I was at a client meeting a few months ago. It was going well. We spent some time going over her project, figuring out what was needed and how to accomplish it. We ‘meshed’ and I was excited about working with her, and I think that she was excited too. Until we started to discuss pricing.
I explained the amount of work that would go into building her website, it was quite large with a lot of pages, and although it wasn’t feature-heavy, it was quite design heavy requiring a fair amount of custom graphics. Unfortunately, her budget didn’t line up with the project scope. Not that unusual. Normally, I would reiterate the amount of work involved, and explain how translates into the price I delivered. At that point we usually discuss options, and if I can, I will point her towards the steps she can take to reach her goals (even if she decides not to move forward with my services).
But before we could discuss options she told me this: “I’ve done my research and a WordPress website shouldn’t cost more than $1500.00.” I was speechless. She continued, “I mean, WordPress is simple and free, I just need someone to ‘set it up’. Plus, I had this guy from Craigslist do my last website for $500. So, it shouldn’t be much more than that.” How could I hope to help her when she had such a definite price set in stone, and a bevy of discount designers at her beck and call?
Somewhere along the way, we WordPress designers failed her. Maybe we made WordPress sound too easy, “Just 1-click install WordPress and throw on a theme, easy breezy”? Maybe, we’ve set ourselves up to compete with the Craigslist & Kijiji $499.00 specials? Maybe we don’t talk enough about pricing, and what it entails?
Well, I’m going to address some of the nitty-gritty here:
WordPress is Easy
Yes and no. WordPress is easy compared to the options we had years ago, but still has a learning curve and requires some patience and motivation to learn.
Not that long ago a regular business website was difficult for the average person to update. Most websites were built from scratch using just code (a static website), or built using expensive software programs like Microsoft Frontpage and Dreamweaver. You either needed to know how to code, or have the software and know how to use it to make changes to your website. It was accepted that a business owner would need to have their webmaster make even ‘simple’ changes to their website. The process of making just about any change was often time-consuming, and required special knowledge. Also, if you wanted to add a special feature like a blog or a bulletin board it may have required a custom program coded, and that would increase the cost of your website by thousands.
Yes, simpler tasks like adding a blog post, adding a page, or changing existing content in WordPress should be easy for the average user. But because WordPress is so flexible and can do almost anything, all of the options can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to get your website to look and work exactly how you want. This is why you would want to bring in an expert, to design a beautiful and functional website. A properly designed WordPress website, and a well-built theme, will make a huge difference in how easy it is for the average user to use.
WordPress also allows us to choose from a variety of pre-built programs (plugins) that we can add to get almost any functionality we need. For example, In the past, a calendar may have required a custom program written, but today with WordPress you can use a plugin to provide the same feature. For the average business owner setting up that plugin to work properly and look good can be very difficult, but for a developer who may have had to write a program from scratch in the past, using a plugin is comparably easier.
So, some things in WordPress are easy, and some things require special skills (like coding, or familiarity with certain plugins or themes).
Good WordPress Designers are a Dime a Dozen (Just go on Fiverr, Craigslist, Kijiji, etc… and hire anyone)
Yup, there are lots of self-described WordPress ‘experts’. But, I can guarantee that for every good designer out there, there are dozens of bad ones. The thing is, WordPress can be easy. There’s nothing stopping someone with even just a little bit of tech savvy from following a few tutorials to get up and running with WordPress, from there it’s only a matter of putting up an ad on Kijiji and advertising yourself as a “WordPress” designer. But choosing that person can become a real PITA. Just ask that person to make a change, or add a feature, and you might get a mess instead. Or you may go to update your website, and all of your changes disappear (ooops, I guess they’ve never heard of a child theme. A basic step that a professional would be aware of). Knowing how to install WordPress and a theme does not make you a developer, designer, or an expert.
So how do you tell the good from the bad? Do your research. Try Googling her name to see what you come up with, a good designer should be easy to find. Read her testimonials and reviews, do they sound legit, can you find the reviewers online? Take a look at her portfolio, do you like her style, do the sites look good? Lastly spend some time chatting with her, does she respond quickly, do you get along, does she sound knowledgeable?
So, How Much Should a WordPress Website Actually Cost?
Now this is a hard question. Like our fictional client above, there is no maximum price a WordPress website should cost. It really depends on a variety of factors, including how experienced the designer is, what sort of features you need, how large your website is, whether you prefer a graphic-heavy design vs. a clean minimal design, etc…
A simple search online will reveal that the cost of a WordPress website varies wildly, and almost no one can agree on a ‘typical’ cost (heck, there’s not such thing as a ‘typical’ website anyways).
So then the real question is: how do I avoid getting ripped-off?
- Be prepared – have a good idea of what you want in a website. When the project is complete, you will have this, and this will indicate a successful outcome.
- Do some research – Take a look at a variety of designers and get an idea of what you can get for what you want.
- What are you willing to pay? Set a realistic budget – one based on both the research you did, your requirements, and your comfort level.
- Make sure there’s a contract – a professional should have one ready to go.
- Chat with your designer before you hire her. Is she easy to reach? Does she respond quickly? what are her processes? Does she listen, and is she receptive to your ideas?
- Trust your gut – if something doesn’t quite jive, trust your instincts.
Need some hard numbers? Check out our sample pricing:
You might also be interested in our article: Reconciling Your Web Design Dreams With Your Budget.
Do you find WordPress to be easy? Are you happy/unhappy with the cost of your website? How much do you think a WordPress website should cost? Comment below.