It seems like a reasonable question and at some point it has to be answered. You wouldn’t hire someone to build your website without having a pretty good idea of how much it will cost. But getting to that answer is not as simple as selecting a “website package.” For a quality website, information is needed to answer the “how much does a website cost?” question. The main reason cost is difficult without information is because websites can range from the ultra simple (like a text only html site written in a simple text editor in a matter of minutes) or something extremely complex (think Facebook). The more features you want, the more expensive the website. So lets break down cost a little bit and why adding different features costs money.

Design and Development

Here is what most people think about when they ask the question, “how much does a website cost?” They really want to know how much is it going to take to get their business up and running on the web, or with a brand new look as a redesigned website.

Here is where a lot of the question marks come into play in determining the cost of a website.

Type of Development

The majority of small business websites we see need more design than development. Real development starts getting into doing things like connecting your inventory system to your website or creating an online insurance marketplace. This kind of development can cost millions. Even if your needs are not that big, development of special functionality costs money. The good news is that in many cases, we can find and purchase prewritten modules to handle the most common things businesses want to accomplish. This is a lot more cost effective than development from scratch. Think of this like buying an app on your phone to allow you to do something you couldn’t do with the basics that it came with.

Adding some off-the-shelf functionality to your site adds two costs. The first is to purchase the license to use that add-on software. The second is to actually get it working for you. Anytime you add features to your website, you are adding costs. Most website design companies will include the most commonly requested features. Here are some of the most commonly requested or beneficial.

Quality of Design

More design expertise will cost more money. And it is important for your site. A series of Stanford University studies concluded scientifically what we all pretty much understand, that people judge your site (and therefore your business) on how the site looks. We’ve won dozens of design awards. We pay attention to details like quality of photos and how things look on different devices. Even with responsive design, there is need to tweak some things for different classes of displays (computers, tablets, phones).

Website design can cost $0. If you want your website to be more than an address on your business card, then avoid using a free website builder tool.

Website design can cost $500-$1,000. We’ve rebuilt a number of these websites designed by a “friend” or “relative.” Other times, this is what it appears that $59/month package from a mass online website design site (generally with designers and programmers outside the United States) with cost you. Here’s why that might not be a good idea.

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Content Development

Photography, video, copywriting and how much information needs to be put on a website impact the final cost a lot.

Photos and Video

Photos and videos bring the design to life. Developing good visual content costs money, so what you already have access to will impact how much you need to add to your website design budget.

Professionally taken photos and videos are the best solution for making your site unique and providing just the right look. If you do not already have a good library of photos or videos, add in several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Sometimes royalty free photos are the way to go. This is generally also a less expensive solution. However, we do still have to search for high quality photos and there are licensing costs involved. These might be built into the general design estimate or shown as a separate line item.

Taking your own photos is usually not a good idea unless you have someone with some photography training. Photos and videos taken with your phone might be passable for social media, but they generally are not going to give you the look you want on a polished business website.

Copywriting and On-Page SEO

Copywriting is critical for two reasons. It sells your company to the website visitor and gets you found on search engines. Copywriting is a part of good SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which allows new customers to find you. Once on your website, you need to describe your business and sell the customer on picking up the phone, sending an email or completing a sale. Some website designers provide no copywriting services. Others (especially the generic website companies) provide you with generic copy that tends to feel like it was copied and pasted from another website, then edited for your location and other details.

Providing your own copywriting will save on your overall website design costs. If you are looking at a redesign, you probably have the copy already in place on your current site. It will just be a matter of doing a little light editing for SEO and space reasons before dropping it in the new design. If you are starting from scratch and have internal marketing resources, then writing pages yourself will help keep complete design costs down.

Hiring us or another professional copywriter increases the cost of the site, but provides advantages. We’ll keep the copy process moving, so the entire website project doesn’t come to a complete stop while the copy is being developed. It also allows us to do the best possible job of writing with a mind for both SEO and sales. Good quality copywriting isn’t cheap. American Writers and Artists, Inc suggests that writers charge between $1,500 and $3,500 for a 5-6 page website. Because we are able to integrate both writing and website design, we are able to keep the cost per page lower, but it does make a big impact in final cost of the site.

Size of the Website

The larger the website, the more content you will need in the form of copy and photos. A lot of businesses just getting started on the web will create around a 6 page website. You may need 40 pages. There is no way to provide a one-size-fits all price with this much variability. The more pages you have the more design and content you need.

Most small business websites start out with just 2-3 page templates. Your home page is one page template, then your internal pages might share another page template and your contact page may be its own template. On more complex websites, you might need more page templates.

Whether you are providing content (photos and copy) or need it produced for additional pages will make a big difference in how much adding more pages will cost.

Other Website Costs

  • Domain name $15/year. Available just about everywhere. You’ll need at least one domain name for your website. More domain names can be helpful for tracking specific offline campaigns, etc. Once upon a time, you could buy up all the misspellings and different top level domains (.com, .net etc) to make sure everyone found your company site when typing it in. There are now over 700 top level domains, so you are best sticking with just a handful you are most likely to use, including the main one for your website.
  • Hosting. $150+/year. For most small businesses, this means shared hosting at one of the many providers. While it is not always true that “you get what you pay for,” moderately priced hosting may far outweigh saving $50-$100/year buying the cheapest hosting you can find.
  • Basic Maintenance. $200+/year. You need at least basic maintenance. Very few websites are built on static html code without using javascript, php or some other programming language. Once you want to add a contact form (a fairly standard feature) or almost anything else that moves to your website, then you are going to need some type of software running behind your site. We all know that software invariably needs updating for bug fixes, improvements and security reasons. The more software your website uses, the more updates and patches it will need. Some companies think this is a waste of money, but not maintaining the basics of the website is pretty much the same as driving your car all year without changing the oil.

So $365/year is about the bare bones for keeping your website running every year after it has been designed.

The Bottom Line

So what’s the bottom line? Again it depends on exactly what you need done. But we find most businesses need somewhere between 6-10 pages, not a lot of high-cost functionality and some help with photos and copy. Most of the websites we have designed and built over the past decade fall within the range of $2,500-$5,000. Is that a pretty big price range? Yes. But with so many factors that can change the cost of the website, it is about as close as we can come nailing down an actual cost without having more details. Contact us for a more accurate quote.

Up Front Cost – $2,500 – $5,000

Annual Hosting and Maintenance – $365 and up

Ongoing SEO and Advertising to bring in new customers – Don’t forget about getting new customers to find your new website!

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