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    Website builds can range anywhere from the incredibly cheap $500 range all the way into the millions and beyond. I get many questions about what causes this huge range in prices. After a previous life as a master certified technician for a high-end luxury car manufacturer, I can see the similarities between websites and automobiles. I think drawing upon those comparisons will help shed some light on the vast scale of website pricing.

    You get what you pay for. Period.

    It’s extremely rare that you get a new Mercedes for the price of a used Honda. There is quite a large amount of time and effort that can go into building a website, and all that time and effort can add up to a high price.  Research - Whats with website pricing - GravitateIt’s the same with a new Mercedes. Car manufacturers have hours and hours of time poured into research and development, wind tunnel testing, road testing, and reiteration of car designs. The same elements can be applied to websites. The higher end of the spectrum will have hours of time poured into your websites digital marketing strategy including market research, competitor research, content strategy, information architecture, and client goals and personas.

    The trickle down effect

    One of the things I always found interesting in the car world was the trickle-down effect. What I mean is that the higher-end cars such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and so on would innovate and create some new functionality that would then trickle down to the less-expensive car manufacturers over the next several years. The newer that functionality is, the more it costs. We have seen the premium that car manufacturers will charge for some new gadget that no other manufacturer offers. The reason for this is the amount of time and effort invested to make sure that new gadget functions reliably and to specifications. The same can be said for website design. Think about responsive design; when it hit the scene, responsive websites came at a premium. Now that this feature has spread to the rest of the internet, a responsive site is nearly expected.

    Technology will always drive up the price of a car

    The more tech the car has in it (think options) the higher the price climbs. You want a lane departure warning system, heated seats, leather, moonroof, and navigation? They will all raise the price of most cars. Some cars already come with those you say? Yes, but the cars that come with those as standard already reflect that in the car’s price. Again, the same is true with websites. The more technology needed to run a website, the more the site is going to cost. Some of that tech you won’t even see, such as the rain-sensing wipers in a car or a contact form that integrates with a chosen CRM for a website. You can think of these as options for your website. Options such as CRM integration, API connection, and event management are just a few of these types of “options” that can affect the final price.

    Lamborghini example - Why website pricing varies - GravitateLooks matter

    Moving to what you can see on the surface, have you ever looked at the fit and finish of a Lamborghini or Ferrari? The paint is immaculate, the trim fits perfectly, there are no rattles, and the craftmanship is amazing. Now look at the fit and finish of the base rental car. The paint is cheap, the interior has constant rattles, and the cloth seats have already faded within ten thousand miles of use. You can see where I am going with this. In the web world, we call this polish. This is where on one end of the spectrum you have hours and hours of attention to detail going into the handcrafted beauty that is a Lamborghini, whereas, on the other end, there is the assembly line build that was performed by a machine in minutes. This can translate directly into website’s build: the more animations, rollovers, and polish a website contains, the more time and customization was put into it, and the more the price will rise. Alternatively, template websites, similar to vehicle assembly line builds, aren’t nearly as customizable as something designed from scratch, complete with solutions tailored to your users and goals.

    What can it do

    You probably wouldn’t take your Lamborghini camping because it isn’t built for that. Cars can have specialties, and that usually affects the price. You want a car that’s made to go fast? It will cost more. You want a vehicle that can climb a mountain? It will cost more. The same goes for websites. Creating a website to specialize and outperform in one area can affect the site’s price.

    It all comes down to time

    The more time put into car functionality, technology, specialization, or fit and finish, the more the car is going to cost. Websites are the same. The time involved will directly affect the final price tag.

    Having so many options out there when it comes to choosing a car or having a website built can make it difficult to decide. The decision may come down to needs, goals, or budget. Understanding what can affect the price of your car will always help make that decision easier. It is the same for websites; understanding what can affect the price of your website will help with the decision-making process and lead to a better fit for your needs and goals.

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