Dcode Group Blog

Can you get a $4,000 website for $500?

There's always going to be price differentiation in competitive markets - differently priced products aimed at different levels of the market. However, the difference between these products is not only limited to the price; but to the defining characteristics of the product and the outcomes of the services. In website development, the market has been saturated with (mainly offshore) alternatives to website development offering cheaper options to locally built sites - however with this reduction in price there is also a reduction in the quality. If you pay $500 for a website, you're not going to get a $4,000 website. In today's blog post, we review some recent discussions from LinkedIn about the topic.

A discussion was recently added to LinkedIn commenting on how you can get a $4,000 website for $500. However, in reading the article itself (and reviewing the associated website case study) it became apparent that the website produced was neither finished, free of errors nor did it perform many of the basic functions that the author had indicated it could do. In addition, and on further discussion with the author, it became apparent that even for the website to get to the stage it was at, the author needed to have extensive knowledge about website development as well as time to devote to selecting and appointing a freelancer - a seemingly unlikely task for most people seeking a website at this price point.

In my experience there are certainly different price points for websites. But you get what you pay for. If you pay $500 for a website, you are going to receive a very basic website that may meet the basic needs of an online presence. But if you're looking for more, you will need to pay more for the additional features required.

Does this mean that paying $4,000 will guarantee you a $4,000 website? Certainly not. Just as there are good and bad freelancers; there are good and bad web development agencies. However, you're far less likely to get a $4,000 website by cutting corners on price.

The following caption was the lead for the LinkedIn discussion:

"Need a simple website? Here is a short guide on getting a $4,000 website for $500 with two videos explaining the process:"

LinkedIn Discussion

The article certainly makes some good points about preparing yourself for a website. These include:

  • Outlining and defining your website requirements;
  • Taking time to understand the technologies and alternatives; and
  • Preparing a brief for your developer - as a means to defining requirements and measuring outcomes.

But ultimately if you pay $500 for a website - you're going to get a $500 website.

Another LinkedIn user commented on the website that was presented in the case study as an example of a $500 website and made the following observations:

Had a look at your case study site, very simple no real attractive headlines except for the home page, does not work well on iPad and iPhone looks like $500 worth ...

(I also noted on my review that there was still "Dummy text" on some pages of the site and several of the features had been left blank or with their default test still visible.)

While I agree that freelance sites offer a low cost alternative, I am yet to see an outsourced solution that meets the expectations of the client. In fact, many of our clients' sites were developed off-shore and then we were engaged to "fix" them and implement functionality that never worked in the first place.

It's basic economics and exists across all industries - you get what you pay for and are employing the developer/consultant based on their ability and experience. Websites are not a product/commodity that are easily compared between developers - so simply comparing outcomes based on the price is never going to be a fair assessment.

In follow-up discussions with the author of the article, it was also revealed that:

Yes, there are freelancer out there that deliver substandard work ... But that is the fault of the client picking them. A big challenge employers are facing is being able to sort out the good freelancers from the time-wasters.

When I picked the freelancer to do the site in the video example I went through 130 applications with only one stand out candidate ... Some buyers are not ready for this and don't know enough to follow this route ... But that takes experience.

Based on these comments the author agreed that they went through 130 applications to save a few thousand dollars ... it begs the question, if you were to go down this same route what is the opportunity cost of your time? And given that even the author indicated you have to have some knowledge in website development; how do you think you would fare in this process of selecting a suitable freelancer if you weren't up to speed with website development? Chances are it would be more difficult.

Ultimately, I accept the author's premise that websites can be developed for cheap rates. In fact, the Internet is littered with examples of websites being developed "on the cheap". But a website that you buy for $500 is not the equivalent to one that you pay a good consultant/programmer to develop for more - you cannot get an EQUIVALENT website for $500 that would normally cost $4,000. By reducing the price to this degree - you are getting a lesser product.

In preparing for this blog post, I came across two interesting points

If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.


There is always someone that will do it cheaper

Here at DCODE, we specialise in building custom online systems - from websites to online software. If you need assistance in building a website or building an online solution, contact us to find out how we can be of assistance - we're always keen to work on new projects.


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Written by

Andrew Sirianni

Andrew founded DCODE GROUP with the goal to develop custom software solutions...