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What sort of optimisation are you talking about? “Optimising for Google” is like asking how long is a piece of string.
There are a lot of ways to optimize a WordPress website so it depends on the current health of the website. Does it need speed optimization? Does it need technical optimization for SEO and Google? Does your website need content and design optimization? There are also on-page and off-page optimization. A comprehensive audit is required to first analyze the issues to recommend optimization and priority.
WordPress is a CMS and therefore a bit more complex to develop because it involves several technologies:
HTML - Web Markup
CSS - Styling
SQL - Database for dynamic content
PHP - Server side Connectivity
From the above you should not expect a Custom (Not bought theme) Website to cost $500, that would not be possible for a developer to charge you and not go bankrupt. The only way you might get a $500 site is when you will purchase a theme for $40 and change colors fonts etc., but you will not get any customisation (dive into the functions) like some distinguished developers claim here.
To keep it short a Custom Wordpress Theme designed and developed will be a minimum of $2500 for a 5-page site plus the contact form. This might only be if the theme is already developed and there are no major customizations required.
From the above you should not expect a Custom (Not bought theme) Website to cost $500-20000 depending on requirements, that would not be possible for a developer to charge you and not go bankrupt. The only way you might get a $500 site is when you will purchase a theme for $40 and change colors fonts etc., but you will not get any customization (dive into the functions).
To keep it short a Custom Wordpress Theme designed and developed from scratch will be minimum of $5000 for a 5 page site plus the contact form, I am talking about not using any themes and making changes and also not talking about creating and designing a child theme. The time it would take for research, mockups, user personas, MVP (minimal viable product) and development plus deployment and testing would be about 50 hrs on the conservative side and that is using some kind of editor like brackets ( and using reusable code modules). So to get the site for $500 you will have to shop overseas and risk quality.
You must be thinking why would you hire anyone that is worth $5 per hour - (in some countries $5 hr is very good pay).
The worst thing that could happen is, if you got the development made overseas and the site breaks with no support in site! At the end getting a developer to fix it from the west might cost you more in the long run.
Many factors can lend to this. Top three (3) that comes to mind:
You can eventually hire really, really good people. Interesting space. Sexy product. Rock star team across the board. The operative word is “eventually”. Everyone that you really want to come work for you? They’re currently employed. They’re happy where they are. It’s a process to extract them. Not a rapid one.
And while you can do all sorts of things to widen the top of the hiring funnel and get a metric ton of resumes in, then you would frankly be looking people not on your list, people that you can’t vet based on personal experience, people that didn’t come up in the “so who do you know?” conversations… it’s a giant shoot. You know there’s a pretty decent chance that you will hire someone OK, but also a better chance that they’ll be smart and capable and you will have to mentor them into solving this particular set of problems the right way. Which is also OK but that’s not going to help your timeline issue.
So you are looking very hard at an agency. If you have worked before with the CEO, he’s got a great team, does great work. It’s a split staffing model, some of the team is local to you or is dedicated, some is off-shore, and they have managing the deliverables down to a science.
So you will hit your early targets for a fraction of in-house team budget, while you try to build out your team.
Long term, you want your team in-house. There’s an enormous amount of value in that.
Here are some questions that would absolutely need to be answered before any quote would make sense:
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