Published On: November 14, 2020
Cost of a Website for a Business
(A Nashville TN and National analysis of over 500 website proposals)
Just like a business, websites are not all created equal. Websites serve various purposes, incorporate different website design preferences, feature different technologies and therefore they can vary greatly in cost. Most importantly, a great web design should lift your business, requires easy management, scalability and great web support. In fact, every customer, partner or employee goes to your website first, to learn about your business. your website investment is important.
As the level of design work, branding strategy and functionality becomes more complex to suit your company’s needs, the more it will cost to develop. It will be important to seek a solution provider that is setup to support you and manage a long term client relationship.
This article is also written for businesses considering a website project and trying to assess the costs. We’ve found that the internet is mis-leading and confusing about the costs and how do to things right. We have put together and summarized this information from over 50 reputable marketing and web firms to help your business understand the real (real meaning proper costs to do it right) costs to consider for you business.
Make sure you have the following people involved in your project and any decent Internet Marketing or Web Design firm should have these resources for you in their office:
- Creative graphic design and branding staff
- Developers of php, html, css, java and more
- Marketing Specialists – advertising staff, SEO and Social staff
- Webmasters – moves, ads, changes or fix problems
- Technical engineers and support staff – infrastructure and parts
SO WHAT DOES A WEBSITE COST?
Ready to find out what YOUR website should cost? Low price, top quality, best customer service!
This is important… and let’s just get this out of the way… you need a website. Period. As a business, your website is and should be your #1 sales and advertisement tool. If you are taking this lightly then you are already not taking your business very seriously. It’s better to have no website than to have something bad presented to the world. You truly cannot imagine the bad perceptions and lost business that is occurring by having a bad website design and bad internet marketing. You can research articles we have posted or by reviewing Gartner and Forrester Research reports.
A business website should be a great website with a clear, crisp easy to navigate design and branding, with superb usability and functionality. Furthermore, YOU need to be able to easily update and scale that website. It doesn’t matter if you are a national corporate brand, a smaller brick and mortar with ‘plenty of business’, a brick and mortar with only local business, or an ice cream shop… you still need a website!
Your business can be broad or niche, it can be large or small, and despite what you may believe… you need a website! With a bad website or no website then you will be relying on referrals and cold calling and your competition is thriving by putting their dollars into a website and digital marketing.
YIKES – As a local case study, a local furniture company spent nearly a million dollars renovating their retail space and buying billboards in order to attract new business. It did very little for them. They then spent a few thousand dollars on a great website and internet marketing plan and doubled their customer traffic/revenue. They are out a lot of money but now have things on the right track. An expensive lesson.
WEBSITE DESIGN COST – WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF A WEBSITE?
You should hire a firm that works under the assumption that websites will be made responsively, that is they will look great on all screen sizes and devices, and that sites will be built using a CMS, or content management system that can be easily scaled and managed for growth. Because Google punishes rankings for non-mobile-friendly sites, a business can no longer afford to have a website that is not responsive. Content management systems ensure that you will be able to make changes to your website after it is built with relative ease.
While the price of a website will vary depending on your needs, here is a breakdown of the general costs incurred by a website:
WHAT DOES A WEBSITE COST – Summary of Items Needed?
- Domain Name: $10-$100 per year for new domains. Some old domains can sell for millions, but you probably want your own new one.
- Business Email: $6-$15 a month per email. You will need an email that links to the website and has the same domain as the website.
- Custom Logo Design and Identity Guide: $1,000 – $10,000+. You will need a great logo for your business to drive your brand and label cards, brochures, etc. There are cheap solutions but do it right because branding matters, period.
- Custom Design/Information Architecture: $4,500 – $10,000+. This includes the branding/visual design, UX design, imagery collection, styling, sitemap and page structure generation and coding. This is generally a part of a larger website development package.
- Add Shopping Cart Integration & Programming: $1,000 – $15,000+. What kind of functionality do you want in your website? Shopping carts, plugins, and custom feature development can cost extra, but the benefits of a fully customized and unique website can outweigh the costs.
- Website Content Creation: $50-$200 per page, or hourly. You can write your website’s content yourself, outsource it overseas for around $1 per page, or use a content writing firm which will charge around $100-$200 per hour or page. Just like a website design, you get what you pay for when it comes to content creation that will rank your site high in search engines and engage your audience.
- Project Management & Information Gathering: $600-$3,000. This price includes initial consultations, phone calls, and any time that it takes to obtain the information we need to get your site going.
- Testing & Training: $600-$4,800. While most websites are built on easy-to-use CMS’ nowadays, not everyone knows how to get started with them. This price point includes the time spent training you how to use your new site, as well and ensuring that everything works properly and giving you the chance to make any necessary changes.
- Hosting: $100/month; $50 – $1,200/year. This depends on the type of hosting you choose (dedicated, shared, free). Additional fees may be required for additions like SSL (Secure Socket Layer certificate) or static IP Address. A good business website should not be on a public shared cheap platform. Too many risks. A business class solution with security, backups, maintenance and support is best.
- Website Managed Services: $75-$150+/month. A new business website will need this to maintain security, backup your investment, update software, fix bugs, support you when needed. Managed services can include content posting, content maintenance, page creation, product updates and more.
- Software, security and plugins: $9.99 – $149/month. Websites can interact with databases and need advanced security. As example, an E-commerce site will need an SSL encryption certificate and ongoing maintenance and this will cost $25-$89 monthly. Or an MLS interconnection can cost $99 monthly. Booking modules that interact with calendars and set appointments will have monthly costs. And so on.
- Don’t forget, Digital Marketing is a Must: $500 – $5,000+/month. Your first advertising dollars for your business should go into promoting your website and making sure you are found on the Internet. This is your 24/7 sales and marketing person so don’t undervalue its importance. Good businesses get this. 90% of all consumers search the internet first before buying any service or product. If you don’t do SEO or other digital marketing then your website might as well not exist. You are losing customers without doing this. For a few hundred a month you can drive new business to you every month. Make sure you really understand the value of SEO, AdWords, Pay Per Click Marketing, Social Media Advertising and more. The big and successful companies all do this, you should too.
WEBSITE PRICES BREAKDOWN
(this is just the design/development costs, you will still have the other costs indicated above)
BASIC WEBSITE | FREE – $50/MONTH+ OR $2,000 – $5,000
For Small Businesses and Individuals
DO IT YOURSELF: FREE – $50/MONTH
If you have the time, graphic skills and know how then this is an option for the low budget business. However, it’s important to note – these DIY tools are often complicated and our (general) audience is still not comfortable learning and using these tools. They have limited functionality and cannot simply be customized plus they greatly limit your ability to do SEO. However, these are excellent resources and I’d recommend these services for any business looking to do it themselves.
There are also templates on the internet that you can buy and setup. There is much risk here as a lot of templates have security holes, load slowly and Google will Index these pages in a negative light. Or, they are coded with limitations so you cannot really get them customized to be branded correctly for you or function the way you wish. Ultimately, this solution is inexpensive but will require a lot of time, design and some technical skills to set it up correctly and keep it effectively maintained.
HIRE A FREELANCE DEVELOPER or a STARTER SOLUTION FROM A FIRM: $2,000 – $5,000
A basic designed website, acts primarily as an online brochure, establishing a necessary presence online to answer your customers’ questions “do you exist?”, “are you professional?” and “what do you do?” A basic website can be created in the $2,000 – $5,000 range. This website may or may not allow you to interact in a 2-way conversation with your audience (social networking, blog), transact business directly through your site (e-commerce), or enable you to manipulate and update the pages and content within your site without hiring a web programmer/designer to do it for you (Content Management System does enable this for more $$$).
A basic website will serve to help brand and market your company, showcase your products and services and inspire sales as a lead generating tool. The design of your website will, most likely, be simple at such low costs. These sites should still be responsive using the latest standards to allow your site to look the same on nearly every computer/device and will be Search Engine Optimized (SEO) for greater natural search engine ranking success.
BUSINESS WEBSITE | $5,500 – $30,000
For Businesses – starting, growing, changing
Previously years pricing was in the $3,000- $8,500 – however pricing has since increased as the software gets more complicated and effective.
Depending on the level of aesthetic design and time that is requested as well as additional features Content Management System (CMS) websites run at a on average around $7,500+. These websites are created with both functionality and design in mind, as you will receive both custom art design and the ability to manage and update all content, images, and text contained within the pages of your site (infinite number of pages possible). With a CMS capable website, your site will have endless possibilities.
These websites are built with the idea to drive business and that you will have changes, additions or updates to be made to your site in the future. CMS system enables easy basic additions without coding or web designing knowledge. Social interactivity with your site visitors is possible with a site of this caliber, as a BLOG will be present within your site enabling you to place posts of content that you believe is relevant and desired by your audience. Your audience can choose to respond to your blog posts and each others comments allowing for 2 dimensional interaction between you, your audience, and within your audience.
Some E-commerce and real state listing sites can be created within this price range depending upon level of functionality and design but will usually have an additional cost. Also, sites of this caliber have varying prices with regard to design elements. These sites do have custom design work, but more expensive elements like brand creation, commerce, complex functions or custom graphics will affect pricing.
CUSTOM MID/LARGE BUSINESS WEBSITE | $15,000 – $100,000+
For large Businesses or businesses that drive business on the web
If you are looking for a site with advanced functionality including but not limited to social networking, blogging, E-commerce, or any other web application topped off with great design and content that speaks to your audience you should expect to pay a bit more than the previous two sections.
Some E-commerce and web applications can be created for less, while most successful ventures are created for much more. There are countless sites that have fallen in this price range include Facebook.com, Orkut.com, and BestBuy.com to name only a few (all GREATLY exceeding 6-figures). A site within this price range may be built and hand coded from scratch – and in all cases will require customization – and coordinating various technologies in order to work with your company or infrastructure.
A site that falls into this category requires months of planning, research, consulting, database design and implementation, software development and integration, site quality assurance and testing.
Why are websites in this range so expensive? Here’s a few factors to consider, and examples of scenarios we’ve been in throughout the years that change the cost of a website, even when functionality may not necessarily be beyond the ordinary:
- Tighter timelines
- Detailed design and branding
- More meetings, people (and approvals) involved
- More exacting content specifications
- More pages of content to port over or account for
- Additional security concerns
- Governmental or other requirements/regulations must be adhered to (for example 508 compliance is a beautiful and on some projects required element – accounting for this and testing for it takes extra time and money)
None of this is extreme or out-of-the-ordinary, but when needed or required, costs go up.
GOING BEYOND A WEBSITE
E-COMMERCE WEBSITES | $10,000 – $30,000+
For businesses that sell multiple products online
E-Commerce Websites are those characterized by the ability to add products and transact business online –accept payment for products, and facility shipping, correspondence with purchasers, etc.
Similar to the above breakdown, E-Commerce sites, in and of themselves have many varying levels of pricing. For example the absolute simplest “e-commerce” site is either a single paypal button – or the ability to accept payments/donations online (most often for a non-profit). Even with such a simple starting point, there’s a lot of questions to address – what was the existing site built on? Do you already have an account with paypal? Do you want to keep people on your website as they make their purchase? And the list goes on. But, at it’s absolute simplest (organization has a paypal account, and just needs a button added) this can generally be done in an hour or so and as such cost anywhere from $50 – $500 depending on the company setting things up or the relationship they have with their web development company.
However, when you start to add products, shipping, transnational email (thank you emails, etc.) things get a bit more complex and the design/development costs will go up and their will likely be monthly fees.
For our basic e-commerce websites, pricing typically starts at $10,000 and quickly scales up from there. Here’s why.
Generally most clients with e-commerce needs, also need guidance, education, and setup with the following:
- Server Setup
- SSL selection, purchase
- Merchant Account Setup
- Payment Processor Setup
- Shipping Setup – Including coordination/setup of accounts
- Tax Setup
- Transactional Email – What does each email your website send say “thank you for purchasing…”, “thank you for creating an account,” etc.
Basically an ecommerce site is like a normal website, on steroids, and most clients need a knowledgeable and reliable company to not just make the right decisions, but also to guide and hold their hand along the process.
CUSTOM APPLICATION | $2,500 – $10,000+ FOR PLANNING AND $? FOR THE END PRICE
For businesses that need custom work
Going beyond a custom website, there are custom web applications. These are websites with custom functionality that might not yet be available, or is available, but needs updating, tweaking, etc to meet the business need.
Custom web applications can be large, or small.
WHY ARE SOME WEB DESIGN COMPANIES SO INEXPENSIVE WHILE OTHERS ARE OUTRAGEOUSLY PRICEY?
To wrap – why are prices so wildly different in the web design industry? We had a recent bid on a project where we were smack in the middle. On the low-end there was a company vying for the project at $5,000. On the high end, $30,000. And then us, smack-dab in the middle. Our future client would go on to ask us… “What gives? Why are you so much more expensive than the low-end companies, and so much less expensive than the high-end companies, and why is there such a massive difference in the first place?” What is with this industry!!!!!
I suppose it works a lot like consulting. On the low-end you have people that frankly, have no idea what they’re doing, don’t have proper resources, didn’t listen enough (or pay attention) and frankly are just throwing numbers at a wall (Buyer beware). With a proper firm, even with razor thin margins and outsourcing that $5,000 will only allow for about 50-80 hours worth of time. And it is not possible to get the solution you need within 2 weeks-4 weeks’ worth of work. This is cutting corners or a freelancer that will end up being a bad decision.
We can’t stress this enough, on projects where there is an extremely low budget – elements always get left out – and future support will be limited or non-existent. JLB has rescued dozens of companies that had gone with inexpensive solutions or individuals and that company or person moved on and had taken their website and email with them. Their email down cost them tens of thousands of dollars, and their website down represented even more than good budget for a website done right with the right firm.
Unfortunately, having 13 years under our belts, we continue to hear story after story where companies explain – “our web guy was great, but then he disappeared.” JLB likes to say, our team is probably better than the arbitrary “we have a guy…” Your business can count on that.
We hope this information is helpful and we would love to talk to you about your project. Give us a call or email us today.