How Expensive is Responsive Web Design? The Responsive Web Thoughts

What frustrates many business owners about web design is they never know how much they should be paying, and no one seems to be able to give them a cut and dry answer. Unfortunately, the exact costs for responsive web design are hard to pinpoint, and you should be wary of any web design company that gives you a standard answer before having a thorough discussion about your business. Why? Because, effective web design is tailored to the needs of each individual client, and you wouldn’t want a company who treats all their customers the same.

Why Do the Prices Vary?

So many choices... hmmm

To further explain, think of paying for responsive web design in the same way as paying for a night out to dinner. Depending on what restaurant you choose, the price of dinner varies dramatically. For instance, you could go to the cheap burger joint on the corner and get a whole meal for less than $7. But, what kind of service are you going to get, and how’s that burger going to make you feel later? Or, you could go to a fancy restaurant and get exceptional service and tasty, nutritional food, but still have the feeling you could have found the same quality at somewhere less expensive.

And on top of choosing the type of restaurant you want, you have to decide what to order from the menu? Do you want to keep things light and just have a salad, or do you want to have the full experience and choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert? There are similar variables when buying web design, and just as there’s no one price for dinner, there’s no single rate for responsive web design.

What Must You Have?

Responsive Design CostsYou have many choices when deciding what to include in your web design, but one thing you shouldn’t overlook is mobility. With the multitude of mobile devices available and people’s increasing tendency to access the internet on-the-go, it doesn’t make sense not to have a mobile strategy. Sticking with a strictly desktop design may be less expensive, but it is backwards-thinking and something no worthwhile web designer would recommend.

Even if your site isn’t fully mobile optimized, it should still work on most devices, so plan accordingly. Deciding to integrate mobility halfway through the design process will only set back progress and create additional expenses.

Which is Cheaper: A Responsive or Dedicated Site?

Responsive Web Design Layouts

There are pros and cons to both responsive and dedicated sites, but in regards to budget, which one is better? From the get-go, a responsive site (one that adapts to the device) is generally priced about the same as a dedicated site (one designed specifically for mobile devices). However, over time, the maintenance fees associated with a dedicated site tend to surpass those of a responsive site because of:

  • Redundancy – When several versions of the same site need to be managed, some repetition of maintenance tasks is bound to occur.
  • Coordination – If different people are handling the mobile and desktop sites, keeping everything in sync requires a great deal of communication and planning (i.e. more time and money).
  • Device updates – As new devices emerge and others evolve, site managers must constantly update who gets routed where, which is sometimes confusing when dealing with hybrid devices and new technologies that could go either way (desktop or mobile).

This is not to say responsive sites don’t have their own maintenance requirements, but they seem to be less demanding in the long run whereas dedicated sites tend to compound.

How to Have Responsive Web Design on a Budget?

Responsive Web Design

Okay, you’ve decided responsive web design is right for your business, but what can you do to keep the costs down? Here are some suggestions:

  • Choose a web design company with experience in responsive design By using a company proficient in responsive design, you will get better, faster results (less time usually means less money) and have the benefit of a team who stays current with trends and knows why responsive sites are important.
  • Ask about collaboration – Creating effective, responsive design typically requires input from several individuals with varying expertise. Don’t be afraid to ask the company how they work together. For instance, ask who does what, and how they collaborate to create innovative, highly-functional design?
  • Ensure site is tested on real devices – There are device simulators available, but nothing compares to the real thing, so make sure your design company is testing your site on real devices. This will keep you from annoying consumers with a broken site, and help you save money on repair expenses.
  • Optimize for major devices only – The costs and time associated with trying to optimize for every device available is never ending and impractical. You can save money by “optimizing” for the most popular gadgets and simply “supporting” the others.
  • Hire forward thinking designers – For efficiency, your designers should plan for all your site versions at once. Planning for each medium (desktop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) individually wastes time and is contrary to responsive design. Also, use a company that has an eye on the future and creates sites capable of adapting to forthcoming trends. The worst thing for your budget is to pay for a major overhaul every time something in the industry changes.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Yes, responsive design costs more than doing nothing or building an outdated site. But, beyond that, the price is difficult to narrow down. And, as with anything, price is only one consideration as you should also bear in mind quality, service, and results. The best advice is to hire a responsive web designer in the same way you would hire any other professional, such as a building contractor, accountant, or car repairman — shop around, get quotes, and ask questions.

Doing some research and comparing services will help you get the most for you money.

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