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Transitioning to an online space is inevitable for businesses with how the internet has become an integral part of our lives. You need to have an online presence if you ever want to survive and thrive in the modern world.

Since it’s become a necessity, moving to a digital space shouldn’t be seen as a chore. You should look at it as an opportunity to increase your visibility and enhance customer experience.

There are a lot of factors to consider for your business — the biggest one being the cost of a website. It can build up, especially with website maintenance needs.

So, depending on the size of your business, the functionalities of the site, and other aspects, a website can range from $100 to $150,000 a year. This wide range stems from many variables, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

So, what now? Well, it’s helpful to understand your current situation and check out the options available. You’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’re going to break down website development and design costs based on the maturity and needs of a business. With this information, you’ll get an accurate picture of possible pricing for your website.

Who Should Invest in Their Website?

As a general rule in business, you should spend your time, money, and effort on something that will give you a high ROI. You can focus on manufacturing quality goods, streamlining your services, or hiring dependable manpower.

For most, a website is treated as an investment. This is something that customers directly interact with, so you want to put your best foot forward. However, there are some important considerations before you spend money on a website.

A Premium Website Is Not for Bootstrapped Start-ups and Very Small Businesses

If you’re just beginning as a company, you might be tempted to get a premium website to give off authoritative branding. On the other hand, a very small business might want a high-end site to provide better customer service to their loyal customers or improve their marketing. But hear us out — investing in a premium website is not a good decision.

The most obvious reason for this is the high costs you’d need to launch and maintain it. Those websites with complicated functionalities (that your customers will probably not use) will add up to the expense.

For very small businesses, the costs will not lead to high ROI. It will eat up your capital long before it starts to pay off — if it ever does. Start-ups must also focus on selling their products or services first before trying anything too flashy. It’s more important to establish your capabilities as it helps create a stronger customer base.

A Premium Website Is for Established Businesses and Funded Start-ups

If your business is earning around $5 million in revenue annually, you can consider yourself an established company. This is the best moment to start investing in a premium professional website design, as it can help streamline your processes and add to your revenue.

This is especially important for companies that use their website for services, such as those that sell high-ticket services, enterprise software, expensive equipment, or goods directly to customers (ecommerce). The costs will be justified with the increased engagement with customers, easy tracking of data for reports, and automated integrations. A premium website is definitely a worth-it investment that will result in high ROI.

Buying a Website Is a Lot Like Buying a Home

Buying a Website Is a Lot Like Buying a Home@2x

If you want an easy analogy of website pricing, we can compare it to buying a home. There are a lot of correlations that can help you visualize the aspects of a website and variables affecting the pricing.

For example, a 2,000 sq ft home in San Francisco will cost more than the same size in Charleston. Similarly, a 5,000 sq ft home in the same place will cost more than 1,500 sq ft. The same principle applies for a website, and here are more aspects to consider:

  • Square Feet = Page Count: Much like how the square feet dictate the space available in a property, the page count limits the amount of content you can add to your website.
  • Features/Layouts = Integrations/Complexity: Pools, outdoor areas, and security additions in a house are equivalent to carts, analytics, and live chat features on a website.
  • Finishes = Design and Assets: Hardwood floors? High-vaulted ceilings? These finishes can be compared to the visual design, navigation, and typography of your website.
  • Location = Company Size and Maturity: Properties in in-demand locations are more expensive. Same goes for an established business, which expects more traffic and conversions.

Website Costs for Start-ups and Very Small Businesses

Website Price Range: $200 – $10,000 Per Year

Startup@2x

As mentioned, start-ups and very small businesses should only buy a website that isn’t expensive. It should still be able to do basic tasks that allow customers to interact with your company. There are a few options out there — some more expensive, some requiring more upkeep and technical know-how. Check out the best two choices for this stage.

DIY Website

DIY Website@2x

Creating a website from scratch might be something business owners would steer clear of — which is very much understandable. If you’re in industries like cooking, art, or retail, you probably have little to no idea about how a website works.

However, if you have fairly technical knowledge or a background in marketing or design, a do-it-yourself website might just be your best option.

There are a few established SaaS website builders out there like WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace, which offer tools that make designing an easier process. You can customize these yourself to create something that suits your company’s branding.

Anticipated Complexity: Low, 5 to 10 Pages

The most basic websites will only have a single page where all their content is crammed. This is only applicable in certain circumstances, but you should avoid it as much as possible. A single-page website is not great for scrolling and overall user experience. The best starting number of pages should be at least five, which gives you space for Home, About, Products/Services, Gallery, and Contact pages.

Hosting Costs: $200 – $600

Website hosting services provide the tools and technologies that allow you to create the website in the first place. This might be the only thing you’ll need to pay for your DIY website. Think of it as renting a property where you can put your stuff in. Some of the most well-known web hosting services are GoDaddy and Bluehost.

Design Costs: $0

Since you’re creating your own website, you’re more in control of where to get the design elements. There are tons of online sources where you can download free media and typography elements. Google has plenty of free fonts, while websites like Unsplash and Pexels offer free images.

Development Costs: $0

You can develop your own website if you have enough technical know-how, but most business owners wouldn’t, so there are tools like Squarespace where you can build a website with little to no code. If you need to automate certain tasks, Zapier lets you integrate third-party modules without needing to code. This way, you can send emails, track data, and do other tasks without any issues.

Copywriting Costs: $0

Copywriting is how you communicate with your customers with the written word on your website. You can write the content yourself since you’d be most familiar with what you offer. However, copywriting takes a bit of marketing skills to make the text engaging. There are many free courses online to take, so you can get an idea of what good copywriting looks like.

Hiring a Freelancer

Hiring a Freelancer@2x

Let’s face it, many of us are too intimidated by technology to even think about creating a website. Even if you do, marketing and design are just as difficult to understand. And even those who do have some level of technical know-how may not have enough time to build and maintain a website.

The next option is to source third-party professionals to handle the various elements of your website. Freelancers are great because they can schedule their time according to your needs. It’s all a matter of choosing the right ones.

If you’re looking for reliable places for freelance services, check out websites like Upwork and Freelancer.

Anticipated Complexity: Low, 5 to 20 Pages

While freelance web designers and developers are capable of creating more complex pages, you should still stick to a lower number based on your needs. Anything more increases your costs.

Hosting Costs: $200 – $500

There are a few ways to go about website hosting if you’re hiring a freelancer. You can pick a website hosting service of your choosing and let them take care of the rest, or you can let the freelancer create the website on their chosen hosting services. That way, they’re more familiar with the platform and can modify their work based on your needs.

Design Costs: $500 – $4,000

A freelance website designer can customize pages to your preferences, but the complexity and number of pages will add up to the costs. For now, you can stick to a few pages or use templates to lessen the need for customized graphics and other elements.

Development Costs: $500 – $4,500

Start-ups and very small businesses do not need overly complex websites for business operations, so you won’t need your freelance web developer to integrate many third-party additions. Some of the things you might want are automated email sending capabilities for newsletters, which can be done with some simple integrations.

Copywriting Costs: $500 – $1,000

Freelance copywriters are adept at creating well-written copy that communicates what you do. Of course, the level of their skills and tenure is directly proportional to their rates. So for now, make sure they cover at least the most basic information about your website. The best ones will condense your content to fit the limited number of website pages.

Website Costs For Small Businesses

Website Price Range: $15,000 – $50,000 Per Year

Smallbiusiness@2x

Small businesses need more complex websites to handle their online operations. Examples of these are retail websites that need to process online orders, exclusive clubs that need client log-in pages, and businesses that want data analytics.

In this case, you’re going to need to spend more capital to build a capable website. There are two options you can try depending on your needs: hiring freelance web developers or working with an agency.

Hiring Freelancers

Unlike very small businesses and start-ups, small businesses will need more than a single freelancer to build the website. There are a lot more aspects to handle with increased complexity, so you should hire one that’s focused on design and development and another for copywriting and SEO.

Anticipated Complexity: Moderate, 20 to 100 pages

Aside from the five pages we talked about before, small businesses need other pages where they can provide more information about their offerings. These include product pages, specified galleries, and blog posts.

Hosting Costs: $300 – $750

You can make use of basic hosting plants with a reputable provider, such as more mainstream services like WPEngine or GoDaddy. You can also upgrade plans if you’re expecting more traffic. It goes without saying that you should hire a freelancer who is familiar with these platforms. If they are, they’d be able to deliver a website that functions how you want it.

Design Costs: $5,000 – $10,000

Most freelance website designers are capable of creating graphics and other elements that improve the aesthetic appeal and enhance user experience on your website. With a freelancer, you can customize your website according to your branding, but you can still get away with a modified template. However, more unique pages need complete customization. It really depends on the skills of the freelancer, so hire a good one.

Development Costs: $5,000 – $15,000

This is where the bulk of your budget should be. Since you're going for custom design, your website will require custom development. If you’re an established business that needs a website with many capabilities, you’ll need more integrations. Unique pages with specific functionalities will also need to be created, and some will need to be built from scratch, adding to the costs.

Copywriting Costs: $2,500 – $5,000

You’re going to need more content for your website since there will be more pages. If you need to add product descriptions or blog posts, it will definitely add on to the costs.

Technical SEO: $2,500 – $3,000

Since you’re already an established small business, you have to improve or maintain your online visibility. You can hire a freelance SEO expert to set up technical SEO on your website. The process includes optimizing page titles, adding meta descriptions to pages, and enhancing markup for search engines.

Website Costs For Small Businesses@2x

Partner With a Small Studio/Agency

While there is a small price advantage when working with various freelancers for building your website, the benefits of hiring a small agency make it a better choice because, unlike using multiple freelancers, working with a studio gives you a single point of contact for the entirety of the project. Not only will this save time and improve communication, but it can help create a more coordinated effort on the project — no more hassles, no more headaches.

Anticipated Complexity: Medium, 50 to 250 pages 

A small web development firm specializes in creating various types of websites. Additional pages or increased complexity will not be a problem for them.

Hosting Costs: $300 – $750

The agency can help you select the best hosting service for your service. With their assistance, you can easily determine the kind of hosting plan you need for your budget and projected traffic. That way, you can select one that suits your needs for e-commerce, regular business website, or membership website.

Strategy Costs: $2,500 – $5,000

At this stage, you should be analyzing your customers in-depth. If you know what they want, you can better modify your website to fit their needs. Thankfully, most small web development agencies can help set up exercises that define the user persona. You can base your decisions from this study on matters like user experience.

Design Costs: $7,500 – $15,000

You need to work with your agency to design a website that stays true to your branding while also providing a seamless customer experience. They’re also more capable of creating custom pages, allowing you to add complex functionalities to your website.

Development Costs: $7,500 – $15,000

Most small agencies specialize in website development, so creating a custom website shouldn’t be a problem for them. Ask for their assistance when determining the best integrations to your website based on functionalities you need. But don’t get carried away and add everything! Just be sure that you have what’s essential and work from there depending on your budget.

Copywriting Costs: $5,000 – $7,500

The more pages you have for your website, the more content you need to add. Expect a higher cost for your copywriting needs.

Technical SEO: $3,500 – $4,500

Your firm can help you enhance SEO by taking care of page titles, meta descriptions, and overall site health. This process is not a one-time thing, since SEO is ever-changing. You’re going to be constantly working with your firm to modify SEO as needed.

Visual Assets: $2,500 – $3,000

An agency that offers comprehensive services will take care of everything that needs to be on your site — even company photos and custom illustrations. When you want to refresh your visual assets to adapt to new audiences, you can ask them for help. In some cases, they might hire a subcontractor to take professional photos of your team or your products.

Website Costs For Midsized Businesses

Midsized@2x

Website Price Range: $55,000 – $130,000 Per Year

If you’re already a mid-sized business that caters to regional or even national customers, then a premium website becomes a necessity. At this stage, you want to work with experienced professionals who specialize in complex website design and development.

Work With an Agency

Freelancers shouldn’t be in your options at this point, as the fragmented system can severely hamper coordination. This time, you need to work with an established agency for cohesiveness. You’ll already have a prior website before this project, especially if you’re an ecommerce or a B2B company. A trusted firm will help improve the website depending on your and your clients’ needs.

Anticipated Complexity: High, 250+ Pages

You’ll need category and product pages, blogs, membership log-ins, and checkout pages if you’re selling products on your website. The agency you choose should be able to handle all these and more.

Hosting Costs: $1,000 – $5,000

Since you’re expecting more traffic to your website, you need to get a medium or large hosting plan. These should include additional features that help make processes easier on your end. One thing you might want to include is a content delivery network (CDN) to serve assets off-site. Cloudflare is a great option, as it also enhances security on your website.

Strategy Costs: $7,500 – $15,000

You can’t just create a website and call it a day. You should have a strategy that makes browsing an engaging experience, convincing visitors to purchase your products or services. In this case, you can work with your agency to define buyer personas, understand user journeys, and perform competitive analysis. With this information, you can improve user experience drastically.

Design Costs: $15,000 – $30,000

This is no time to skimp on your website design. This time around, you should be focusing on custom designs to establish branding and create a pleasant user experience. You can work with your agency to create a cohesive theme for all your pages.

Development Costs:  $15,000 – $30,000

Custom design requires custom development, so the price range is about the same level. You’d also need to add third-party integrations to power your website. These can include applicant tracking systems, marketing automation, customer relationship management, and ERPs.

Website Costs For Midsized Businesses 1

Copywriting Costs: $7,500 – $15,000

At this point, your website content should play a huge role in establishing your brand voice. A consistent tone and persona should be carried out on all pages to achieve engaging content that drives conversion.

Technical SEO: $5,000 – $10,000

While copywriting plays a huge role in SEO, you shouldn’t forget the more technical aspects. Your agency should be able to handle page titles, meta descriptions, the organization of your markup, and more advanced strategies such as schema markup. All these can help put you on the front page of search engines for maximum visibility.

Visual Assets: $5,000 – $25,000

Users don’t want a website that just wants to sell. If your website isn't optimized for conversions, you should probably consider a website redesign. At the very least, you should add some pages and images that help humanize your business. This can include getting new headshots, product photography, group/lifestyle photography, and company videos.

Not only do these make your website more approachable, but they also project the idea of real people working behind the screen. These will be assets that can also be reused elsewhere with your marketing collateral.

Wrapping It Up!

The cost of designing, building, and maintaining a website depends on many variables, from the size of the business to the functionalities needed on each page. That’s why you need to work with experts to ensure high ROI for the work and money you’re going to use in creating one. We’re here to help! Contact Huemor today, and let’s schedule a strategy session!