Costing up an ecommerce website development project is difficult because a project of this nature can have so many options and elements that are unique to your business. Usually when you contact an ecommerce web design agency, they’ll be able to give you a ballpark figure, but it’ll be quite vague. Any good company will take you through a series of questions to really drill down into the specifics of your project, in order to give you a detailed quote.
Think of an ecommerce project like building a new house – you need to specify how big it’s going to be, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like your house to have, what style of kitchen you’d like and all the other finishes and nice to haves.
So how do you get from that “how long is a piece of string” average price, to “your ecommerce website development project is going to cost X”?
1) Determine your needs
The term MVP (minimal viable product) gets used quite a bit, but during the early stages, think about what you absolutely must have to ensure your ecommerce website is a success, versus what you’d ideally like to have. The best way to do this is to fire up Excel and create a simple spreadsheet. If you have a document like this, you can ping it over to a few web design companies and they’ll absolutely love you for it, because it will be a great basis for initial discussions. You might think doing this is more of an exercise for the start-ups out there, but we’d argue even if you’re already established selling online, it’s a good exercise to carry out.
2) An off the shelf or custom approach?
This applies to both design and development and will have big cost implications. Let’s look at design first.
There are ecommerce platforms out there that will let you purchase cheap themes so you can get your ecommerce website up and running quickly. Whilst we aren’t fans of this approach, if you are literally just getting started in the business of selling online, have limited funds, require only that your customers pay using PayPal and don’t have any bespoke functionality requirements, then these solutions can be a good way to test the market in an affordable way. If you are looking to create a serious business that has the foundations in place to grow, or are already established, then we’d always recommend bespoke design when it comes to your ecommerce website. You’ll want the way your website and brand looks to be instantly recognisable and tailored to your values, so you can build a connection with your customers going forward. You can find out more about the value of good design for your business here.
In terms of development – again, if you’re looking for standard ecommerce functionality and you’re happy with a design that’s generic, then an off the shelf theme will be a good option for you. If you have more bespoke requirements and want to link up to an accounting package you’ll likely need to work with a company who can offer bespoke ecommerce design and development. You’ve got to weigh up what’s right for your business and your goals / ambi ambitions.
3) Additional costs to consider
Ecommerce web design is complicated – if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re telling you what you want to hear. There are going to be additional costs that you need to be aware of.
The cost of hosting your ecommerce website will vary depending on the amount of traffic your site receives or that you expect to receive. You could be looking at as little as 10 pounds per month for a decent shared hosting solution, or 200+ per month for something dedicated.
If you want to add another layer of security to your ecommerce website (which we’d always recommend), then you should invest in an SSL certificate. This gives your site the “https” prefix in the address bar and also a padlock icon that helps reassure customers too. When an SSL certificate is used, the information from your website becomes unreadable to everyone, except for the server you are sending the information to.
Maintenance / Bug Fixes / Plugin Updates
You’ll likely also need to factor in something like 20-40 pounds a month for security and maintenance to your website, as many ecommerce platforms utilise plugins which are continuously being updated and improved. Leaving these out of date can leave your ecommerce website vulnerable.
Search engine optimisation
Whilst this should absolutely be discussed and considered in great detail at the start of your project, you’ll want to find out from your ecommerce web design company how much they charge for this on an ongoing basis and SEO is ever changing. You might rank first for your key phrase today, but next week you might drop.
Have you considered how you are going to work with your new ecommerce website day-to-day once it’s up and running? Chances are you and your staff will need some training and / or some documentation so you can be confident adding new products and editing other content. Some web design companies charge extra for this, so have a discussion about it.
4) Migrating products and customers
If you already sell online, you’ll need to talk about migrating your products and customers from your current website to the new ecommerce website that gets built. This is obviously critical and needs to be done smoothly so it’s a simple process for the most important people of all – your customers. Ensure that you feel confident that the company you choose can do this successfully for you.
5) Improving business processes
When you have your ecommerce website redesigned and redeveloped it can often be a good time to look at ways in which you can streamline your business processes. What accounting package do you use? Xero, QuickBooks? You might be interested in getting a quote for functionality that allows orders from your website and your accounting package to sync up effortlessly. Do you use a CRM system? Or do you do email marketing? This could also be a good time to start improving your business processes and have your ecommerce website sync with these kinds of third-party platforms.
Embarking on the creation of an ecommerce website from scratch, or redesigning an existing one is a big undertaking – don’t get fooled by smooth talking salespeople that your new site can be delivered in 1 or 2 weeks. Any solution worth it’s weight will take much longer than that. You’ll want to make sure you have accurate expectations and that the web design company you work with have been honest and upfront with you about when your site can be delivered. We’d say that realistically you’ll be looking at 4-10 weeks depending on how complex and bespoke your requirements are.
How much does an ecommerce website really cost in the UK?
The ecommerce websites we design and develop are typically between £4,000 and £9,000 – that’s how different each project can be. This goes to show that a lot of discussion and research goes into each ecommerce project, so be honest and open with the web designers you talk to, to ensure you get an accurate price.
Top tip from us?
Always make sure the web design company you choose produce a document outlining all your required features and functionality. This way nothing gets forgotten or left to chance – it’s all documented and can be checked off during the project.
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