September 24, 2020
The most popular question that we get asked as a web design agency is ‘How much is a website?’.
Every day without fail, we receive several enquiries via the form on our contact page, as well as phone calls and even social comments regarding costs. The problem is that it is very hard to quote for a job unless we have some details regarding the project.
For this reason, we thought we would write an article that outlines some of the basic details we need to know before we can attempt to quote on a new project. And because of the rise in demand for online stores, we thought we would look specifically at how much it costs for eCommerce website design and development.
Ecommerce Platform Options
There are a plethora of eCommerce platforms available to those that are looking to launch an online store. But not all are equal.
Here is a quick overview of the solutions on offer:
Off-the-shelf Web Stores
Pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap. That would be the mantra for most off-the-shelf eCommerce platforms.
The idea is to give company owners and entrepreneurs the ability to create their own online store without needing to employ the services of a web designer or development agency such as LWDA.
Without any coding knowledge, store owners can choose a theme, create pages, upload content and launch their store within a matter of days or even hours.
Ecommerce website options include but are not limited to:
Most of these platforms allow for a certain amount of flexibility with page layout but beware of those that state ‘anything is possible’. The chances are you’ll need the services of a web developer if you want to make radical changes to one of their pre-built themes.
These eCommerce solutions are great for those with very limited budgets and time to dedicate to the creation of the site itself.
Mid-market & Enterprise Solutions
If you are looking for a platform that offers more in terms of features and control for the end-user, then there are a few mid-market & enterprise-level eCommerce solutions available.
Tailored mid-market solutions
Tailored mid-market solutions are for clients who need more of their business processes added to the selling platform. They need to hook up custom warehouse workflows and integrate accounting and marketing channels, all tailored to their business needs.
These platforms still offer pre-built templates for those that wish to create their own stores, but you will likely get the most from the chosen solution if you work with a web developer to create your own bespoke design which is tailored to your exact requirements.
Options include but are not limited to:
- Magento 2
Tailored enterprise solutions
Tailored enterprise solutions would usually be suitable for businesses with sales over £1m per year, looking to create a seamless omnichannel experience for their customers.
Because of this very high level of operation, the costs of building an enterprise eCommerce platform start at around £150k. If you are interested in this type of solution, you should contact our sister agency Devstars.
Options include but are not limited to:
- Shopify Plus
- Magento Commerce
- SAP Hybris
All of the above platforms are great for companies who have already experimented with an off-the-shelf platform but are now in the market to build a larger more robust online empire.
Your budget would need to reflect your aspirations. Are you looking to grow your brand significantly and compete on level terms with the market leaders in your sector? If the answer is yes, then you would likely need a mid-market or enterprise-level solution.
Off-the-shelf or Bespoke? The Pros & Cons
When discussing build options with potential clients, we focus on two main routes that we have explored thoroughly over the years. Shopify and WooCommerce.
We have worked with many types of solutions in the past, but feel that Shopify and WooCommerce (with WordPress) offer the best range of tools and growth options for the type of client that we work with. And here’s why:
Shopify with bespoke front-end design
There’s no doubt about it; Shopify offers a lot of great tools to help businesses launch their online eCommerce presence. Not least the ability to take payments without the need to set up a merchant account.
Creating a Shopify account is quick and easy. Building the website itself can also be quite a speedy process, but time and time again we discover that pre-built Shopify themes tend to lack the flexibility that our clients require.
Bespoke Shopify Theme Design
To help our clients get to market quickly and use the tools that they may already be familiar with, we started to offer bespoke front-end design work for Shopify. Effectively creating our own themes. A great example of this would be Beyl Skincare.
Having a bespoke theme designed for your brand will enable your website to stand out from the crowd. No one else will be using your theme, so there can never be any confusion between your brand and a potential competitor.
Extra functionality can be added to Shopify websites through the use of plugins, many of which are easy enough to implement, but most of our clients tend to require a helping hand when expanding the functionality of their website, especially if they are trying to link to inhouse CRMs and 3rd party fulfilment houses. These plugins also often come at a price, with monthly fees instead of being a one-off purchase.
Website Optimisation & SEO
One downside to Shopify is that the end-user has almost no control over optimisation. The store owner would need to make sure that they optimise their images before they upload them to the system.
Site speed is an important metric used by Google when it comes to ranking websites, with slower sites falling down the ranking order, so make sure you do all you can to optimise your images.
Shopify is also more limited when it comes to SEO, so you need to be very mindful of your page titles from the get-go because there is not much room to manoeuvre once the setup is complete.
Finally, the checkout process for Shopify is pretty-much set in stone with very little flexibility. What you see is what you get.
WordPress with WooCommerce Bespoke Design & Build
Although there are pre-built themes available for WordPress and WooCommerce (the eCommerce plugin for WordPress), we like to design and build our own WordPress themes from scratch.
Creating our own themes for WordPress & WooCommerce allows for the following benefits:
- Faster page-load times – All excess code is removed, streamlining each page template to be faster and more responsive than pre-built themes.
- Increased security – No one else has access to our code because we do not use pre-built themes. Combined with the Wordfence plugin, this makes the websites we build very hard to exploit.
- Tailored design that is unique and on-brand.
- Improved SEO capabilities – Especially when combined with the powerful Yoast plugin.
These are just the highlights. We also write many of our own plugins, only using 3rd-party solutions from the most reputable developers; and we host our web stores on highly secure servers with multiple levels of backup.
If you are looking to have an eCommerce website created for your brand, that needs to sell products in a very particular way whilst linking to an existing set of office management tools and a particular payment provider, then WooCommerce is the way forward. Just ask Back to Work Store.
How we quote for eCommerce website design & build
Having covered some of the options available to you and highlighting the eCommerce services which we provide, the question remains; how much does an eCommerce website cost?
We always strive to quote as accurately as possible for any new project. To do this we must find out some details which will help us gain a better understanding of your requirements.
Here are our key considerations:
Number of templates
We start the process of calculating costs by working out how many unique page templates are required for the website.
It’s important to understand that this is NOT the number of pages that the website will include. It is the number of templates that will be used to create the pages themselves.
For example, an eCommerce website may include the following page templates:
- Order Confirmation
We always suggest that a website only includes pages that are absolutely necessary. Everything else, such as an About page or news blog are nice things to have but not essential.
We can help reduce costs by using some standard templates for the Basket and Checkout pages; applying branding elements (colours, fonts, logo, etc) to help keep the website feeling cohesive while avoiding the need to design these from scratch.
Each unique template takes approximately 2.5 days to design and build responsively for desktop and mobile devices, so plan your site structure carefully.
Plugins and system integrations
Secondly, we need to understand the type of functionality required for the website to be truly useful for both staff and the end-user.
Which systems does the website need to integrate with and how is the customer data going to be managed?
Consider the following when briefing a web development company:
- Mailing List / CRM – Used for eMarketing. Often provided by companies such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor. Do you already have a mailing list or will you need to create one from scratch?
- Payment Gateway – How will you be taking payments? Service providers (PayPal, Stripe, etc) charge different amounts per transaction, so you may have a preference based on prior experience. We can advise where necessary.
- Fulfilment Houses – More established brands may require their website to talk directly to a fulfilment house for order processing and integrating with their system to track stock levels. This can be achieved through the use of an API.
We would also need to know if you require social feeds from the likes of Instagram and Twitter. Each requires working with an API and we will need your login details to help incorporate those feeds into your website.
Finally, it is only professional of us to make clear that the task of inputting content into the website should be that of the client and their team.
We implement tools that allow clients the ability to manage their websites from the moment of launch. Taking some time to get used to the chosen CMS by uploading content will be time well spent.
We do of course input some content during the build and testing phases, but the client should allow time within their schedule to populate the website with product information prior to going live.
In Conclusion: Don’t be too brief with your brief.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing and building a website; and so it is impossible to give an accurate eCommerce website cost without first having some sort of brief to work from.
Taking the time to write a detailed brief for your new website will help a web developer understand your requirements, and at the very least enable them to narrow down their ballpark quote to a more focused price range.
Outlining your list of pages and functionality requirements is very important. If you have quite a big wishlist, consider splitting it into categories labelled as Essential, Ideal and Not Essential. This way the developer can cost the items in each list, allowing you to see where the budget is going and helping you plan the future development stages of the site.