How do we price out website/Discourse development?

My organization may be able to get access to funds to pay for more intense website/Discourse development. We’re applying for grants!

As part of applying for a grant, we need a budget. I’m including an initial brainstorm of our expenses below, but I need help figuring out reasonable estimates for technical infrastructure, especially.


  1. Are we missing any categories of expenses? If so, what?
  2. If you have RFPs or actual costs for your own community, could you share it?
  3. I’d like specific support on figuring out initial design and development costs. How do I go about doing that?

Expenses Brainstorm

  • Coordination (mostly staff time)
    • Strategy
    • Partnerships
    • Customer research
    • Outreach
    • Fundraising
  • Technical (probably contracted staff + some technical costs)
    • Initial design and development
    • Maintenance
      • Website
      • Hosting
      • Domain Registration
      • Auto-Translation
      • Technical support to install plug-ins, perform updates, respond to bugs and support requests)
  • Content
    • Community moderation
    • Content creation

I’d go about by not laying it out like this:

But rather:

  • Community concept
  • Design
  • Development

The community concept is the most important aspect to work out first and it’s not a technical issue at all.

You will get a good design if you assign a graphic designer to work on a visual language and material. You won’t get that from engineers either.

If you have a concept for your community and a visual language that supports it, you likely won’t need much technical development. You should be able to build a community platform with mostly or even only out-of-the-box building blocks. What you’ll need is a dev or admin that knows Discourse well enough to choose the right blocks.

So if you don’t have a particular reason to emphasize design or develop a specific technical feature, I’d allocate resources more or less evenly between these three aspects. If you want professional support with all of them, 6000$ is probably a starting number?


I worked at FeverBee during that time so I can help here. That is actually an open source theme which can be found at GitHub - literatecomputing/feverbee-engagement-theme: Theme component based on

You could take that to someone like Pavilion | Welcome and have them customise it for your site in a day or so. That shouldn’t cost more than a couple of grand.


@angus @Ellibereth
I think we can help out here.