The amount of research and discovery you invest into building your website is entirely up to you and the person or agency building it. In the decades we’ve spent building websites, we always advise clients to invest in research, as this part of the process is often the difference between a website that looks nice, and a website that looks nice and generates sales. The best UI/UX design is based on industry, competitor, and user research. The less guesswork, the better the results. This is why we always recommend starting with research.
Not all research is the same; different levels of research are required for different kinds of websites. If you’re creating a simple content website, then the research and discovery can be lighter because there’s less functionality involved; your research will likely be primarily competitive. Similarly, if you’re looking for a quick and dirty reskin of your current website, this also requires minimal research.
On the other hand, if your website requires any sort of user dashboard, product visualization tools, advanced shopping cart features, multi-step lead-gen forms, custom user experience — anything truly unique — then conducting UI/UX, customer, and competitive research upfront can save you a ton of time and money in the long run despite the initial investment.
Depending on the level of research involved in your website project, this could cost anywhere in the range of $2,500 - $20,000, and sometimes more for extra large projects.
If you’re going to cut costs anywhere, research is not the place. Any professional or agency who advises against this part of the process is likely misinformed or dishonest, so beware!
How much Web Development is needed for your site?
Web development refers to the essential code that makes your website work. Some websites only call for basic web development, which is included in many of the popular DIY website builders like Wix or Squarespace. Straightforward content websites typically only call for basic web development, making them cheaper, quicker, and easier to build.
On the other hand, ecommerce websites require much more functionality since users need the ability to make purchases directly through the site. For standard ecommerce websites, off-the-shelf platforms like Shopify typically work just fine and offer tons of app integrations to customize your website.
However, if your site integrates with multiple third-party apps, works with multiple payment providers, or requires more advanced features or customizations, DIY website building platforms can quickly become costly due to recurring fees. Additionally, you’ll need to work with a web developer to implement any of the above custom integrations, which also increases cost.
For many businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, custom development provides a longer-term, cost-effective solution. The reason for this is twofold: on the one hand, you pay upfront and avoid recurring fees. On the other hand, you own the site and all its technology indefinitely, making it less likely that your site will crash or be hacked by outside parties — either of which can be costly.
That said, custom development initially requires a larger investment than off-the-shelf platforms, so you will need to have an adequate budget if you decide to take this route. Additionally, any custom-developed website should be backed by data and research, which will also increase cost.
This is why it’s so important to determine the level of web development you need upfront. Do you need a customized shopping experience or built-in user tools? Additionally, are you looking for back-office functionality, multi-level user permissions, or advanced technology integrations? These are examples of times when custom development is worth the investment. Conversely, if you’re looking to build a no-frills site with less customizations and basic features, an off-the-shelf solution is probably the way to go.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of the level of web development your website will need. Whether you use a DIY website builder, hire a freelance developer, or work with a web development agency, you should take the time to figure out the complexity of your needs. Depending on your needs, web development costs could range anywhere from $1,500 - $50,000+.
Point of reference: How much does our digital agency charge for websites?