How Much Does It Cost To Build a Website?
Unless you're a magician with numbers, calculating a budget for your website is probably not at the top of your “Things I can’t wait to do!” list. Take it from the monkeys who do it all the time (that's us), it's not that bad. In fact, it can actually be fun.
Yes, you read that right. Budgeting can be fun. No, we haven't gone bananas. But, we have prepared this guide to help you with the process.
Creating or updating a website is the same as shopping for a new car. You wouldn’t go to a dealership without an idea of what you’re looking to spend. You have to consider the initial cost, the upkeep, and the value that it’ll bring to your day-to-day life. The process is the same when planning for your website.
What is the Average Cost of a Website Build or Rebuild?
Depending on the web agency, you will receive either a fixed price or an hourly rate with an estimated amount of hours needed to complete the job. Hourly costs range:
- Offshore web agencies have much lower cost estimates ($20- $40/hr)
- US based web agencies can cost $100 - $300+/hr
- Freelance web developers will likely charge somewhere in-between.
These costs are a broad estimate and are likely to vary depending on three things: who you talk to, the amount of work required, and the agency’s expertise.
Overall, large websites can cost 1 million plus (or at the very least $800 thousand). Smaller websites (read - less complex) can cost between $5,000 and $15,000. It all depends on your business needs and what you want to include. To see the full range, check out this quora thread where developers, agency employees, and clients share their experiences.
To get a better sense of how much your website will cost you, check out our budget planner.
Website Maintenance: What’s Included and Expected Costs
In addition to building your website, you’ll also need to maintain it, and we aren’t just talking about keeping your content fresh. Things like renewing your domain, backing up your website, licensing and software fees, and software updates can quickly rack up costs.
- Domain names can start as low as $1.00 or less or go up to the hundreds and thousands if you need to buy a domain from someone.
- The cost renewing your domain name is $15.00 to $20.00 per year.
- Hosting costs varies dramatically. If you have a personal site on a shared server, costs could be under $10.00 a month. Larger, enterprise organizations, especially those with an e-commerce component can cost upwards of $5000.00 per year. For example, our hosting provider Pantheon starts at $25.00 and $400.00 for regular plans. For larger organizations (i.e. those that have multiple websites under a single domain), plans can start at $10,000.00 per year.
- Licensing and software fees and software updates can also come in at upwards of a thousand a year or more.
In addition, when thinking about the cost of maintaining your website, you need to factor in the cost of:
Most agencies will offer maintenance plans and retainers to help offset these costs and ensure you have the support you need, when you need it. Prices can range anywhere from $100.00 a month to a few thousand. Again, cost will vary depending on your website’s level of complexity, your content and design needs, and the experience of the company you are working with.
Helpful Tip - to manage maintenance costs and avoid being unpleasantly surprised, build in a budget of at least a few thousand dollars (just in case). If you need it, you’re at least prepared. If you don’t, you’ve built a nice little savings to reinvest in another area of your business.
Your Budget vs. Their Costs
Building or redesigning a website is a good investment, but only if you can afford it. Not setting a realistic budget can result in:
- Spending two or three times more than you can afford
- Having to postpone or cut important marketing activities
- Having only a portion of the features and functions you wanted
- Or, in the worst-case scenario, your website design, content, and functionality are sub-par and leave a “meh” impression on customers and prospective customers
If you’re going to invest in a website, it should make an impact. Having 3 well-designed pages is infinitely better than having 10 half-baked pages idly waiting for clients to visit.
So how can you avoid a potential disaster?
Know what you need to include on the website first. What business goals does your website need to accomplish? Design, content, and functionality should also be at the top of your list. Once you figure this out you can add in the things that you want to include, but can live without if it doesn’t make the budget cut.
If you’re not sure of what you need to include, take a look at some of our previous projects. By reviewing other companies’ business goals and how they were accomplished you’ll get a better idea of what could be useful for your business.
Get estimates from web agencies that you’re interested in working with. It’s highly recommended that you talk to at least a few different companies, if only to get a better idea of cost estimates.
Be realistic. A feature that may seem like a quick add-on might actually take quite a few hours to complete. If you’re noticing that the estimates that you’ve received are all in the same price range and each one is much higher than you expected, you may need to reconsider your budget and expectations.
Most importantly, don’t forget about marketing. Building a website without budgeting for or implementing marketing is like buying a puppy and then forgetting to train the little fur ball - it just doesn’t work. Think about whether you’ll need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and how your business might benefit from each. Is your online marketing budget part of your development budget? Will you need to budget for marketing separately? As you make these decisions, think about your target audience/client base - what type of marketing are they most receptive to? Keeping all of this in mind will help keep your marketing in line with your goals.
Save Money in Smart Places
While a professionally designed website is definitely not cheap, we don’t recommend cutting costs in areas that will affect the functionality of your website. With a little more time and effort on your part, you can easily trim down costs.
Before you do anything, figure out who your target audience and customers are, what they might want, and how they would navigate your website. Knowing these three things will help you define what it is your website needs.
If you already know who your audience is, start by preparing a detailed concept for your future web agency. Consider things like the amount of pages and features you want, and examples of websites that have design or functionality features that you think will work for your business needs. You can also research royalty free stock images to use on your website. You’ll save money upfront by not needing to pay for the rights to use the photos. Plus, the less work your web agency needs to do for you, the less money you spend and the less time designing your website will take.
In a perfect world finding out the estimated cost for your website would be instantaneous, but we’re glad it’s not. By following these steps you will learn more about your business, your goals, and how you can connect with your audience. In our opinion, that’s half the fun.
If you'd like an estimate on your web project, give us a shout. We'd love to hear from you. If you'd like to learn more about the costs associated with a web project, download our 2017 budgeting guide for web project guide.