May 14, 2015 Aaron Carpenter

How Much Does A Website Cost?

We get this question a lot.

How much does a website cost?

It’s a fair question.  But we re-phrase it back to our potential clients so they can clearly understand what they’re asking.

Well, that’s like asking how much a house costs… it depends…

It’s not surprising that it’s the first question asked, and it’s not surprising that it’s not that simple to answer.

We’ll go on to help our clients understand what it depends on and what their options are before committing to investing in web development work.  Since we do this often, we thought it’d be helpful to share with all of you so that you’re better equipped if you’re going to go shopping for digital development or graphic design services.

First, no matter what you’re looking for, you’re going to have some basic costs.  Let’s go over them quickly.

Base Website Costs

Domain Name

Cost: $10/yr.
You can purchase a domain name (www.yourdomainname.com, or www.yourdomainname.net, etc) through a number of websites which act like marketplaces for those domain names.  These marketplaces are called “registrars”.  Be prepared to shell out about $10 per year to own the rights to a domain name through one of these registrar services.

Web Hosting

Cost: $5 to $250/mo.
Web hosting is a cost you’ll incur just by having a website available online.  Think of it like renting an apartment.  You rent a computer that is connected to the internet 24/7 through a web host.  These companies build special computers that host sites online, and they specialize in keeping them online and available to your clients. Some computers share a whole bunch of sites, and they cost a lot less. Think of these like a hostel. Others share no one else’s site and you get the whole computer to yourself. These are much more expensive and offer a lot more configuration. Think of these like leasing a house where the owner is cool with you modifying anything on the house.

Factors Affecting Web Development Prices

How much time do you want to spend in design?

If you know exactly what you want, that could save a lot of time.  But if you’re really unsure, we may have to spend a lot of time going through several iterations of design.  Those design hours add up and make your project much more expensive.  Also, if the design is highly detailed or includes a lot of special effects, that also will add to the costs of the project.

What do you want your website to do?

This is a big one.  Functionality can sometimes be easy to add to a project if a developer can find something already pre-built to hook into your website.  However, if you want to make changes to that functionality, or if you want something that hasn’t been developed yet, it’s going to add significant amounts of time to the project cost.  Web applications (think Pandora, Spotify, Google Calendar, etc) are much more costly to develop because a lot of custom scripting is required to get those web applications to function.  It’s best to lay out everything on the table (everything you’d like your website to do), then start prioritizing things we can accomplish within the budget we have to work with.

Do you plan on selling products online?

E-Commerce systems, websites that sell products online, are awesome.  You get to keep your store open 24/7 and it needs minimal staffing.  Costs that go into building this system include time answering questions and configuring the system.  A lot of preparation and configuration time goes into these systems.  Be prepared to answer questions like:

How many products are you selling?

Do you have images for those products?

Will you be shipping products to the customer?

What options will the customer have for shipping?

oes each product have a specification (the same shirt might have different sizes and colors)?

How much does each product weigh?

What forms of payment do you plan on accepting?

Have you set up merchant services yet?

Do you have an account set up to receive funds?

Of course, these are just some of the questions we’d ask.  As you can see, there is a lot of discovery work and questions that need to be answered.  Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the answers.  That’s part of your web developer’s job, to let you know what you need to know so we can get prepared to build the project.

Who will be creating the content?

Typically, we have our clients send us content and images that they already have, but what happens if you don’t have any content?  Someone will have to create it.  If that’s done through your web design agency, they will have to pay someone to create that account, and that will add to the project cost.  Most of the time, this is the most efficient and cost-effective because a specialist can create better content and create that content quicker.  That way, you can focus on what you prefer to do and the content will get done faster and come from a web content specialist that excels at writing for websites.

Quoting the Project

Your developer or designer will need to speak with you enough to get a firm grasp of the scope of work that will be required to complete your project.  Once they understand everything that needs to be completed they can quote your project.  Some firms differ in their payment structures, but the most common is half down, half upon completion for services rendered.  Typically work will not be released until the account is paid in full.

Building websites is a fun process, and there is plenty of room for you to be involved in your own project along the way. Whatever agency you settle with, just make sure that the terms are what you’re comfortable with and the budget works for you.

Yeah yeah yeah… but how much?

Well okay, since you know that asking that question is a lot like asking how much a house costs, you can typically expect web development services to start around $2,000 for small projects and go up to $30,000 for large projects.  Of course, the sky is the limit with some web applications and those include ongoing costs to staff and maintain.

About the Author

Aaron Carpenter My name is Aaron Carpenter and I've been building web applications since 2002. Helping shape internet experiences for people to best match what their users are looking for, and creating web applications that become online tools to help manage businesses is what I love to do most.

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