Years ago, a focused site showcasing your brand used to perform well. But today much more is required to generate the website visitors and conversions your organization needs to succeed.
You need epic content, user-friendly design, and seamless integrations between your website and other systems. If your site isn’t incredibly fast, you can forget about performing well on Google Search. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Redesigning your existing site can improve your conversion rate, user experience, and online presence - but reaping the benefits of a freshly rebuilt website requires careful planning and budgeting from the get-go.
With all these factors at play, how do you create an accurate website budget? What should you expect when outsourcing your web development project? And what are the ongoing expenses and potential pitfalls?
Let’s jump in.
How much should I budget for a new website?
The cost of a website is primarily driven by the selected Content Management System (CMS) chosen.
For example, at Brightfind, we regularly take on website redesign and CMS implementation projects that range from $30,000 to $500,000 or more.
But the simple answer is that there are many factors at play, and there’s no “one-price-fits-all” for a website redesign. We’ll cover each of these factors in a minute.
How do I create a budget for my website?
Even if you’ve redesigned or rebuilt your website before, there are tons of brand-new variables that impact cost (e.g. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics, design trends) on top of age-old pricing factors like whether you want a custom-built site, what CMS you’ve chosen, and how much you want to invest in user research to build an awesome website.
To hone in on what to expect from a financial standpoint, you should list each of these incremental components separately in your website development budget. Then determine where you fall on the spectrum for each component to better estimate your total website redesign cost.
Components of Website Budget
Component #1 - The CMS Platform
The CMS you choose is the largest determinant of total cost. While we design websites for numerous platforms, we implement sites on the Higher Logic, Sitefinity, Episerver (Optimizely), and Sitecore platforms primarily.
When you’re making your CMS selection, you should also consider the time and cost to maintain your site after development.
For example, you want to be able to publish new content or update a webinar date effortlessly. Having a streamlined workflow that allows for easy updates and reduces any delays is huge in terms of long-term productivity.
So, consider the upfront + ongoing costs when selecting and budgeting a CMS for your website development project. Your website hosting is another one of these ongoing expenses.
Component #2 - On-Premise Hosting vs. Cloud Service Provider
Going with a cloud service provider saves you a whole lot of money compared to on-premise servers.
With "on-premise" infrastructure, you have to arrange your own website/domain hosting separately.
Having an on-premise CMS license may be cheaper initially to set up. But you have to arrange your own website/domain hosting separately, pay for the hardware, physical space, and IT time to keep things up and running.
With a managed cloud service provider, on the other hand, you don’t need separate hosting.
Cloud technology is also more scalable, flexible in terms of location independence, secure, and, with a dedicated cloud service provider, faster as well.
Component #3 - User Research
User research is critical before rebuilding your organization’s website. Conducting different types of user research tasks allows you to understand the minds and interactions of your audience and optimize your website design and content to speak to them.
Ideally, you’ll want to include both broad categories of user research in your website budget:
- Attitudinal - explores what people say and think about your site.
- Behavioral - explores what they do and how they interact with your site.
At Brightfind, we make user research a critical component of the website development process to identify what changes to make on your new site (and why) to create a more user-centric experience and improve engagement.
Component #4 - Content Optimization/Development
Does your content need revamping? If so, content development should be an important line item in your website budget. Content optimization takes time but it's vital to improve your website performance and make the most out of your redesign.
Figuring out the cost breakdown for your content auditing and optimization depends on the size of your website, your content strategy, and your short-term and long-term website goals.
Today, websites that perform well on Google have in-depth, information-rich content. You also want to write your web content so that it’s accessible and engaging to readers.
Every page on your website should focus on one topic that’s relevant to your organization and what your users are actually looking for. Beyond engaging and focused web content, you also need to implement on-page SEO best practices.
Without careful planning and execution, a website redesign can put your search engine rankings and organic traffic at risk. During a redesign, you may add or move content in your page’s hierarchy, remove copy altogether, or change your URL structure. You may also add new sections, features, and meta information that impacts your website rankings and traffic.
To benefit from a redesign without jeopardizing your site performance, you need to benchmark your current site and iron out an SEO strategy beforehand. Doing so will help you not only retain your traffic and rankings, but improve them with stronger content, better design, and cleaner development.
Component #5 - Design
You also have to consider your website pathways and how to best improve the digital journey for your audience through your site design.
Visually pleasing web pages and custom-built templates based on user research and behavioral analysis findings are the way to go. Plus, great site design really helps your content stand out and magnetize your calls-to-action and conversions.
Your site architecture should also be organized in a way that allows visitors and search engines to easily find content and understand the relationship between pages on your site.
We put a great deal of effort into getting the design right based on the user research we do upfront. Site design is, of course, a huge part of the cost of any web development project.
Component #6 - Development
Whether you go with an off-the-shelf template and pre-made theme or opt for a custom-built site with original and clean code makes a huge difference in the upfront costs as well as overall site performance.
Your design should ideally have the least amount of plugins and scripts as possible. It’s also important to compress files, minify code, set up database caching, and add an excellent content delivery/distribution network (CDN) such as Cloudflare to improve average page load time and your site’s technical SEO performance.
Your organization will need a great website developer with SEO knowledge to ensure these optimization items are done right. They should also include appropriate schema markups such as the organization markup and other relevant structured data based on your site and individual association.
You will also have to factor in the development costs on your chosen CMS platform.
Component #7 - Integrations
To provide a streamlined digital user experience, factor system integrations, and Single Sign-On connection into your website development budget.
If you have a managed service provider like Brightfind, we can help you plan for new CMS integrations and strengthen existing ones. The cost of integration depends on your technology portfolio and the tools and platforms your organization uses.
Component #8 - Testing
Task-based usability testing comes into play once an initial roadmap for your site redesign has been created, and you’re ready to start testing whether specific tasks or functions of your site will be user-friendly and engaging.
These user tests show if and how users can complete tasks on your organization’s website such as signing up for courses, purchasing a book, or registering for an event.
The stages include baseline usability testing, wireframe testing, user acceptance testing (UAT), and post go-live website testing.
Component #9 - Project Management
The cost of project management depends on the scope of the web development project and whether you have project managers in-house ready to take on the rebuild. While these costs may vary, it’s safe to budget about 20% of the project total for project management efforts.
Managed service providers like Brightfind can also handle the entire process -- from initiation, planning, and execution to monitoring, fulfillment, and ongoing support.
Component #10 - Analytics
Behavioral analytics is a whole other facet of website redesign and optimization that you need to include in your budget breakdown. You don’t want to feel like you’re banging your head against the wall every time you need to dig into the data.
Reporting and analytics should be efficient so you can get the information you need at the right time.
For example, your web service provider should set up Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics on your site to track goals for your site, specific website elements, and user behavior for continued optimization.
Component #11 - Maintenance and Support
Calculating the cost of website maintenance and support varies widely based on the agreement you have with your service provider.
For example, we have clients that only have five hours per month in support, while others may have 40+ hours per month.
In order to calculate a ballpark budget for your website development project, it’s important to figure out where you fall on the spectrum.
Do you need a little assistance or a lot? Do you have an internal IT team with the right skills? Do you have the time and expertise to produce fresh graphics on an ongoing basis? Such considerations play into your overall website decisions and financial forecasts.
Sample Website Budget Template
- Selected CMS
- Hosting vs. Cloud Service Provider
- User Research
- Content Optimization and/or Development
- Project Management
- Maintenance and Support
How to Budget for a Website Redesign - Key Takeaways
The cost of a website is primarily driven by the selected CMS platform chosen. But there are a variety of other incremental components and organization-specific requirements that come into play.
While it’s difficult to give set pricing for each component, you can flesh out where you fall on the spectrum for each to develop your website budget plan. You can then share this information with qualified web vendors along with a request for a bid.
Considering Brightfind for your next website redesign project? We’re excited to talk to you! Submit your RFP here.