What Does A Dental Practice Website Cost? Winter 2021 Update
Set-up costs and ongoing maintenance – “total cost of website ownership”
A few years ago I published a blog post covering what dentists should expect when budgeting for a new dental website, including the initial set up and running costs. Back then the industry was still broadly applying what is widely known as the “dental tax” with many suppliers charging way above the odds simply because they were supplying into the dental business. On average we were seeing anything between a 60 to 100% price hike for dental websites compared to similar sites being built by web companies for general businesses outside of dentistry. We also illustrated that if you shop around, you will be able to find companies, my own included, who will build an excellent practice website much more in line with what any business should expect.
So what’s changed over the last couple of years, particularly with the advent of Covid and other cost pressures affecting businesses? Has the price of web design for dentists also gone up and if so, what should you expect now? Let’s take a look.
Current prices for dental websites
If you look around on the web, it appears that the majority of dental web design companies are still pushing the limits when it comes to charging dentists for new websites. Prices appear to start at the 7-8k mark and then push on over £10k if you’re inclined to pay it. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see that better websites are available for £4 – £5k. If you look deeper still, you’ll also find that some of those more cost-effective websites don’t just look better, they have much better underlying technical performance too. So it really does pay to look around and research thoroughly.
Pushing the pricing envelope
I was recently in discussions with a designer who’d been laid off by a dental web design agency and she wasn’t slow in advising the rationale behind her old company’s price hiking. Their reasoning was based on dentist’s increasing their own prices, in some case quite considerably, to cover things like surgery fallow times and the provision of PPE. They’d taken the opportunity to significantly increase their own pricing on the back of that; albeit a little bit misguided in my opinion.
Whilst many companies have been hit with rising costs, it’s likely that dentists are well up the list given the significant operating constraints imposed upon them. I think it’s reasonable to suggest that, in main part, web design agencies won’t have seen comparable cost increases and as such, significant prices rises for their own services aren’t really justified. Maybe just another example of suppliers levying the “dental tax”?
Ongoing website maintenance
Now that we’ve established that you can get an excellent website for £4k, what should you budget for ongoing website maintenance fees? Again this is an area where a lot of dental web companies are making hay by charging what I consider to be very expensive monthly fees. The format of this has not changed much over the last few years with most companies insistent on significant monthly retainer fees. 2 or 3 years ago, the minimum you might expect would be £80 – £100 per month, but those prices appear to have also moved up quite considerably with £125 per month quite common, even for the most basic of services.
For that £125 + vat you appear to get a very simple monthly report generated automatically from Google Analytics and very simple website updates. Some companies promise SEO within those fees, but look closely and you’ll see that in reality you’ll get virtually nothing unless you subscribe to their more expensive services. They use the word ‘SEO’ to hook in the unsuspecting and then upsell later on once the client is successfully on board. Please look out for that!
What is the minimum you should expect to pay for the upkeep of your website in 2021/2022?
My guidance here is to avoid paying out on expensive monthly maintenance fees as most of the time you won’t even be using the service. A much more cost-effective model is on a “pay as required” basis where you only get charged for work that is required; not an expensive retainer “just in case”. This is a model we run very successfully at Dental Media and typically a dentist will pay less than a third for website upkeep when compared to the monthly retainer model.
The only exception to the above might be if your website is powered by a content management system which requires regular updates to remain secure – here a monthly fee model may work for some, but in my experience it is still usually much more cost effective to have those updates done on a pay-per-event basis.
The overall price you pay for web maintenance will depend on the number of updates you do, but to give an idea, most of our clients spend less than £500 per year on website updates.
The current landscape for dental website design is unfortunately one of increasing prices as many companies hike their rates on the back of more general price rises. Unfortunately what we are seeing is a number of companies hiking prices disproportionately and charging design prices over double what you might expect for a non-dental business.
However, if you know where to look, you don’t need to become subject to the supplier “dental tax” and you can have an excellent, high-performing website at far more realistic prices.
Need help to navigate the confusing landscape of website design for dentists? Please call the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 or use the website form to get in touch for more information.