As a business, having a poorly designed website, or worse, not having a website, can be detrimental to customer acquisition. In fact, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience. Therefore, to maximize the chances of attracting and retaining customers, you’ll want to prioritize your online presence.
But how much does it cost to build a website, and where should you start? This article will discuss:
- 5 key factors that affect the cost of building a website
- The cost of website hosting platforms
- 3 ways to build your website and how it will affect costs
- Next steps
5 key factors that affect the cost of building a website
Many factors affect the average cost of building a website. The nature of each business varies, and so do their website needs. For instance, the variables that come into play when building a website for a data analytics provider are entirely different from those involving creating a small site intended for blogging. If you are getting started, try Upwork's Free Website Cost Calculator tool to estimate costs associated with setting up every aspect of website.
In the next sections, we go over some elements that can impact the cost of building a website. It’s important to note that this is far from an exhaustive list. In fact, there’s a wide array of other factors specific to each business and website project.
The first factor that you should consider is the domain name. Buying a new domain name for your site will generally cost you between $10 and $20 a year. However, it’s important to note that the cost can vary depending on several factors, including:
- Domain registrar: A registrar is an entity that helps you buy and register your domain name. There are many registrars to choose from, with each one offering different packages and features at varying price points.
- Top-level domain (TLD): A TLD refers to the extension at the end of the domain name. Established TLDs such as “.com’ and “.org” tend to cost more than ones like “.site” or “.xyz.”
- Length of commitment: Most registrars offer different prices depending on the length of the contract. A longer commitment costs you less in the long term, whereas a shorter contract is more cost-effective in the short term.
- Domain privacy: While providing personal information is required when registering a domain, you can make that information inaccessible to the public. For an additional fee, registrars offer clients privacy features that protect their identity and maintain their anonymity.
Functionality plays a key role in determining website cost. Simply put, the more functions you add to your site, the higher the cost will be. Website functions can range from essential ones integral to your business to optional ones geared toward improving user experience. Here are some examples:
- E-commerce functions: This encompasses all functions necessary to run an e-commerce website. To get these businesses up and running, the sites must be equipped with several design features that allow customers to find and purchase products. Basic online store design elements include customer portals, payment processing, multiple delivery options, and order fulfillment. While pricing points vary, the design costs of a fully custom traditional e-commerce site can easily exceed $2,000.
- Membership portals: As the name suggests, this is a gated part of the site that only registered members can access. Installing these portals is a great way to boost content credibility, provide a streamlined user experience to website visitors, and grow a base of loyal customers. Depending on the features and type of license you’re getting, a membership portal function can run you anything from $89 to $399 per year.
- Subscription services: These functions are required for setting up a subscription model for your site. They’re regular replenishment services that offer recurring deliveries of products or curated ones that provide products depending on the needs of each customer. Apps like Bold Subscriptions offer full subscription service integration starting at $49.99 per month.
- Custom programming: While a small business website doesn’t require much backend programming, other businesses might need more complex design elements for their sites. A good example of this is web portals. These websites handle a large amount of data and provide customized access to different users. Hiring a web developer to add custom code might be necessary when dealing with such complex architectures. Upwork has the largest pool of independent web developers for any of your programming needs.
Website maintenance is integral to your business, as it ensures that your site remains functional and secure. Still, many people fail to accurately account for maintenance costs when mapping out their budget. Some tasks that are part of website maintenance include:
- Fixing broken links
- Patching CMS and server software issues
- Quarterly testing of all website forms and e-commerce functions
- Fixing security vulnerabilities
- Regularly backing up the site
These tasks are generally handled by specialized agencies or web developers, and the cost will vary based on the size and complexity of the website.
Size of the site
The number of website features and the complexity of a website’s architecture are not the only variables that can drive up web design costs. In many cases, the sheer size of the website can be just as big of a factor.
The cost differential between building a large website and a small one is substantial. Building an e-commerce website that consists of 500 pages will require a significant amount of time and effort to build, and that will be reflected in what you pay for web development services. By contrast, a simple website that features a standard template and only a handful of pages can be built at a fraction of that cost.
The table below illustrates this difference:
Website hosting platform
Web hosting needs to differ from one business to another. If your business operates strictly online, you should opt for dedicated server hosting. This will allow you to handle a potential increase in traffic without experiencing server downtime. Moreover, you’ll have access to advanced security features that can help you better safeguard your customers’ sensitive data.
Shared hosting is the more convenient option if you’re not planning on using your own website for revenue-generating purposes. The affordability of these plans coupled with their low maintenance requirements makes them ideal for the type of website that consists of just a few pages of content.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting occupies the middle ground between dedicated hosting and shared hosting. You have access to some control and customization options, but you still don’t have enough bandwidth to handle high traffic.
Browse Project Catalog for more web development services.
How much do website hosting platforms (CMS) cost?
Here’s a comparison of the top CMS platforms in 2021:
3 ways to build your website and how it will affect costs
Ultimately, the cost of building a website comes down to how you want to tackle the project: do it yourself and save money or retain the services of a professional and incur higher costs. The pros and cons of each approach are weighed below.
Do it yourself (DIY)
The DIY approach is the most cost-effective option for building a website. By doing the design yourself, your costs will consist of the basic expenses needed to set up and host the site. These include your domain name, hosting costs, an SSL certificate, a premium theme, and a drag-and-drop website builder like Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix. You can also use a more traditional content management system (CMS) like WordPress.
Keep in mind that once you take on the project, you’ll be responsible for every aspect of the website. This entails figuring out how to make your website templates mobile-friendly, ensuring that security protocols are in place, verifying that your WordPress theme is compatible with third-party plugins, and installing the necessary add-ons, among many other tasks.
But while the DIY approach might be worth exploring when building a simple website, it’s not always a viable option when dealing with large projects. Taking on the task of designing a complex website on your own involves navigating a myriad of challenges and requires solving several design problems that only experienced developers can handle.
- It’s the ideal option if saving money is a priority.
- It’s a good opportunity to expand your skills and learn more about website development.
- You’ll have the chance to test different ideas and experiment with various concepts.
- The learning curve might be too steep if you have no prior experience in web development.
- The process can be time-consuming.
- The quality of the website might be below professional standards.
How much will it cost?
For a small business, brochure-style website, you’re going to need a domain name (at least $12 per year), a shared hosting plan (at least $60 per year), a premium theme ($60), premium plugins ($60 per year), and a website builder ($12 to $15). You can expect to pay over $200 when building a website on your own.
Hire an independent professional
If you want to make sure that your website is up to the desired standard, hiring a freelancer is the way to go. Experienced web designers can bring your ideas into execution, suggest features that could enhance your business, and help you navigate the launch of your site without any hiccups.
Thanks to Upwork’s ability to connect businesses with skilled workers, you’ll be able to hire a talented web developer in no time. These professionals can help you build a custom website at various price ranges and work closely with you to ensure the success of your online venture.
- You’re guaranteed to get a sleek-looking professional website.
- You won’t have to spend weeks learning web design.
- Independent talent can help you manage the launch of the site.
- Working with a professional might require a significant financial investment, especially if the project is too complex.
- If you need to make changes to the site in the future, there’s a chance that the independent professional might not be available for hire. A new freelancer will need some time to get familiar with the existing code.
- You might have trouble getting your ideas across if you’re not tech-savvy.
How much will it cost?
The cost will be determined by several factors, namely the hourly rate of the independent professional, the functions of the website, the custom programming, and the page volume.
Use an agency
Businesses that routinely tackle complex projects can benefit tremendously from hiring a professional web design agency. On top of handling advanced website designs, these agencies can also provide a wide range of services beyond the scope of web development.
Working with a web design agency can cost tens of thousands of dollars, which is why their client base consists mostly of large organizations.
- Agencies have the resources to tackle complex projects.
- They offer an all-in-one package that includes website design, maintenance, and SEO services.
- They can help you define your marketing strategy.
- Their price point is out of reach for most small business owners.
- They take longer to finish projects.
- An agency is not going to prioritize a small project the same way an independent professional would.
How much will it cost?
Depending on the size of the agency and the complexity of the project, the cost of hiring an agency can reach up to $100,000.
While determining the exact cost of building a website can be a difficult proposition, finding top talent for your business isn’t. Whether it’s a simple WordPress site or a large online store, Upwork will help you identify highly experienced professionals that can guide you through the process of creating your ideal website.
You can also check out Upwork’s Project Catalog™, a new service that allows you to purchase a specific project such as custom website builders and CMS without having to find a freelancer yourself. It’s never been easier to have a professional-looking website.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.
Get This Article as a PDF
For easy printing, reading, and sharing.