How much does a website cost?


I get asked this question all the time and the answer is, it depends.

The cost of a website can vary from several hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars.  In fact, the largest sites on the web can cost several hundred thousand.  You might be thinking, no way, but trust me, many sites cost several hundred thousand.  For example, if we look at ESPN.com, all of the following disciplines have to be considered:

  1. Strategy & Planning: Requirements get written, SEO, PPC/Adwords, Social Media Strategies get built (~80 hours)
  2. Information Architecture:  Site pages get laid out in a hierarchical diagram (~40 hours)
  3. Wireframes are developed: Page layouts are created for all device types (mobile – desktop) (~40 hours)
  4. Designs are created: Colors, typography, etc (~80 hours)
  5. Content Creation: Copy & media (images, graphics, video, audio) (~80 hours)
  6. Programming: Front-end (visual) & Back-end (database integration & 3rd party systems integrations) (~400 Hours)
  7. Move to Staging server (~ 8 hours)
  8. Content Loading (~80 Hours)
  9. Quality Assurance Testing: Bug Fixes/Revisions based on usability testing, etc (~80 hours)
  10. Deployment: Move to production servers, set up CDNs, implement security, test, update DNS (~16 Hours)

So, let’s just assume that the estimated hours are close.  This project would be approximately 1000 hours and let’s assume the project’s hourly rate is $150/hour.  That would make this project about $150,000.00

And, that is no doubt extremely low for a site that has email signup, membership, several 3rd party integrations, real-time data feeds, payment processing, shipping calculations, security…

So, as you can now see, a website can be very small and static to very large, complex, and dynamic.  At the end of the day, the cost of a website depends on the size and complexity.  Then of course design is subjective.  What looks good to one might not look good to another.  So when doing designs, you have to account for more that one round of designs and possibly several rounds of iterations.  That being said, even the smallest of sites have to go through a design phase.  Sometimes the design phase if the most expensive part of the project.  Other times, the development phase is the largest phase of the project.  The development effort increases with the number of requirements and the complexity of the requirements.

What are requirements?  Does your site need to:

  • collect email address?
  • allow a customer to submit a form requesting information, requesting a meeting, ordering/subscribing…?
  • sell anything that requires a payment gateway (PayPal to Visa, MC, Amex…)?
    • calculate shipping of products?
    • inventory management?
    • product variations (sizes, colors, etc)?
    • reservation or booking system integrations?
  • integrate with 3rd party social media sites to pull in feeds?
  • be able to promote new content on a regular basis (blog posts, specials & promotions, new products or services, testimonials, portfolio projects…)?
  • support multiple admin users?
    • content authors?
    • Site Administrators?
    • Special permissions for different users?
  • allow users to login in to see private pages or content specific to their subscription level?
  • allow users to comment/contribute to content?
  • support video, multiple photo galleries?
  • include Google maps, directions
  • weather feeds?
  • support a calendar of events?
    • is there more than one venue/event location?
    • repeating events?
    • user submitted events?
    • are there more than one event type/category (food, music, free, kids only, adults only, family, overnight, etc)
    • event registration?

The list can go on and on.

So the point here is that it is hard to just blindly through a price out without know in detail what you need out of the site.  However, here are some good articles that others have written and for the most part, I find them to put website costs into the correct ballpark.

Edit as of 07/09/2019 –

I was asked if I would include a link on my website for a step by step DIY guide to getting a free website.  After reviewing, I decided that I would include it.  There are several good points to this article but I also believe they have missed a few important pieces of the process as well.  For example, I didn’t see anything about backing up your website or understanding the DNS pieces of having a website.

Note, when I copied the article into Word, it came out to be about a 58 page doc and there is a video and several infographics.  Regardless, I suppose if someone wanted to follow this tutorial, they could get a website for free (with the exception of domain and hosting costs).  Now, would it look professional and would it meet all of your business requirements?

If you need a website to share your business services, it’s location and hours of operations, then you probably can get away with a DIY free website.  However, if you need your website to meet brand standards, collect data, sell products online, take reservations, integrate with 3rd party services…  then the DIY route gets a whole lot more complicated.

Anyway, here is the link: https://www.umbrella-host.co.uk/blog/create-a-website-for-free/