How much does it cost to build a website?

Website Cost Calculator
February 8, 2019
| Written by Cédric Bédard
How much does it cost to build a website?

If you own a business or plan to start a company, one of the most important marketing tools you need is a website. In the last few decades, the market has shifted from print advertising to web advertising. So the reach of your online presence will greatly affect how successful you can be in your industry. Investing in a good website for your company is a key factor in how profitable you will be in the long run. But how much does it cost to build a website? Most of my clients ask that question during our initial consultation. Many people are used to simple and fixed prices that they can compare. If they see the latest Nike shoes at a certain price, they can compare the same product in other shops to understand their value. The problem is that websites are more like custom homes than shoes, they are more complex to understand, build and buy. No two websites are the same. In this article, I will break down the main factors that will influence the cost of your website, so you can understand the value of your investment.

The Base Cost for Success

In today’s market, there are three types of website products with drastically different base prices. The first type, which has become more popular in the last few years, is the "Do It Yourself" website, like the ones offered by Wix. They offer a product with a free base cost and a monthly payment of around $15-$25. They give you access to their web platform, which allows you to select a website with a limited design and basic functionality. You need to learn a new interface, and, to put it simply, you invest your time configuring and adding content to the website by yourself. I get a lot of new clients who have tried this model and have gotten frustrated after dealing with the huge limitations of the product and the limited support. Although some people may have more time on their hands to search and figure out how websites work, the main issue is the lack of knowledge people generally have in Web marketing. There are so many websites out there, that building one without having a marketing strategy simply wastes energy, time and money. You could compare this type of website to renting a simple apartment. You can't make it better, they all look alike, you'll never own it, and someone else makes all the profits. More than 50% of business startups fail in the first 5 years, and 66% do within 10 years. In order to be more successful in the long run, you may need to question where you are investing your money and energy.

An Entry-Level Solution

The second website product type, Wordpress, is known for its template model. It's a basic platform in which you can add new features by installing various plugins. The design will take less time for us to set up, because it offers a lot of premade web designs to help you showcase a certain business style. The base cost of installing and setting up a Wordpress website will start at around $1,500 and can go up to around $5,000. The cost depends mostly on the number of functions or plugins you need, the number of main pages you want and how much customization you desire. The monthly cost to manage the website, which means the server setup, the hosting, the backups, the updates and the 24/7 monitoring, will be between $25-$50/month. This product is a better option than the “DIY” website because it has more potential for editing and improvement. Furthermore, you don’t have to create your site; we do it all for you. You still have to learn the user interface to edit your content, if you've never used Wordpress. And the cost of the design template ranges from $25-$100, plus there may be an annual cost of $100 to have the latest updates for it. Another possible cost is the plugins. Most are free, but they will have a way to upgrade to a better “pro” version that gives you more functionality than you'll ever need. This cost is usually an annual fee, from $50-$100 each. Overall, you could compare this product to buying a modular home with some designs choices. It’s a factory-built prefab with limitations, but it's yours.

The Business Class

The third website product type is a custom website, tailored-made for your business's brand and built to directly target your customers. We use Drupal as our platform of choice, so we start your website on a more powerful, faster and more secure platform, giving us a stronger foundation to build upon. The design, the functionality and the customization of the user interface will all be determined by your needs and budget. We start with a great set of tools and a blank canvas on which to build a custom-designed website that reflects your business, your personality and your style. The base cost of this model starts around $5,000 and can go up to more than $10,000, depending on a few factors I will discuss below. The management fee will be around $50-$100. All the Drupal modules, or plugins, are free and customizable, but they do require more time to install, style & set up. In addition, the custom user interface that we build for you makes Drupal the easiest platform for adding, editing and removing content. This platform offers unlimited possibilities for building the best web marketing tools that will help you find success online. You could compare this product to hiring an architect to design a custom home that fits your vision, built with the best materials available. It’s strong, reliable and tailored-made. It costs more overall, but it's an investment for your future and the best product for achieving your online marketing strategy.

The Difference in Cost

Once you have chosen the right platform for your Web marketing strategy, we need to decide the number of pages, functionality and media your website will start with. The price differences I mention above, for each product, is largely influenced by these factors. They change the cost of your website simply because they require more time to set up. So a website with five main pages usually costs less than a site with ten. Keep in mind that I am referring only to the main pages, which are usually your home page, your main services pages, your about page and contact page. Once the site is built, you will be able to add unlimited blog posts or sub-pages for free. Some clients who have a limited budget prefer to buy the cheaper platform to create more pages for the same price. However, I often advise them to start with the best platform and build less pages to start with. Your long-term goals are best served by building a stronger base and growing steadily from there. Another major factor in your overall cost will be the functionality you need. Wordpress has more than forty thousand plugins available, so giving a price over email is nearly impossible without a consultation to discuss your needs. Most of the basic functionality, like adding/editing content, displaying content, slideshows, forms, etc., will be included in the base cost. The images, graphics or videos you use on your site will also need to be paid for, so we have the right to use them. The price for media can be around $10 for a picture up to $100 for a video, plus the time we spend finding them.

The Cost of Opportunity

Once you have your platform, your pages, your functions and your design, you own a website, but how will people find you? There are so many sites on the Web that you need to invest in a strategy to be discovered by your potential customers. That's what search engine optimization and online advertising are for. SEO is about optimizing your website's main pages so that Google will show it to potential clients when they search for your services. That’s an effective long-term strategy to outrank your competitors. Optimizing your website could cost around $500 per page. Then, once your SEO tools are in place and your website is optimized, you should also invest in an SEO campaign to follow your ranking and discover opportunities to achieve better visibility. The monthly price range for that service starts around $75 and goes up to $200, which is based on how often you want to receive reports. Now that you have your SEO in order, the best short-term strategy for getting immediate results is to invest in online advertising. Google ads, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads and Bing ads are the most important. Most Web advertising works with the Pay Per Click model or PPC. When you perform a search on Google, the first three positions of the results are ads, which are the results most people click on. Depending on your needs and your budget, the cost for online advertising starts around $75 a month and goes up from there. More investment, equals more potential clients, equals more profits. I usually advise my clients to invest more in ads when they launch their websites so they can gain some authority and visibility for their new domain, and then advertise more when they have less work coming their way.

To Conclude

As you can see, putting together a realistic quote for a client can be difficult, because there’s so much to share and understand before making a decision. For most clients, a website may cost between $3,000 to $8,000, with monthly fees ranging between $50-$150, plus the online advertising cost. Actually, there's no fixed price for a website, because there are too many factors that need to be looked at and analyzed. It could cost you less or more. Web design companies that try to simplify their products to something fixed are just trying to get you signed in without taking the time to explain exactly what you are buying. So your decision about going forward with a Web designer should be more about the trust you have in them, the honest relationship you build while learning the complexity of the Web, instead of shopping for a price. Our goal is always to help you achieve success by following your vision, your needs, your budget and your growth.

Contact us now to schedule your free consultation and get your free quote for your business website.

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