It’s inevitable. You have a website that you know is underperforming and you’ve finally taken the first step to speak to an agency.

You make the call, your first impressions are positive and you are liking what you hear. You start feeling like hope is in sight. But the question that now looms in your mind is “how much is this going to cost me?”

In my many years of redesigning sites, this is probably the most asked question from new clients. And in the Ike fashion of truth-telling, it pains me to have to respond with the quintessential non-answer of “it depends.”

“Before you redesign you should have clear business goals for your site: increase leads, increase sales, attract more subscriptions.”

What influences website redesign costs?

The truth is that there are many factors that can influence the cost of a website redesign. These range from the practicalities like size of the site all the way to decisions of who will be building it. Below is a list of the main factors that influence cost and the reason why they do.

Size of Site

The number of pages on your site will influence how much it will cost to redesign it. It just makes logical sense — the more pages your site has increases the number of page templates that need to be built, the amount of content editing and entry time required, and the amount of time needed to fully test the site. This is especially true if you are moving from one content management system to another, because no matter how ‘seamlessly’ the software vendors say the content will port, I have yet to see this work effectively in my over 20 years of redesigning sites. Even if you are keeping the same content management system in place, a new look and feel will require that all content pages need to be reconfigured to adopt the new design.

Websites that have been around for a while tend to collect unnecessary or outdated content. It is always best practice to perform a thorough content audit  and remove outdated or unnecessary content before embarking on a redesign.

Complexity of Pages and Features

Modern websites are just simply more complex to build than their historic counterparts. Today’s users expect sites to work seamlessly across all devices and in all scenarios. Couple this with animations, rich media and features like live chat, web forms, and personalized content — web pages complexity can drive the cost to build.

To keep the costs of a website redesign to a minimum, you will need to work with your designer to ensure you are using animation and features that are deriving the highest return on investment. Before you redesign you should have clear business goals for your site: increase leads, increase sales, attract more subscriptions. If a feature does not fundamentally improve your ability to meet these goals, it is likely not worth the cost.

Because the majority of web traffic is being generated on mobile devices, a mobile-first approach to website redesign is not only best practice, it also helps keep a laser-focus on simplicity, clarity and usability.

Who is doing the work?

The truth is you could probably build a website yourself for roughly one to two thousand dollars hard costs. There are ready-made site builders like that have templates you can leverage to create your site. You will need to pay their subscription fees, and hosting charges, and likely you will need to purchase a few images. Of course this doesn’t account for any of the considerable amount of your time required to change the design, source images, write content and build your site.

Chances are you may have already gone down the homegrown website route. But now you are looking for some professional assistance to get the most bang for your buck from a redesign. Enter hiring an agency.

Hiring an agency can be a daunting task. But it can also be hugely rewarding and chances are their help will open a new avenue of online business. There is something to be said for professional help. So how can you get the most for your money when hiring an agency to build your website?

Simply put, the larger the agency, the more expensive it will be. Larger agencies have higher overhead costs to cover than small agencies so their hourly rates will necessarily be higher. In addition, with larger agencies come more people on your project. This can be a double-edged sword; more people can mean more diversity of ideas but it is inevitable that the more people that touch your project the more it costs. More people means more time required to dissemble information and more chances for errors and omissions of information to be introduced.

This is not to say that small agencies are without their challenges, it is just that when it comes to cost large agencies will cost you more. The best advice for selecting an agency is to find someone who you feel understands your needs and that you can trust. Have transparent conversations about your budget and your business needs. Find an agency that feels like a true partner in your business, and work with people you genuinely like and respect.

Who is writing the copy?

The single most time intensive job in a website redesign is writing the content. And it is the one that clients are mistakenly most likely to take on themselves. If you take no other advice from me, take this: hire a copywriter.

Writing web copy is harder than it looks. A professional copywriter will be current on search engine optimization and writing content that is scannable on screen. The content of your site is the single-most important factor for driving traffic to your site and influencing user behaviour once they get there. Even if you plan to reuse the bulk of the content of your site, it is advisable to have a web copywriter take a turn at editing it before you apply it to your redesigned site.

How much should I budget for a website redesign?

So, after hearing the myriad of things that can influence costs, we are still left with the question of “how much is this going to cost me?”

In general, if you are hiring an agency to build your site, I would budget between $1,000 – $5,000 per page. Having said that, it is not uncommon that a single webpage with complex animations or features could easily cost you ten times that, but in general it is a good rule of thumb. Remember that most sites have a combination of simple pages and feature-rich pages so your exact cost per page will be influenced by these factors.