Why Websites Cost So Much

Have you looked into getting yourself a new website and been left shocked and confused about the price? We see it a lot, clients who are seeking a well-designed, fully functional website with a budget of roughly $1,000.
screenshot of responsive website designs in an Adobe XD document

Sick of reading about and not doing anything?

Have you looked into getting yourself a new website and been left shocked and confused about the price? We see it a lot, clients who are seeking a well-designed, fully functional website with a budget of roughly $1,000. Unfortunately, the reality is that websites are expensive. Having a web agency design a custom website that functions well and looks neat, is going to set you back at least five grand. Why?

The short answer is: websites take time and time costs money. The long answer? Well…

Here’s why the price is probably surprising

You can make your own for free

It’s true. You can login to WordPress or Shopify and make your own website almost for free. These work as automated systems and are referred to as a SaaS (software as a service). The design and function is normally a relatively one-size-fits-all kind of design.

You can just use a template

The word ‘template’ is thrown around a lot. This is where a web developer will create a template for a website with the intention of applying it over and over again for a range of different businesses. These take some DIY skill or money to change details to suit your website’s needs.

Some companies hand them out for free

There are SEO and marketing companies that hand out websites like free prizes, as long as you’re a client buying their core offer. Their core offer is usually quite expensive too and the website comes as a SaaS, a one-size-fits-all website.

But one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to your brand and your website.

The Process

Like we said earlier, websites are expensive because they take time. Here’s a breakdown of our process and where all those billable hours come from.

Working out who you are and what you need

The first thing we do is meet with you. Tom and James come out and they see your organisation firsthand, and they get to know you, your pain points, and what you’d want a new website to do for your company. They work out how complicated it will all need to be, is it an e-commerce site with thousands of products across hundreds of categories? Is it more of a ‘brochure’ website, simply there to attract attention from and inform potential customers?


Tom and James bring the points of the meeting to our design team and then it’s brainstorm time. We fully conceptualise your website from here. What pages does the website need and what sort of layout makes sense for what we need to display? We think about the UX Design – who’s using the website and how they’d interact with different elements. Then, we make sure we know what we’ll do so your new website will convert (as any good web agency should). 

Web Design

The design stage comes next, where we ‘draw up’ the website. This means every detail. Web agencies will design the buttons, the drop down menus, and the placing of each and every component. Our web designers size and align each element so they’re laid out absolutely perfectly. This process includes things like picking suitable colours, taking/sourcing high resolution images, and making the website ‘pretty’. Our web design team work to make sure the website will stand out from competitors’ and we include the client in the process so changes can be made throughout.

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How long it takes to design a website is hard to answer. It depends on the elements, how much of it is truly custom-designed (are we drawing unique-to-you icons? Are we designing a custom font?), as well as the number of pages and how much they differ from each other. That’s really just the surface… there are thousands of different reasons we might need to spend more time in this phase. A web agency’s design phase can take from one week up to a month… it can really vary. 


The words on your website matter. There are a plethora of websites out on the internet that have DIY copy, and any web agency can tell you that they do not convert in the same way as websites with professional, strategic copy. The time needed to write copy for a website, much like design, depends. There’s competitor research, product and service research, SEO considerations. Copywriters take the time to learn about the target audience, how they can relate to them, and how to make the copy flow and sound pretty, but still encourage conversions.

Web Development

The next step is development. There’s front end development and back end development. Our developers make the website interactive, so when you click on a button, it takes you where you need to go. They wire up the website and basically take it from a picture of a website, to a fully fledged website. This includes developing the individual mockups for desktop, mobile, and tablet use.

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Prototypes for desktop, iPad, and iPhone

Go Live

The first step of taking a new website live at Sonder is our ‘Go Live Checklist’. We go through the website with a fine tooth comb; looking for anything that doesn’t work as it should or even the smallest of flaws or errors. The next step is for your web agency to  move it over to the servers and domain. These need to be configured perfectly for an efficient and well-done migration.

This really just skims on the surface of what it takes to put together a website, and why it costs so much. In summary, it can take a lot of time and it takes the combined effort of a number of skilled creatives to bring a well-designed, functional website that converts to fruition.

Let’s go!