Wow, now that’s a question. I agree it depends on a lot of factors. But I’ll answer it this way.
There are a number of car dealers in every town. Each dealer has various types and styles of cars which all have varying costs. Cars vary in price from less than 10K to over 100K. Why so wide a range though? They all have wheels, they all use some type of fuel, all have seats, motors, horns, mirrors, etc. So why is one car worth more than another?
Its because of prestige, the expertise or lack there of that goes into the production of a car and its ability or inability to perform well for a long period of time without needing further maintenance. It also depends a lot on the likely hood the manufacturer of the car will continue to be in service for a long time…the ability to obtain service and parts if and when needed. No one wants to buy a car that no longer exists on the market in a year.
Relating that to web design and development is just as similar. Yes, you can get an inexpensive site built but you have to remember one important fact that resonates in EVERY industry. Expertise costs money. Crap is cheap.
One reason I drive a Honda is because I got sick and tired of buying American cars that looked good on the outside but were real pieces of crap everywhere else. The last American car I bought had an AC failure, front seat bolt that held it up broke, ceiling felt came apart and fell down on your head, dashboard warped, and on and on. I’ve had Honda’s with over 200,000 miles without as much as a sneeze.
Another example is a cheap tire product made by General Tires. They have a warranty that states they will replace them if they break down. I got tired of replacing them. The cheap tires weren’t worth the savings because in the end my time was worth more. Similarly, a twenty year old snot nosed kid convinced a client he could do their website cheaper. After the site crashed for the third time before it was even close to being finished, the client realized he made a mistake.
Websites are built for one reason; you have something worthwhile to promote to an online audience. Short of a site having just a picture of yourself or your pet dog, I’d assume a site owner would prefer it to work correctly for a long time. Furthermore, the part you can see is the easy stuff….its the flashy paint job on a car. The stuff you can’t see is all the SEO, the coding, the integrated parts that work together to make your site perform WELL and to make it attractive to search engines. If the site is an eCommerce site with numerous products its all the more imperative you use a professional and not a backyard mechanic because every time the site has issues and goes down it takes money out of the pockets of the site owner.
To put an actual price tag on it, I’ve built sites from a $1000 one page landing page to complicated database eCommerce sites for over $45,000. The price varied due to the complexity, the number of pages, the amount of content involved, the number of products, etc. I always try to be reasonably priced when I quote my clients but I have over 22 years in digital marketing and I offer my clients free SEO for as long as they remain a client because its a REAL value I decided to give my clients to establish long term relationships. But I can’t perform quality work for $1.35 an hour and neither can anyone else.