Ahh that good old question most freelance web developers get all the time. After a decade building custom websites for clients all over the globe I think I know a thing or two about answering this age old question. How much really does a website cost these days. This is my definitive guide to answering this simple but complex question.
You are asking me the wrong question!
It’s a bit like asking a builder to build you a 4 bedroom house and asking how much it’s going to cost from the get go. It may sound like a simple question to ask me, but in reality it’s quite a complex one. The question is very generic and lacks specifics. I usually retort back with questions like these:
- What kind of website do you want? Simple brochure, a blog or a complex eCommerce website?
- What features do you want to have in the website?
- What is your budget and what are you willing to spend on the website?
- What does success look like in a years time?
- Who is your main competition?
- What are their websites?
- What design do you want your site based on?
- Do you have the content for the pages?
See its not just a simple question with a simple answer. It’s really quite a complex one. There are many more questions I need to ask you before starting on a job to build a website.
How much do you think this blog cost? Not an easy question to answer right? There are multiple things you would need to know before answering like.
- The time it took to build?
- Is it a custom build or a downloadable template?
- what functions and technology does it use?
- Does it use other technology like a cdn?
- What is the main purpose and goal of the website?
- Does it achieve the goal it sets out to do?
These and many other questions will determine the cost of a website which can range from zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars for something like the Ebay website.
Why am I writing this post? I actually answer this exact same question here on my FAQs page. In fact its the very first one. That said its quite a short answer and I suppose I can go a little more in-depth into answering it here.
Lets First get something straight!
When asking this question you may be looking to build one yourself or hire someone like me to build a website for you. Am I right? If you are looking to hire a freelancer then I need to get one thing straight. You first and foremost are buying a service, not a product.
I hope that at the end of this post you will have a fair idea about the costs involved and how much it will cost you in the long run. We can break the costs involved into two Ongoing costs and the Website Design & Development cost.
Website Ongoing Costs
The ongoing costs of running and managing a website or blog can vary from a few to many thousands of dollars per month / year. It all depends on the decisions you take when starting out on this journey.
The first ongoing cost is the Address or Domain of the website. Second is Hosting, either using a Fully managed solution or choosing to host it Yourself. Other ongoing costs can include a CDN or Content Delivery Network.
Website Address or Domain.
Every website needs one and you can purchase domains for zero to many thousands of dollars. If you go for the free build your own service provided by Wix or some other then this is usually free and is owned by Wix themselves.
Most .com, .co.uk and others can be purchased for an average of $10 per year from places like Go Daddy and Crazy domains. However there are premium domains like this one which I purchased for over two hundred and seventy dollars a few months back.
Fully Managed Hosting.
Lets first get these out of the way and get to the really good stuff. The fully managed sites like Wix, Shopify, Squarespace and Weebly are brilliant for those of you that want to build a site for yourself.
Although you don’t have to worry too much about security with these you are restricted somewhat to their designs and features and extending the website can cost you more in the long run as I explain in the Differences between a Pro and Custom Theme.
The costs for these fully managed sites can range from Free to Hundreds of dollars a month. Most of these though are usually about 10 to 40 dollars a month and these usually include a domain name for you to use.
Hosting it Yourself
Fully managed are good if you just want a basic web presence and you want to start a small hobby type of business but if you want to start a serious business or blog then a self hosted site is the way to go as you will get a lot more functionality and these generally are a lot more professional.
Hosting your own Website or Blog
It’s a bit of a minefield out there with regards to hosting. So much choice from companies vying for your business. I have a few general caveats when choosing website hosting.
- I never go for hosting from a company known for domain name registration
Sites like GoDaddy and Crazy Domains are great to purchase your domain name as that’s their primary business model but they suck at hosting so never go for their hosting solution. Keep domains and hosting separate.
- Speed, Customer Service and price
My general rule when choosing a client is to look for one not too huge with millions of accounts and one that’s not too small to cope with my demands. One that looks out for their client and one that is not all about buying other smaller companies to extend it’s own. One of the best sites to look for decent hosting is Web Hosting Talk.
I have found a great solution in 20i and been with them for about a year now. I host all my own as well as my clients websites with their reseller account. The price is spot on, they use the best technology and hardware so speed is not a problem and their customer service is second to none. All of my bases covered.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
My account with STACKPATH costs me a mere ten dollars a month just for this blog. This means it has an average load time of 1.6 seconds depending were in the globe you are reading this.
Website Design and Development cost
With over a decades experience in designing and developing bespoke websites for clients across the globe I have a fair and competitive pricing structure. I always try my best to keep my costs down as much as possible and to always go above and beyond the call of duty.
My fees depend on a lot of variables but essentially I base these on four different types of websites that I create around my client and their wants / needs.
|Type of Website||Features||Ideal for||Cost|
|Basic||This is my ‘brochure’ style solution and like all my creations is built from the ground up around your wants and needs. These usually consist of one to five pages with a custom built contact form.||Small Businesses or newly self-emplyed in traditional businesses and want a web presence without the need to update the content regularly.||£500 +|
|Small business or Blog||Similar to my Basic website but with a lot more features like: WordPress CMS, social media and Google my Business integration. Analytics and more||Bloggers and Freelancers just starting out and want to grow their business or blog quickly.||£2500 +|
|Ecommerce||Same features as the small business but with the ability to sell your services and products direct from the website, Order management and a direct chat system.||Small to medium business looking to sell online. Those who already have traditional bricks and mortar businesses.||£3500 +|
|Bespoke||highly advanced database driven websites like a social network, Ecommerce or a bespoke site where the WordPress CMS just wont cut it.||Established Businesses requiring complex functionality and highly bespoke features.||£5000 +|
Basic Website Costs.
Consider this website package as a glorified business card but with much more content. As I have alluded to a few times before in this and other posts I develop websites from the ground up and to my clients wants and needs. This way I know the site is going to be fast loading and my client gets exactly what they want.
Developing a site this way means I can easily extent the site with more functionality and features for my client in the future and as my clients business grows.
This makes sense as lots of templates and themes are often overbloated with code and comes with every possible feature a website owner does not want or need. It also means that I do not have to dig into hundreds of thousands of lines of code to add or modify a feature of the website which in turn saves on time.
My basic websites are of course handbuilt and designed from scratch, Include 4 or 5 pages including a home landing page, about us, services and a contact page and are designed for people and small business owners looking to develop an online presence.
How much does a basic website really cost? Well these usually take me about one week to design and code with custom graphics, hosting setup and email account creation and usually start at the low price of five hundred pounds.
Small Business or Blog
Although basic websites are good to people wanting to start out with a business and are looking to gather interest, leads and customers. It’s usually better to start with a Small Business website and Blog included because I build these ontop of WordPress CMS and are easily extendable.
Just like a Basic website, I build these from the ground up to my clients wants and needs but are also designed for my client to update the site on a regular basis without having to consult and rehire myself all the time.
These sites offer a lot more than just a basic site like social media integration, Analytics, custom domain email accounts, Review and Testimonial integration and finally Google My Business.
How much does a Small Business or Blog website cost? Well naturally this is a lot more involved than just building a basic one in HTML and CSS and of course, I have to also provide training on how to use and update the website. This kind of website can usually take me anywhere between three and six weeks. Because of this my fee usually starts at £3000.
Most of the websites I build from scratch are the small business ones above but sometimes you want all those features and more like selling your products and services direct from the website.
Perhaps you are a bookstore or a theater and don’t want to use any third-party integration to sell your tickets or books because they take a commission. This is where Ecommerce integration comes into play. These sites are much like the Small Business or Blog websites above and include the custom theme creation but are a lot more involved.
How much does an Ecommerce website cost? On top of the bespoke theme I would have to integrate a lot more functionality into the site, Are you selling physical products or a service? order management, tracking delivery, delivery costs, live chat, stock levels, product description and variations of a product are just a few of the features I build into these websites.
This of course takes a lot more time to work on and to train my client. Because of this these Ecommerce websites start at £3500.
Bespoke Websites and Apps
Sometimes WordPress just will not do and a truly bespoke and unique database driven website or PWA (Progressive Web App) is required. WordPress is great and although some themes can take me six or more weeks to work on, generally WordPress can be setup in a day or so with a downloadable theme or template.
Although rare, I do from time to time get a client wanting something very unique and bespoke with a budget to match. These websites usually have highly advanced and specific features the owner wants and needs.
It could be a bespoke Ecommerce website with a highly advanced feature that’s not possible within a WordPress theme or Plugin. It could also be a bespoke Social network or Forum like Facebook or Twitter. It could be an advanced PWA (Progressive Web App) that can be added to a mobil home screen and work offline (much like most apps from Google Play store or Apple).
How much does a Bespoke Website Cost? As with most things of this nature it takes a lot of time and skill to research, design, develop, test and finally deploy as I need to take into account the different browsers and devices the website and app will have to run on. Safety and Security as well as Legality’s and user data, Website and App speed, Database structure, PHP, MySQL, Design and so much more.
Because of all this a bespoke site can take anything from four months to build and as such my fee usually starts from £5000.
I hope that by now you have a fair idea of how much a website can cost you. this was a rather indepth post covering what I think is everything a prospective web design client needs to know when choosing a freelancer to build a website.
For a more direct perspective about the cost of web design then I invite you to read How Much Does It Cost To Build A Business Website? by Mark Narusson.
Thank you for reading, Would love your thoughts.