It’s the million dollar question: “How much does a website actually cost?”
Don’t worry, for most businesses the cost of having your website designed won’t be anywhere close to a million dollars(!!), but that question around website design cost can lead to a lot of confusion for many businesses looking to obtain accurate prices for their website to be designed.
So in this article we aim to use our 15+ years of experience in the website design industry to give you an impartial, detailed, look at all the different factors involved in determining how much you will likely need to budget for your website.
Let’s get started breaking down all the different factors that will determine the cost of your website design project.
1. What factors influence cost?
If you ask us for our opinion, the cost of having a website designed can be anywhere between £200 – £100,000+.
Wow! That’s a pretty big gulf in prices we hear you say! And you’d be exactly right – and that’s why there is such mass confusion around the cost of website design projects.
So, how come that range of prices can be so vast?
It’s all because you need much more specific information to be able to accurately cost a web design project.
On the lower end of the spectrum (around the £200 mark) you have the costs associated with using a website builder and doing it all yourself, and on the higher end of that spectrum (£50k+) you have a complex website that has many bespoke requirements – perhaps booking functionality is required, along with a secure portal to store customers’ confidential documents, or even a members area where factors like security need to be carefully considered.
Hopefully, you can now start to see how simply asking “how much does a website cost” is much too vague – there is so much more information that needs to be gathered to establish an accurate cost.
The car analogy
We like to think of buying a website as a bit like buying a car.
You could easily spend £200-£500 on a used car or £100k+ on a brand new Bentley. They are essentially the same thing – they’ll both get you from A to B, but your experience driving each car will be totally different. It’s the same with a website.
Websites are also very much like cars, in that they need to be well maintained once they are purchased to ensure their longevity, but we’ll cover that deeper into this guide with our section on potential ongoing and additional costs.
P.S – If you’re looking for pricing information related to the cost of websites in the USA, check out this great article.
2. Cost of building your own website
Let’s start at the top.
If you have the free time and resources available, then building your own business website can definitely be a viable option, and it’s something we’re not scared of recommending, especially if you have a new business idea you want to get to market quickly and your budget is limited.
What’s the average cost of building your own website?
In 2021, there are some great website building options out there with varying price points, and here’s a list of our favourites.
Like we said, if you are computer savvy, have the time, and don’t need any complex functionality for your website, then using a website builder can be a great way to get online without investing much upfront.
Just be aware of what your time is worth and that if things do take off for your new business, you will likely outgrow the features available with free website builders.
Another important consideration is that with many of the ‘drag-and-drop’ website builders out there, your SEO will take a hit. It’s not possible for a drag-and-drop website builder to take into account SEO in the same way as if your website was being hand-coded by a team of humans.
3. Cost of using a WordPress theme for your website
WordPress is a fantastic content management system (CMS) that can power your website.
This means that you have control over all of the content on your website, which is really important because regularly adding new content to your site helps give your Google rankings a boost.
Whilst you can create totally bespoke websites powered by WordPress, there is a cost associated with that, due to the additional time involved. More on that later…
So, if your budget sits somewhere between the £1,000 – £2,500 mark and you don’t require custom functionality, we’d recommend considering working with WordPress experts who are familiar with setting up and customising existing WordPress themes.
What are the benefits of utilising an existing WordPress theme?
If you don’t want to go down the totally bespoke route, utilising an existing WordPress theme can be a great option, as it will:
- Allow you to launch your site much more quickly, as the site is pre-built – you just need to allow time for your web designer to customise it to make the design more unique to your brand, time for content to be written and obviously the launch of the new site itself..
- You won’t have to worry about browser/device compatibility as the theme will have been tested with popular devices and on all major web browsers.
- If you select a popular theme there will be a plethora of tutorials available on YouTube to help you manage your site moving forward.
Here are some of our favourite WordPress themes that can provide you with a solid platform to power your business website.
4. Cost of a bespoke website
Next we move onto bespoke websites.
When we say “bespoke” we’re talking about websites designed from the ground up, with every aspect carefully considered and crafted from a blank canvas.
That means the design and user experience can be exactly as you need it to be to accomplish your business goals, and it’ll likely be that there are elements of custom functionality you require too; like a booking system, customer portal or members area to name but a few possibilities.
For bespoke websites, you could be looking at costs of anywhere from £4,000+, depending on the size of the site in question and the functionality requirements.
Freelancer, design studio or agency?
Another really important factor that will influence the cost of your bespoke website is who you approach to quote for your project.
Freelancers will often be cheaper, but for fully bespoke sites, many businesses tend to steer clear as finding quality, reliable freelancers can be tricky (it’s definitely not impossible though!). Also if your freelancer isn’t established, when things get tough, sometimes they can disappear back to the reliability of full-time employment, leaving you in the lurch.
Studios (what we’d deem to be web design companies with 2-9 employees) will be more expensive, but definitely worth the extra cost, as you’re paying for the expertise of their combined team.
And then with fully fledged web design agencies (companies with 10 – 50 staff) you can definitely expect a big step up in costs, due to their much larger overheads and again their expertise/expertise of their larger team.
Let’s look at how the price of the same website project can vary if you approached a freelancer, a small studio and a large web design agency.
|Bespoke Small Business Website||Bespoke Medium Business Website|
|Freelancer||£1,000 – £2,500||£3,000 – £4,500|
|Small studio (2-10 staff)||£3,000 – £6,000||£5,000 – £8,000|
|Agency (10+ staff)||£10,000 – £20,000||£15,000 – £25,000|
This helps illustrate how going out to three web design companies and asking them to quote for the same project can have such varying outcomes – you need to make sure you’re approaching the same ‘kind’ of web design company and ensure they’re all a similar size.
5. Cost of an ecommerce website?
The cost of ecommerce websites can also vary massively, and again be dependent on the exact functionality that your business requires.
You can generally expect an ecommerce website to be like a small business website, but with the ability to buy online added on – that means more pages and more set up time, as with ecommerce you’ve also got to consider things like the customer’s account area and the order confirmation emails the website needs to send customers too.
It goes without saying that most users are shopping using their smartphones and tablets, so huge consideration needs to be given to how your website displays and works on these devices.
With this in mind you need to consider what stage your business is at as to whether an off-the-shelf ecommerce template or a fully bespoke ecommerce site is the way to go to bring you success.
If you want to learn more, we wrote a detailed post dedicated to answering the questions of “how much does an ecommerce website cost”?
6. Upfront costs
Before you get started with your website design project, there should only be a few potential upfront costs, these are:
Your domain name (if you haven’t got one already) will need to be purchased – e.g. www.mysteelcompany.co.uk. The cost of which depends on the number of years you register the domain for.
As a guide, here’s what it could cost you to register .com and .co.uk domain names.
|Domain type||Possible Costs|
Being asked to make an upfront payment
In the web design industry it’s not unusual to make an upfront payment in order to get your project underway.
Don’t be put off by this, it’s the norm.
As a web project requires a large amount of upfront effort to get started, web designers will need reassurance that you are serious about the project and the upfront payment allows them to secure the time for your project in their schedule.
As a general rule most web design companies do a 25% or 33% payment upfront, and then break down the remaining payments over the course of the project.
Sometimes you might be asked to do a 50% upfront payment, but if your total project cost is over £2,000 we’d recommend you try and negotiate this down.
7. Ongoing costs
Once you’ve had your website built you’re likely to have some ongoing costs in order to ensure its longevity and to help market and promote it.
These could include the following:
Some website design companies charge monthly and some annually, but as a rough guide you should expect to pay anywhere between £120 – £300 per year for quality web hosting dependent upon the size of the site and the space you therefore need.
Sure, you can find much cheaper options out there (hosting does exist for as little as £2/month), but when speed and performance are at stake (factors which influence your Google ranking) it’s important to start on the right foot with quality web hosting for your business website.
There are also some different types of web hosting to be aware of and understand. These are:
- Shared hosting – usually cheap because your site lives alongside other websites, so if one of those other websites is compromised or blacklisted, your website will be affected too.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting – this is a good middle ground and provides your site with it’s own space, allowing you to benefit from increased security and quicker speeds.
- Cloud Hosting – all the advantages of VPS hosting but your site is hosted in the cloud, meaning if your site experiences traffic surges (e.g. an influx of visitors), you can easily scale up your package and scale it back down again afterwards. You pay only for the space you have used that month.
- Dedicated Hosting – if you run a large site with lots of traffic (perhaps an ecommerce shop) then a dedicated server is a great option, as it hosts only your website and benefits from increased security and exceptional performance. There is a price associated with this and you could expect to pay around £300/month for a dedicated server.
|Hosting Type||Possible Costs|
|Shared hosting||£2 – £10/month|
|VPS Hosting||£10 – £35/month|
|Cloud Hosting||£40 – £80/month|
8. Additional services costs
Aside from ongoing costs there are also additional costs for services you should consider to help make your website more effective.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
This should be included as part of your website redesign project, but if you really want to take on the top spots on Google you’ll need to work with an expert on a monthly basis. The advantage of this is that your rankings can be continually monitored and time can be set aside each month to carry out “on and off-site” improvements to help boost your rankings on Google.
Here’s a breakdown of how much monthly SEO could cost for a standard business website:
|Web Design Company Size||Possible Costs|
|Freelancer||£60 – £150/month|
|Studio (2-9 employees)||£200 – £1000/month|
|Agency (10 – 50 employees)||£3,000+/month|
Oftentimes, content creation can come included with your SEO package, as regularly creating and publishing content on your website is a great way to drive traffic to it and many businesses don’t have the resources to do this themselves.
Content creation packages cost anywhere from £150 – £500 per month depending on how much content is being created.
These days the vast majority of websites and built on content management systems like WordPress so you (the client) can add/edit the content and imagery yourself.
Again, many businesses don’t utilise this as they don’t have the time, so many web design companies offer a service where you send the content over and they’ll add it for you.
Content update packages are usually around £50 – £150 per month depending on how much content needs adding.
Building a list of potential customers and current customers is a great way to grow your business and increase sales as it’s far easier to sell to people who have heard of and trust your company already.
After your website is built you could consider having an email marketing template created using a service like MailChimp. This would allow you to send email newsletters that match the look and feel of your website and benefit from analytics and reporting too.
The design and development of an email marketing template that’s integrated with a service like MailChimp could be anywhere between £300 – £600.
9. Questions to ask website designers
Before you commit to working with a website design company, make sure you ask the following questions:
- If my website is being built on a content management system, will you provide me with training on how to use it, and is this cost included in the project?
- Will you optimise the new website for search engines?
- Once we launch the new website, how do you handle fixing any bugs that crop up?
- If I don’t like the initial design you produce for the website, how do you handle revisions?
- Will you provide me with access to website analytics once my site is live?
- Will my website be built on a platform that will allow for additions and further development in the future?
- Will there be any ongoing costs for general maintenance?
Keep in mind…
Website design is a service, it’s not like buying a product. Thinking of it as such will help you understand the associated costs.
10. Typical website timescales
Okay, so we’ve covered costs, but how about timescales?
Again, it completely depends on the approach. Website builders will definitely be the quickest option and allow you to get something up and running in as little as 2-3 hours.
Utilising an existing WordPress theme could take as little as 2-3 weeks to customise and get all your content added and the website launched. And then, at the other end of the scale, you will likely need to allow 12 weeks for more complicated ecommerce solutions.
|Website builder||3 hours -1 day|
|WordPress theme||2-3 weeks|
11. Now what?
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of all the factors that go into determining the cost of a website design project, we hope you can go forth and contact some companies for quotes and feel confident asking them questions about the finer details of your project.
Can we help with your project?
Oh, and if you’d like yours truly to provide you with a quote (you’re already on our website, so why not?) then please do give us a call on 01747 852298 or head over to our contact page.
Would you like to be notified each time we post new digital media?