How Much Should a Website Cost?

In this article you will find out:

Why ‘How Much Should A Website Cost?’ Is a Difficult Question

“So how much will a new website cost?”

It’s probably the most common question I get asked by new clients.

I don’t blame them. It’s probably the first question I would ask myself. But it is actually quite a tricky question to answer as it depends on so many things.

I have been in the web design business since the the late 90’s and I have been involved with designing hundreds of websites but I still can’t give a quick answer to this question. Now I’m not trying to get out of providing a straight answer. I often get the feeling that clients think I am.

I even get the uneasy feeling that some new clients believe that I ask so many questions about there business so I can gauge how much I can get away with charging to build their new website.

One of the biggest issues with figuring out the price is that web design is a service, but most clients see a website as a ‘product’.Many of them believe that they can walk into ‘virtual store’ and order a 5 page website for fixed fee. However a website is something that a team of people have to work on to build.

When you realise this it makes it easier to understand why it is so tough to provide a straightforward price.

Regardless of this I still understand that it is actually a fair question to ask. As a business owner you need to make sure you are spending your money wisely. But you must realise that asking how much a website will cost is a bit like walking into a used car dealership and asking  how much it will be to buy a car.

After the used car salesman has stopped rubbing his hand with glee he will ask what type of car you had in mind. He’ll ask about your budget, what you will use it for, how many people it should hold, if it needs to be practical or sporty, and even what colour you would like it to be.

Yes, he’ll ask loads of questions to try and narrow down the massive selection so he can point you to the best car for your needs.

Like cars, there can be a massive difference in costs when it comes to developing a website. Some web designers will charge £100 while others charge £10,000, or more.

‘Surely there can’t be that much of a difference?’, I hear you ask.

Well like cars, you can buy an economic model by a Far Eastern car manufacturer for around £5000, or you can buy a Lamborghini for £500,000. Both provide the same basic functions – they take you from point A to point B. However, there is a massive difference when it comes to design, engineering, comfort and quality.

So that being said, how much should a website really cost?

Where does the cost of building a new website come from?

You may have seen TV adverts where they make it look so easy to build your own website for under a £10 a month. However this isn’t really a website – it’s is a web presence. Something you can put on your business cards and point clients at but it won’t do a good job of actually acquiring new clients.

If this is the kind of website that you are after then the rest of this article isn’t really for you. Head straight to wordpress.com and grab yourself a free website.

Or build yourself a Facebook or Google+ page and forget about a fully fledged website. For some types of business this is actually a better way to spend your marketing budget than creating a proper website.

Quite often, you can get the same – or better – results with far less work, and far less cost. Different online channels suit different types of business.

For example, say you are a plumber. It’s a competitive market, with plumbers everywhere. So when someone needs a plumber, they’ll turn to Google and put in their location and/or specific needs.

Which page will come up top in the results? The most relevant, of course. And pages on websites that have thousands of links pointing to them are more likely to rank higher.

Your plumber cannot afford to generate hundreds of inbound links, on top of paying for a custom webiste. It’s bad marketing. It’s a bad use of budget and time. It’s the wrong thing to sell this client.

What’s the right answer?

There are thousands of websites out there that will list the business, either for free, or for a small fee (far less than getting a custom site built and hosted).

These sites are likely to have thousands of pages, and thousands of inbound links. So your plumber can get a better result for a fraction of the cost. That’s good marketing, and good business.

This article is for those of you that are after a website that properly markets your business. A website that will not only look the part, but will also perform well in the search engines and help generate customers for you. A website that reflects your business, it’s goals and your brand. One that works in every type of web browser and on every different operating systems.

So before a web designer can provide a cost they first have to try and figure out what is involved. That is why they will ask so many questions. At least a good web designer will.

Now that you know what a real website is, I can explain all of the things that are involved in building one.

Visitors

Keywords need to be researched and selected so that you can rank highly in Google and attract visitors to your website. This means research, back linking, article writing and content curation to ensure you have the right content to attract visitors attention.

Structure and Conversion

Someone has to think about pages, navigation and usability, and the best way to get users from here to there. Once visitors get to your website the content needs to styled so that it persuades them to take action on your website – buy that widget, fill in that form etc.

Text

It doesn’t matter if you write the copy yourself or hire a specialised copywriter the text still needs to be collated, spell-checked, proof read before it can be used.

Pictures

Regardles of wether you have your own photos, need them taken, or simply want to use stock images they still have to be resized, retouched, and organised.

Design

There needs to be some thought put into choosing colours, fonts and graphics so they work with your brand and match your other marketing collateral.

Page Layout

The location of headers, footers, sidebars opt-in boxes, and social media icons need to be decided to provide the best possible chance of converting visitors into clients.

Coding

Your website will need good quality code that works quickly and doesn’t crash causing errors, or breaking your website completely.

Compatibility

There are dozens of different web browsers that run on Macs and PC’s that all need to display the website without a glitch. This means coding, testing and fixing all of the issue to provide the best experience for visitors – regardless of what they use.

Mobile

Visitors to your website using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones will soon make up the bulk of the people looking at your website. This means someone has to ensure your website looks good on different sized screens while still being able to be read and used propely.

Social media

Successful online businesses will leverage social media including Facebook, twitter and Google+. So someone needs to integrate your social media accounts into your website and create easy methods to share your content with others.

Go live

Someone has to buy your domain name, install your site on a hosting server, set up the DNS, get your analytics, webmaster tools and sitemaps and make sure everything is working.

It’s a long list of things that need done to ensure you get the best possible website. I haven’t listed them so I can justify putting a large price tag on the cost of a website. No, it is simply to give you a better understanding of the tasks that a web designer has to carry out in order to determine the cost of building your website.

How is your money spent?

You may imagine that the bulk of the costs involved in building a new website would be spent to design, layout, and code it. In the 90’s and early 00’s this may well have been true. However not so much now.

Many of the modern frameworks available have cut the length of time these tasks take meaning that they now eat up far less of your budget. This also means new websites are also far quicker to create as much of the work is pre-built within the framework. ‘Great news’ I hear your shout, ‘it will mean web design costs are going down’. Not quite.

Work still needs to be done to attract visitors and to convert them into clients. After all there is no point in having a fantastic looking website that nobody visits. The best approach is to move the money you save on the development into marketing your website. This means that the overall web costs are about the same but you now have more money to spend on finding and attracting new clients to the new website.

In the past I would have allocated 90% of the budget to the design tasks. Now it is about 25% – 50%. The remainder of the budget should be used on marketing the website so it generates leads and makes money. This makes the website a business asset rather than a liability.

However there are some limitations in what can be achieved when using a customised website like the one I described above. For example this approach does not allow for complete flexibility in layout so you may not be able to get the exact look that you are after. Similarly, there may also be some limitations in functionality.

So if you go for a customised website where you take an existing theme and modify it to fit in with your brand it can save loads of time and effort. However, a bespoke website can be designed to look exactly how you want. This is a more time consuming and costly approach more suited to very large companies or multi-nationals.

In my experience the vast majority of businesses would be more suited to having a customised website due the massive time and cost savings involved.

Prices to build different types of website

Basic customised website

Up to £3,000

This would be the price point that most startups would aim at. You should expect a website built on WordPress or a similar content management system with a customised theme. The use of plugins means that the functionality can be added quickly and inexpensively.

What you should expect:

  • Basic customisation of an existing theme branded to your company requirements based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Sitemaps

What you won’t get:

  • Copywriting or content creation
  • Photography and video
  • Branding or a logo
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • E-commerce or shopping cart
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

Partially customised e-commerce design

£3,000 to £5,000

At this price point you can expect an e-commerce website using a customised theme that matches you corporate brand. You can also add responsive design.

What you should expect:

  • A customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps

What you won’t get:

  • Copywriting or content creation
  • Photography and video
  • Branding or a logo
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

Fully customised design

£5,000 to £10,000

You can expect more customised functionality that is tailored to your exact needs. You could also add in keyword research and basic search engine optimisation. You may also get some copywriting to ensure you get the correct message over to your target market.

What you should expect:

  • A fully customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • Copywriting or content creation

What you won’t get:

  • Photography and video
  • Branding or a logo
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

All inclusive website

£10,000 to £30,000

At this price level you will be able to sit back and relax and let the design team look after almost everything – such a content creation and branding.

What you should expect:

  • A fully customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • Copywriting or content creation
  • Branding or a logo
  • In-depth conversation optimisation

What you won’t get:

  • Photography and video
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

Bespoke website

£30,000 – £50,000

The key phrase here is ‘bespoke’. This is where the web design team can define all your requirements and you sit back and watch the solution happen – from branding to integration of your back office systems almost everything is included. You can add all of the functionality you desire and expect a fully compatible, mobile friendly site.

The e-commerce elements will be customised to your exact requirement and should support large and complex product ranges. However, copywriting will be more difficult so it hasn’t been included.

What you should expect:

  • A fully customised theme branded to match your corporate identity based on WordPress, Joomla or another CMS framework
  • Content and image sliders
  • Basic e-commerce or shopping cart functionality
  • Contact forms
  • Opt-in forms
  • Photo galleries
  • Social media integration
  • Blog
  • Basic keyword optimisation
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Responsive design so your website works properly on tablets and smartphones
  • Sitemaps
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Keyword research and content optimisation
  • Branding or a logo
  • In-depth conversation optimisation
  • custom coding or functionality
  • Integration to back office systems

What you won’t get:

  • Photography and video
  • Copywriting or content creation

The sky’s the limit website

£50,000+

If you are large company or multi-national then budget isn’t a restriction so you can have anything you want. No limits.

How To Decide If The Cost You’ve Been Given Is Fair

Firstly, you have to make sure that you understand all of the features that you will get. Some designers may include extra features, while others may have removed them to make their price look more attractive. You need to make sure that you compare the features each solution offers to allow you to gauge the value of each properly.

You also need to know if you would like to work with a particular web design agency. Are they trustworthy? Will they bump the costs up?

Different Ways to Pay For Your Website

Now you know roughly how much your website might cost the next stage is to actually pay for it. Most web designers will ask for a deposit, others may produce monthly invoices throughout the lifetime of the project. Some may charge you once particular milestones have been reached and for small projects you may only have a single payment to pay at the end. Some designers may even allow you to spread the cost over a period of time – say 2 years – so you can afford the best possible website.

Ba aware that it is common for web designers to refuse to make your website live until  your bills have been paid. They also may have the ability to take your website down if you don’t keep to the greed payment schedule.

Here is a list of the more common payment methods web designers may have.

  • Monthly Invoices
  • Milestone Payments
  • Single Lump Sum Payment
  • Finance Over A Period of Time

There are so many different agencies out there it can be confusing trying to pick one. Don’t worry – help is at hand. I have written an article that provides 10 Tips on how to pick a good web designer.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my website! You can find other articles that you might find useful at the bottom of this post.

Enjoy!

33 thoughts on “How Much Should a Website Cost?”

  1. Excellent article Kevin, and obviously you offer good web design to your clients as seriously as it should be taken.
    Shame that web design is in some way now being seen as a DIY project or by anyone who has downloaded WordPress.
    Having taken over client sites that have been done on the cheap by ‘someone who knows about computers’ I’ve found that the old saying that you only get what you pay for is very relevant.
    You certainly explained web design work very accurately and concisely.

  2. Generally I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this
    write-up very compelled me to try and do so! Your writing style has
    been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice post

  3. From the point of view of someone about to enter the market to get a site redesigned/updated, this has been a very useful read. I now know what to expect and what to take seriously.

  4. From the point of view of someone about to enter the market to get a site redesigned/updated, this has been a very useful read. I now know what to expect and what to take seriously.

  5. Freudian slip? ‘They also may have the ability to take your website down if you don’t keep to the greed payment schedule’ Extortion by a different name.

  6. top hyip monitors

    I have been reading your stuff How Much Should A Website Cost To Build? and they are very useful for me to learn something new and intresting. And You can also view our website also top hyip monitors.

  7. Generally I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this
    write-up very compelled me to try and do so! Your writing style has
    been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice post.

  8. This is a great article! It’s often tricky to point out exactly what a client is paying for when so much technical work is required behind the scenes and when they are comparing it to websites at the lower end of the scale. Thanks 🙂

  9. It’s hard to come by well-informed people about this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

  10. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking a few
    minutes and actual effort to produce a good article… but what can I say… I
    procrastinate a lot and never manage to get anything done.

  11. Proofing is so important.

    ‘I even get the uneasy feeling that some new clients believe that I ask so ‘many questions about there (THEIR) business so I can gauge how much I can get away with charging to build their new website.’

    …but thank you for the guidance.

  12. My Little Web Designers

    Great article Kevin, really good too see others who understand how much work and how wide a scope a web design project can have. I have worked at a current website design company My Little Web Designers for a while now and we have a great team here. The boss is always on about creating big company image at small company prices. An I fully understand we our an affordable option for many small businesses and start ups but since you have a good knowledge and seemed to have done some research on the subject could you offer your two cents on a point we have been making recently?
    After reading your article Im even more convinced our packages are ‘too affordable’ and the company under prices the amout of work we do.
    If I send you a link to some of offers would you give your opinion?
    (I’d love some support to back up my arguement). Your feedbacks well appreciated. Thanks

    1. It’s an interesting question and I believe the best way to evaluate the value of anything is by using the ‘value triangle’.

      A “sale” is only possible when both parties perceive that the value they are getting from the trade is greater than the value of the thing they are giving up. From what you are saying you believe that you are giving up too much.

      You can view the value in almost any transaction in terms of three primary factors:

      • Speed
      • Quality
      • Cost

      These 3 factors make up each corner of “The Value Triangle.” You can show any balance between the 3 value factors by simply rotating the triangle around its central point. You can’t have all 3 factors as high priority. The general principle is that you have to choose 2 of the 3 factors.

      Imagine a client comes to a web designer and asks for a web site to be built. They want a good standard, and it needs to be built within a short deadline. Oh, and they only have a small budget.

      So they’re asking for all 3 factors. This seems to be what your business is offering but the truth is something has to give. Providing all 3 is not good business.

      So

      If you want a high standard of result, and you need it soon, you need to be prepared to pay.
      If you want a good result, and you want it cheap, be prepared to wait.
      If you want it cheap and quick, don’t expect quality.

      To put it bluntly, you might say to that client, “Quick, Cheap, Good – pick two.”

      Positioning your Service

      When you’re putting your product or service on the market, people need to know where it fits in relation to what they already know. That’s positioning.

      If I were making a premium web site, I would say: Quality top, Speed OK, but don’t expect it to be cheap.

      But remember, for every client, there’s a corresponding perfect service. I could just as easily market “Speedy & Cheap Web Design” (which you’d expect to be relatively low quality), “Paratroop Web Consultancy” (which would deliver great services at the drop of the hat – but really cost you), or “Good Web Sites for Businesses on a Budget” (in which case those clients would need to wait).

      Hope this helps!

  13. Its great to see an article showing the full scale of webdesign costs in detail. Its educational to our clients and inspires us web designers to learn so we can grow and expand our business.

    Just like any other service based industry. “You get what you pay for” No one person in particular is to blame for pricing here. This article is an observation of the web design industry as a whole.

  14. Thanks for a brilliant article, Kevin. This is a must-read for anyone in the market for web services. I have shared it, I hope you don’t mind.

  15. Most people, including many a designer, massively underestimate the work involved in creating a truly bespoke website.

    If you’re working with a medium sized business the project management overheads can easily soak up a week or more of time.

  16. Great article, I didn’t read everything haha, sorry) but your article is nice anyway, I know the question comes first everytime. But the thing that is related to this, is that people who ask you a website, tells you that they know that indians do the same thing for half your price.. And it’s hard to make them understand that Indians are different and their cost of life is also different, that’s why. So people tend to take the cheapest way for their design in my opinion, whatever the quality.

  17. Hi, I taught myself to build web sites at a very young age. Through trial and error and experimentation (also alot of reading), and I’m thinking of starting up making websites for small local businesses. I’m a little confused when it comes to hosting and domain names. Most pricing for web sites seem to be a one-off payment, yet when I look at domain names, they are usually per year etc. Was just wondering if any one could give me a bit of advice on how this works or if there’s anything I’m missing.
    Any help would be much appreciated!
    Thanks!

    1. Kevin Craighead

      I tend to offer my clients the option of me buying and managing the hosting and the domain name – mainly because I can guarantee the quality. If I design and build a website and it is hosted elsewhere and the server crashes all the time then the client always (in my experience) blames the designer ie me. This gets over this issue.

      I tend to charge hosting monthly, although I have a few clients that prefer yearly bills. It’s not a big deal as most of my clients realize that these are separate from the design costs. Those that don’t, I make sure I tell them up front so they know.

  18. Hi. My boss pays Yell £600 a month for web host and design. He has three business names with web pages. But none are linked together. He is due renewal. What should he get for this price and what can you offer. I have autonomy.

  19. Hi Kevin, I searched for “website design prices” and found you at No.1. Anyway, I have done quote a bit of research and also work in this field so know you are right with your pricing. The guy (Dave) who was complaining must be a punter who hates the idea of people charging him in excess of what he paid for what he got. It would be good to see what he got for his money just out of curiosity.

    There are so many options for buying a “website”, you did cover this including the ones that you can build yourself.

    There is a massive difference between DIY websites based upon an existing, generic template, and bespoke “hand-crafted” original websites, which add the value which you also mention.

    The attitudes to price vary from client to client, and also whether or not you deal with a freelancer or an agency.

    Great article!

  20. Brilliant article. Inspiring too, looking at those prices. But in a world where demand dictates supply, one could only wish for clients who were able to spend anywhere near these prices, for the best possible level of service, features and soforth. I’ll agree though, you do only get what you pay for. Websites can contain an almost unlimited level of search engine optimisation, CMS and back end bells and whistles, reporting functionality, etc. It usually takes a few hours to fully convey to a client wanting a website design, just how many options there are, now more so than ever with mobile sites, responsive designs, etc.

    The average client in Eastbourne (south east England) doesnt have a budget anywhere near the upper levels, mentioned above, but many seem to want much of the high end functionality at rock bottom prices… The answer is sometimes no, sorry, cant do it. Good, inspiring article though.

  21. Thank you for sharing helpful information on pricing. I’m probably under charging but don’t want to charge too much for the level I’m currently at.

  22. Chris O'Sullivan

    Great article! and after loosing quite a lot of time doing “favors” for friends/family its about time i charged a fee. i recently worked on a project which judging by your article i should have made about 2k. really glad i found this!

  23. Extremely overpriced for what you are offering in the £1000-£10,000 area.

    Both myself and several other businesses have got fantastic websites for £2000, professionally designed, full cms (very easy to use) and responsive.

    There are some brilliant designers out there who charge nowhere near these prices. I doubt you’ll approve this comment as you know it only too well.

    1. Kevin Craighead

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your feedback.

      In my article I say that you can get a website with a CMS (WordPress), professionally designed, and easy to use for £1000 – £3000 — which is within the budget you quote — so I’m a bit confused about why you think the price is high. Regardless, I’m really pleased you have found a designer that suits your requirements and created a website for a price you are happy with.

    2. I completely agree with Dave, I am a web developer with 10 years experience and your price points are way off. A client can get a fully responsive CMS driven website for 3-5k easily.

      Only a completely bespoke system would cost you anywhere up from 10k. It’s a good article in terms of descriptions and the overall process/functionality but the costs are just off.

  24. johnsavagedesign

    Got my first meeting with a client tomorrow to design them a wordpress site….this info was invaluable. Thanks!!!! JS

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