How Much Does a WordPress Website Cost?

Codeable has an interesting infographic about the pricing for building a new  WordPress Business website with 6 pages and a blog as shown below. Lets look at some of the key assumptions being made by Codeable about developing this Business Website.

First and foremost, Codeable does not define the nature of the 6 pages nor does it specify any specific processing tasks required by the website. WordPress in the past has been devoted to Informational and Promotional websites. These type websites broadcast out to their customers information and promotions made by the organization. But they do not engage their customers directly except for comment and contact questions.

In essence, most of these WordPress [and for that matter Drupal, Joomla and other CMS  websites] informational sites do not offer direct to the online customer  delivery capabilities with one very important exception – shopping and eCommerce. But other major business applications like Event Scheduling, Team Management, Customer Relationship Management, and  Property or Equipment Renting are largely accomplished by independent, standalone 3rd Party SaaS web services like Eventbrite for Event Ticketing and Promotion or Salesforce.com’s CRM set of offerings.

Only in the past 3-5 years has WordPress or 3rd parties developed specialized  themes and plugins that go beyond shopping/ecommerce processing to address  such operational business activities. These are not strictly shopping or e-commerce tasks but rather the newer direct online Business processing that WordPress and other CMS providers are taking on.

These Business Processing tasks are characterized by 3 key additional capabilities that must be added to core WordPress:
1)some new added MySQL tables that must be created, modified and updated by the website in a secure, efficient and easy to use fashion;
2)additional processing of the data in the tables to schedule a service or booking space or equipment. Each of these services require  2 -5 table SQL join processing. These database tasks that can be non-trivial for both complexity, security and performance reasons. The performance and security issues become particularly critical when the number of clients changes from dozens to thousands;
3)most important there may not be a WordPress theme available or be a close-but-not-quite WordPress plugins to serve the the organizations desired direct online service requirements. Thus, the software must  be modified/customized to meet a clients specific business needs.
The bottom line is that Codeable does not take explicitly into account these differing  development tasks and so their cost estimates have the unique situation of being both too high and too low.

They are too low in the case of WordPress websites devoted to delivering  direct-to-customer Business Services . Yet on the other hand their estimate [even in the alternative case of off-the shelf  plugin/theme purchase] maybe too  high for  strictly informational and promotional websites. This is particularly true for small business organizations that have the will, skill, and manpower to take on many of the DIY tasks involved in  informational website creation and operation.Lets look at the Codeable assumptions in more detail.

Codeable Costing Assumptions

First let us consider Codeable’s manpower costs.In the Planning Stage Codeable specifies 4 people working 1 week full time. So lets do the the math 4 * 40 hours = 160 hours or $9600/160 hours = $60/hour average cost per staff person. The Copywriter, Designer, and Theme Developer are also priced at $60/hour. Check your local markets if these prices are reasonable. For Toronto Canada, they appear to be in the ballpark.

However, the time for the planning and design team to develop a working system in 1 week appears to be optimistic, particularly for an operationally active website. One week could easily double or triple or more depending on the system complexity of the operational  delivery task. Likewise Design and Theme Development likely would see increase in man-hour requirements. In this case the Codeable estimate is too low, particularly if the direct client delivery will offer a selection of services.

Also consider that operationally active systems are exactly that. Depending on the number of customers, operational  time and costing could  change for the better – more customers served at lower cost. But maintaining the operating website for SEO, updates, and system performance would have to be experience costed; but are often under-budgeted.

Next consider the alternative, buy an off-the-shelf option. In this Codeable appears to be costing for a simple promotional website with limited active operational services  – perhaps pages for Home, About, Locations, Services Offered, Upcoming Specials and a Contacts plus a simple News blogging service.  There is no ongoing direct ongoing customer services. These are indeed useful systems. But the cost maybe too high, particularly for sallbusinesses that have the tech savvy to provide important site creation services but also the lowest cost as seen in the Codeable estimates.

Finally consider the ecommerce estimate. Doing estimates for Shopping websites is a dog’s breakfast. There are so many factors to take into account – product types, discounts, coupons, warranty and return policies, multiple  currencies, inventory management, taxes, etc, etc. Note the highly variable Codeable estimate of $5,000 to $20,000 for an eCommerce website with an equally wide set of ongoing operational costs. This variability of costs is just being realistic.

Summary

As WordPress moves out of blogging, promotion, and informational content management to active, direct-to-client  services, its low cost of computing plus vaunted ease of use  will attract more and more users. But WordPress now depends extensively on a huge 3rd party community to supply those active operational themes and plugins. As WordPress make this transition there are 4  cautions.

First, WordPress theme and plugin providers have delivered groundbreaking WPIDE-WordPress Interactive Design/Development Environs that make building “no-coding-required” websites easier and faster than ever before. And these tools are 26 and counting plus rapidly improving because of the intense interest and competition. Inevitably, these WPIDE tools will further lower the cost of informational and promotional websites ; but they have yet to impact WordPress websites devoted to active, online delivery of services .

Second,  it is hard to estimate the cost of  WordPress systems  – not just the information/promotional systems versus online business servicesWordPress is changing from a PHP-driven client codebase   to a Javascript code base as seen in the Calypso implementation of WordPress.com. This will have a big impact on its 3rdParty theme and plugin suppliers. The change-over could be very disruptive leading to turmoil and forking in the WordPress market.

Third, WordPress has yet to deliver a robust multi-table join capability for complex multi-table  driven operational systems. The current WordPress query processor tool is complex and has performance limitations as the size of the tables changes from dozens of rows to thousands. So expect the next 3-5 years in WordPress to be demanding as these problems get solved.

Fourth, software integration across separate information silos has become a top priority in system design in general. And with WordPress support for the REST API, stronger AJAX and JSON support, and continued XML/RPC  support – there is now a need for an overall  WordPress Strategy Guidelines for cross system integration – especially for linking to major Social Media and SaaS services.

In sum the art of cost estimates for WordPress websites is critically dependent on a website’s target purpose plus the rapid changes in WordPress development tools. In short, expect WordPress Website cost estimates to be part alchemy and part practicing art.


WordPress pricing debunked: How much does a WordPress website cost? How much for an e-commerce based on WordPress?

WordPress pricing debunked: How much does a WordPress website cost? How much for an e-commerce based on WordPress?
by Codeable

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