Casper Reiff

The mind of Casper Reiff

Ok, obviously there are a lot of comparements that cannot be made between websites and cars... But som can, and some of them I pointed out on this infographic I made.

Buying a website is like buying a car...

Published 28.12.2016

So here I was, thinking... "Why is it so damn hard for clients to understand, how websites can be so pricy?". Then I came up with this infographic of solid arguments for why a website IS in fact made of gold.

View larger image here How much does a website cost

Please consider joining the debate on Reddit

Best comment on Reddit:

I got this comment on Reddit from user Rakuseki looking at the infographic from a whole other perspective, criticising the core idea of my infographic.

However, there is a lot of good reason in these comments and I want my readers to really understand, how selling a website works best. So if you're in the business of websites, take your time to understand what Rakuseki writes.

Also, if you dissagree, please join the debate on Reddit.

While I think the idea behind this makes it seem like an appropriate simile, the scenarios are hardly equal. When someone is visually comparing a Lamborghini to a Yugo they can instantly see the value that each product produces. They can see the quality work that went into each one without having to be an engineer. Websites, on the other hand, are much harder to discern. Facebook doesn't look difficult to reproduce on the surface. Google's front page certainly doesn't look difficult to reproduce on the surface. Neither's value is immediately conveyed.

Past seeing the product's immediate value, purchasing a car gives the buyer instant agency to produce whatever their true goal was. That doesn't happen with a website as quickly and is a source of frustration for many clients who don't understand the medium.

The same inequality is present when you're talking about repairs. When your car is in the shop, I'd wager most people are completely at the mercy of whatever mechanic they're working with. They do say "fix it! ASAP!" because they've lost agency and they've lost negotiating ability so the conversation is completely different. What I think the infographic is referring to is routine maintenance which is an understood and haggle-worthy situation with car ownership. It's also completely optional, albeit not recommended. With a website, that's not immediately understood. If you haven't conveyed to your client that certain modules (or entire CMS like Wordpress) need regular updates, then no, they're not going to get that. A web font suddenly not loading and a car stalling out on the highway tend to illicit two different reactions.

Regarding how complicated it is to build one, this infographic is completely missing it. People don't custom-build cars regularly. They choose options. People also don't generally order vehicles straight from the manufacturing company. They purchase them from distributors, from a lot, for reasons that have very little to do with the inner workings of the car itself because it's presumed they'll work. Thankfully, web dev's also don't have to deal with lemon law infractions.

I think if you want to offer 'pricey' web development then it's imperative to convey the value and ROI that a customer will see in an agreed upon amount of time. It's hard at first but each success will make future negotiations that much easier.

TL:DR - Cars and Websites aren't that similar and using similes isn't going to convince clients as well you might imagine.


Based off your responses and re-reading your infographic, I'm getting the impression that you think web design should be pricey because A) it's "complicated" and B) it's improper to ask these questions in other fields for the same reasons. It's the "You wouldn't steal a car?" line the MPAA thought was going to work (it didn't). I caution against that line of thinking. What it comes off as is that you're trying to substantiate your price by selling them process except they're not buying process - They're buying the results. To use an earlier example, Google's homepage isn't worth billions because of the 'complicated' code it uses to generate the results it produces. It's worth billions because it gets users what they're seeking when they ask for it, quickly. Sure, you could argue semantics, but it's an important distinction. As long as it's producing the value it does, what goes on behind the scenes and the time it takes to accomplish it mean nothing. It's not an added value to the product.

To bring it home to a web site you, me, or someone reading this might make - if a client is asking for a secure email form on a simple contact page then they're looking for an email form that works securely. It doesn't matter if yours is 3000 lines, mine is two, and everyone else's exists in the middle.

Regarding my second point, the idea that you wouldn't be those same questions to a mechanic, I'd consider that scope loss. The mechanic didn't build your car. If I order a website from you and two weeks later something breaks then I'm going to come to you and ask why it's broken and expect you to fix it. In this scenario, you're the manufacturer. With the car example, I'll be utilizing my manufacturer's warranty. Do you offer a warranty on your work?

Essentially, the only time I wouldn't expect you to cover your work is when I'm solely responsible for breaking it. If I were to have bumbled my way into my FTP server and accidentally deleted everything from my var folder then yes, I'm expected to pay for that. Customers will realize this. Otherwise, I expect the product I have purchased to continue to work until otherwise notified because unlike tires, most first-party code and basic html shouldn't deprecate. Same goes for users on my website. If they do something and it breaks, it falls on you as the designer and developer for not thinking about that ahead of time. The customer shouldn't be expected to shell out money for a product that doesn't work as intended.

Whew, another long post. My apologies for that. All of this is to say that pricing your web design needs to be open, crystal clear on intention, and meticulously followed up on. The more i's you dot and the more t's you cross, the less likely you'll run into a situation where the client is being a royal pain in the ass. Of course, it'll still happen but if you've done your due diligence, you'll be able to field most questions with ease. Also, always always always get written and signed documentation on everything. It's much easier to answer the "why is this so pricey?!" question when you can just refer to your agreed-upon paperwork.

It's hard not to agree with Rakuseki on this, when putting on the serious glasses and actually wanting to sell a valid and professional service. Though the infographic was originally intended to bee of the less serious kind, I too think it's important to emphasis this.

You should of course always focus on giving your client the best exprience, leaving them with a feeling of satisfaction and fairness. Acheiving this by selling your service as a product (yes, most clients sees websites as a product and not a service) and pricing that product by the value you think it has to the client.

This way, you can, of course, sell work that takes hours to develop, for very little - and you can sell work that you made in only short time, for very much. It's the balance between those, that should make your hourly earning.

If this web developers could really get this to work with the clients, it would be a lot easier to be a developer.