How much a website should cost is a very generic question – it lacks specifics.
It’s the same as if I were to ask you how much should a car cost?
Uh… well, can you be more specific?
What type of car do you want? – Does it need to be gas efficient? – What do you use it for? – What is your budget?
You can quickly see “how much does a car cost?” is actually quite a pretty complex question after all.
Just like budgeting for a car, the cost of a website is different to different people because everyone values the concept of “cost” in different ways.
For example, if you are a stay-at-home mom with 4 kids under 10 years old. You might value time over money. You would rather pay a little more to get things done right and on time.
To others without kids, they may think you’re overpaying for certain services. But to you, it’s well worth the cost.
Simply put, the cost of building your website boils down to 4 resources:
Technical knowledge (or your interest to learn to code)
Design skills (or your willingness to learn design)
Most people lack 1 or a few of these 4 resources.
Spend a couple of seconds to think about which ones you have (or don’t have).
You don’t need to have all 4 to start a website because you can easily compensate one for another one.
For example, if you don’t have any coding skills but have time, you can always learn to code from various free or paid online coding tutorials.
I get asked about how much does a website costs A LOT – I guess it comes with the job description as a website designer in my previous business.
One thing I’ve noticed time and time again is how much people focus purely on the dollar sign – which is missing the bigger picture.
Out of the 4 resources – money is actually the most flexible one.
You either have time or you don’t
You either know / have an interest in coding or you don’t
You either know / have an interest in design or you don’t
This is not always the case when it comes to money.
Everybody has a certain level of money. It’s about how you decide where to best spend it.
Why would a person choose to pay $4.50 for a fancy Starbucks latte when an alternative is to spend $0.10 to make a simple coffee at home?
Could it have something to do with the lifestyle? Or maybe something as torturous as waking up earlier to make coffee? Is it the convenience of buying it outside so you don’t have to deal with it at home?
Let’s be honest, generally speaking, we all have some money. We all know someone that doesn’t have a lot of savings but ended up buying a brand new flat screen TV when they really shouldn’t.
The right question is — “is this worth my money.”
The truth of the matter is if you feel something has value to you, you will gladly pay up for it, right? – This is what consumerism is all about.
So, let’s put money (as a resource) aside for now, as if you find real value in building a website (if it’s really worth it to you), you’ll try to make things work.
For now, let’s focus on estimating the cost of your website if you have limited:
Technical knowledge (or the interest in learning it)
Design skills (or the interest in learning it)
Based on what resources you don’t have, the cost of your website will be different.
When it comes to building, managing, and operating your website, there are 5 main phases you need to deal with:
Website setup (this is before you even get to design or content creation)
Learn how to use a website builder
Designing the layout
Troubleshooting and ongoing maintenance
For each of the phases, you have to determine if you have the time, technical or design skills to accomplish them successfully.
If you are missing any one of them, you may need to hire a professional to help you get the job done, or rely on modern technology to solve your problems.
When I refer to hiring a professional to create the website for you, most of the time I will be referring to using WordPress.
The reason is because WordPress the most popular website builder for developer and designers, and is currently powering about 26% of all websites.
WordPress’s main advantage is its extreme flexibility. You can create almost any type of website with any type of features you need, as long as you have the coding and design expertise to do so.
If not, you can always hire a pro to do that for you (of course cost will come into play here).
Now, WordPress, in my opinion, is not something I will suggest if you have no technology skills or if you’ve never owned a website before.
Why? Because WordPress has a much higher learning curve and setup costs than any fully managed, drag & drop website builder like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.
I only recommend using WordPress (or other self-hosted website builders) if:
This is not your first website – you have experiences managing websites.
If you have very specific design or software needs that only WordPress can provide.
If you have both time and money to spend on learning, building and managing a WordPress website.
Otherwise, I do not recommend using WordPress if you have limited time, money or patience to learn how to code and to learn the technical ins and outs of using WordPress effectively.
#1 Cost of setting up a WordPress website:
Setting up a website involves finding a hosting provider, learning how to use FTP, linking your website build software with your hosting provider, and finally connecting your domain name to your website.
All these will sound foreign to you if you’ve never owned a website before, so let me explain what they actually mean:
WEBSITE HOSTING (COST $5 – $350/MONTH):
A host is where your website content “lives” online.
Imagine a host is like your coat closet and your website is your coat. Whenever you want to get to your coat, you need to go to your closet and retrieve it.
This works the same way as your website. When someone enters your website address into a web browser, the browser will go to your host (your closet) and get your website (your coat) to display it to the visitor.
Generally speaking, there are several types of hosting that handle different volume of visitors to your website:
VPS hosting; and
For most people, you will never need dedicated hosting as it is more suitable for very large or enterprise level websites.
The only thing you need to know is that the more visitors come to your website, the higher your cost of hosting will be:
Shared hosting costs $5 – $30
VPS hosting costs $50 – $250
Dedicated hosting starts in the thousands
If you are looking for good WordPress hosting, Bluehost is a good candidate to get started with. If you are looking for more advanced, highly-tuned, dedicated WordPress hosting provider, WP Engine is excellent and has top notch customer service.
If you want further information about choosing a web host, have a look at our article on the Best Web Hosting Services on the market today to help you make a decision.
USING FTP (COST $0 – $50):
FTP is way for you to manage your website files (which are stored in the host).
These website files include your website design, images, features, content – pretty much everything you see in front of you, and also the internal workings of a website (“under the hood” so to speak).
Most website hosting provider will give you technical instructions on how to use FTP to connect to you host so you can manage all those files.
If you a newbie, it may take 1-3 hours to get this up and running.
You can always search for video tutorials on YouTube or pay for tutorials at Lynda.com (around $50).
If you need some handholding / direct support, you can hire a developer or designer to show you the ropes ($30-$80/hr for a designer or $80-$180/hr for a developer).
Of course, you might not even know what to do with the files even once you get the process set up.
INSTALLING WORDPRESS IN A HOST AND CONNECTING YOUR DOMAIN NAME (COST $0 – $50):
Most hosting providers already have WordPress installed. If you want to skip the installation of WordPress, make sure the hosting provider you choose has WordPress already.
Your hosting provider will have instructions to show you how to connect your domain name to your website.
If you don’t know too much about domain names and how to get one, we have a beginners guide to domain names you can refer to.
If you’ve never connected a domain name to a website before, it may take you a few minutes to an hour to figure things out.
Again, you can always hire a designer or developer to do this for you on an hourly basis ($30-$80/hr for a designer and $80-$180/hr for a developer).
The website setup cost can be as low as $5 (cheap hosting service) if you’re willing to do it all by yourself.
If you need help from a designer or developer to save you hours of figuring things out (if you’re not experienced), expect to spend around $30 – $50 (as it doesn’t take an experienced professional that long to get it done for you).
These are the basic setup costs even before you get to build your website.
(There is a cost summary table below.)
#2 Cost of learning to use WordPress (Cost $0 – $50):
As mentioned before, it takes a few hours to learn the basics of WordPress.
If you want to be highly effective at it, it will take a few weeks to a month to get enough practice.
There are plenty of free tutorials online (but the quality can range from good to bad).
Or, you can use higher quality, paid tutorials from Lynda.com for about $50/month to help you speed up the process.
Within a month, you should be able to learn the basics of how to operate WordPress (note: this does not including how to use codes to customize your website).
(There is a cost summary table below.)
#3 Cost of designing a WordPress website (Cost $50 – $$$$):
Here is where the price of a website has no upper limit.
You can really spend as much as you have or as little as you like when it comes to website design.
PRE-MADE TEMPLATES DESIGNS (COST $35 – $200):
These are ready-made designs that you can buy off the shelf. There are plenty of options for you to choose from.
The only limitation with a pre-made template is that design customization is pretty limited unless you know how to modify codes.
If not, what you see on the template’s demo site is pretty much what you get.
Basic paid templates cost around $35 to $50 and premium paid templates range from $80 to $200.
CUSTOM BUILT WEBSITE USING PRE-MADE TEMPLATES (COST $300 – $1,000):
This option is an “in-between” a DIY website and a fully custom built website design.
You can hire a designer to help customize a pre-made template into something unique just for you.
This is a good option if you are not ready for an entirely custom website, and pre-made templates are not exactly what you want.
You can pay by the hour or by the project for design customizations.
Expect to pay between $300 and $1,000 for template customization.
The cost varies depending on how much work you want to be done – such as adding a header image, moving the logo location, creating a fixed navigation bar, changing the overall layout design, etc.
CUSTOM WEBSITE DESIGN (COST $5,000 – $10,000+):
If you really want something truly unique, you can go for a custom website design where you can create any design you can imagine.
A custom WordPress design can go for as low as $5,000 if you hire a developer from an emerging country / region such as India or Eastern Europe.
Any capable developers from a developed region (such as North America, Western Europe, etc.) will start at $10,000 and can go all the way up to well over $30,000.
(There is a cost summary table below.)
#4 Cost of creating content for your WordPress website (Cost $500 – $5,000):
After you’re done with created an overall design for your website, you will need to populate it with content.
The design work (in the section directly above), basically gives your website an overall framework.
The framework may include where the menu bar is located and how it works, where the logo is to be situated, how the slideshow works at the top of your home page, how your sidebar looks like and functions, how your information is to be presented throughout your website, etc.
So the design work basically creates an outline or the skeleton of your webpages.
After the framework is created, you now have to populate it with your own content.
For instance, you will need to upload a background design for your pages, upload header images, create custom graphics for your content area, insert text to describe items, insert your logo to brand your business, etc.
These are all part of the content creation process – so your visitors can understand your business, see what products you have, read your blog posts, so on and so forth.
If you splurge on a custom designed website, your designer may include the creation and population of content for you.
But, what if I don’t have tens of thousands to spend on a custom website, but don’t have time to create the content for my website?
One option is to buy a pre-made template at $35 – $200. Then hire a designer to create your website content for you.
This is a good option to save money and time, but still have a designer help you create content, graphics, and branding of your website.
Keep in mind that the design of your website will still be limited by the design of the website template you choose (as it is not a truly custom design).
Designers can charge content creation by the hour or by project:
$50 – $80 per hour
$250 – $500 minimum charge per project. This may include a minimum of 3 pages, and additional pages will be a slightly cheaper.
Logo or branding design will be about $100 – $1500 depending on the extent of the branding design you need.
You may also want to budget for ongoing maintenance costs. That’s usually about $100 – $500 per year if you don’t make any major alterations to you website design.
(There is a cost summary table below.)
If you don’t have the financial luxury of hiring someone to help you edit images and create logos, we have a couple of guides that will walk you through how you can do this yourself, even if you are not technical or born with a good sense of design:
How to Edit Your Images Like A Pro (Without Being a Pro) – Here are a few easy-to-use image editors that can help you make amazing edits to your pictures.
Creating Your Own Professional Logo – check out a few tools (free / paid) to help you create your own logo – without hiring a designer.
#5 Cost of troubleshooting & maintaining your WordPress website (Cost $500 – $1,000):
The technical skills to operate a website goes beyond the initial website setup (discussed above).
Let’s be realistic, any technology will break down at some point. It’s not a question of “if”, but “when”.
Also, it’s a matter of “who will fix it for you.”
All website builders have software updates, browser compatibility updates, platform updates, security patches and much more.
All those technical updates require the owner of the website to implement and manage.
When you are using a self-hosted website builder like WordPress, you have to handle all the technical issues yourself.
If an update occurs and a plugin that you are using becomes incompatible with other plugins that you are using, or conflicts with the website builder, then you’ll need to either get the creator of the plugin to fix things, or you will need to call on a trusty developer to save you.
A good developer costs between $80 and $180 per hour. The good ones are always on the higher end of the range. From our own experiences, it is completely worth the money if you can find a developer that you can count on. Depending on the complexity of your website (the number of plugins you are using, the amount of custom coding you have), your annual maintenance cost will vary.
It is very hard to pinpoint the expected cost since every website has different needs. What we can advise on is how much we spent on technical support with a fairly simple website that has very little custom coding and plugins. We spend about $500 to $800 a year. Keep in mind that I’m a fairly skilled website designer and I’m quite proficient with HTML/CSS /jQuery and with working knowledge of PHP codes. This is one of the main reasons why our technical support cost is not as high since we can do most of the things ourselves.