How Much Do Websites Cost?

Business Owners

How Much Do Websites Cost?So you want a website. And like most things in life, the first question you’re probably asking is “How much is a website?” Unfortunately, this isn’t a super easy question to answer – it’s like asking how much a shirt costs: $2 at Goodwill or $150 at Macys. The guidelines below are meant to give you a framework to work within so you can figure out where along the line you’ll be “shopping”.

I have no money to spend.

So your budget is nothing. That’s OK. You can actually still do this! It won’t blow people’s minds, but if you’re just trying to start up a blog for communicating to family and friends, you can totally make this work. You’ll be shopping in the WordPress.com store. Just sign up on their website and walk through the tutorials.

I can spend about $100 a year.

Good news! You have enough money for the hosting & a domain name, which are the first items you’ll want to get. That sound like Greek to you? Check out a REALLY easy-to-understand explanation of what they are in my Domain versus Hosting post.

Unfortunately, at this rate, you’ll either need to spend some time on the phone with Godaddy or ask for the goodness of some tech-savy friends to actually get the site up and running.

I’d recommend WordPress.org – which basically gives you control over everything, not just some stuff (like WordPress.com… and yes, it is a bit confusing). Also, if you want to put money into it later on, you won’t have to move stuff over – web developers can work with what you have already, both with design and adding additional features.

I can spend over $300 to get my site started, and about $100 a year.

Now you can pay someone to install WordPress.org and help you find a theme. There won’t really be much customization involved, but you’re on your way!

If you can only scrounge up $300 for the initial website, you’ll probably spend your money in two places, after the initial hosting and domain name purchases.

First, you can buy a theme instead of going with a free one. This usually gets you a better designed theme with more customization. Second, you can hire a developer to make a few customizations or to teach you how to edit (portions of) the site. You really only have about $250 left after the theme, so you’ll need to make sure the developer you contact works within that price range.

I’ve got somewhere around $500, plus $100 a year.

For customization, you’re looking at about this cost to get a website up and running. If you’re a business, you should plan on spending AT LEAST $500 on your site – even if you’re small. It is literally the most important form of advertising for your business.

At this rate, you’ve got around $450 to work with for customizations after buying a theme which is a much better price range. Not great, but you can work with it.

I’m looking at a budget of about $1,000, plus $100 a year.

When you hit $1,000, things really start branching out. For $1,000 you can get a pre-made theme plus possibly a small shopping cart (very small – think like under 5 items with a theme that already has a shopping cart installed), or you can spend on the money on a custom design with very basic pages. You’ve really got a bit more flexibility.

You can also start really thinking about what extra features you want on your website. For example:

  • Shopping Cart
  • Slideshow
  • Customized Design
  • Anything besides static text and images

Keep in mind that these extra features will start at $1,000 and go up.

I’m thinking bigger – what about $2,000 to 3,000?

If you want a custom site with lots of features, your budget should start about here.

The good news is that anywhere about $2,000 is going to start getting you custom design and possibly branding. Up until this price range, your only options are cheaper designers/developers, or template designs. There’s nothing wrong with a template, but when your business gets to this point, you’ll need your own custom design and branding.

If you’re looking for lots of custom programming, this is also where you start in the price range – probably not including design or branding. For example, if your company is a start-up, this is where the pricing starts 90% of the time.

I can drop upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 on a website.

This is the level of lower-cost websites for medium-size corporations and schools. If you’re a small business you can get away with a website under $3000 (unless you need lots of special features or customizations).

The higher your budget goes, the murkier the standards are for what you can get at that price. It’s really important at this point to know what you want when you meet with developers. Communicate what you want on your website as well as anything you might want in the future so your developer can plan their coding around that.

This is also where it gets tricky. I’ve known someone who bought (from someone else – not me) a website for $3,000 that was worth MAYBE $200, but I’ve also known people who have paid $3,000 and their website’s worth $7,000.

It’s just like buying clothing. You’ve got what the website is actually worth, where/who you bought it from, and how much it’s worth to you. So do your research. Look at portfolios of programmers you’re interested in hiring. Meet with them and see how you click.

I’ve found that it’s better to hire someone you can work with and spend a little more then hire someone you’re not sure about. And make sure that the person you’re hiring knows what they’re doing.

I’m looking at $15,000 to $20,000 for my budget.

Really anything over $15,000 is no longer easy to pinpoint. You can basically do almost anything at this price range. 

Also, when you get to $20,000 for a website you’ll be needing to think about website security, which will push your costs higher.

Pshh. Budget? What’s that?

Yeah! The perfect client! Call me!

Summary

The most important advice I have for someone looking for a website is to talk to potential website developers about your budget. This might seem a little counter-intuitive, but it can save you time in the long run. For example, if you are looking for a website under $1,000, and you’re talking to someone who only does $5,000 websites, you’ll end up wasting their time and yours as well as being pressured into spending more then you can. You don’t have to tell them exactly what your budget is, but at least let them know a range.

Also, keep in mind that while you can whittle a developer down to the lowest possible price they’d be willing to go, you will get a website that reflects that. As a developer charges more, they can throw more things into the package. So if a small business has a strict $500 budget, the developer has to work within that price – but if the same business bought a $1,000 website, the developer can spend more time working on the website and with the client to deliver a more comprehensive solution to solve their goals.

Have questions or comments on your experience? Let me know in the comments!

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