It’s easy to build your own website nowadays. We’re told all you need is creativity and a hosting company. It’s that simple—but is that really enough?
“You get what you pay for” may be a cliche, but it’s true when it comes to website cost. As a business owner, you must have a professional and appropriate online image. You can’t always get that with a DIY option.
Your website represents your brand and reputation. You must deliver a clear message about your business and what you offer. On top of all of that, it must be optimized for SEO, mobile-friendly, and easy for users to navigate.
So, how much does a website cost? Keep reading to learn which factors will determine the cost of a website, and why it’s worth it to hire a professional from the start.
Factors That Determine Website Cost
While there’s no set cost to build a website, the average price of a professional website can range from $500 to over $10,000. The final cost depends on the selection of features you’d like and your overall business needs.
Several costs associated with running a website are essential.
Here are some of the unavoidable expenses you can expect when developing a new website for your business.
Your domain name, or URL, is what consumers type in their browser to navigate to your website. You can’t build a website without one.
For a custom domain name, you can expect to pay between $10 and $20 per year. For a customized extension (like .online or .restaurant), you’ll pay a premium of $200 to $300 per year.
A secure socket layer (SSL) certificate encrypts sensitive data such as personal information and credit card numbers. This certificate is essential if you have an e-commerce website or otherwise collect customer data.
You’ll pay for an SSL certificate annually unless you prepay for more than one year in advance. They’re issued by certification authorities (CA) and usually range from $10 to as high as $1000 per month.
Without web hosting, you’ll have a domain name but nowhere to contain your website. If your web content is a house, web hosting is your land. Managed hosting plans typically range between $10 to $99 a month. Typically, the more traffic that runs through your website and the more features you add, the more you’ll pay.
Web hosting plans are offered monthly and annually. Usually, you’ll get a cheaper rate if you pay for an annual hosting plan.
Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is what you’ll use to display your website on your domain. It’s not mandatory, but it does save time and makes your website more efficient.
Some people opt for a customized CMS, depending on the purpose of their website. Customized systems can cost thousands of dollars, but you can save money by using something like WordPress. Enterprise CMS systems usually bill annually.
Website design can be the single factor that determines whether a new visitor stays on your site or leaves immediately. Good web design is functional and aesthetically pleasing. If you don’t have a background in design, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
If you’re launching an entirely new website, you’ll need to fork over some cash to have it designed and tested. Costs range from $1,000 to as high as $20,000 depending on the type of website you’re developing, which CMS you’re using, and how much customization you want.
To keep your website updated and fresh, you’ll want a redesign every few years or so.
Responsive Web Design
You’ll also want to factor in the cost of responsive web design (RWD). RWD is necessary because Google now ranks mobile-friendly websites higher than websites that aren’t designed with responsiveness in mind.
A responsive website will detect which platform a user is using and will tailor the layout to match the size of the screen. Many developers include this in their website design costs. Upgrading an older website, however, will cost as much as $2,000. This is a one time task.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t an option. It’s mandatory, especially if you’re running a website to sell a product.
SEO is a group of tasks that help determine where your website ranks on search engines for your targeted keywords. You’ll want to optimize your website for SEO to make sure your website is what people see above others when people search for your specialty.
For SEO services, you should expect to pay between $3,000 and $9,000 upfront. Monthly maintenance will run between $200 and $500 per month. The bigger your company, the higher these costs will be.
SEO is an ongoing battle, so choose a company with a proven track record. It’s better to pay a reputable company more for their skills than to pay a cheaper but inexperienced company less.
Your website will require copywriting. The best web copy encourages users and clients to look to you as a leader in your field and can be a call to action into itself. Bad copywriting can be duplicate content from your own site or content spun from somewhere else.
If you outsource copywriting, freelancers generally charge per word. Some will offer packages that provide you with all of your web copy at a cheaper rate. Costs will range from $5 per 500 words to $150 or $250 a page of original work. Search engines rank websites that produce updated content consistently higher than others.
You’ll want to make sure your content is clean with minimal errors and a substantial amount of text. SEO services also come into play here. For these reasons, you should budget monthly for copywriting services by a successful, competent writer.
Should You Hire a Professional Designer?
The concept of a static website is obsolete. Your website must continually offer fresh content on innovative topics in your field. It must be informative, educational, and interesting. You also must strive to offer potential customers a solution to a problem—the problem they were researching when they searched and landed on your website from Google.
The best websites immediately answer the user’s question of “what’s in it for me?”. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your business, products, and services are. All that matters is that you can immediately portray how your products and services will help the user.
Are you comfortable doing this on your own? Unless you have years of development experience, probably not. There is a lot of sophisticated work that goes into creating a website, and this work shouldn’t be left to amateurs. If your website isn’t correctly designed, whatever investment you put into it will be for nothing.
Web development professionals understand information architecture, the aesthetics of web design, SEO, and other technical abilities. Attempting to do all of this yourself is great in theory, but you’ll have to sharpen your skills and take a great deal of time to study before you can accomplish this correctly. Most of us don’t have the drive or time.
Users will be able to tell quite easily if your website is professionally designed or not. What they determine will drive their decision to stay on your website for more or to move to another website that appears more professional to them. People are more inclined to deem a website credible and trustworthy if it has been designed by a professional.
For these reasons, you need a professional agency to guide you through the process of developing a website.
So How Much Does a Website Cost?
It’s essential to make comparisons between a DIY website versus a professional website design. As a business owner, your time and money should always be spent as wisely as possible.
You may see DIY website builders online that promise beautiful, optimized websites for pennies on the dollar. These options are fine, but you’ll only sell yourself short. Plus, you’ll spend several hours to days to build something for your business.
Don’t waste that much time only to discover that you’re not achieving the results you wanted 12 to 14 months down the road. It’s critical that you get a promising return on investment from your website so your business can grow over time.
So how much does a website cost? Your exact budget can only be determined when all of your requirements are clear. And you should only have that conversation with a proven website development agency.
We provide online marketing services and web design for all kinds of business. Operating out of Nashville, Tennessee and Bangor, Maine, we serve clients across the country. If you’re interested in working with us, contact us today for a free website consultation!