How Much Does It Really Cost To Build A Website?

Much like a construction project on your home, the cost of building a website will be determined by the scale of the job (how much materials are needed), what you want it to do in terms of functionality and the skill level and experience required to achieve that.

For example, if you were in the market for a new kitchen, the cost of a custom designed and built kitchen with non-standard units, may require specialist installation and would be a much bigger outlay than something simple but functional from the local hardware store.

Whichever route you choose for your new website, there are certain things all websites require to function. As a minimum, these include a domain name, if you don’t already have one and a website host. 

I like to explain a website host or hosting provider as your home which holds all of your furniture and your domain name is your street address. The home would be your website host, the furniture inside your home are all the files that are used to make your website appear in a browser such as images, video, html files and databases and your street address is the domain name used by visitors to locate you. 

So when it comes to building a website, what are your options and what are the costs involved?

Do-it-Yourself – Online Website Builders

From Wix and Weebly to GoDaddy and Squarespace, in recent years, we’ve seen massive growth in the number of website builders plugging the ability to create your own website quickly and easily.

If you have the time and technical ability to use one of these web building services, then the costs of getting a basic website off the ground can be minimal.

Domain Name Hosting Website Build
$0.99 -$15 / year $0 – $10 / month $6 – $13 / month plus your time to build

It’s probably pretty appealing to go for this option when you’re on a budget but there are some drawbacks to consider. A website builder will sometimes offer a free hosting service if you use them, however this is generally a very basic level of ‘shared hosting’ and  the storage, memory and support resources on offer will be severely restricted. Often you’ll also be obliged to display their branding and ads on your site.

If you can extend your budget to even a few dollars per month for hosting, you’ll usually get something much more suited to your requirements with peace of mind that your site is secure with a reputable company.

Whilst you may find a website builder with true ‘drag and drop’ functionality and you’re inspired to have your site up and running within hours, in reality, if you’re starting from scratch and getting to grips with the terminology, it can be tricky and when you run into challenges, it can consume much more of your time than you first envisaged.

Do-it-Yourself – Content Management System

Using a Content Management System (CMS) is another way that you could build a fairly inexpensive website. There are a number of these systems available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. 

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and its usage now accounts for almost half of all websites that use a Content Management System. 

In short, the main reasons for WordPress’ popularity are that it’s very user-friendly, even for someone with little to no technical knowledge; it’s scalable, with options for adding functionality as business needs change:; and there’s tons of support dedicated to WordPress users around the globe.

Domain Name Hosting Website Build
$0.99 -$15 / year $0,000’s / year for an in-demand domain $0 – $10 / month $0 / month plus your time to build*

*So the biggest thing to bear in mind is when you opt to use WordPress or other CMS is that although you can get started for free and there are lots of really adequate free templates (or WordPress themes) out there, you might need certain bits of functionality that are only available through paid themes or plugins. 

If you don’t do your homework when researching what’s available to you with the free software, you can end up paying for lots of smaller pieces of software to achieve what you want. The average price of a premium WordPress theme in 2020 hovers around $60 and plugins, which extend functionality, range in price from a few dollars to over a hundred dollars. 

A themed template should be selected carefully so as to avoid unnecessary costs and having multiple, resource-heavy plugins installed. You’ll also need to consider how well supported the chosen theme and plugins are – is the developer going to be around to address queries for example.

Hire a Freelancer

Maybe you’ve considered hiring a self-employed freelancer to produce your site? This could be a student with minimal experience or a seasoned pro. Generally, someone with lesser experience looking to build a portfolio will be open to offering you a better or even a fixed rate price for website production. 

Domain Name Hosting Website Build
$0.99 -$15 / year $3 – $40 / month Costs vary dependent on experience but expect to pay between $40-$100 / hour. Some will also offer a fixed fee service if project can be scoped and agreed.

One of the key benefits of using a freelancer is they take the hassle away from you. Time means money and it’s sensible to weigh up how long it might take you to learn what’s needed to get up and running.  

There’s also a level of flexibility in that you’re free to use a hosting provider of your own choice, however a freelancer is geared up to have your site hosted on their business plan which means they can deal directly with the host on an ongoing basis for any maintenance or security issues or alternatively they can set you up with a dedicated hosting plan and you can deal directly with the host.

More often than not, what you want initially from your website can change quite quickly as your business changes and grows, and having someone responsive to your requirements is key to keeping you ahead of the competition. 

Recruit an Agency

When you choose an established agency to create your website, you get the benefit of years of combined experience from a team who are dedicated to creating a website to your exacting requirements. 

Recruiting an agency usually means you need a large and complex website and you’ll go through a detailed process, not limited to brainstorming, writing user personas and creating wireframes before moving to design and development stages. 

An agency is more likely to follow a more rigorous design and development process as it saves for errors and omissions along the way, which, when you’re talking about a huge project, can lead to unforeseen and costly issues. 

Domain Name Hosting Website Build
$0.99 -$15 / year $30 – $60 / month Costs will vary but expect to pay in the region of $150 – $180 / hour. On average, a basic site will cost in the region of $6-$10,000 and can be much more based on complexity.

We’ve covered a lot of ground and hopefully it’s been helpful in guiding you as to which option might be best suited for you and your business. Ultimately it will boil down to a) What’s your budget for the project, and b) Whether you’ve got the technical aptitude and time to do the work yourself. 

Wait, we’re not quite finished there…

There are other considerations which can impact the cost of getting online. Domain name, hosting and a website are the basics but remember that house we were talking about way back in the introduction? Well your house wouldn’t be a home without any furniture right! 

This is where content comes into play and arguably, if you are going to go it alone, you need to consider in advance what content you have before deciding on a website theme, because what you want to communicate might not be a good fit with the template or theme you choose or purchase. Investing in good stock photos or professional photography and copywriting could be a cost you hadn’t bargained for. 

Content is probably the main consideration, but these are a few others I always ask about before starting a project…

  • If you’re going to have forms on your site, a level of anti-spam protection is advised – there are free add-ons available to do this or more comprehensive paid plugins.
  • Do you need a company logo? Designing your own online is a low cost option or you could hire a graphic designer for something more individual.
  • Who will manage the maintenance of your site going forward? WordPress and associated plugins are constantly updated by the developers to improve functionality and iron out bugs but that does require a level of ongoing commitment to backing up your site and performing these updates.
  • Are you wanting to optimize your content for Search Engines (SEO)?
  • Do you plan on building an email contact list from the site?
  • Do you need ongoing content services such as blog creation?

Ready to get started or have more questions? Contact me to discuss your requirements today!