WordPress budgets

How to work out what a WordPress site should cost

Before clients go asking 10 agencies or freelancers to quote for a new website, it’s important to have a budget in mind for it, but how do they work out how much it should be?

In my opinion, your website budget should be calculated based on a lot of different factors, too many to go into detail with on this post, so here is an overview.

1. What does the website need to achieve?

If a client wants to generate 100s of new leads per month from a website, that’s a very different brief to just having a basic site to refer people to.

The simple rule of thumb here is that the more a client wants out of the website, the higher the budget needs to be.

That investment may not all be up-front, it might be retained WordPress SEO and content marketing, but it will need to be there.

2. What is the current position?

Is there an existing website that needs redoing, or is the project starting from scratch?

If there its a brand new website on a newly registered domain name, it’s likely to be a larger project than re-working an existing site.

For a brand new site, SEO is going to be needed moving forward, so this needs to be factored in.

Where there is an existing site, it might be a case of a simple redesign and build using the existing content.

If the above is the case, why does it need to be rebuilt? Did it not achieve the desired results last time? If this is the case, it would suggest that more investment is required for the new site.

This should also take in if there is any existing design work or corporate identity that the new website should follow.

If there’s just a logo, then there needs to be budget for design, whereas if rough website visuals were created as part of an earlier branding project, less budget may be required.

3. What sort of functionality is required?

If the new site just needs the basics (visitor forms, vanilla plugins etc) then this won’t add a lot to the budget.

If it’s going to use WooCommerce, need bespoke coding or communicate with other tools via APIs, that’s going to take time.

It’s best to list out all the functionality for the new site and then estimate some budget against each function.

All work will cost something, so there needs to be a budget allocated, even if it’s just a guess.


4. How many stakeholders are involved?

If the new project is going to be managed and approved by one person, it’s going to be a smoother ride than if there are six other people working on the project for the client.

More people means that the decision-making process takes longer, work takes longer to be approved and there are more tweaks and potential for scope creep as the project develops.

In short, if there is a large project team on the client-end, more budget needs to be allocated to manage this.


5. How organised is everything?

Are the copy and all content written and ready to go or is this going to be produced as the project progresses?

Are there images and assets ready that can be supplied, or do these need to be found?

If everything can be supplied at the start of a project, this means the agency has everything they need and can complete the work for approval.

If it’s all going to be drip-fed, this will take longer and will therefore require a larger budget.

6. How soon is this needed?

If this is a rush project, the agency is going to need to move resources around to deliver it to a tight deadline.

This will mean more budget is required to complete the job on time.


7. How big is the client?

This type of information gives an overview of the client’s business:

  • Are they a startup or an established company
  • What are their turnover and net assets
  • How many employees do they have
  • What are their reviews
  • What do they sell – a product or service etc
  • What’s likely to be the lifetime value of a new customer (low or high)

The project budget should be appropriate for the client, so a £30M turnover client with a budget of £1500 doesn’t really match.

Obviously, this does not always ring true. For example, an established company may be venturing into a new market or product, so they may not have a large budget for the new project.

8. Will the client listen and take advice?

Clients use agencies and freelancers to deliver WordPress projects because:

  1. They can’t do this themselves or don’t have the skill sets in-house
  2. Don’t have time to do this themselves, so bring in the experts to complete the work

If a client trusts its agency to deliver and lets them get on with the work, following best-practice at every stage of the project, then it’s going to be a smooth process.

If, for whatever reason, a client employs the experts but then questions every suggestion, tweak or stage of the project, it’s going to take a lot longer to complete the job.

If the client is going to require a meeting every time a suggestion is made or something is improved, the agency is going to need a bigger budget.

9. Is the client decisive and committed?

It’s the right of every agency client to change their mind, but when it comes to WordPress projects, it very much depends on when, where and why they’ve changed their minds.

People know if they are indecisive, so clients like these need to allow more in their budgets to allow for it.

10. So how should all this be worked out?

Most agencies charge around £80–£100 per hour (ex VAT) for development work.

When developing a website, there’s little that takes less than an hour (when you take include doing the task, discussing the task, tweaking the work and getting it approved).

So let’s say a client website is 10 pages.

  • That’s at least 2 hours to wireframe those pages
  • 5 more hours to design those pages
  • An hour to set up a server and install WordPress
  • 10 hours to build out those pages (one hour each)
  • 4 hours to install the basic functionality
  • 3 hours to work on client feedback and amends
  • 2 hours to do the responsive CSS
  • 3 hours to do basic on-page SEO
  • 1 hour to get the site ready to go live
  • 1 hour getting it live, reporting DNS, installing SSLs etc
  • 2 hours post-live optimisation

The above is 36 hours of work; for the absolute basics on a small 10-page site.

This comes in at £2880 ex VAT @ the lower £80 per hour mark.

If the client needs some additional work, this also adds to the project.

  • Installing and setting up basic WooCommerce – 10 hours (conservative estimate)
  • Adding and configuring an Events plugin – 3 hours
  • Building out some simple custom post types – 2 hours

There are another 15 project hours.

So, for even the most basic of websites, clients are looking at around £3000 ex VAT.

In truth, a well-made optimised and properly built WordPress website with around 10 pages of content and standard functionality is going to be around 40–50 hours of work.

What this actually costs the client then comes down to who they use to work on the project.

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