovery meetings, we’ll conduct interviews with your website audience and gather psychographic information to build user personas. These personas will be foundational to the strategy for the rest of the project. Why? Because a top-notch website lives at the intersection of your business goals and your audience’s needs. And it will meet those needs in a way that the audience will understand.  

Using insights we’ve gathered from discovery meetings  and audience interviews, we’ll build a website strategy that’s customized to achieve your goals. The strategy phase usually costs between $7,500-$20,000, and the resulting strategy will determine the cost of the next phase. 

Why don’t we just price everything up front? Because your needs and your goals don’t fit a template, and you don’t need a one-size-fits-all website. That’s why the strategic framework comes first. 

How Pricing Can Be Adjusted

Depending on the complexity, number of stakeholders involved, and scope of the website, we can adjust the price of this phase. Audience research is an essential building block of every high-performing website, but we can adjust the depth or quantity of this research as needed.

rocket-launch_blobLaunch Pad Phase

During this phase, we’ll build and launch an initial site that has all the core elements you need. 

Okay, hold up. In a more traditional approach to website design, you might expect to wait six months or a year before launch. So how did we get here so fast? Allow us to explain ourselves. 

The purpose of the launch pad phase is to quickly make substantive improvements and launch those changes right away,  so you can start observing the results. The launch pad site can take different forms — for example, we might refresh your existing website, build a new website using pre-built and existing assets, or take a different approach. The specific game plan will be based on the strategy we defined in Phase 1, but our goal will always be to quickly develop and launch improvements that will have the highest impact on your goals and your audience. 

The base price for the launchpad site phase is $20,000. Your launch pad site will look different (and will be priced differently) depending on what you want to focus on first, and what’s most important to your users. It might include the design of page templates, new content, and specific visual elements like icons and animated graphics. This phase also includes development and Q/A to ensure the site is ready for launch. 

Your launch pad site could be: 

  • A website audit + a content update
  • A redesigned homepage + blog, with all other pages untouched
  • A totally new site with a scaled-down number of essential pages  

The launch pad site isn’t the final website. It’s just the beginning. Our experience has taught us that website design goes more smoothly and achieves better results when we break it into a series of launches and iterations. 

Why? Well, first of all, it allows you to see a return on investment a whole lot faster. And it’s easier to maintain your team’s momentum and excitement on the project when you have some progress to show off for your efforts. And finally, you get to avoid the intense pressure that inevitably builds up when you release everything at once (and everybody’s been waiting for it for 6 months to a year. Yikes.)

But with a series of launches, you get the benefits without the pressure. Plus, it just feels good to launch website improvements and see positive results. And you better start getting used to that feeling, because that’s what Phase 3 is all about. 

How Pricing Can Be Adjusted

The price of the launch pad phase will depend on the specific needs we work together to identify in the strategy phase. The price of this phase can scale depending on the following factors: 

  • Number of web page templates
  • Number of initial pages
  • Complexity of site functionality 

sprint-running_blobDesign Sprints Phase

You’re probably wondering: if Phase 2 is about launching the site, then what’s Phase 3? We’re glad you asked. During this phase, we build out the full functionality of the existing launch pad site. We tackle this work in a series of self-contained design sprints. Each design sprint is 6 weeks long, includes 130 hours of work, and costs $20,000. 

Before each sprint, we meet with you to identify which features and functionality we’ll build and launch during the sprint. We’ll also use insights from the data we’ve gathered about the performance of the launch pad site to inform our direction. And of course, we’ll refer back to our Phase 1 strategy to make sure we’re achieving your goals.  It’s all about focusing on what will have the most immediate impact and be the best use of your resources. In six weeks, we’ll have new functionality live on your site. 

Then it’s time for the next sprint. We’ll use new site analytics to identify the next priorities and knock them out. 

How Pricing Can Be Adjusted

You can do as many or as few of the sprints as you want to. Typically, we recommend a minimum of 2 sprints to get to your launchpad site to a complete form. Our hope is that during that process, you’ll see the incredible value that’s generated by continuous website improvements, and you’ll want to continue this process on an ongoing basis. 

Plan for the future of your website

Most companies let their websites go through the same cycle over and over. They redesign it, let it sit for a few years, and then redesign it again. Here’s the problem with that. These major overhauls are a whole lot of work, and they quickly become outdated. The internet changes every day. User habits change. Search engines change. So an effective website needs to evolve on a regular basis. That’s why our growth-driven process is structured around design sprints, and why we recommend that our clients continue to invest in them. 

You don’t have to commit to continuous design sprints. But if you do, you’ll be able to keep launching new functionality and evolving your site in real time. And you’ll never have to do a full redesign again. 

One More thing To COnsider: The Cost Of your Platform

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to planning your website design. When you’re weighing the cost of your various options, don’t forget to factor in the cost of your website platform as well. If you’re thinking about switching to a new platform, here’s some advice for choosing a website platform

What if I want A More Traditional Design Process?

Not ready for these newfangled launch pads and design sprints? We hear you. Here are 3 routes that you can take if you’d rather pay one fixed price for a full site build-out. 

  1. If you’re not really sure what you want your site to look like yet: You can buy the strategy phase as a standalone. During that phase, we’ll work together to figure out the blueprint, and build the price based on that. 
  2. If you want to go out on a limb a little bit: We’ll give you a quote that will cover a certain amount of functionality, and you can buy that up-front. If you discover that more functionality is needed during the strategy phase, that would come at an additional cost.
  3. If you have a crystal clear idea of what you want: Give us a rundown, and we’ll make it happen. For this option, the strategy phase will look very different. Rather than building a strategy based on your general goals, audience, and functionality options, we’ll focus on sharpening the strategy you’ve already created and evaluating approaches to content and visuals. 

As you can see, these options can work. But they’re all based on a certain amount of guesswork, and they don’t give you as much flexibility to dream up new possibilities throughout the process. At the end of the day, you might not end up with exactly what you and your audience need. 

That’s why we advocate for growth-driven design when it comes to website redesigns. Let’s make some substantial improvements, launch them into the world, and iterate on them based on how real people react to it. 

Want to talk more about your website? What a coincidence, we do too!

Book a meeting on Josh’s calendar

Written by Josh Dougherty on 12.11.2020
Category Web Design  

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