How much does it cost to make a website in South Africa?
“How much does it cost to make a website?” I am often asked that question both around the braai and at work in my capacity as a web developer. My answer is always the same, “What kind of website do you want?” The braai conversation usually dies quite fast but when a client has this conversation, this is the start of an interesting journey. One which usually ends with whatever the client has budgeted for their website.
How much does it cost to make a website in South Africa
The first thing that you will find when you start shopping around for a price for your awesome new website, is that there is a huge range of prices you will receive. You are going to find people offering “complete 5 page” websites for R 2500 but if you speak to a big digital marketing agency, the same website will cost R 150 000. Or you can do it yourself, it costs nothing…more on that in a moment.
So the first question I usually ask my clients is “what is your budget for this project?” Clients don’t really like this question BUT a simple, honest answer here will not only save time, it is likely to bring you better value for your budget. And I will tell you why…
But before I do that, I need to address the “complete 5 page” website for R 2500. What you get when you order one of those is someone who buys a URL for you, installs WordPress via cPanel, buys a template from Envato and installs it (with it’s 5 pages of dummy content). Then sends you access details and tells you to go edit the content as you like. For someone who knows what they are doing, this will take about 1 hour to do and the template costs less than R 500. So you are essentially paying someone R 2000/hr to give you a template (& likely R 200/ month for the R 100/month hosting account they have sub-let to you). Cheap is not always cheap (& seldom effective).
It is always advisable to use an experienced website developer. Someone who pays attention to detail. Someone who will try to understand your business and tailor your website accordingly. Someone who listens to what you want and gives it to you. Someone who will not cut corners! And this might not be cheap…but in the long run, it is well worth it.
How much is WordPress website design and development really?
Everyone knows that WordPress is “free”, right? Well yes, it totally is! The software is free to download and install on your hosting account. It is so easy that anyone can do it, see my previous post on how to build your own website. And that will cost you nothing but it also only gives you the stock, standard WordPress install & default template. To now make it into the website you want, will require some work.
So now you need to choose. Do you learn what you need to, to make your own website? Or do you hire someone to do it for you? And what determines the answer here is budget. Do you or do you not have money to hire someone (‘cos I know you don’t have the spare time, unless you have to…). If you don’t have money and you are going to DIY, you can skip to the next section on “extra costs”. For those who have a budget, here are some guidelines on what you can expect to pay.
An “ok” website will start at around R 15000-00. If you want any extra functionality like newsletters or a shop, it will be more. In the R 18K to R 22K range. But if you want a really good website, something that is designed for you and designed to convert from day 1, expect to pay R 25K+. The difference is the amount of time spent crafting the user experience and back office stuff.
I know that it takes that many hours to do a website “properly” BUT I also know that there are some corners I can cut. Not the kind of corners that make it ‘less’ in terms of appearance, its the back end stuff. Things that make a difference in the long run, SEO, image management, database management, caching and speed tools, comprehensive tracking. None of these things are necessary for a website to look good BUT if your website is part of your business, these things ARE necessary for your business.
So when you try to save on website development, the first thing that gets kicked by the developer is things you might want in the long run. So if you are in it for the long haul, don’t save on the initial outlay for website development. The more you throw at a honest developer, the better job they will do. So decide how much money you want to spend then shop around and share your budget.
Why you should decide what your website costs
Firstly, you know what you can afford right now, right? So make a list of what you want your website to do (open ended “plus anything else you think might be useful…”) and how it should look (examples or designs), and put your budget on it too, then send it to web developers. That way you get back quotes you can really compare. For example the first might say they can do all except these 2 items on the list, for your budget. The next will give you everything on the list for your budget and the last one everything on your list plus these extras.
What you get back is the “value” a web developer will give you for your “budget”. This way you can get the best value and never exceed your budget. What’s more you don’t waste any time…
If you just give developers a list and no budget, you might get back a quote that is way out of your budget (‘cos actually, everyone’s got a figure in their head). Then you have to refine your list and get the person to re-quote…and so on, until they reach the ‘figure in your head’. Just say what you have to spend and see what value people will give you for that, it is simpler, faster and more effective!
Other website development costs you might consider
Development is only one cost you have to consider. There are a few more costs that you should not forget about.
Wireframes: This will help you & everyone you speak to in the process to understand what you are trying to do at the end of the day. Having a wireframe before you get a dev cost, is likely to get you a more accurate quote. You can get these designed locally but you will also find that most dev companies will also cost you to create these (if you haven’t already). This can add another R20k+ of cost.
If you don’t have the money for this though, have a look around on the net, there are many online wireframe creation tools. Some even offer a “free” for life option (limited by the total amount of projects). This might even help you to flesh out your idea properly, so it is well worth having a go at it:)
Design: It really, really pays to get a professional designer to design your website before you even start getting costings. Same as wireframe, most dev companies will also quote you for this (if you have not done it). But if you have this already done before you speak to them, you will likely get a more accurate dev quote.
There are some online design tools BUT there is no substitute for the training and experience of a professional designer here! There is a BIG difference in the final product between something professionally designed and something designed by developers (or yourself). This aspect can add another R14k to R50k to your project cost. If you want to create a great final product, start with a great designer!
Hosting: You website needs a database, hosting account and URL. Shop around with hosting companies. Again, cheap is NOT better here. Expect to pay R100/month for a good hosting account.
Support: Give this some thought too as it could seriously affect your running costs. Make sure that you add a support ticket system to your website if you offer a service or sell a product. And consider who will be answering those requests. If you don’t have the money it will be you, so be sure you have a simple, easy to use system to manage all of this.
How to get it done cheaper?
So people ask “what does it cost” and I run through all of the above and I get this look. This “are you effen serious” look. And the next question is always “how can I get it done cheaper”?
See my guidelines under extra costs (above), the more you do yourself, the less it costs and the more accurate everyone’s quotes will be. But seriously, this is your business we are talking about. Before doing business with you, your clients WILL visit your website. If you have a so-so website, you will have to do some serious selling but if you have a great website, you will have people coming to you ready to do business without you needing to do any “selling”. A great website does the selling for you! What is that worth to your business?