3 Reasons Web Design is So Expensive and Three Ways Esper Circumvents the Model

And why is web design so damn expensive?

Whether you’ve discovered through your own power or taken our How Do You Know You Need a New Website quiz, you’ve made the executive decision it’s high time for a design revamp on the World Wide Web. Through Google search you find a myriad of price calculators for your new site. You handcraft a website with all the specs you desire; a simple 12 page site with responsive design, social media integration and an aesthetic banner rolling across the top. You’re pleased. Closing your eyes, you imagine this beautiful layout and grin at all the leads that will flow in through it. The situation lays out in front of you. Website 2.0 get its first sale. High fives are had by all in the office. You get lifted up on your coworkers shoulders for all the amazing work you’ve done. “Gary! Gary! Gary!” they chant with exaltation.


Then you look at the price tag.



You search for other options. Hope is restored on the third page of Google when you find a site that boasts prices of $1,200, but the broken English and general usability has you extremely concerned. You talk to your marketing team in a last-ditched effort in hopes at least one of them has coding experience from their college days. No luck. Gone is the utopian dream of being the office hero. How, you wonder, can companies justify the prices of their design service?

Well lo’ and behold, these are the three factors that play into the high price of website development:


  1. Overhead and Corporate Structure


Larger web design firms have a wide variety of cost centers; HR departments and outdated marketing practices like unsegmented email campaigns almost double the cost of services.  These expenses need to accounted for. These firms turn to their special skills – primarily web design – to cover for them. Full time employees need benefits that add further to the cost structure that inhibits you from investing.


  1. A low supply and high demand of coders and designers


Simply economics at play severely affect the ability to create a high quality website at a low price. In a survey of 50,000 students, Computer Science majors had the second highest job placement a year out of college (only behind military sciences) and the highest average starting salary at over $66,000. Whether you’re trying to find a rate by project, by hour, or by page, there’s no way around salary.


  1. Price Gouging on Monthly Services


Through customer discovery and various sales calls I’ve been a part of, many times I hear “Company X gave us an offer for a $1,500 website”. By industry standards a quality original website for $1,500 is impossible to come by.


However, this $1,500 is deceivingly expensive. Company X is using the website to get their foot in the door and then jack up the recurring monthly fees like hosting, social media management, and SEO. Company X is hoping clients keep their websites for 2+ years and charge a ridiculous $150+ a month for hosting when hosting only costs them $5 a month. The website margins quickly go from razor thin to bloated. The $1,500 on-a-budget website their client ordered actually costs $5,100 through hidden fees. Company X is mean. Company X wants to take your hard earned money and in return deliver a crappy site.


In short: If you’re ever paying more than $20 a month for hosting, you’re paying too much!


Esper does everything we can to streamline the design and coding process, providing our clients with the best possible products at the lowest prices. Our “secret sauce” is composed of three ingredients. They are as follows:

Contract Labor

One of Esper’s many muses is Uber, a company who disrupted the status quo of the transportation industry by contracting workers. Through our tested process we’ve crafted a trusted network of industry connections. Our network is capable of handling the toughest of tasks with the quickest turnarounds, making our model scalable no matter the size or turnaround of the project.

Low Overhead

As a small business, we all wear many hats at Esper. A lot of the time our founder, Peter, will also act as the janitor at the end of a long strategy session. This means we don’t accrue expenses from cost centers. We’re all providing meaningful output. It also doesn’t hurt that our “office” is a dorm room in Currier Hall at the University of Iowa. Without having to pay for dental insurance, tapping into University resources, and working in multiple concentrations, we’ve streamlined our model, and in turn, our pricing.

Youth and Passion

When push comes to shove, Esper is a group of college students united by a passion to help businesses improve their bottom line through beautiful websites. We work for cheap, work hard, and love every second of what we’re doing. We’re always willing to go the extra mile, and that extra mile won’t cost you an arm and a leg.