WordPress Website Pricing – Knowing the Cost Drivers Helps Manage the Budget

August 19 2016

James Hipkin

WordPress website pricing can be obtuse.

But don’t despair.

Because we build sites using WordPress we can help you understand where the costs come from.

In this post, we will describe the factors that influence WordPress website pricing. Generally speaking, they fall into three large buckets: functional requirements, design requirements, and content entry. With this information you will be better prepared to manage your next WordPress website project’s budget.

WordPress Website Pricing – Functional Requirements are the Primary Driver

Stated simply, what does the site need to do? Easy to say, but this is an onion question. It seems simple on the surface but there are layers.

What’s under the hood? Are there third party integrations. Some integrations, like connecting a form to MailChimp, are simple. But others, for example a deep integration with Marketo or HubSpot, can get quite complex.

Job listing resources are another third party integration that often comes in at the last moment.

“Oh by the way, Human Resources wants us to post job listings on the site. They use “HR Resource We’ve Never Heard Of” to manage this for them. Can this be done before tomorrow’s launch?”

The easiest way to control these costs is to plan for them in the beginning and by being careful about the third parties you select. Is an API offered? Is it well documented? Are there already WordPress plugins available for the third party? Do the plugins function as required by the site? Never assume that it will be simple.

Major functionalities like ecommerce, event management, listings, store locators, etc. will impact WordPress website pricing. Even when plugins are used, setting up them up requires work. Styling the output requires work. This is especially true if the designer hasn’t reviewed the plugin and based their design on its natural output. See more on this below. The more sophisticated the plugin, the more work that’s required.

Consider how content will be managed on the site. Or said another way, how will the pages function. Will content be published in multiple locations? For example, will post excerpts and featured images be used on the home page, the archive page, elsewhere? Will Custom Post Types be required for content? How many? Will custom taxonomy be required? Is filtering and/or sorting needed? How will press releases and press notifications be handled, or not? Does the site need a search function? Does Search need to be superior to the WordPress default? There are many questions about content that need to be considered. Ask yourself is this really needed? Does this bit of content manipulation support the website’s primary objective?

Tahoe DesktopTahoe MobileIs the site mobile responsive or mobile adaptive? They aren’t the same.

An adaptive site changes the content and often the functionality for mobile devices. This can lead to a superior user experience for people visiting your site on a mobile device, so may well be worth the investment, but adaptive sites are more expensive to build. A simple example of an adaptive technique is the ability to control how images are displayed on mobile devices. In a responsive site an image with a horizontal aspect ratio will either be shrunk to fit or cropped to fit a mobile device. An adaptive site allows you to add two images, one with the horizontal aspect ration for desktop and another image that’s been cropped to an aspect ratio appropriate for mobile devices. Then WordPress uses the appropriate image depending on the device being used to view the site.

Virtually anything is possible with enough time and budget.

Design Requirements also Impact Build Costs

Design requirements will also impact the budget. Templates are the underpinning of a WordPress site. Templates are used to control content layout and page specific functionality. If each page of a ten-page site has a different layout and/or functional requirements, it will cost more to build than a thirty page site that uses five layouts. And it’s layouts and/or functionality. Even if the layout is the same, if the page requires different functionality, it’s a new template. For example, if you have two pages in the design with the same layout, but one page pulls content from a Custom Post Type and the other page uses its own content editing options, there are two templates. The number and complexity of templates drives WordPress website pricing.

WordPress Website Pricing - Is the juice worth the squeeze?Design needs to consider the default layouts and screen flows of any plugins that will be used. We can certainly customize how a plugin displays content, mostly, and in many situations we can also adjust screen flow, but ask yourself, is the juice worth the squeeze? We frequently see designs that depart from the default plugin flow for no apparent reason. A successful plugin is built to satisfy the majority of use cases. That’s why it’s successful. Is your site really so different?

Animation, a common design element, can impact WordPress website pricing. Parallax scrolling is cool, but it doesn’t happen automagically. It’s also impossible to show exactly how you want it to function in a PSD. This means we will budget for more than normal back and forth. “Would you please speed the shift up a bit?” Exactly how much is “a bit?” And animation is not the same as parallax scrolling. Designs that include either technique or both at the same time will cost more to build.

Retina is another design choice that can have an impact on WordPress website pricing. Including the option to serve retina images to retina devices is possible but it will add cost to the budget. Does your engineering audience use retina devices to access the site?

Designers love to use big screens, and a retina image on a retina display is awesome, but what happens when the site is viewed using a small laptop? Many audio engineers use tiny speakers to test the recordings they are mixing. They do this because most listeners do not have speakers worth many thousands of dollars. Designers would be well served if they tested their designs on multiple screens and viewport sizes. What happens when the client views the site on their laptop? Layouts need to change after the templates have been built. Repeat after me, “Change Order.”

The Cost of Content Entry is Often Underestimated

Content entry always take more time and costs more than you think it will or should.

Always.

And it’s not free.

We don’t generally include content entry in our estimates. It’s just too hard to predict how much effort will be required. Especially in the early stages before the site has been thought through. But don’t underestimate it. Content entry is a key driver of WordPress website pricing.

The cost can be mitigated through planning. The more buttoned up the content is before it’s added to the site, the more quickly it will all come together. Understand how long copy should be based on the design. Prepare the copy to fit. Understand images and how a responsive WordPress site will mange them. Prepare the images so the are the correct sizes before you start adding content to the site. Doing these things will save you time, and time is money, especially with content entry.

Plan to enter content after the second round of build revisions. When the site is built, when the developers are making tweaks to styling, it’s time to add content. Doing this while developers are also working on templates is an invitation to delays and unnecessary expense. We understand that’s it’s hard to wait. Go for a walk. It will all go faster once the templates are built and developer heavy lifting is done.

SomeWordPress Website Pricing Tools

The folks at Crew have a useful calculator for website pricing. It’s not WordPress specific, but can give you a sense for what a custom build will cost.

Another technique is to ask your development partner to show you other sites they’ve built and provide a budget range for each. Look for an example that comes close to your requirements. It will give you a real-world perspective on what the budget should be.

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