If you’re reading this, you’re probably finding it difficult to get a simple answer about how much a website costs. Why is that?
Are you asking the right question?
The thing is, “How much does a website cost?” isn’t the question you need to be asking. It’s more a case of “How much do I want to spend?”
Website costs vary widely. You can get one for free if you know a design student who is looking to grow their portfolio (or if you’re up for having a go at doing it yourself), or spend £1000s on a website that has been bespoke coded to your exact requirements by a specialist agency. There’s also a multitude of different price points in the middle of those depending on who you go to.
OK, so how do I work out what sort of website I want to have, and how much will it cost?
These are the sort of things to have a think about when determining how much your website is likely to cost:
1. What platform should I opt for?
There are lots of different platforms available websites to be built with. The one you choose, or the one your designer / agency will recommend will depend on what you want the website for – is it a personal blog, a business brochure site or an ecommerce site for example?
WordPress is a solid option – this platform powers around 35% of the websites available on the internet. There is a plethora of articles and videos on how to do various things within WordPress. For personal sites, wordpress.com offers the easiest route. They give you a lot of hand-holding to get your website up and running and you don’t have to worry about hosting.
For business sites, or for personal sites where you want to have a lot more customisation opportunity, you’ll want to go down the self-hosted WordPress route.
Hold up, what does that mean?
Hosting refers to a server (a computer that “serves” information to other computers) where your website files and database are stored. The database is essentially a filing cabinet for all the files – when you visit a website, you are essentially retrieving information from its database and viewing it on your screen.
Right, OK. So there is a different type of WordPress – why would you go for that? Firstly, it is free – you just need to pay for the hosting package that is right for you, and secondly, you can do a LOT more with it. Another plus is that WordPress sites are very search-engine friendly right from the get-go, which is a bonus for your SEO*. That’s why so many individuals, businesses and web designers opt for using it.
*if you’re not sure what SEO is or why you need to have it, this post will help
Webflow is a newer kid on the block but many designers and agencies are using it. It has good security, an intuitive visual builder, loads pages quickly and is SEO friendly. It can cost more per month to run than a WordPress site though, particularly the ecommerce plans.
If you want an ecommerce store, Shopify can be a good bet and many agencies use it. You will usually pay more for a Shopify site than an ecommerce site built with WordPress (usually using a plugin called WooCommerce) and there are monthly fees to consider.
Squarespace and Wix
Squarespace or Wix could be good options if you’re thinking of going down the DIY route and want a simple monthly fee and a nice library of pre-made templates. You choose one of the ready made websites on offer and customise it. Both platforms have an easy-to-navigate interface and drag and drop page builder. Unfortunately neither platform offers the same customisation levels or SEO optimisation that self-hosted WordPress provides. If you just need an online presence though and don’t mind spending your time working on the site yourself, Squarespace or Wix may be worth considering.
Yes – there are lots. The ones shown above are the most common. More complex ecommerce or sites that involve things like online banking will likely be built on a more specialist platform such as Laravel or Magento.
2. What features do I need the site to have?
A brochure site, normally 3-5 pages (home, about, services, FAQ, contact for example) doesn’t take nearly as much time to build as an ecommerce site. An ecommerce site therefore will cost more, probably at least double, plus the cost of adding your products.
Other examples of features that might add to your project cost are things like adding membership subscriptions, booking systems, events management, learning / knowledge portals or custom blog / news pages.
3. How do I want the site to look?
You might want to choose the theme your site is built with and ask a designer to customise it for you, but keep the look and feel of the site the same. Again, there is less design work involved with this approach so will likely cost you less than it would to have pages custom designed. Not all designers will offer this though because some don’t like working with “off-the-shelf” themes. This is because it can be difficult to tell how well the themes are coded or supported, or how good their documentation is. Working with a bad theme can be immensely frustrating and eat up precious project time.
You might want to use the theme for some pages, but have others designed for you so that they look good – particularly important sales pages such as the home page or your services page. Another approach might be that you find a theme or website you like and show this to a designer, suggesting which bits of it you’d like them to use for inspiration for your project.
4. Do I want SEO to be included?
After your website is built, it will sit there quite happily for as long as you keep it hosted and maintained. Having a website doesn’t mean people will visit it though. If you want your shiny new website to generate sales you need to direct people to it to look at it.
The way you get people to visit your site will depend on what marketing activity you want to focus on. It could be networking, social media, or adverts for example. Another great method that works hand-in-hand with your website is SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation.
Some designers insist that an SEO support package is included with your website, others just build the site and let you make your own choices about whether to invest in SEO or spend time working on it yourself. I say invest, because it does tend to be quite pricey. This is often the differentiator between one designers seemingly higher cost for the same site compared to another. If you’re not sure, ask.
5. Who do I want to design it?
The way your final site looks and functions and how well it appeals to your target market will vary considerably according to:
- who has designed it and their experience
- the platform chosen and the way it has been utilised
- your budget.
We’ve covered platforms already, so here are a few options of who you can approach to build your website, and a rough idea of how much it will cost to use them.
Yourself! – FREE, but have to spend time
If you have the time and energy to put into designing and building your own site, there is a wealth of information available to help you do this. It can save you a lot of money, but may take quite a while – something to think about if you need a website quickly.
Students / Newbies – FREE or £
Ask around for anyone who is new to web design and looking to build up their portfolio. You’ll likely get a low rate but the flip side is that it might take them longer than they think to complete the project depending on their experience and expertise.
Freelancer – £ to ££
There are many freelance web designers about. You might find one on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork, but I’d suggest trying to find one by recommendation. Local Facebook groups are great for this sort of thing. Pricing will again depend on experience and expertise.
Agency – ££ to £££
The benefit of an agency is that they have a wider range of experience within their ranks and a team of people to support you. Their overheads are higher though and it means that they quite often turn down small projects due to the budget available. If you are in need of a very bespoke site, agencies are your best bet.