How much should a website cost? Making sense of the wide range of pricing for website design in India.
24th June 2011

This is probably one of the most controversial posts I might make. But this question has been coming up with alarming regularity in one form or the other. Typical questions such as:

  • Why is there so much difference in the prices quoted by different vendors for the same work?
  • I saw on  TV websites being advertised for INR 2500 only,  so why  is your cost  so high?
  • Why is your cost so low? Are you sure you can give quality work?

Such questions in one form or the other are regularly asked of web designers all over India.

Normally a web designer will try to justify his cost on overheads (or lack of them) or quality or some such parameter. But always the client will choose the cost which is most comfortable to him no matter what he says initially. After all India still remains a very cost conscious web design market.

To make sense of the huge difference in costings you need to understand the web design community heirarchy.

It follows a very typical pyramidal form with a lot of low cost vendors at the bottom and the high flying boutique firms and high brow ad agency subsidiaries at the top.

 So here's a quick primer on what you could expect from each level and type of agency you engage for your work. These are of  my making and not necessary any standard.

  Ad affiliated web agencies Web design boutiques Freelancers Mid-level marketing firms Small scale software companies Web Hosting/ Hardware Cos.
Share of web design market Very small Large Large Large Medium Medium
Quality of work Excellent - Good Excellent - Good Excellent to Poor Good to Average Average to Poor Average to Poor
Reliability Very reliable Quite reliable Extremely unreliable Quite reliable Somewhat reliable Somewhat reliable
Cost of work Extremely High High Low to High Medium to High Medium to Low Low
Staff Sizes 10-50 persons 5-150+ persons 1-5 persons 5-50 persons 5-25 persons 5-25 persons
Technology Use Excellent Excellent - Good Good to Poor Average Good Good
Marketing Savvy (On behalf of clients) Excellent Excellent - Good Average Good to Average Poor Poor


a. Ad Agency affiliated / Ad agency subsidiaries:

  • These are children agencies of the big ad agencies.
  • They mostly live off the work  given to them from their parent agencies.
  • Fulfill a digital marketing gap in an ad agencies service suite.
  • If they take on independent work its for a bomb and very few businesses can afford them.
  • By their very nature they are very few in the market although they rule the roost in terms of brand and pricing.

b. Mid-level to Upper level boutique web design firms:

  • These are firms whose whole and sole business is web design and online marketing.
  • They can consist of teams of 10 to 100 people and  dominate the current  web design scenario in India.
  • Our firm MiracleworX would also fall into this category.
  • They usually charge medium to high and the work quality and delivery is also very good.
  • There are exceptions  but overall they produce some of the best online work out of India.

c. Mid-level Marketing Firms:

  • These are marketing only jack of all trades who do all kinds of marketing  work such  designing logos/ brochures, presentations, banners  and websites.
  • Web design plays a large part in their portfolios but is not their bread and butter alone.
  • They charge median and also deliver median quality work.
  • They form a large part of website design work done in India

d. Freelance Web Designers:

  • These are individuals who have not invested in the overheads of a firm but take up web design work on a free lance basis.
  • For most the overheads are low
  • Their prices can vary  a lot as  they don't follow any structure and quote whatever they feel like.
  • Quality of work too varies a lot from designer to designer.
  • They are an essential part of the web design community as they take a lot of work outsourced by established firms.

e. Small Scale Software Companies:

  • These are jacks of all trades.
  •  They can create  software to online applications to websites.
  • Again web design is not their core business and
  • They usually outsource or have a low quality web team in-house.
  • They  quote very low prices.

f. Web Hosting Companies / Hardware suppliers:

  • These are opportunity based vendors whose main business is not web design but
  • Take it on when the opportunity from an existing client arises.
  • Usually they quote very low and outsource to a freelancer someone else.

The situation always affects the choice and eventual cost.

Situation Go with
Image is important, money no object. Ad agencies, boutique agencies
High expected earnings directly or indirectly from the site. Ad agencies, boutique agencies, marketing agencies
Time is of the essence. Speed is required. boutique agencies, marketing agencies
Budget is very tight Freelancers, marketing agencies
Budget is extremely tight, cannot afford much Freelancers, web Hosting, Hardware/Software cos.
Don't really care how the website turns out, just want it done. Freelancers, web Hosting, Hardware/Software cos.

If costs are close or equal among agencies how do I choose one?

I usually recommend the following factors for choosing an agency if all things are equal:

  • How good is their past portfolio of work? Does it match your tastes and expectations? (Most important factor)
  • How is their presentation? Does their representative know what he is talking about? Are they confident and experienced?
  • Are they transparent? Have they outlined all possible costs for you and are not concealing hidden costs?
  • A gut feel for who you should go with. The subconscious will notice many factors and give you a signal whom to go with.

In conclusion  

The wide range of pricing and options are primarily due to the low cost of entry into the web design industry. A guy sitting in his bedroom with a laptop can also tomorrow declare himself to be a web designer. However, businesses will always require top quality professionally run firms such as ours to deliver tomorrow's websites. We will cost fairly and proportionately to the work. As always its up to the clients.


Check out our work at

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