How Much Does a Website Cost?
This is one of the most-commonly asked questions and for good reason.
We’ve done the research for you, so you don’t have to, and we’re going to break it all down.
A local business website can launch for anywhere from $58.00 – $50,000.00 or more. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin and how to make the best decision for your business.
Local businesses have budgets, but they also want to get the best website possible for their investment.
Since most people today do online research before making a purchasing decision, having the wrong website can hurt sales.
Whether starting a new business or running a business that’s been around longer than the Internet, a modern and professional website is foundational in today’s marketing.
After reading through our breakdown, you should have a much better idea of what it takes to launch a winning website. We’ll even show you how to make the best decision for your business.
Table of Contents
- Web Design Definitions
- Most Popular Website Builders
- Costs Of A Do-It-Yourself Website
- Costs Of A Professionally Designed Website
- Summary of Website Cost Options
- How To Make The Right Web Design Decision For Your Business
Things That Impact The Cost of A Website
Generally, the cost of a website comes down to five core factors:
- How the website will be built and hosted.
- Who will design and build it.
- Who will create the content.
- How many pages will be created.
- What kinds of functions will be needed.
Weaved into these factors, are the three things that a business needs in order to have an effective website. Of course the whole point of a website is to help a business get more business. These three things can help or hurt sales.
- The Content – The strategy, words, images and videos.
- The Design – The look, feel, colors and logo.
- The Development – The technical stuff like coding.
These things are all important but, “The Content” is super critical. It’s the content that converts visitors into turns visitors into customers/clients/buyers.
Make sure to keep these areas in mind has you figure out the best course of action for your website. There is almost no point in launching a poorly designed website. It will hurt your business.
In addition, finding web design prices online, from an experienced web design agency, can be hard to come by, which adds another layer of difficulty when making a decision. The range from ‘do-it-yourself’ to professional custom web design services is quite wide.
For some frame of reference, let’s assume that you are starting a new business with a new website.
The standard website typically starts off with about five pages (i.e. Home, Services/Products (2), About, Contact).
The standard e-commerce website is typically about five pages to start: (i.e. Home, Shop, Returns/Shipping, About, Contact, plus the individual product pages).
Of course your specific needs may be different. Over time new pages and content should be added to your website to increase traffic and sales.
Web Design Definitions
It’s probably helpful to define a few terms around websites and web design.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is a website name. It’s the same thing. For example, google.com is a domain name. You can order your domain name from a several companies like Siteground, GoDaddy, Wix, Shopify or a bunch of other companies. I’d recommend ordering your domain name and website hosting with the same company, but you don’t have to.
What is a web designer?
This is typically an individual that designs websites. Essentially, it’s a one-person operation where the individual is doing everything. Although their core competency will be web design, oftentimes, a web designer will develop the website too.
What is a web developer?
This is typically an individual that builds websites that the web designer designs. Essentially, it’s a one-person operation where the individual is doing everything. Although their core competency will be web development, oftentimes, a web developer will design the website too.
What is web design agency?
This is a business with a team or staff. It can include a web designer, web developer, content writer and project manager or any combination of role overlap.
What is website hosting?
Also known as hosting, website hosting just means putting a website out on the Internet so anyone can find it. Unless you own your own servers, this is a service that just about every business pays for either monthly or annually.
What is a website host?
Also known as the website hosting company. These are the people doing the website hosting for you. It’s typically a company that owns specially designed buildings that house a bunch of computer servers. The website files are stored on those servers and the servers are connected to the Internet making the website public. Some examples would be: Siteground, GoDaddy, Bluehost and Amazon Web Services. There are lots to choose from. For local businesses, we recommend Siteground.
What is a content management system (CMS)?
A content management system is a website building software program that is used to design and build websites. It does most of the technical coding automatically. It usually has a more user-friendly dashboard, which allows for easier updating than in the past. These can be a paid service or a free (aka open-source) service. Before content management systems came along, every website was custom hand-coded, line-by line and every update had to be done by a website developer.
What is custom hand coding?
Before website builders came along, most websites were custom hand-coded. This meant that a website developer would need to build a website by writing thousands of lines of computer code manually. Custom hand-coding is alive and well today. It’s most commonly used by the largest businesses with very unique needs and new startups that are inventing something new. Some examples are: craigslist, ebay, apple and facebook.
What is custom coding?
This can be a hybrid situation. Suppose you were building your website in a content management system (CMS) and wanted to add in some unique functionality that wasn’t in the main services. Custom coding could be added directly into the core website files to effect the design or functions or both. Beware that not all service allow for custom coding. If you think you’ll need custom coding, WordPress.org is a great option.
What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
In simple terms, search engine optimization is the method of designing and developing a website and its content in a way that gets search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo) to show its pages on their search results pages. It’s also known as “organic search”, but there’s nothing organic about it. Think of SEO as passive advertising that someone else thinks they found online all by themselves.
What is a secure socket layer certificate (SSL)?
There are a lot of spammy and scammy websites on the internet looking to steal your info and credit card information. So one way to separate legitimate websites from non-legitimate websites is the SSL Certificate. SSL can be ordered from the website host. Some still charge a fee, but most will offer a standard certificate for free. There are a few premium SSL levels available for an annual fee and depending on the industry (ie Financial Services), it may be recommended or even required. Oftentimes, website browsers won’t load a website that doesn’t have an SLL. So get it if you want your website to work properly.
What is a brand style guide?
This is a document that explains and sets the guidelines for things like the color scheme, typography and logos for a business. It is typically created when a logo is created. It sets a standard of consistency for how a brand’s logos, colors and typography should be used when creating marketing assets like websites, business cards, clothing, flyers and every other item that represents the business. This consistency across assets is what builds trust with your audience at an emotional level.
Most Popular Website Builders
Generally, they fall into two categories.
Paid and Free.
Unless you are building something completely unique, like another social media platform, custom hand-coding is probably not needed. One of the options below will meet 99% of local business needs.
Paid Website Builders
There are several paid website building platforms, so what’s the difference? Probably your personal preference and whichever one you start using first.
These platforms know that once they get you into their service, you are probably not leaving. It’s just too much trouble. So choose wisely.
The most popular paid website builders are:
These may be a good fit for a local business:
- With little to no budget to hire a web design firm.
- Someone on the team has some web design and content experience.
- That wants to test an idea before investing with a larger budget.
- That is a temporary or a one-time event.
- Great at handling the website development. Little to no technical skills are needed to build a website, it’s mostly drag-and-drop.
- There are lots of free and paid templates and stock images that can be used.
- The website hosting is built-in to the service so it’s usually one price.
- There are lots of integration options to connect a website with third-party services for added functionality.
- This is the big one. You own the words and images but not the website design and website design files. The design and website files are part of the website building platform. It’s similar to social media platforms. It’s your content, but you don’t own the Facebook or Instagram page your content is on. So, if you choose to move your website, you can export the words, images and videos but, you’ll need to re-design and re-develop it elsewhere.
- If you move your website, you may lose your SEO rankings on the search engines.
- Design options and customization are limited and may be hampered.
- Doesn’t address creating a strategy for how best to organize your pages or create the content.
The Three Most Popular Paid Website Building Platforms
There are lots of platforms to choose from but the three biggest website building platforms are probably WIX, Squarespace and Shopify. These are the three we’ll cover here.
Wix was founded in 2006 and is a publicly-traded company. According to its website, Wix has over 180 million users as of 2020.
Wix probably has the deepest number of integrations and 100’s templates to choose from. Plans start with a free version in exchange for displaying Wix ads on your website.
Wix charges a monthly or annual fee with the hosting included.
Squarespace was founded in 2003 and is a privately held company. According to its website they have millions of websites on their platform. While Squarespace may not be as big as Wix, it pretty much offers the same features. So either one will get it done for most do-it-yourself websites.
Squarespace charges a monthly or annual fee with the hosting included.
Whereas Wix and Squarespace offer both standard and e-commerce websites, Shopify is focused on e-commerce only.
Plans start with a 14-day free trial.
Free Content Management Systems (CMS) aka Website Builders
WordPress.org was initially released in 2003. It is free and open-sourced, meaning no one organization or business owns it. Hence the domain ending in “.org”. It’s easy to confuse wordpress.org with wordpress.com. The short answer is, wordpress.com is a private company that smartly grabbed the wordpress.com domain name very early (around 2005) and has built a company around it.
WordPress.org is used by local businesses that…
- May or may not have a limited web design budget but do want to use a user-friendly website builder.
- Want to own their website files outright.
- Want a custom look and feel to their website.
- Want to add some specific functions not offered in paid website building platforms.
- Want to get more traffic through search engines by adding new blog post content.
- It’s free, aka open-source.
- Because you have access to the core files, there is no limit to the customization or functionality options you can integrate or customize.
- Almost unlimited integration and template options (both free and paid).
- Excellent results for Google search engine optimization.
- While drag and drop options are built-in, the learning curve is steeper than Wix, Squarespace or Shopify.
- If you are not technically savvy, you may want to hire a professional to build and customize it.
- You’ll need to update the website software monthly. See how to do that here.
- Doesn’t address creating a strategy for how best to organize your pages or create the content.
Costs of a Do-It-Yourself Website
- Paid website platform (without e-commerce): $22 – $63
- Paid website platform (with e-commerce): $33 – $314 (plus 3% credit card processing fees)
- Free Content Management System (CMS) (without e-commerce): $17-$33
- Free Content Management System (CMS) (with e-commerce): $17-$33 (plus 3% credit card processing fees)
There are three website cost factors to consider when doing it yourself. This assumes you will be creating the content.
- The domain name.
- The website hosting.
- The website builder.
How Much Is A Domain Name?
Cost: $10-$15 a year
You can order your domain name from lots of different places. I’d recommend ordering it with the same company that is hosting the website, but it’s not required.
How Much Is Website Hosting?
Cost: $48-$500 a year
This ranges depends on the level of service and amount of monthly traffic you’ll get. From my experience, the lowest cost web hosting services also have abysmal support, so I would suggest avoid the lowest prices. It could be the difference between waiting one minute for someone to answer or one or two days (yes, that really happens).
When using paid website builders, like Wix, Squarespace or Shopify, your website hosting will be built in to the website plan.
When using WordPress, you’ll need to order a website hosting account. While I recommend Siteground, whoever you choose, make sure the website hosting plan you order has…
- Daily rolling 30-day website back-ups.
- Free SSL if possible.
- Free email if possible.
- Great support from real people.
- Recommended by WordPress.
How Much Is A Website Builder?
- Wix, Squarespace or Shopify: $12-$48 a month
- Wix, Squarespace or Shopify w/e-commerce: $23-$299 a month (plus 3% credit card processing fees)
- WordPress: Free
- WordPress w/e-commerce: Free (plus 3% credit card processing fees through a third party)
Costs of a Professionally Designed Website
- Cost w/o e-commerce: $4,000-$15,000
- Cost w/e-commerce: $5,000-$50,000 (plus 3% credit card processing fees)
- Average: $4,000-$10,000
The short answer is that there is no recommended minimum or maximum dollar amount for a professionally-designed website. It comes down to balancing your goals with your budget and finding professionals you trust to design and build your website.
In the last section, we’ll talk about how to narrow your focus on picking the right solution.
There are four core cost areas to consider when hiring a professional web designer or agency.
- Website Design and Development Costs (template or custom)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Costs
- Logo and Brand Style Costs
- Content Creation Costs
Investment ranges can also vary if the web design agency is using a template to design your website or if it is custom-designed.
Professional Template-Designed Website Costs
- Template-designed website (SEO, logo, brand style guide and content): $4,000 – $10,000
- Template-designed website (e-commerce, SEO, logo, brand style guide and content): $6,000 – $15,000 (plus 3% credit card processing fees through a third party)
Professional Custom-Designed Website Costs
- Custom-designed website (SEO, logo, brand style guide and content): $6,000 – $15,000
- Custom-designed website (e-commerce, SEO, logo, brand style guide and content): $6,000 – $50,000 (plus 3% credit card processing fees through a third party)
Here’s a further breakdown of professionally-designed website costs.
Website Design and Development Costs
- Template-designed website costs: $2,000 – $5,000
- Template-designed website costs with e-commerce: $3,000 — $7,000
- Custom-designed website costs: $3,500 – $15,000
- Custom-designed website costs with e-commerce: $3,000 — $40,000
When hiring an individual or agency, the bulk of your budget will go to design and development. Even with today’s technology, designing and building a website can take 20-60 hours of work, or more, depending on the scope of the project, the number pages and functionality, etc.
The cost can vary as well if the web designer is custom designing and building or using a template and editing it.
Because local business is competitive, we recommend being unique. If the budget allows, a custom design will typically get better results for a business.
The reasoning is simple, even if it may not be fair. If a business is cutting corners on public things like their website, prospects may think that the business will corners with things customers can’t see. It’s like going to a restaurant with dirty tables. If they can’t keep the tables clean, what does the kitchen look like?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Costs
SEO is foundational to websites today. It should be offered in the website design and development costs above. If you are in discussions with a “professional” that hasn’t included SEO in their offerings, then I would walk away. SEO is a minimum today. Even if your using different marketing channels to get sales, almost every shopper will do their own research online. The last thing you want is for someone to search for your business name and it doesn’t come up. Or worse, a similarly-named competitor comes up.
Logo and Brand Style Guide Costs
Cost: $1,000 – $10,000
Secret #1: The logo and brand style guide inform the website’s design. Don’t cut corners here.
This informs the design direction and feel of the website. A professionally-designed logo and brand style guide increases the value of the website and the business. A poorly designed logo can hurt the business. Especially if it looks unprofessional.
If you hire a web design agency or independent logo designers, make sure the logo comes with a brand style guide. You can get your logo from the same company as the website or you can get them from separate sources if you prefer.
Before hiring anyone, make sure to review their portfolio. Every logo designer has their own style. It’s important to make sure they have the skill and style that complements your vision for your brand.
Content Creation Costs (words, images, videos)
- Photography/Videography Costs:: $50-$300 per hour
- Photography Costs (Headshots): $100-$300 per session
- Website Content Writer Costs: $250 – $1,000 per page
Some web design agencies will create all of the content and some won’t. Other will meet you somewhere in the middle. For example, an agency may write the wording but require you provide the images and videos.
Secret #2: The web design and development gets visitors to stay on your website but, it’s the words, images and videos that turns them into paying customers.
Oftentimes, the content is an afterthought. That’s a big mistake.
The content IS the conversion point. The conversion from visitor to customer.
Sometimes, there is so much energy put into the logo, style guide and web design that there’s nothing left in the tank to create proper content.
While you don’t need to hire photographers or videographers that specialize in web design it certainly helps.
I would recommend hiring content writers that have experience in writing for websites specifically for search engine optimization and visitor conversions.
Summary Of Website Costs
The estimated launch costs for a do-it-yourself website and hiring a professional.
Do-It-Yourself Website Costs
Paid Website Building Platform
- A website without e-commerce: $22 – $63
- A website with e-commerce: $33 – $314 (3% credit card processing fees paid separately)
Free Content Management System (CMS)
- A website without e-commerce: $17 – $33
- A website with e-commerce: $17 – $33 (3% credit card processing fees paid separately)
Professionally Designed Website Costs
- Cost w/o e-commerce: $4,000-$15,000
- Cost w/e-commerce: $5,000-$50,000 (3% credit card processing fees paid separately)
- Average: $4,000-$10,000
How To Make The Right Web Design Decision For Your Business
While every business has a budget, your business will be better off if you consider your website as a marketing investment instead of a business expense. Try to aim for the most unique and effective website your budget will allow.
No matter the decision you make, a thoughtfully strategized and designed website should help your business grow, whereas your office electricity bill is just another cost of doing business.
Before deciding on your budget and whether you should hire someone or not, it would be best to first clarify what you need in your website.
Frame your decision-making with these things in mind:
- Time & Budget
Set The Right Expectations For Your Website
The first thing I’d recommend is focusing on the task right in front of you. That task is launching a winning website that you can build on over time.
Secret #3: The longer you take to launch your website, the more money you lose.
While you should want and expect the best possible website, avoid getting stuck in the “perfection loop”.
Business owners that get stuck in the loop continually revise the website without ever launching it.
The “perfect” website doesn’t exist. Liberate yourself from that impossible expectation.
Instead, set a deadline and focus on launching the best possible website in that window. A good timeframe from start to launch is 30-90 days, depending on the size of your website.
Avoid generating a bunch of ideas and then getting overwhelmed.
Keep it simple.
Once you get it launched, you can and should, add in more pages, products or services and lots of blog posts to get more search traffic. You should make updates and optimizations based on analysis and user experience.
Like all other parts of your business, your website should continue to be worked on and improved to help get more traffic and turn more of that traffic into customers.
Clarify Your Scope With These Questions
- Do I need e-commerce?
- How many products will I launch with?
- How many services will I launch with?
- Would I consider myself “tech savvy” when it comes to software and computers?
- Do I know how to design a website or should I hire someone?
- Do I know how to design a logo and brand style guide or should I hire someone?
- Do I know how to write wording for a website for SEO and conversions or should I hire someone?
- Do I know how to take great photos and video or should I hire someone?
- Do I need any extra functionality like membership logins or recurring customer billing?
- Do I know how to add that extra functionality or should I hire someone?
Next, calculate the number of pages you need based on the products and services you will launch with.
Tip: Each product or service should have it’s own page.
There are two big reasons for it.
- Search engine rankings. Search engines rank pages that are focused on one product or services higher than pages with a bunch of products or services.
- Visitor conversions. Prospective customers are typically focused on solving a problem. Their problem. If they visit a website page with every product/service crammed in, it will create confusion and lower conversions. The visitor becomes overwhelmed and doesn’t make a decision, instead they leave.
Your website pages should be organized something like:
- All Services (links to product/services pages)
- Product/Service #1
- Product/Service #2
Set a Timeframe and Budget. And Stick To It.
With the information above, you can set a reasonable budget based on your project scope and available budget. And set a timeframe to complete it in 30-90 days.
Why is setting and sticking to a timeframe important? Because time is money. Every day that your website is not live, is another day of lost revenue. And lost feedback on how you can improve your website.
Take Action. Today.
What Do You Think?
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