WestCoast2008:What Should a Web Site Cost?

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One of the most vexing questions in any project is “What are appropriate costs for technology and labor?” This session will utilize anecdotal data and participant input to explore costing for different types of web sites, from simple “brochure-ware” sites to custom, database-backed applications and points in between.

Session Notes

Notetaker: Jude

Website Dish session go-around:

3 levels of websites:

  • Brochure website
  • Contact MP
  • Custom complicated

  • Drupal $5k 2 years ago. Floatleft.org. $120/hr $80/hr
  • $75-125 NGO rate.
  • 800 to upgrade Drupal
  • 4 year web budget under $10k

  • Independent contractor. $65-150.
  • Baseline 5 page $1500-$5000.
  • Monthly fee, costly for top tier CMP. Mono Convio formerly GetActive. It’s a fundraising backend.
  • Good for market. Long term contract lockin.

Types of participants in web development:

  • Platform players.
  • Services & Vender.
  • Consultants

  • Website consultant: using Drupal, Theming
  • $80-150/hour. sliding scale
  • Branding and media strategy
  • $5k- $10k for branding, treatment, design

  • Americorps Vista. Created Website brochureware, searchable database.
  • $3k fee equivalent.

  • C Tech
  • $75-100/hr
  • Brochureware minimum $2k. Drupal implementation. Colors in std theme. Logo.
  • Add custom theme development.
  • McWebsites up to $15,000
  • All Drupal.

  • One new Plone shop affects hosting costs.
  • Hosting rates
  • Less brochureware is done. Because more demand for dynamic. $5k. Solution prices. Depending on group, apply some subsidy. Quote full price and disclose.
  • Introdynamic, portlets on the side. Custom content pull in - $7-10k.
  • High touch design, change orders, prices go up. $10-30k for major design and trade-offs.
  • Pricing is good information forces both to be honest.
  • $50-100k for crazy design stuff.
  • Advise clients for upgrades after 3 years. 20-30% of project budget.
  • Project management costs. Slam dunk clients – 10-15% of estimate. High touch clients dial up to as high as 40%. They need the support but you need to be compensated.
  • Functions of $60k level project: backend editorial interface. Design framed out. Template driven email. Daily and weekly email going out. Custom newsclipping service.
  • Throw it into plone. Coalition project w/ high design. Outside creative agency. Degree of saturation on the website. Costly. Ate a lot of time. Not so much the technology.

  • Python programmers? Not many known.
  • PHP programmers – some will create code for food.
  • ONENW committed to Plone and drive the development and improvement of it.

  • Worked in Drupal. Volunteer. In Seattle lots of Drupal people.
  • Good reasons to go with Plone.


3- tier story. Personal friends want a website $100 and dinner. Godaddy simple tools. Dislike the company. Cheap simple tools and don’t have to worry about it. Own website used to use Network Solutions to register domain. Cold fusion. Dreamweaver, citric server. Goodlink. Security honey pot. Cost of dreamweaver with … citric licenses. Shop stewards. $200 register two domains and basic tools. International – several sites use cold fusion millions of dollars for Locals On Line. Complex give websites to communications department. Also have Get Active spent millions of dollars. Using same products. Now working on new membership site for millions. Big orgs big budgets.

  • Freebe site. Now such thing as free. To Migrate domain off godaddy is a huge hassle. Very hard to unlock. Beating users to submission seems to be their strategy.
  • $9/month.
  • Network Redux. Impressive servers
  • Dreamhost – free to nonprofits. Get what you pay for it. Fun screaming. Downtime. Blew away dbase and no backup.
  • Paying modest fee is advisable
  • Nearly Freespeech = pay as you go. Good policies.
  • Riseup not in groovy hosting anymore. Don’t go there without secret handshake

Opensource is a favorite of Aspirations. Host requested for this conference a quick solution. Media wiki. Fully implemented in very short order. Merged and now low tech support. $8-12/month gets enough bandwidth. One bottleneck for certain things – often emerges.

  • Sweet deal. Open source host. Wordpress site. They upgrade it. $9/month.
  • Important thing: godaddy $100/year. Bad. Million better players. Find out who is using what and copy. Ask around, and then you can ask your peers.
  • Opensource Host will install any opensource. Like Joomla as hosting account. Development phase. Play off radar first. Then move to actual website.
  • Wordpress is crazy easy.
  • Opensource host – give you choice and do all the admin. If there’s a security flaw in the program. If you have customized it’s bad. Use software as is and don't add-on fancy stuff.
  • Bright is a higher end offering. If you can afford.
  • No money. Opensource host solution is fine. Wordpress theme used. Bootstrap. Generic templatized.
  • State of the art. RSS. Pay for the theme.

  • Wordpress. Design put up log and banner. Easy. Free. Fooling around.
  • Any web real estate. You want under your own domain.

  • Build wordpress.com website. Can be exported.
  • Have control of your internet realise state. Free stuff can go away.
  • Yahoo groups got shut down when war broke out. 100k or so lost.
  • Yahoo hosting. Volume OK, but if backwater org, pay because it’s a contractual relationship.
  • Back to the gossip.
  • 10 years ago website volunteer. SAD. Evolved design. Java program designer. Upgrades costs money.
  • Greenaction.org
  • 120k text on home page. Text content current, but same design.
  • Complex data model. Campaigns, communities, issues and interlinking. Information architecture scales.

Help clients figure out what they need. Save them costs to website design and functionality.

  • Change Wordpress themes and org maintain
  • CVCRM and Drupal.
  • Design action in Oakland. Reach & Teach. Use CMS called FreeGeek. Email, print, leave comments
  • High end bid $50k-$300k. membership organization. $250,000 was a cap. High outrageous cost, but it was not going to go up. Design cost. No maintenance.

Extra thing. Not typical client.

  • Sisters client. $150/hr strategy. Good to raise rates – higher quality clients. Communications vision, define online and offline. Design and programming $7k.

100 pages. Home page etc. programming $2500. consulting over 3 years $15k. ongoing costs ½ salary to maintain content. $400/year for email donations.

  • no more brochure websites.
  • Design in house. $5k basic. Contractors and firms to work with.
  • Wordpress for blog. Drupal. Pay for facebook applications –
  • Launching thru facebook instead of website. Because of audience. 5k estimates. What kind of application? Sign up for powervote pledge. Feed into facebook. Regional coordinators can mobilize. Not just facebook widget but a whole application.
  • Facebook mostly young people. Do it it cheap and easy. Digital fellow - $1000/month.
  • Video and design stuff – project not hourly. Free range studio in bay area. After freelance editors do better job. $1000 for 3 minute video from 2 hours of tape. With already story defined.
  • Branding estimates obscene $20-50k
  • Consultant: web developer. 165-225 rates. Clients are small and large (ACLU). Southern poverty law center. Foundations.
  • Drupal. Technology agnostic. Hate Joomla! because restricted template parameters.
  • Sweet project.. hours 400-600. do lots of 300 hours. Budget from $50k to 125k.
  • Very large Drupal site gov’t $355k – funds in planning for 100’s of hours. Who are they, info architecture. Branding design. Stakeholders many.
  • Built business on referrals, i.e. give out small jobs. Can’t go down to $80/hour.
  • $5k sites get farmed out.
  • In last 6 years NGO. Just want roll-out. Send it to others.
  • Small shops are booked.

  • “Get more work than you can handle”
  • But not at capacity. Development on some, and further along.
  • Nervous about economy and the summer. After 9-11 four deals pulled off the table.
  • Hopeing for after the election.

Organization to support people with life threatening illness. Brochure ware needs to be redone. Flash on 2 pages. In house job. First it was letting people know. About her daughter and community projects. It’s now about everyone. Bring her legacy forward. Now want a CMS system. Out looking. New project launching and looking for expertise. Image integrated with dbase. For profit systems donors. In virtual world enterprise development. Usually charge $200k, but maybe do a $10-20k cost version.

  • Enterprise Collaboration. Import sketch and work with their own tools.
  • Risk aversion of NGO sector, people won’t go to new stuff.
  • Second Life $20k. virtualize what you can’t do in real world.
  • Agoglio – developed last year. 3-d in the browser.
  • Metaplace new platform. Kids for cancers.

Inst for Soc & Env Justice. Paid $2.4k for design action. $3500 for whole project. On Amp platform. Brochure but ways to build up. Regular content updates. Quotes. So it doesn’t look totally dead.

PicNet. Has platform called soapbox built off of Joomla!. Sliding scale. Events component $500 each, commenting, normal blogs.

  • Includes inhouse designer and trainer.
  • $95/hour for design
  • Hosting $40-65/month includes tech support and email.
  • Custom projects start $15k. Less not viable.
  • Up to $100k. can include custom deve to your website. $140/hour design.

DT has bunch of different ranges. Mostly on a hosted platform. All implementation is custom rather than basic set of tools. Probono clients will do design otherwise don’t for paying clients. Partner w/ Design Action and some others. $1800 -4k for design part. Inhouse hands off the parameters for design. BiroCreative design firm.

  • Get templates and install them.
  • Cost for implementation $4k-10k. do fixed costs easier for clients.
  • Very little brochure ware doesn’t make sense when using a CMS system.
  • Host Wordpress and the other bit.
  • Mostly $6,500 add 30-40%.
  • Host $50/month with ½ hour support.
  • $140/hr for rush support.

Ruby on Rails cost. Varies to spec. $120/hour. Any that’s not content platform based. Like a specific voter guide, networking. Distributed event system. $4k out of the box. DIA action tool with added management portal. Report backs, upload utube. Eg. Step it Up. Social Network application painful and problems.

$8-15 range for web deployment. – want to get there. Doubling rates. Upgrade infrastructure hosting – keep it current.

Complex architecture with complex.

Facebook clone for $60/hu. Should have charged more.

On firm puts hourly on pre development, and then fixed cost for the dev/ launch.

  • Choices
  • Fixed bid
  • Creeping hourly
  • Cap
  • Specific deliverables

Clients prefer fixed bid.

Vendor: fixed bid when know what your doing. Estimates can be risky. Issue with fixed bid. Scoping and planning time can get burned up.

  • ACLU functional specs took way longer.
  • When you do a prototype, there's development…
  • Issue with pay on launch. Better to get paid along the way.
  • Separate out the planning phase from the development. Estimate for feature specs and consulting production because bad or no RFPs. Then estimate. Range on first part. Fixed.
  • 2 days on site 2 people. Week to write up. 80-200 hours.
  • Previous billing on launch. Way not good.
  • 3 easy payments. Start up fee, on approval of design. On launch. Evens out cash flow. Controls clients too. Bigger projects there are more interim invoices. Need at least payment of $10 k incoming.
  • High touch strategy component – planning re audiences.
  • More entry level stuff – site map… convert to plone… these are the $. Like commenting for an hour.
  • 1/3 deposit. 2/3 on launch.
  • Every budget has “discovery reports” worth it for $10 k, if going to spend $200k on software.
  • Range of meetings needed, versus design and development.


Share AH-HA's:

1. Get paid for pre-production work hourly, esp for big projects. Before you start active project management.

2. Upper cap to project cost.

3. Being a novice at getting consultants. Get full price instead of pay by the hour.