The most asked question by small business owners is usually “How much do you charge for making a website?” The question seems straightforward but the answer is complex.
In reality, asking the price for a website is like asking:
- How long is a piece of string?
- How much does a car cost?
- How much does a home remodel cost?
The answer is: it depends.
The size of your website, the complexity, and the features all go in to determining the cost. At least if you’re working with a good agency that is not giving you a one-size-fits-all solution.
Let’s take the car example: How much does a car cost?
Well, are you looking to buy a used, 10-year old Honda, or a brand new Tesla? They’re both cars, they’ll both get you from point A to point B, but the prices are wildly different.
The same is true for a website.
Below are some things to consider when determining your budget for a new website.
Domain & Hosting
Domain names and hosting are things most people don’t consider. Domain names usually run around $15/yr, while hosting can range from as low as $7 to as high as $2000.
What is a domain?
A domain name is the URL of your website (for example, Amazon.com) and is basically an address. It’s how people find you. The cost is usually pretty low, but I have encountered people who were paying $70/yr for this because they didn’t know better.
What is hosting?
Hosting is like a computer. It’s the place where all your website files live. Depending on the size of your website or your business needs, hosting can range from $7-$2000 and can be very complicated when you get to the larger scale.
SSL is an absolute must-have nowadays. Google wants you to have it. Bing wants you to have it. Customers expect it. Most companies offer SSL for free via Lets Encrypt, but there are some companies, that charge $75/yr for this!
If you’re a good photographer or you already have high-quality images for your site, then you’re all set. Chances are you’ll need some images to give your website a professional look. The three places we recommend are Unsplash, Pexels, and Adobe Stock. The first two have tons of high-quality, royalty-free images available for free. Adobe Stock offers high-quality images at reasonable prices. In most cases, you can probably get all that you need (at least initially) for $0-200. After that, you can buy what you need as your website evolves.
Important: Never copy and paste images from Google or other sources onto your site, unless you’re 1000% certain you have permission. Otherwise you can get sued. Play it safe and get your images from legitimate sites like I mentioned— it’s way less expensive than a lawsuit.
Themes can range from $50-$200 depending on who or where you buy them. The downside is that most of these themse are plugin-heavy with bloated or bad code. We’ve often moved people from themes they purchased from one of the major WordPress theme sites, to the theme we trust the most. Two benefits of our theme are decrease in load times and the ease-of-use for non techies.
Although WordPress is free, sometimes you’ll need functionality that only paid plugins provide. For example, a recipe plugin that hooks into a nutrition database, a customizable instagram feed, or complex forms.
Many premium plugins have yearly licenses that you need to pay to get updates and support.
One benefit of hiring a web design agency and using their website maintenance plans is you don’t have to worry about any of this.
Updates & Maintenance
To use the car analogy again, once you sign the papers and get the keys to your new ride, it doesn’t end there. You’ll be regularly investing time, effort, and money to keep your car running in tip-top shape.
Your new website will also need routine technical maintenance to install updates and security patches. These updates protect your site from spammers and hackers. Yes, even small business websites are now targets for hackers.
If you’re comfortable doing these updates yourself, that’s great. Just be aware that oftentimes updates can cause your site to break (or completely crash) and you’ll need to know what to do if/when that happens.
Like cars, today’s websites are way more complicated than the websites of 10 years ago. If you’re like me, you take your car to the shop when something goes wrong, because it’s not worth the headache for you.
These are some of the basic things that go into the cost of a website. If you can afford it, hire a professional to build and maintain your website. Not only will it save you loads of time and money in the long run — the finished product will be 1000x better.