First of, the question “How much does website cost” is frequently answered with “It depends” or “from a couple hundred bucks to a half a million and beyond”.
It doesn’t make sense right?
Actually, in my almost 30 years of building websites, this has been a common question we receive.
We would like to answer this in depth.
In this blog, we want you to have a clearer understanding of the costs involved in creating, launching, and maintaining a website.
We’ve divided this topic into three:
1. Types of websites and construction.
2. The building method for a website
3. Parts of a website and their associated costs.
The best part is, we’ve created a table of costs towards the end of this article where you can find the costs of building a website. (Saves you time!)
There was a time when those old tri-fold brochures were everywhere with their colorful pictures, maps, addresses. Most of the time, a mail in form for registration or more information.
A brochure site serves well for sharing a portfolio and sharing information. Would you believe that I still look for stands full of them while I’m on vacation?
It can also act as an online resume, a web presence for an established brick and mortar business. In addition to this, it be an informative community or organization fact page.
Its cost is the lowest. It can be a Do It Yourself kind of site (so it’s free!). But it can also be a couple of hundred dollars per page to freelancing level of engagement or a couple of hundred dollars per page to a couple thousand to an agency.
This is when you put together the content and designs of the page. This cost will be added to the parts of a website below and also appears in the table of costs.
The main cost of a brochure site is the design.
Indeed, it often feels like a hidden cost because many of the Content Management Systems come with a design.
The ongoing maintenance costs of a brochure site are not as much because the functionality is minimal.
Content Management System (CMS)
Holding the place in the middle ground is the CMS. It lies between a static brochure site and a custom application. Consider it a brochure site with skills.
We like to describe a CMS as a Lego® system. This is where you can connect functional pieces together without writing code.
These functional pieces or components are plugins to go with the WordPress paradigm. Plugins can be in a blog, store, contact form, quiz, banner, forum or calculator. The list is endless.
If there isn’t a plugin for what you’re looking for, you can have one built. It must be done by companies with experts performing the job.
With the site all set, you need to find the plugins to give you the functionality you want.
Here is a small list of FREE CMSs for your website:
- WordPress (Our top choice!) This is used by: Ford, People Magazine, Sony, CNN, eBay, Wired and government bodies.
- Joomla Companies like Holiday Inn, Harvard, Ikea, GE, eBay, and other government bodies use this.
- Drupal – This is also the choice of big network like BBC, NBC, and popular universities like Oxford.
CMSs usually target one main feature or focus. This could be blogging, a forum, a user community or membership site, online courses.
It might seem like it’s not obvious, there’s always a cost for graphic design. This is because you want to ensure that your site looks the way you wanted it and that site is easy to navigate.
One of our quick solutions to that is the Divi theme. It includes hundreds of designs that we can customize colors with, not to mention its capacity to still create a new design for a company.
There are theme stores that offer themes for any CMS from around $50 all the way up to a few hundred dollars. Furthermore, adding a feature or features to your site might mean subscribing to some premium plugins.
You also need to look into creating the content for your site. As mentioned earlier, you can DIY this and spend your most valuable asset: your time to what you do best.
Hence, you may opt to hire a copywriter (a wordsmith – kinda like the graphic designer but for word). Someone who can take your ideas, intentions and write content for your site. A copywriter can express your ideas better than you ever imagine! (unless you’re a tried and true copywriter and that is your zone of genius).
For a small business, an empty site with a theme and a CMS should cost between $50 to $500. This will also add up to the cost of your website.
You would come to a point wherein you’ll realize that custom web application is the way to go.
The costs of an application for your website would cost you an arm and a leg. For rough estimates, at this point and time, it is between $20,000 to infinity and beyond.
Website Building Methods
Builders vs. Code
Back when I walked up a hill through 3 feet of snow, to and from the school. Just kidding!
When I started in this business in the early 1990s, we built websites with HTML. We had to learn a bit of markup language.
Today, the systems have evolved and anybody can use a framework or tool to build a website. The What You See Is What You Get or WYSIWYG is an interface that helps in the design and has become more true to its claim.
Wix, Weebly, Square Space are site builders that offer WYSIWYG functionality. They also come with a collection of templates to start with. They all have a free trial and reasonably priced for entry-level traffic to your website.
Sounds enticing right?
Wait until you read this!
As a matter of fact, since they own the space, you can’t easily leave their platform with your site!
With this in mind, we advocate having your own platform.
A premium account begins with ease of use and a quick start to ready for the world, and even costs less at first.
In addition, there are other CRMs available. They may not be as popular as WordPress but they have all the other features that WordPress offers. You can move it anywhere you want and it’s free.
Actually, these days WYSIWYG is available in the CRMs through themes and plugins. Have that confidence that the platform is yours and still get the beauty of the site builders.
The beauty of it is, you can take it with you if you find a better deal. Whether you need a better host, or want to set up your own cloud space to serve it.
It seems simple right? Just give me a website!
Not quite, hold on.
Think of a website like a piece of real estate. Real estate had three things: a chunk of land, use with or on that land, and a location (where in the world is it). Without all three, it’s worthless.
You’ve heard the saying: “I’ve got a piece of (swampland) in Florida to sell you”. It has two: a location and a chunk of land but no real use.
Translate that into website terms: the chunk of land is a hosting account. On the land, you could build a house that would represent the files, designs, data, and images. These would make up when you think about how a website should look like. Finally, the house address would be your domain name. Right now, you’re on our domain name “evodynamic.com”, that is our address.
Next, let’s explore those parts deeper and the costs of each part: domain name, hosting, content.
A domain name is an address for your website which could cost from zero to thousands.
Many hosting companies provide a domain name for free however their company name attached to it.
But, some gambling entrepreneurs saw a long-sighted investment. What could it be?
That is to snatch up many business domain names and sell them for a premium on the secondary market. Believe it or not some domains cost six and seven figures!
You don’t need to enter this racket to get your first site set up besides you can start with a domain provided by your hosting service until you have a viable business need.
For example, a very successful CRM software close.io just recently bought close.com for a lot of money but the questions now is, did it bring profits?
Needless to say, the lesson here is that buying a domain name won’t make money, helping people does!
Finally, register a domain name on your own.
Be leery of teaser rates on domains. Example: “Get your domain for free” or “for $1”! When you have to renew it in the future they will charge an exorbitant rate to keep it or transfer it somewhere else.
We use and recommend Google Domains for registering domains.
Why, you asked.
First, they have transparent fixed pricing for the basic top level domains (TLD): $12 per year for a .com, .net, or .org. Second, they include domain privacy for free.
I used to receive an email from 20-100 web developers offering to help me out with my new domain name. This happened when I haven’t enrolled for a domain privacy.
Now that you have an address for your site, let’s get some land or hosting for that site.
Hosting is a server or service that your domain (address) can point to. It stores all your code–basically your instructions of what should be sent to someone who goes to your address.
Again, hosting cost can range from a few dollars to thousands.
Be alert to teaser rates!
Almost all hosting services have a teaser rate. Why? Because no one wants to move a site from one hosting company to another. Do consider this before signing up with a hosting company.
Usually you can get the teaser rate to last 1-3 years by paying in advance. You should take this kinds of deals! It is also good to consider the cost when the teaser rate is over to ensure you’re comfortable with that.
Hosting provides the security for your domain name called SSL which stands for Secure Sockets Layer.
What does that mean?
It means that no one can read the actual words and images that your host is sending because they are encrypted.
Before, you only needed SSL when collecting money on your site. But now, the search engines are weighing security more in their rankings. That is why every site should have SSL.
Entry level SSL is free. Furthermore, as you your site grows, a higher level of security may need. You might integrate other systems which requires higher security requirements.
Consider these details when shopping for a host:
- number of websites allowed
- amount of web or disk space
- number of visits
- amount of bandwidth or traffic
- SSL included
All of our websites and applications are hosted in one of three places:
All said and done, hosting of a small business site should add $15-30 per month to your website cost.
Engaging content brings readers to your website. A well-defined purpose or “Why” as Simon Sinek is famous for explaining makes content writing easy. If you are not yet a copy writer, you can hire a copy writer starting at around $100/blog post and the sky is the limit.
You particularly want copy writing skill on the main page content for your site to assure that you are best representing your “Why” for having a site and being in business.
We can take $2,000 as a cost for the main pages of a website as a middle of the road cost for copywriting. You could spend your valuable time and save $ or you can go top of the line with a tried and true copy writer like Aaron Wrixon or a Story Brand Guide certified by Donald Miller.
You should check out Story Brand by Donald Miller if want to DIY it. It’s good to check it out as well if you have no experience in copywriting. Additionally, if you want to get a reader’s perspective visit mystorybrand.com website to get you started.
There is a skill and talent here that needs to be honed. I spent too many years in denial on this and thought “I am a fine copywriter.” I was wrong. Nevertheless, it is never too late! What’s important is how you will deal with this important aspect of having a website.
Hire a professional so you can focus on growing your business. If you won’t do that, get some real training from Story Brand or something similar.
Maintenance & Updates
Last but not the least, maintenance and updates, how much will these cost you? Maintaining a website is really important as it protects our website from any possible hacks.
The typical complaints we hear from a segment of our new customers are the following:
“We spent X thousand dollars for this new website three years ago; They told us not to update it or the update will break something.” “We had a site built X years ago and never did any updates. When we asked them to update our site they wanted X thousand dollars.”
Too many companies want to build you a site and in fact, they deal with you in a transactional manner. Here’s your site, gimme the money.
The world overflows with good people, despite of that, a few bad eggs magnify the need for maintaining and updating a website. Additionally, the website builder often minimizes this need or even speaks the opposite “don’t update it.”
This is a problem.
Every business needs a trusted tech relationship. Someone in-house or outside to update everything on a regular basis or someone to ask before purchasing a new piece of software.
Looking at the costs here for the brochure or CMS website, you should expect to spend between $20 and $100 per month for basic maintenance and updates. A brochure site can probably get away with doing this quarterly.
Website Cost Summary
Below are some estimated costs from the low to the high end. You may pick and choose what parts to go low or high on depending on your business goal. This will make the website costs easier to see:
Website Launch Costs (the initial building of the website)
|Item||Low Cost||Low-Mid Cost||High Cost|
|Page Content Copy Writing and Setup||$0||$2,000||$10,000+|
|Premium plugin purchase/development||$0||custom||custom|
|Total (assumed 10 page CMS):||$0||$3,550||$16,000|
Website Ongoing Costs
|Item||Low Cost||High Cost|
|Domain Name Registration||included with Hosting||$12/year|
|Hosting (increases with use)||$5/mo||$50/mo|
|Post Copy Writing (updates, blogging, social posting)||DIY $0||$2,000/mo|
|Maintenance & Updates||$20/quarter||$100/mo|
|Premium plugin subscriptions||custom||custom|