It’s difficult to accurately estimate the cost to create, or update, a website since so many variables are involved. For instance, whether you’re starting from scratch, what features you want to offer and whether you’re doing it yourself or partnering with an expert can impact cost. Another issue is the reality that technology keeps changing what’s available and what patients expect.
Generally speaking, dental practices interested in basic but customized websites can expect to invest about $6,000; high-end websites with additional features can cost as much as $25,000. It’s a good rule of thumb to plan on spending 5-10% of your total marketing budget to update your website.
Take the time to carefully analyze and assess what you want and what you need your website to do before you finalize the budget for your website. Think about which approach is right for you: are you interested in doing-it-yourself, do you prefer to work with an expert offering limited support, or are you more comfortable outsourcing responsibility for the entire project to a professional?
If you opt to do it yourself, make sure you’re realistic about the time commitment you and others on the team will need to make. See the article The Basics in the Creating Your Marketing Plan section of this module for more information. Generally speaking, most dental practices should allocate up to 25% of a single staff person’s time to manage the practice’s marketing efforts. Creating a website will require a similar time commitment but for a shorter time frame if you do it in-house. Make sure your staff has the capacity, and the training and interest, in performing these duties.
If you want to build and manage your website internally but it turns out that doing so requires more time and responsibility than your current staff can assume, consider hiring a college student or intern with those skills to create you website on a contract basis. This approach provides your practice with the expertise it needs, keeps staff focused on their primary duties and offers the student the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. Make sure that the person doing the job understands your practice’s vision and brand since they will influence the design of your site and its content. It’s essential that your website accurately and effectively represents you and your practice and that it supports your marketing efforts.
Another option is partnering with an external vendor who can design your website for you or, if you’re working with a marketing consultant, having that business manage your website as part of your marketing campaign. A basic estimate for having a professional marketer use their expertise and staff to create your website can cost $10,000 to $12,000. While this may appear costly, it may end up reducing the amount of time and energy you and your staff need to dedicate to the project.
A web design expert, though potentially of great help in positioning your practice favorably online, can also harm you through poor service, project delays, or even disclosures of patients’ protected health information. Written agreements with website design and management vendors can be very helpful to outline expectations, timelines and obligations and can help manage your legal risks. A Sample Website Development Agreement, courtesy of A Dentist's Guide to the Law: 228 Things Every Dentist Should Know, is included as a Resource to this article.
A written agreement can protect your ownership rights to the domain name of your website as well as all the copyrights and trademarks in the information, graphics, logos, etc. It may also provide you with a remedy in case there are any problems. Since every situation is different, consult with your attorney about what is right for you.