It’s that time of year when budgets are being created and we’re all trying to get more out of less.  Thinking about re-platforming? Perhaps people in your organisation are bringing you business cases to refresh your web estate. Unsurprising given the costs of legacy systems. So how do you work out what’s going to be the best value approach?

It goes without saying, that your business will have its own way of calculating ROI, based on the KPI’s that matter to you. And there are complex formulas for calculating ROI and cost of websites, but the purpose for this article is to give you a top-line overview of the costs of your web estate, and there is a better way to manage these costs and deliver real digital efficiencies. (Spoiler alert, yes there is, we'll come to that later).

We wanted to take a look at how you might cost your site, and at least get an answer to the 'investment' part of ROI. We're going to break it down, and exclude costs like hosting, licensing, infrastructure etc so we can really just focus on what it takes to get a page, or even a website up. We've built on some of the excellent thinking in this article. An oldie got a goodie.

First, let’s look at the traditional way to calculate the cost of web design. It usually looks something like this:

Traditional calculation *

A = No of web pages

B = Dev time required to build a page

C = Cost of website A x B = C


Pretty simple stuff. 

So to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) its: KPI / Cost of Website

There’s another way companies calculate website costs, so let’s look at a 2nd method, this time involving the cost of building templates. Let’s call it Traditional calculation +.

Traditional calculation +  *

A = No of templates

B = Dev time required to build a template

C = Number of pages

D = cost of website A x B x C = D


So again it’s KPI/Cost of Website = ROI

And do the same calculation for each site you have.

Now, let’s look at an alternative way, some would say a better way: The Design system approach. And not just any old design system, but Acquia Site Studio, the low-code solution to build and edit sites. Here goes:


Design system approach

A = Number of components

B = Dev time to create a component

C = cost of component A x B = C

D = average no of components to build a website (a constant - for example 15)

E = cost of site C x D = E

And now the real savings kick-in...

Let’s remember your other websites. The brand and product sites, in different markets, around the world. What then? With the traditional calculations and methods, you’ll have to reinvent the wheel for each site, multiplying costs dramatically, nullifying the ROI and building in a greater level of technical debt over time. 

However, here are the calculations for your other sites, using our design system approach:

Cost of site 2 = 0

Cost of site 3 = 0

Cost of site 4 = 0

Not bad! This is because our design systems take your brand, accessibility needs, responsive behaviours and UX principles, and bakes them into the platform. No risk of going off road, just your marketers focusing on their audience. We call it "freedom in a box". Design. Use. Repeat.

ROI = A lot!

What about other costs?

Let’s look at Opportunity cost, the time it takes using a traditional approach to build multiple sites. For argument's sake, let’s say 5 months. But you’ve already paid a hefty amount of £$€ for that build to happen. The calculation is:


Level of investment x length of inactivity

Time to market (time to opportunity / value)


Whereas our design system approach uses low-code technology, and sites can be built up to four times quicker than the traditional route. And as explained before, our design system makes it quick and easy to replicate across multiple sites, even with brands who have their own unique identities. Your overall marketing agility is greatly improved, A/B testing results can be quickly incorporated into campaigns, all driving sales and improving profitability. 

Of course, to make the whole process seamless, bringing all your websites into one platform, whilst integrating your CRM and content, you need a fantastic web agency. That’s us,, just in case you’re wondering. 


So, what are the true costs of your websites?

We haven't looked in detail at aspects, such as Conversion Rate Optimisation or UX metrics, but hopefully the above has whetted your appetite to investigate and discover the true costs of running your websites. 

In the meantime, here’s a short video showing how we created a global design system, replatforming over 20 brands, each with their own brand identities, to one platform, in under a year.


Digital Experience, delivered.



* Calculations taken from: