Website Development Cost

Why a $10,000 Custom Web Development Project is Actually Less Expensive Than a $5,000 Project

Brett MillerWeb Development

At first glance, that seems counter-intuitive. Even ridiculous.

But based on my experience as a web developer, it’s been proven true far too often to be dismissed.

You see, the issue is simple: The client is always looking for a bargain.  That’s human nature and it makes perfect sense.  The trouble comes in when the client is shopping around for a web developer, but their end decision is based solely on cost as opposed to value.

The Cost of Cheap Custom Web Development.

When you base your decision-making process solely on cost, you’re going to dismiss the development team that puts in a quote of $10,000 instantly if there are one or more quotes available in the $5,000 range.

While this makes sense in the short term because you’re spending less to get the job done, it fails to take into account a number of very important factors that will have a direct bearing on how much value you get out of your web development project.

Generally speaking, those web developers who are able to come in with dramatically low prices do so for one of a few reasons:

  • They’re desperate for work.
  • They don’t understand the full scope of the project
  • They’re inexperienced and using cheap developers
  • Their business plan is based around quantity rather than quality.

In all those cases, the client is bound to suffer:

  • If they’re desperate for work, it’s likely because the work they’ve done previously has not yielded results and/or their previous clients had a bad experience. Either way, they’re not getting repeat customers and they’re not getting customer referrals.
  • Misunderstandings and communication difficulties are the biggest problem in software development.  The client wants one thing while the developers are under a different impression of the true needs (and the rework to modify what they built is potentially more involved then the initial build).
  • An inexperienced developer wouldn’t typically have the know how to overcome the challenges that project invariably present.  Who ends up the loser when they fail?
  • When a web development firm’s business plan is focused on quantity over quality every one of their clients suffers. They may be extremely talented, but they’re allowing their team to be pulled in too many directions at once and forcing them to rush through every job. They may have a lot of work on their plate, but none of it is going to be very strong.

The Value of Reasonably Priced Web Development.

While charging exorbitant rates doesn’t do the client any good, a reasonable rate (which will always be higher than the cheapest rates available) provides a great balance that can be beneficial for everyone involved:

  • The developer can focus more time and attention on the project, resulting in a higher level of quality, reliability, and a potentially faster road to successful completion.
  • The client can expect a professional interaction, responsiveness, and a fully-realized end product that satisfies all requirements reliably.

Taking price out of the conversation and focusing instead on value allows the client to do a much better job of choosing the right developer for their project too. Instead of just finding out who’s seems to be good enough at an inexpensive rate, they can focus on:

  • Looking for an experienced web developer who specializes in the skills needed for this particular project
  • Seeking out customer recommendations and referrals from satisfied former clients
  • Interviewing the prospective developer or development team and determining if they’re the right fit from a personality standpoint.
  • Getting the very best finished product for the money they’re investing.

An Email I Sent to a Prospect Who Didn’t Choose CSPreston.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this is an issue I see far too often. For example, here’s an email I sent to a prospect who asked us to quote on their web development project, then came back and let us know they had chosen another firm who had seemingly come in at an inexpensive price point. (Italics mine.)

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me yesterday.

First off I want to express that I know how to build a successful business using a website. You need that website to be a lead generating machine.

The approach you need to take is far different than trying to build a site as inexpensively as possible, one you might deem as good enough. We need to wow your audience and make them raving fans who become clients and refer others so the whole thing goes viral.

Take a look at these powerful examples of what’s possible:

I appreciate that you’ve gotten some seemingly inexpensive quotes. My concern is that the end result those developers can deliver would not be good enough to truly make your business work. In order to do that something worthy of an award needs to be built. My staff and I would do that and would also participate in fine tuning the copywriting to drive conversions and social sharing. We can also put together a plan for SEO and content generation for you.

The approximate price point you would be looking at to work with me would undoubtedly be higher than the quotes you’ve received, but it would ultimately allow you to achieve a positive return on your investment (so in some respects you could argue that you can’t afford an inexpensive site.)

I’m happy to give you specifics and come up with a detailed plan, but I certainly don’t want to waste your time if this is more than you want to spend. I hate to say this but if you were to try to do this as cheaply as possible I would just suggest you keep your money and not bother with it. The competition around your industry is too fierce.

I hope you don’t mind me being so frank. Let me know your thoughts and how I can help you succeed (which is my ultimate purpose).

Interestingly, after spending about $5,000 on their initial development with a cheap web developer who turned out to be less experienced than he let on, the project was a bust. This client came back to CSPreston, paid around $10,000 for the job to be redone, and now has a website that is raking in leads and earning positive ROI day in and day out.

That website didn’t have to cost $15,000 or take six months to complete. That’s food for thought.