Budgets! Whether you like to think about it or not, you will have a budget in mind for your website project. There will be an upper limit beyond which finances will not let you go, but equally a lower limit below which you may start to wonder: "why is it so cheap?". As with all other services and purchases you are right to be concerned, very cheap websites can bring separate issues of their own. So if you're keen to ensure your project is a success AND within budget - this post is for you!
Firstly, don’t be afraid to discuss costs with your development team, it's a healthy and helpful discussion to have regarding the project. Saying: "Can you do this for less than £5000?" or "Can you do it for less than £3000?" gives your developers a rough idea of the budget you're working to and also puts responsibility on them to find solutions to achieve what you need within these constraints. Some agencies for example, won't touch any project for less than £10,000 or even £20,000. So why is this? And what causes such big difference between website prices?
Time is basically what drives cost. After this, complexity is the next most important factor as this will likely mean using more expensive senior developers for the tasks. What else can influence price?
Frameworks and libraries: most components for websites have generic libraries and frameworks available (basically pre-made 'building blocks') which help to reduce the cost of that development. Rather than invent the wheel from scratch, a developer can take a generic wheel which can then be customised to what you need. You may come across a scenario where you are requesting quite a small change (in the greater scheme of things) which your development team may quote as being quite expensive. Often the reason for this will likely be that it must be custom written, and so in some cases where you're prepared to accept something 99% close to what you had in mind, you may be able to avoid more than 50% of the development costs that a full custom component of it's kind would likely have cost.
Technology: some technology is faster and easier to work with than others, or requires less skills or less testing. Often the choice of technology may also have a big bearing on the price - another good reason to talk through your requirements before your development team get to work!
A few other factors that relate to the agencies themselves may influence these variations in prices between agencies:
The agency's position in the market itself can have a big bearing: As with all services and products, some will offer only 'quality' work and would rather not be involved in a project if they feel constraints will force them to do a "rushed, half-job". This is the thinking that can often lead to agencies refusing to start work for less than £10,000 or £20,000.
The agency’s current workload can have influence on the price: if there aren't many web projects underway, agencies would obviously like more businesses, even if it isn't as profitable as they would like.
The agency’s experience, level of management and overall expertise: from my experience this can actually influence things in two or three different ways. A team of experienced developers will command a higher wage, and therefore projects will need to be priced to reflect this. Equally, a team of poorly managed developers can cost more due to inefficiencies of working at the agencies end.
The agency’s overheads: separate from the cost of staff, some agencies may have a large building, offer nice company cars and other perks to help keep experienced staff, all of which must factor into the final price.
These are biggest factors you've likely encountered which influence your web development project's costs. We strongly recommend discussing all of this with your development team or chosen agency. Certainly speaking for ourselves, we would much rather talk through your requirements and deliver a great solution that is exactly what you need. There will often be cost savings in development which won't even be visible to the outside world and this will ensure the best project within the budget you set.