The big question we always hear from business owners is what the price of a website will be. And our answer is … it depends. I know that’s not what you maybe wanted to hear – but there are reasons that it depends, and here we’re laying them out for you so that you can be informed.
A very basic website will hold some information about you and your company.
A website that provides ROI will actually perform almost like another member of your team to take care of some basic tasks to turn visitors into clients, and properly reflect your brand and your business in the process. Like all critical business investments, it’s probably not something that you want to skimp on – at least not at the point that you’re ready to hire website building out to an expert rather than DIYing your website (yes, there’s a time and place for both options in your business).
First, let’s break down the two different types of costs associated with a website – the one-time costs and the ongoing costs. Both need to be considered in your overall budget.
One-Time Website Costs
The main one-time website cost that you’re going to encounter is the cost to have someone make a website for you. This costs will vary depending on the size, scope, and features of the website. However, in general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $40,000 for this service.
Those costs will depend upon variables such as:
- The size of your business (multiple locations, global)
- The type of website that you’re creating (e.g., a blog or an ecommerce store)
- The size and complexity of your website
- If ecommerce, how many products you need added, and any required integrations with other business processes and systems
- The amount of copywriting you need done – website pages, blog articles
- How much initial SEO you need included
- How much design and photos (original or stock) you want included
- What types of functionality you need the website to handle
- Which platform you want your site built upon (WordPress? Custom coding?)
And this is exactly why the cost can vary so widely.
Don’t be lured by low cost alone
But beware … the lowest cost is NOT always the best option when you’re looking to hire a website designer. Not even when you’re trying to keep costs down. For one thing, not all web designers are created equal (like with anything else). For another, you may end up paying that lower cost and then also pay someone to fix it.
There’s also other considerations when you outsource, especially overseas – primarily cultural and communication considerations. We personally have lots of friends and family overseas, and I have witnessed the differences that culture can play in everyday interactions that you wouldn’t expect. This extends to your website or other projects when you’re hiring overseas.
We get four types of businesses looking for web design
The first type of business accounts for about 80% of our website design requests.
These entrepreneurs that come to us after paying someone else to build their website cheap, and are just NOT happy with what they’ve received and are looking for someone to improve what they ended up with. These 80% used an outsourced vendor from overseas … and about half of the time they didn’t even realize this until we asked based upon some of the things we’ve seen on the back end of their website build.
Sometimes, the company they chose had a US address listed on their website, so the entrepreneur assumed they were working with a US-based company (and a US-based website design company is what they wanted). After we asked about out some of the grammatical variations, design choices, and even functionality on their website, and then they went back to review the email and other conversations between them and the agency, they realized that the entire website team was, in fact, overseas. No wonder they had run into so many communication breakdowns and the website wasn’t looking or functioning like they wanted – it was a communication barrier and the vendor literally didn’t understand. By the way, it’s relatively easy for anyone to grab a “virtual address” to list on their website, while they are in another country.
Not all overseas website design companies are bad by any means. I just believe that you need to be aware of that before you pay, so that you can consider communication, cultural, time, and so many other criteria.
This happens so often that it’s worth me mentioning. Like I said … a solid 80% of the entrepreneurs who come to us who already have a website have had similar happen to them. They aren’t happy with the website that they already paid a relatively low cost for (although it doesn’t seem quite so low when you’re just starting out in business) … and now they’re facing paying AGAIN to have everything fixed or the website rebuilt.
I feel bad … I really do … and I wish I could give every business a website for free when they’ve encountered this situation. They end up investing again to have us build a website on top of what they already paid someone else who didn’t do a good job … when they could have just gone with us first and actually saved money.
Instead, we help them salvage what they can, and help them request a refund when possible plus recommend other ways to save money, such as getting rid of unnecessary subscriptions or expensive complicated and unnecessary hosting that the other company talked them into. We do everything in our power to help them mitigate the monetary loss they would otherwise experience, although how much can be done varies.
The other 20% of clients? These three groups include:
- entrepreneurs who originally set up their own website and now are upgrading to something with increased professionalism and functionality
- a business that had a pro design their website but now need some updates and that pro is no longer in business
- a business starting from scratch with no real website presence at all, or a brand new business
Of course, we also get those entrepreneurs who are looking to DIY their website for now … and we have built an entire course for that.
Other one-time website costs
There are sometimes a few other one-time costs associated with getting your website up and running. Not everyone will experience all, or any, of these.
Things such as:
- Branding – something as simple as having a logo designed to a full branding package (true branding requies so much more than a logo).
- Professional copywriting for bios, web pages, etc.
- Photography if stock photos aren’t desired. Or purchase of stock photos if you’re needing a large quantity.
- Planning and strategy – from market and competitor research to site structure and architecture, while some of this is included in our web designs, there are pieces that only the business can do. This planning may cost, whether it’s an additional feature from our team, or the cost you’re paying someone on yours.
- Third-party integrations that may come with their own separate fee.
- Content migration – while this may seem simple, on the back end it often includes updating outdated content, and if the website structure has changed it always means redirecting links so that SEO is not negatively impacted.
Ongoing Website Costs
The ongoing costs of a website are much more variable and depend on a number of factors including:
1. Domain name registration – $12/year or more depending upon your URL
2. SSL certificate – $0-50/year or more depending upon your needs
3. Hosting fees – $10/month or more depending upon your host
4. Email services – $0-200/month depending upon your list size
These things above are costs that you should always pay directly, and not pay to a vendor who pays them on your behalf.
The ongoing costs you don’t want
I rarely recommend the “all in one” type of website builder platforms … where you’re paying for your domain name, hosting, and the platform that the website is being built upon all together. Think of a platform like Etsy. I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs lose their entire business when something goes wrong.
I also rarely recommend using a vendor to design your website who is going to charge you a monthly fee forever (unless you are paying for ongoing maintenance or updating – which is different). Or one that charges you based upon lead generated.
I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs lose their website when their ongoing vendor actually owns control of everything on their site, and once the client ends the contract the web designer keeps the website and sells it to someone else. All of the work and effort and ads and SEO and everything else that went into getting the website to where it is, now belongs to a competitor. In the cases of paying per lead they send your way, they almost always have built you a second website that is actually competing against your primary website, and similarly once you end your contract, all of the time and money that you’ve spent is gone.
You, the business owner, should be the person who owns the domain and the hosting – and provide access to your web person. And you should never have more than one website, unless they are for completely different divisions of your company (such as an entirely different company). You never want your own websites competing against your own websites.
Compare and Contrast Website Design Prices
At first glance, it might seem like web design costs vary wildly. However, once you understand the different types of web designs available, pricing becomes much more predictable. There are three main types of web designs: static websites (which don’t require ongoing maintenance), dynamic websites (which update automatically), and ecommerce websites (which allow customers to purchase products).
Static website designs typically cost less than dynamic or ecommerce websites because they require less ongoing maintenance. A static website is just a collection of text files which are hosted on a web server. You don’t need to worry about updating the website’s content or design, because the web server will do that automatically.
Dynamic websites are more expensive than static websites, because they require ongoing maintenance. A dynamic website is just like a static website, except that it updates automatically. This means you need to keep your web server updated with the latest versions of your website’s content and design files.
Ecommerce websites are the most expensive type of website, because they require the most ongoing maintenance. An ecommerce website is like a static or dynamic website, except that it also allows customers to purchase products from within the site. You need to create an online store and it will help you manage all of the customer transactions yourself.
The most important thing to look at when choosing a web design company
When choosing a web design company, it is important to look at several factors, including cost and scope. Even more so, you want to feel comfortable with the person that you will be working with, that they understand your goals and direction and what you’re hoping the website can do. You also want to make sure that the company you’re hiring can meet your deadlines and provide a high-quality end product.
Asking questions is key, and should be welcomed by the company that you’re contacting. They should be eager to answer your questions and provide you with a proposal that outlines their services. This proposal should include a detailed quote and a timeline for completing the project.
Work Out the Best Option for You
A website can range in price can vary widely. The best way to determine how much a website will cost you is to speak with a web design company or consultant who will be able to provide an estimate based on your specific needs and requirements.
A website is a valuable investment, so make sure you do your research before deciding on who will be building it for you.
Vicky is the CEO and Chief Creative Strategist of Vicky Wu Marketing. She draws from 30 years of experience at the CMO level, the CEO level, marketing for Fortune 500 companies and multi-million and multi-billion-dollar organizations, PLUS strategies learned helping startups and nonprofits with limited budgets … now focusing on providing SMBs with effective and efficient marketing strategies – giving them access to the same level of expertise as the really big guys with deep pockets, that they may not otherwise be able to access.