How much does a website cost for your small business?
A business website is an essential tool for marketing your business, but the question of how much it will cost you is wide open. The short answer is that it can cost as little as $5 per month, or as much as $10,000 or more.
It’s almost like asking “how much is a house?” The cost will depend upon the size and features of the house. When talking about a business website, the price range varies because it depends on the website needs that you have.
For example, if you have time and the inclination, you can create your own basic website using a website builder. These tend to be the lowest cost way to build a website and usually have a simple user interface, perhaps with a drag and drop editor.
Another option if you have the know-how yourself is to build your own hosted website. This does involve more knowledge and work on your part, and requires a platform such as WordPress.
Your other option is to have a custom website built for you. This requires a person (or perhaps a web design agency) that has specialist website development skills. A web designer and developer will cost you more, especially for someone who has the right skills and experience. However, you don’t have to do any work and you should get a well-built website.
Your website cost will depend upon the options you choose. Let’s dig in a bit on each choice.
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The basics of a business website
First of all, there are a few basics that, no matter the type of website, you will need. These items are put into place before you have any website development done:
- Domain name – This is the website address people will use to find you (such as oneweekwebsite.com). Domains can be purchased from a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Google Domains.
A new domain that is unowned and available when you do a search of a registrar site will cost you between 99 cents and a few dollars per year. If your desired domain name is unavailable, you may be able to purchase it from the owner. This might cost you anywhere from less than $100 to several thousand dollars. In fact, some of the most expensive domains have sold for millions of dollars.
- SSL certificate – If your business website is going to process transactions and gather user information, then you need an SSL certificate to allow secure connections with your domain. This will cost between $69 and $300 per year, depending on what you need.
- Website hosting – Your website must be hosted in order to be available on the internet. There are many different website hosting providers and types of hosting, which we will outline later. Hosting will cost you anything from free (for a very basic website) to a few hundred per month (for a dedicated server). If you are getting your website built by a web design agency, hosting will often be part of the package.
Another thing that you will need along the way, no matter how you are getting your website built, is content for your website. In some cases, you may be able to get a website package that includes some content (One Week Website offers this), however you will otherwise have to source it yourself.
At a very basic level, your content will include:
- The written copy on your webpages (free if you write it yourself, $400+ per page if an experienced copywriter does it for you). Cost: $0 (and a lot of your time) up to $1200+
- The images. You might have your own photos to contribute, otherwise you will pay for either stock photos or a photographer where you need specific images. Cost: $0 – several hundred dollars, depending on what you need.
- Your logo. If yours is a new online business, you’ll want a professional logo made. A good designer and a more complex logo will cost you more than anything basic. Cost: $100 – $600+
Summary cost of the basics: $1 – $2000.
Using a website builder
If you’re starting a new small business, often the method you choose to get a business website up is a function of how much you have in your budget. A website builder platform such as Weebly, Wix or Shopify (for an ecommerce website) is usually more budget-friendly.
These types of platforms have user-friendly drag-and-drop interfaces, allowing you to decide how your website will look. It requires very little know-how on your part to put a basic website together. The downside to this is that there will be limitations – you won’t necessarily get everything that you want in a website.
Most website builder platforms will have options for add-ons (often at extra cost) so that you can tack on some extra features. It’s definitely not the same as custom design though – you can only use what they have available.
Pros and cons of a website builder
In very general terms (considering there are several different platforms with varying features), here are some pros and cons of using a website builder:
|Can be built very cheaply||May not have all of the features you’d like|
|Can be up and running within a day||Will be very basic|
|You can do it yourself||Doing it yourself takes time|
|You don’t have to worry about the technical details of how the website runs.||You are relying on a platform to be reliable. Sometimes website builder platforms experience outages.|
|You can get a professional-looking design.||Your design may look like everyone else’s.|
|Your website is fully-managed and the building of it is automated.||You’re building your website on someone else’s real estate. If your website builder platform disappeared tomorrow, so would your website.|
Using a website builder may be a good option for you if you have time to do it yourself, you only need a very basic website, and/or you have a small budget and can’t manage the development costs for a more custom build.
Summary cost for a web builder website: $60 – $300 for your first year (including website maintenance cost). This does not consider the cost of your time…
DIY website design
If you’re seeking a website that is independent of any website builder platform (especially if you are concerned about building on someone else’s real estate), you could also choose to DIY your own website. People often do this using website building software such as WordPress.
In comparison to a web builder platform where the functions are automated, using WordPress to DIY your website is like going to IKEA for furniture – there will be assembly required. This means that you do need a certain amount of technical know-how (or the patience to learn as you go) to build your business website.
Using WordPress to build your own website avoids the costs of custom web development, however website maintenance, functionality and design will all be up to you. If you are low on technical skills, this can be time-consuming and frustrating thing to learn.
Use of the WordPress platform itself is free. It’s important to note that WordPress comes in three different types:
- Fully-hosted at WordPress.com (with limitations in functionality such as in the web builders above);
- A premium version at WordPress.com which allows for some plugins and more theme choices;
- Self-hosted, where you download the software from WordPress.org and install it via your hosting platform (e.g. GoDaddy).
Here we’re focusing on the third option, as the first two are very similar to what we’ve already discussed. Once you’ve downloaded the WordPress software and installed it on your web host, you effectively have a blank canvas to build from. You will need:
- A WordPress theme. It’s important to choose a theme that makes your business look good and works well functionally. While there are free themes available, they are often unreliable in terms of being maintained. A premium theme from a site such as Themeforest will cost you $30 – $100.
- Plugins – these are the WordPress add-ons that deliver different functions to your site. They offer anything from website analytics to payment gateways which you would need for an ecommerce website. The cost of plugins really depends upon what you need. Many are free, but some will cost anywhere from $5 – $150, while others will be a subscription with a monthly charge.
Pros and cons of building your own website with WordPress
|You can do it yourself without web developer costs.||It can be a steep learning curve if you don’t have the technical know-how already.|
|You have more customization available to you.||It can be tricky “assembling” your website so that it works as you’d like.|
|You have entire control over the website (it is unlikely a huge software such as WordPress will go down)||You have to sort out website maintenance yourself (or hire someone to do it). Sometimes plugins become buggy or code becomes corrupted.|
|You can create your own website look that is unique for your business.||If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to mess up the look of the website.|
Summary cost of a DIY WordPress website: $50 – $2000 (depending on what you need and whether you end up hiring a developer to help with any parts).
Custom design and development
Custom design of your business website is usually going to cost you more, however it may be necessary for some websites. For example, if your website needs complex functionality, you have a very specific website design in mind, or if you need something like a large ecommerce website. Of course, if you simply want the time and labor of creating your own website taken off your hands, that’s a good enough reason!
As it sounds, custom design means that a web developer or web design agency starts from scratch, or at least builds a very customized site on top of a template.
The question of how much a custom website will cost you is again dictated by what you need. The more complexity, the more functionality, the more you are asking a web developer and/or web designer to do, the more you can expect to pay.
It’s fair to say that most websites are not built entirely from scratch these days, unless it is for an enterprise-level company with a very specific set of needs. Custom-built, from-scratch websites can cost $30,000 or more.
WordPress is a popular choice to build from because it is so flexible as a platform. While you could create a basic WordPress site yourself with a little knowledge, it will never beat the honed skills of an experienced developer.
The cost of having your website built for you on a WordPress platform will vary depending on who you get to do it and whether you want a basic website, or something more complex. You can hire a freelance web developer and you’ll find the price varies from $500 to $10,000 or more.
Many people look to save money by hiring someone who seems to be cheaper, but this usually results in a “you get what you pay for” situation. It’s important to choose someone based on a verifiable body of work and strong references, rather than simply pricing. If you want a WordPress website, then they should specialize in creating them. In the worst cases, some small businesses have ended up paying out much more money because they had to hire someone else to fix the mess.
Something to bear in mind when you hire a developer is that the good ones tend to know their worth and charge accordingly. Expect to pay $100 – $250 per hour, with the best developers at the top end of the scale. You should also investigate how long it will take them to deliver your finished product. Sometimes a website build can take months, especially if you’re dealing with a small firm or individual developer with multiple clients to take care of. You may want to weigh up cost along with time to delivery (expect to pay a premium for any rush work).
Another option is to hire a web design agency. Many will offer set packages so that you can see what you’re getting for your money (check out One Week Website’s pricing here). It’s important to clarify what you’re getting for the price no matter who you hire. This should be laid out in writing so that there is no confusion later on. For example, some companies will offer packages that include search engine optimization and clear messaging for your website too. Web hosting is often included in these sorts of packages, but this is something to check as well.
One aspect to investigate is any ongoing website maintenance. Every website needs it and it’s definitely easier to have maintenance done by the person or company who built your website. Check to see if your web developer will offer any ongoing maintenance – this is often charged out as a monthly “subscription” rate.
Pros and cons of a custom-built website
|You can have complex features added.||Complexity will add more time and cost to your website build.|
|You get professional help instead of having to learn yourself.||You need to do a bit of homework to find a person or agency with the right skills and experience.|
|You can have a very unique website created.||The more customization involved, the more it will cost you.|
|Professional design is a better look for your business and could lead to more revenue.||It’s often not as simple to make a quick design change as it is on a website builder platform.|
Summary cost of a custom website build:
With a template used as a basis – $500 – $10,000 or more, depending on complexity.
Custom design from scratch – $5000 – $30,000+
Website maintenance – $50 – $200 per month
Website hosting is an important part of website cost and is worth looking at separately. You may have purchased web hosting as part of a package with whoever built your website, but you need to know that there are different levels of hosting with different implications for cost and performance.
The type of web hosting you have can cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars per month. Thus it could be a significant cost to factor in to your overall budget for building a business website.
In simple terms, “hosting” is where the files for your website are stored on a server, making your site available on the internet. A large, complex company might use several of their own exclusive servers (such as an airline or a bank), while a hobby website or small, local business might use a shared server.
There are three main types of website hosting:
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#1. Shared server
Shared hosting, where you share a server with other websites is at the very basic end of hosting options. There are multiple companies offering shared hosting and it is the cheapest option available (sometimes even free, within limitations. This is not generally recommended for a business).
Basically, it’s like paying rent in a shared apartment building. There could be multiple other units in the same building – or multiple websites on the same server. In some cases, there could be thousands of websites on one server.
Shared hosting can be a good starter option for a small business, but that very much depends on what the hosting company is offering. You are sharing the resources of the server (its Random Access Memory and Central Processing Unit) with others – this means if the server gets overloaded with requests, it can drastically slow down the websites it hosts, or even shut them down. There have been some “bad actors” in the hosting market, cramming too many websites onto one server.
In terms of who you share the server with, you won’t know, however shared hosting can be subject to the “bad neighbor effect.” This is where your neighbors on the server do things that impact the performance of your website too – much like neighbors in an apartment building might do. Most web hosting companies work to mitigate this, but it really is a “you get what you pay for” situation. Cheap hosting is unlikely to include maximum effort to deal with bad neighbors.
Look at more than just price when it comes to hosting. You want to ensure you get good website performance too. If your ecommerce website is having a Cyber Monday sale, then you don’t want it slowing down with an increase in traffic!
Cost of shared hosting: $4 – $10 per month
#2. VPS hosting
VPS means “virtual private server” and is the next step up from shared hosting. It costs a bit more than shared hosting, but you usually get to avoid the problems associated with a shared server.
On a VPS, a few websites will still share the server hardware, however each site will be allocated its own dedicated slice of computing technology. If you were to max-out your allocation, then your site may be throttled, but it won’t affect other sites on the server. Thus the bad neighbor effect is mitigated.
VPS tends to be a good option for most small businesses that get a reasonable amount of website traffic, however, if you get a lot of traffic or need a lot of storage space, it may not be enough for your business.
Cost of VPS hosting: $20 – $100 per month (depending on the resource allocation you get)
#3. Dedicated server
A dedicated server means that your business gets a server (or multiple servers) all to yourself. Some larger businesses with the resources to do so manage their own dedicated servers, however there are options for managed dedicated server hosting. This means that a hosting company maintains and manages the server/s for your business.
Dedicated servers give you more space and more flexibility in terms of what you’re able to do. They mean no bad neighbor effect and the ability to customize your hardware. Naturally, with exclusivity and flexibility comes more cost.
For some businesses with high traffic, security and storage needs, this might be your only reasonable option. Sites like Amazon are hosted on multiple dedicated servers, meaning it is unlikely they will ever go down.
Cost of a dedicated server: $150+ per month
If you want to know how much a website will cost for your small business, it’s important to define what your needs are for the website. Your overall cost is a function of the features and performance you need, much like when you are purchasing a car.
Remember that the initial website build isn’t your only cost to consider – you should factor in the costs of hosting, maintenance and owning your domain name. You may also have ongoing subscription costs for things like plugins or add-ons that you’d like to use.
This is intended as an approximate guide to costs, but if you have questions about getting a website built for your business, feel free to contact us for a chat here.