What’s the difference between a budget website and a premium website? Why do different website designers quote more than others, for what looks like the same thing?

We get asked this question a lot from new sales enquiries.

The deeper the customer dives into comparison quotes, the more confused they tend to get, which is a shame.


So, what’s going on? Let’s see if we can shed some light on this for you.

We could look at many factors to try and help you understand what’s going on with pricing, but in fact there are far too many to list, so let’s look at the main factors and arguably the most important and common points to note:

  1. The size of the company designing your website can make a huge difference in cost. The lower the head count, the lower their wage bill and overheads, which tends to mean lower prices to you, but less strength in numbers their end and less of a skill base.
  2. Have you considered how responsive the designer will be in the future, once they’ve been paid? Keeping the head count low is all good and well, but it can mean a long wait for your website amends in the future. Is a quick response important to you, or can you wait?
5 Star Rating
  1. How long have they been in business and how many five star reviews do they have? A lot of designers go out of business in the first 18 months to 2 years as they realise the dream of being a website designer isn’t quite as golden as they had imagined it to be. Are your designers new and finding their way, will they vanish in to the night mid project, or do they have a pedigree of good work and good service.
  2. Are you simply looking for a web presence, or do you want the site to drive business in? Almost any designer can come up with a nice-looking website, but very few have the time or knowledge in how to make it drive online traffic to you and build sales. There’s a big price difference between the two and there’s a huge difference in the return on investment.
  3. Are you happy with an out-of-the-box type website that doesn’t look different to many other websites? If not, do you have special requirements in mind? What functionality do you require? Will it require custom coding? The price builds right up here.
  4. Is this your first website, or are you upgrading an existing one? If it’s an upgrade have you specified a comprehensive redirect program, to stop you falling down the rankings of Google? Done correctly this is a skilled, costly and time consuming exercise, so it’s an area where many designers skip in order to keep their prices low and you won’t even notice until many months on when the enquiries or sales stop coming in.
  5. Are you looking to compete for a position on the top pages of Google, and if so, how many keywords are you hoping to compete for? You may simply be happy to be found for your company name, or at the other end of the spectrum you may have several thousand products that you want to rank highly on Google, there’s a huge expense or cost saving here and once again an area where many designers will skip in order to keep costs low, much to the expense of your business!
  6. How many pages does your new website have? Is it the basic home, about, contact, or are you looking for much more in depth information with more subpages and dropdown menus. There’s a big difference in cost here.
  7. How many products are you wanting the designer to upload to your new website? 10? 100? 1000? This will make a dramatic difference to the cost.
Woman Taking Photograph
  1. Will you be supplying top quality photos, or will you be tasking the designer to source or take these into the price? Sourcing and taking images takes time, so will naturally add to the cost. If you are able to supply all the images at the correct resolution, this will streamline the process and cut the cost, as well as the website looking more professional.
  2. Will you be providing SEO rich copy for the website, or will you be tasking the designer to source that for you? There is a big difference between design and copywriting, so it’s worth thinking about hiring a copywriter to provide good professional copy for your new website. Many designers will skip over this part to keep the price down.
  3. Will you be requiring keyword research to work out which keywords and search phrases you will be best to compete for in your industry? You really need this if you want to compete online, so once again this either adds cost or can be skipped to keep costs low.
  4. Will you be providing full competitor analysis to the designer, or will that be included in the price? What kind of traffic do your competitors rank for and what volume of traffic do they receive? What keywords and search terms are they weak for, or totally missing? What is your competitors’ design layout like and what are the UX and UI standards like? This is very time consuming and not too essential for a budget site, but if you’re serious about competing online it is essential.
  5. Where will the website be hosted? Will the designer need to set hosting up for you? If so, is it high enough quality to work with, rather than against your website? And will it be easy and dependable to work with? Good quality hosting does not come cheap.
  6. Who will carry out the SEO set up for you once all of the research has been carried out? There can be a couple of weeks’ work if this is to be done correctly, so you can skip this to keep costs low, but you will limit how well the site responds.
Digital Marketing
  1. How will you be marketing the website and what does the website need to have in place to help you make some good money from it? Many websites look good at a glance, but it can be superficial, with no real clout underneath. This isn’t a problem for some businesses if they wish to keep costs down, but would it be a problem to yours?
  2. Where is your business going to go in the next 12 months to 2 years? Will the website be fully expandable to cope with any changes your business makes? Will the designers talk to you on a business level to fully understand this, or are they just designing a nice piece of artwork to put online? Again, both scenarios work for different companies, but there’s a big difference in price so make sure you know what you want from yours.
  3. What experience does the designer have in your line of business? Different sectors require different looks and user experiences to their website to appeal to the right website visitor. Has your designer thought about this and looked into it for you? Have they tested out similar websites before, or are they new to this sector? The better designers with a proven record will of course charge more as your chances of success are far greater.
  4. Do you need to hire an agency with top level skills and experience to make your company a success, or is the local chap down the road enough for you? Does he or she really have the skill set and experience, or are they learning on the job and keeping the prices down to offset that. Again, both ways can work, but one is cheap at the outset and one is expensive. The return on your investment can be worlds apart though.
  5. Do you understand what cheap really means? A cheap website will very rarely drive in business for you, so it becomes a cost to the business. Investing in the right premium level website with the right marketing team will cost much more at the outset, but within the first 12 months it will often pay for itself through the volume and quality of the sales it brings in. So, which is the ‘cheapest’ website, the one that costs less and delivers very little, or the one that costs much more and delivers powerful leads and sales?


There are businesses out there who only require their website to be online and look good, so why should they pay highly for a website?

There are countless other businesses who rely heavily on the success of their website and marketing to drive in the enquiries and sales, so it makes no sense whatsoever to go cheap. You need to be honest about what you want from the website when it is launched and what it needs to do for you in the future, then invest accordingly. You also need to be honest about how many hours, days or even months you’re prepared to wait for after sales service once your website is live. A high value website from an agency with a good reputation and a depth of skilled staff will almost always outperform that of the budget designer and prove to be the best and most cost-effective solution for most businesses.