Trying to get started in any market is definitely a headache. With so much information to sift through on the internet, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself.

I want to share my experience when I first began doing competitor research to teach you common pitfalls to avoid when getting your website made. We’ll go over costs and things to consider when comparing pricing plans. Additionally, I’ve provided resources to help you with market research.

When I started doing market research, there were a million questions I had but pretty much only one question gnawed at my head constantly: “how much does a custom website cost?”

Full Breakdown on Custom Website Costs and Finding the Right Agency

So how much does a custom website cost?

Let’s consider the price for a standard 5 page website. Why 5 pages? Businesses usually start with 5 standard pages of content: the Homepage, Services, About Us, Case Study, and Contact Us.
I’m going to calculate the amount with the assumption that you need a new website design, color scheme, typography, and development.
Please note every website is indeed different with its own unique needs. The examples shown below are for an average site without heavy functionalities or custom animations or applications. So without further ado:

Custom Website Cost

Landing page cost
  • A custom landing page should cost around $1,200 to $2,300 depending on who you talk to. I’ve had a proposal be as high as $3,000!
    • With an average turnaround time: 1.5 months
5 Page website cost
  • A 5 page custom website will cost anywhere around $5,000 to $6,000. BUT to my surprise I had $15,000 proposed to me too, with no additional services or benefits.
    • Average turnaround time: 3 months
  • An advanced 5 page custom website can be about close to $10-15,000, if your business requires a full service marketing with elements such as:
    • Web design
    • Development
    • SEO
    • Social Media
    • Logo

The reason why a single landing page can cost half or almost as much as a simple 5 page website is because the agency needs to create a brand deck, visual elements, and find proper typography. This is mandatory for sites of any size.

Finding the Right Agency

There is no universal rule to finding the right anything. I have seen startup companies do a better job than a mature agency. Make sure the agencies you are considering align with your business on these 5 important elements:

  1. Selling Attitude
    • Every company has to sell, this is the fundamental rule to the business world. However, not every agency is interested in genuinely helping you without trying to shove products down your throat. I rate a company by how helpful they are when you are still on the fence.
  2. Personality
    • I need to make sure their personality matches with my brand voice. If I’m building a business I need someone who can capture my vision and execute it precisely for my audience.
  3. Price
    • How do they charge you, and are they offering enough to justify what they are charging you? Professionals cost a lot, there’s no denying it. But just because you’re a pro doesn’t mean you get to charge $1000 to draw a circle.
  4. Agreement
    • A proper business will have a contract agreement for you and them to sign. You need to make sure the agreement is fair and transparent. And of course, MAKE SURE YOU OWN THE RIGHTS TO YOUR SITE AND THAT YOU CAN CHOOSE TO MIGRATE YOUR SITE AWAY IN THE FUTURE. I can’t stress this enough!
  5. Post-launch
    • Do they still treat you like a client even after they take your money? Well it’s a little hard to know when you aren’t their client, but it’s worth asking what happens to your business relationship once your website is live. Do they give you cookies once your site is live? Or do they make you pay for the cookies?

Download the checklist

Agency Checklist

Download the questions

Agency questions

4 Main Things to Consider when Reviewing Your Custom Website Proposal

To save you some time and phone calls, below is all the information I’ve gathered about my competitors (names omitted). I’m not here to talk bad about anybody — you can make your own judgement.

Competitor analysis listing all different prices for a 5 page website and all services

You can download the full list here:

Custom Website Pricing PDF

From the competitors I called I realized there were some very peculiar business models.
Now, how would you know if an agency is being phony? Unfortunately it can be tricky, as phony companies come in all shapes and sizes. They could be very shady from the beginning or very trustworthy but bail on you after. So let me teach you some safe practices you can use to minimize your risk.
Your market analysis should tell you the following:

  • Average price estimate of your website
  • What custom-site services are included
  • Payment agreements
  • Agency-specific selling points

Here’s 3 things to consider when reviewing your custom website proposal:

1. Payment Agreement Types

Always make sure the payment agreement is reasonable to your business’ finances:

  • A Full Quote
    • Initial down payment
    • X% when project is 1-2 steps away from being launched
    • Remaining paid once the site is live
  • Packages for monthly payment
    • Usually 1-2 year agreement
    • Payment is separated into X amount per month for X amount of time

Payment agreement is very important. I know a company that does a package for a 2 year term but when asked about what happens once the 2 years are up, they tried very hard to avoid the question. They couldn’t give me a definitive yes or no when I asked “do I get to keep the rights to my website after the 2 years?” When you pay for a website, you should be able to migrate your website elsewhere without being obligated to pay the agency monthly payments just to have your site live.

2. Services Included

The industry standard 5 pager website usually includes these services plus or minus one:

  • Web Design
  • Web Development
  • Client Training for Their Site Navigation

Typically web agencies always include design, development, and client training. Post-launch support is a little bit of a grey area, as not all agencies included this service.. There was a company that offered to record videos to teach me how to use my website at around $100 per recording. Wild!

3. Post-Launch Client Care

I value post-launch care just as much during the website creation process. Your agency should be providing at least one of these options:

  • Q&A for the new website
    • Duration: 1 month to a year
  • At least 1 month of website updates and backups

Post-Launch client care is not always offered by agencies. Pricing models can vary from agency to agency — they may offer you client care for an X amount of time or charge you X amount per hour. My personal belief is every agency needs to take care of their client for at least a month Post-Launch and not just abandon them once they’ve gotten paid.

4. CMS (Content Management System)

What CMS an agency builds on is crucial if you don’t want to end up being dependent on their maintenance packages.

  • WordPress
    • Webflow
      • Wix

        If an agency uses a CMS or something they have built themselves. It’s quite easy to trap you into paying monthly maintenance packages. So please make sure whatever platform they build their site on, it will also be easy for you to implement changes.

        Final Thoughts

        Everyone has different needs when it comes to hiring an agency. Some people emphasize design, others SEO, marketing, or some even full digital marketing packages. Either way, your needs must be very clear to your potential agency as they affect how your estimate is calculated.
        I hope this helps you to defend yourself from paying too much for website creation services in Canada.

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