It’s true that a website can be free to start, but if you expect any kind of return for your efforts—whether it’s ad revenue, affiliate sales, or retail customers—the truth is you get what you pay for.
What are all the hidden costs to starting a website, and how much can you expect to pay for each?
At minimum, you need to invest in your own domain name and hosting. Depending on the type of domain name you choose, the costs could run from just $10 a year, to hundreds or even millions!
The options for website hosting run the gamut in price as well. For a new website, shared hosting is probably sufficient. But as your traffic starts to grow, so will your hosting needs and budget. While shared hosting can be as low as $50 per year, moving to a VPS (virtual private server) or a dedicated server can easily bump up the yearly price tag to over $1,000.
After choosing your domain and hosting, it’s time to consider your web design. While there are myriad options for free themes, you should consider a premium or custom design if you want your website to stand out from the crowd.
Custom web designs can cost anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Finding a good web designer can be a challenge, but using a review site like Which Web Design Company will enable you to find a designer that will work to meet your needs within your budget.
Once your design is set, you’ll have to fill your website with content, and possibly start a blog. You could write it all yourself, but it may be more cost-efficient to hire a professional writer who knows how to engage your visitors to reach your goals. Depending on your standard of quality, you could spend as little as $1 a page for non-native speakers, up to $100 a page or more for skilled writers.
Because of all the available options, it’s difficult to ballpark a price for starting a new website. The price depends on your needs, expectations, and budget. The best way to start may be by deciding on an overall budget limit and prioritizing which expenses are the most important to you.
However you decide, the bottom line is that you get what you pay for.
Editors Note: Thanks to Which Web Design Company. WWDC maintains a database of over 7000 web design agencies worldwide, and provided us with the average starting cost statistics for web development used in the graphic below:
How Much Does a Website Cost?
We all know a website is critical to business success today, but one thing that’s hard to determine is how much it will cost you to have one built. Find out how to set your budget for a web design project, and what to consider.
Every website needs a domain name to be hosted online. You can either buy a brand new domain name, or purchase one that’s been registered for a while.
Brand new domains will cost about $10-15 a year, depending on registrar and TLD.
Registrar is the company like GoDaddy, BlueHost, etc.
TLD refers to: .com, .org., .net
Aged domains can cost hundreds, or even millions of dollars.
Price depends on many factors including:
Age of domain
SEO.com: sold for $5 million in 2007
Beer.com: sold for $7 million in 2004
Hotels.com: sold for around $11 million in 2001
You will pay a domain fee every year to keep the domain, which varies depending on registrar.
Total Cost (estimate): $10/year – hundreds, thousands, and even millions of dollars.
Every website needs web hosting to be online. Your web designer/developer can help you secure web hosting, but this is not typically included in the design and development fees.
Shared: Many websites are hosted on the same server.
Think of a server as an apartment building.
Each “apartment” gets its own space and web address, but you are stuck with whatever the apartment building gives you.
Cost effective way to host a website.
Spend as little as $3.95/month
Virtual Private Server (VPS): Many websites are hosted on the same server, but each account gets more control, similar to what dedicated servers provide.
You’re still sharing the server, so you get an “apartment” but you have the freedom to do what you want with the apartment.
More expensive than shared hosting, but gives you more control over the hosting environment.
Expect to spend at least $29.99/month.
Dedicated Server: You are in control of the server.
You get your own apartment building, and are in complete control of it.
You choose what software to run, how many websites to host, etc.
Dedicated servers are best for sites that are highly trafficked, and need extra security.
Dedicated servers are the most expensive way to host a website.
Expect to spend at least $99.99/month
Total Cost (estimate): $47.40/year – $1,199.88/year
Design and Development
Costs can vary significantly depending on the scope of work required.
Will a pre made theme work? (Price range: Free to ~$100)
This is more cost-effective than something that will require heavy modification, or something that will need to be built from the ground up.
Custom themes: $500 to $3,000
Do you have graphics and imagery, or will the designer need to provide those as well?
If the designer needs to provide that, think about how much they’ll have to provide.
Stock photography/graphics can be costly, depending on the size you need. Expect to pay around $15 to $20 an image, but other images will cost more.
($1.60 to $1.67/credit, images average 6-15 credits) depending on the stock library you use.
How many pages of content will your website need?
Are you providing that, or will the designer need to do it?
Will you outsource it to a copywriter, or write it yourself?
If you write it yourself, do you have the time and ability?
Content quality will vary depending on who you hire, and cost varies with quality.
Freelance non-native English speakers will write for around $~1/page
Agencies can charge $100+ page
Do you need more than simple contact form?
Will you need a forum?
Do you want to include a blog?
Will your website be membership based?
Do you want your site to deliver dynamic content?
Content that’s been personalized for each visitor?
Example: com’s homepage is personalized based on purchase history.
Will you need an ecommerce platform?
Will your website need to be compatible with any third party platforms?
Additional costs may be incurred for updates and website maintenance.
Total Cost (estimate): $200-$10,000+
Average Starting Prices
WhichWebDesignCompany.com keeps track of 7,382 web design companies world-wide. Here are the average starting prices for common website develop projects.
Prices start from £610 brochure website (data from 1452 companies)
Prices start from £1165 content managed website (data from 1518 companies)
Prices start from £1660 ecommerce website (data from 1472 companies)
Prices start from $1190 brochure website (data from 237 companies)
Prices start from $2235 content managed website (data from 226 companies)
Prices start from $2640 ecommerce website (data from 231 companies)
Brochure Website: $1,190 – $3000+
A “Brochure” website refers to a basic informational site about your business.
Creates an “online presence”
Generally Includes Pages for: Home, About, Products/Services and Contact
CMS Website: $2,235 – $10,000+
For membership-based sites, forums, blogs or other sites that use a database and/or dynamic content.
Generally Includes Pages for: Home, About, Products/Services and Contact
“Dynamic” functionality gives website owners the ability to “log-in” and make changes to the content of the site.
e-Commerce Website: $2,600 – $10,000+
Includes the basic “brochure pages”: Home, About, Products/Services, Contact
Plus eCommerce functionality with:
Shopping cart software:
Ability to add & update products
Accept and Process Payments (Credit Cards, Paypal, etc)
Example data provided by WhichWebDesign.com
Depending on which decisions you make along the way you can plan on spending hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. Low end amounts come from shared hosting with pre-made themes and graphics, higher end amounts come from dedicated hosting and/or completely custom design and coding robust features.
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