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how much does a website cost in 2014 WebsiteCost2013

A business owner asked three website development companies to submit a proposal to design her company website. She supplied the developers with the same “requirements document” that listed the website’s goals and functions. A week later each of the three web developers came back to the client with their estimates.

The first one had priced the project at $3,000, the second had priced it at $12,000 and the final web developer estimated the project at $32,000.

If you’re waiting for the punch line… well, there isn’t one.  That’s because the joke is on the client who now needs to figure out why these estimates are so wildly different and which one represents the most realistic and reasonable budget for her needs.

Believe it or not, we often hear stories like this.  One business owner actually sent us four proposals she had received and asked us to explain the differences in pricing. Unfortunately, most business owners have no way of knowing which bids are unrealistically low, which are outrageously inflated and which are in the right ballpark.

Two years ago we published a blog article entitled, “How Much Does a Small Business Website Cost?” Its purpose was to help educate business owners who are continually stumped by the costs and processes involved in designing and building a small business website. It quickly struck a vein with readers, becoming one of our most highly viewed blog posts.

Now in 2014 we’ve updated the article, factoring in advances in technology along with current costs associated with designing, developing and building a website.

Please note: When we say “small business website” we are talking about an informational website consisting of approximately 10 to 20 pages with some basic content management and social media widgets.

 

Basic Website Components and Costs

On average, the following figures can be applied to estimating the cost of a small business website (if you’d like a custom estimate for your website, call us at 310-754-3807):

  • Domain Name – $10/year
  • Hosting – $10 to $100 a year (depending on traffic and hosting services)
  • Web Planning, Design and Development Time – 60 hours and up
  • Continued Website Maintenance – $500 a year and up (depending on number/type of updates required)
  • Marketing Your Website Online – $750 a month and up

Important Factors that Contribute to Website Cost

When preparing to budget web design costs, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this a brand new site or a redesign of an existing site?
  • How prepared are you to ask for bids? Have you prepared a detailed requirements document?
  • Do you need a blog or a content management system (CMS)?
  • Have graphics already been created for the site?
  • Do you want the site to automatically resize for mobile and tablets?
  • Do you need multimedia elements (Flash, video, etc.) on the site?
  • How much content do you currently have and how much will need to be created?
  • Do you need other special features such as social media channels, SEO (search engine optimization) or ecommerce?
  • Who is going to maintain the site after it has been launched?

Below we go into these items in greater detail and provide an estimate of how much you should budget for each. The prices listed are estimates based on our 16 years of experience designing and building business websites. Prices will vary depending on your specific requirements. Be sure to contact us for an estimate.

New Sites Often Cost More Than Redesigns

Remember, when you’re starting a new website from scratch, so is the web designer. With no existing elements to work from, the designer can’t look at an existing site and study your current online brand nor can the design team examine the features and functionality that will be carried over to the new website and improved upon.

Discovery and Documentation

For the best outcome, all new websites projects should begin with a required “discovery and documentation” process.  This process helps define three important elements:

  1. Online brand
  2. Website structure
  3. Website functionality

We think this process is critical because it helps set expectations on all sides and reduces potential frustrations. Simple business websites — those in which the client has a solid idea of what he or she wants — can get by on a minimal amount of discovery and documentation, amounting to perhaps one day’s worth of effort.  BUT… more complex websites may require weeks of meetings plus the creation of many detailed documents to fully define the project.

Interface Design

Interface design — also referred to as visual design or the site’s “look-and-feel” — incorporates your branding, all your photos and images, even your page layouts. Don’t assume that if you already have a pre-made template you won’t need images or layouts re-done. Interface design is usually an iterative process, meaning that the designer will show you several options and then modify them based on your feedback to arrive at an approved design. For a small business website, budget $1,200 to $3,500 to get you from concept through to the final design that will be handed off to the developers for programming. Don’t skimp on the interface design; if you do, today’s sophisticated visitors won’t give your website a second glance.

Images and Graphics

Budgeting website graphics is tricky because images can range from $10 each for cheap stock images to hundreds of dollars each for custom or high-end stock images.  Incorporating compelling and appropriate graphics can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your website. On the low-end, budget at least $100 for stock images.  Remember that a good designer can make a cheap image look like a custom one.

But that’s not all. You will also need stock icons and buttons to compliment your design. Add $50 to the budget for these graphic elements.

Mobile and Responsive Design Costs

Because mobile devices have become critical to online success, your design should be at the very least mobile-friendly. The best designs are “responsive,” meaning designed to automatically adjust their layout to look good and function easily on multiple devices: smartphones, tablets, and desktop/laptop computers. Creating a responsive design can cost 20% to 30% more than a site designed solely for a desktop web browser (the price of progress). This additional cost can be attributed to the extra effort the interface designer makes to design the site’s appearance and function on the various devices, which in turn will have to be programmed by the programmer. Finally, more testing is required before the site is ready to launch. Today almost all Executionists’ projects include responsive programming.

Costs for Content Creation and Insertion

When it comes to adding content, the least expensive model for small business owners is to create all the content on their end and insert it into the site via a content management system (CMS).  Most designers have no problem delivering a blank design template that the client would populate with text and images. But if you want the design firm to add your content and adjust the layout of the text, you should budget $100 to $150 per page.

Programming Special Features Often Cost Extra

A ton of extra features are available that web developers can integrate into your site to improve your business, but these extras can add up. Some features may be “included” in your website framework – but beware, just because they are “included” doesn’t mean that they look or work the way you would want. The estimates below reflect the general requirements we have seen, however, many factors can push these costs even higher. If you don’t see your add-on here, just give us a call and we can provide an estimate.

  • Custom Content Management Systems — For clients who want to manage their own content the web designer can integrate and customize content management systems (CMS). We work with PHP-based open-source CMS solutions like Drupal and WordPress. Costs for integrating and customizing a CMS can range from $2,000 to $20,000.
  • Training and Documentation – You will need a set of instructions and documentation explaining how to maintain and edit site content. Depending on how extensive the material is, expect to pay from $400 to $1,500.
  • Blog – Many clients request a blog (WordPress or something similar) within their website, customized to reflect their website’s branding and design. Adding a blog ranges from $1,000 to $2,500.
  • For E-commerce shopping carts, catalogs, and payment processing add $1,500 to $5000 or more depending on requirements.
  • Email Marketing Campaigns – Clients that want to gather emails and send out branded email blasts for announcements or newsletters require an email management tool. We can integrate third-party tools such as Graphicmail, Mailchimp or Constant Contact along with an email blast template design. We can even manage your email blasts. $720 and up.
  • Branding/Identity Development – We are often asked to design logos. On the low-end, we start with an eight-hour process that generates about six rough logo concepts. If one of these is chosen, we go through several rounds of edits to arrive at a final version. $900 to $3,500.
  • Style Guides – An online style guide establishes brand consistency and provides for compliance across all your print collateral and online marketing messaging. Basic style guide: $1,440.
  • Targeted Landing – Landing pages are pages that promote a specific product or service. They are usually part of an email, social media, or banner ad campaign. We can design and create these pages starting at $450.
  • News feeds of both your content (outgoing) and adding content to the site (incoming): $400
  • Contact forms and surveys: $300 and up
  • Newsletters: $400 to $900
  • Advertising integration (Google AdWords): $200
  • Photo gallery: $250 to $500
  • Metrics (Google analytics, custom reports, etc.): $200 to $2000
  • SEO (on-page optimization, off-page optimization submission to search engines, etc.): $500 to $4000
  • Social media — Create and manage social media network profile (Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.): $500 to $2000

So How Much Does a Small Business Website Cost?

The majority small business websites that we design, develop and launch range from $6,000 to $20,000. Using the a la carte estimates above you can see how quickly elements and functionality add up. Another way to break the budget down is to assume:

  • 15% Planning
  • 25% Interface design
  • 40% Programming
  • 20% Project Management

And Don’t Forget the Maintenance Cost

Websites don’t just maintain themselves. The best websites change all the time as their strategy is tweaked and updated. Maintenance is something that most businesses forget to budget, often because they think that they can do it themselves. But the first time you delete your entire home page by mistake and lose eight hours of sales while you’re trying to get it back up and running, you’ll wish you’d spent the extra money on a maintenance contract. Make sure your web developer offers post-launch maintenance; many don’t because they can’t be bothered with clients calling with small requests.

Maintenance contracts vary greatly depending upon what you expect from the firm. You should budget a minimum of $250 per month to have a designer/developer on call if you have a problem that you can’t fix. And if you expect them to do additional work such as creating new images, adding new content, maintaining social media or newsletters, etc., expect the price to go up.  Executionists offers several customized, full-service maintenance plans.

A Final Note

If your website will be a significant part of your business DON’T SKIMP on design and development. If you would expect to pay $100,000 for a brick and mortar retail shop (inventory, interior design, furniture, rent, utilities, staff, equipment, insurance, etc.), then don’t balk at paying reasonable rates for the creation of your online business.

So, how much does a website cost?

For a small business website you can spend as little as $6,000 or as much as $20,000 or more.  Your budget should be based on the strategic needs of your business.

If you’ve read this far, you must be serious about your web business. Take the next step by clicking the button below to fill out our short inquiry form. We will get back to you ASAP with a recommendation. No obligation – you can also call us at 310-754-3807 because we love to chat.

 

Free-Consult

Sources: About.com, allbusiness.com

 

  • http://tylerherman.com/courses/building-a-wordpress-site Tyler Herman

    It can be crazy how much design costs fluctuate. I think you’re prices seem pretty accurate. Although it is getting pretty simple to set up a WordPress site these days I wouldn’t really charge any extra for it over a static site.

    • http://intrepidrealist.com Alicia St Rose

      I know this comment is pretty old, but I’ve got to reply. It CAN be simple to set up a wordpress site. Yes, you can install it in one click and use the default theme. I know for a fact NONE of my clients want to look like a billion other people on the web. They want to look unique.

      Custom WordPress Development can take hundreds of hours! I’ve done sites that range from simple blogs to full blown multi-day, multi-venue festival sites. I can assure you both of those sites were OVER $3000. The festival site hit $8000 for all of the custom features to highlight sponsors, participants, stages. When you get to that level of need, tweaking a theme ain’t gonna cut it.

      It would be nice if folks really dug into WordPress to see what it’s capable of before writing it off as a piece of fluff. Seriously!

      • Andy Lin

        100% agree with Alicia. People who want a cheap way can definitely use WordPress and use a free theme or purchase a theme; but they’re going to look like all the other WordPress users out there. I feel like everytime I mention “WordPress”, people tend them to I’m taking the easy way out. Even after I explain that I’m creating a custom theme FROM SCRATCH, they already have the thought of “Oh, he’s just using WordPress, he’s over charging me”. My approach now is to try not to mention WordPress, unless they asked specifically, and explain how I’m creating everything from scratch.

    • Bwaxxlo

      That’s ridiculous. Static sites don’t need configurations like WP sites do. If you just download WP and not configure it, then you just downloaded WP alone. A developer needs to put in time to ensure all WP settings are set.

      • nicolausai

        also laying out a wp theme requires far more knowledge than just laying out a static html page

    • http://www.michaeljohnson.ws Mike Johnson

      I completely disagree. I just spent 50 hours setting up a site I thought would take 10 hours because the client wanted a store with a LOAD of customizations I wasn’t expecting. With over 60 emails sent back and forth, time is spent.

      If you find someone that just wants the default WordPress website installed, and is willing to pay $1,000 for it, please send them my way!

      • admin

        Hi Mike – yep, you might be interested in an ebook I’m writing on “Scope Creep” and how to mitigate it. It is the profit and project killer that too often raises it’s head in web dev. The free ebook should be done sometime this month.

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  • Dave

    Yes, I agree when it goes to small to mid size company the cost and hours will go up, thanks again for the good Article

    Regards.

    Dave

  • Velathora

    As a website developer myself, I find these figures relatively perfect.

    It can be extremely expensive to hit the ground running. I’ve created sites ‘ground-up’ and sites that are re-design only.
    All-in-all, it is much easier to work with an existing site (or even prototype), than with no prior knowledge of the business or design.
    Best thing that can be done is “give me the ideas”, “feed me your vision”, because in reality, all we need is to make it happen to YOUR needs.
    And lastly, remember that websites aren’t the first step, they are a TOOL of marketing, not the marketing itself. It is to be used to compliment your marketing PLAN!

    Hope this at least helps with some people and their decision-making process to a degree!

  • Geo

    Hallelujah!!

  • franceselfcatering

    I find the costings above staggering, having built 1500 websites in the past 15 years and placed the majority on page one in Google. How can anyone in their right minds spend $20-$32k on a small business website??? I use WordPress for all my sites, and Magento for Ecommerce when required. Depending on the type of client I present them with two options – A. the bespoke route where we create a theme for them and code the website from the ground up around the WordPress framework, which cost up to $6k max (inclusive of on-site seo) which I can do on my in a week. Or the most popular way buy a theme off themeforest or similar for $45 and then replace and rebrand with the clients details etc, in a day or two for between $800-$2000. It is after all a ‘small’ business website, and one thing I know about small businesses is that they don’t have tons of capital.

    • admin

      Hi Frances. I understand your reply and your approach and it is one that many small web shops adopt. We also do $6K custom WP websites. The $20K and up websites are those that have complex requirements that are not easily designed or developed. We have worked on website budgets of $5K to $500K and the cost depends on the amount of effort required. “Small Business website” is obviously hard to quantify. What is a small business? compared to a fortune 500 or 1000 firm, is a small business $5,000,000 dollars annual sales or $80K? What return do they expect from their website? It seems like we need to define small business and their requirements to have meaningful comparisons.

    • Annon

      Are you sure? I think you are under charging your customers. My last web design project we worked on, we charged $55,000. The one previously to that, we created a website for $32,000. We do not create any website with a budget lower than $7,000. You might want to reconsider what you charge.

      • sumitanki

        Hello Annon,

        I have few Questions for you:

        you are individual developer or a company?
        do you outsource you projects?

        Thanks !

    • https://medium.com/@commonsensible Commonsensible

      You’re using wordpress or buying themes and changing style sheets… I assume this post is talking about programming from scratch, like full stack development not plug and play work

      • http://www.zeeronsolutions.com/ Aksam Zarook

        It says small business website cost in the title. Most small business want a very basic website with about 10-15 pages or a editable website with a blog and a custom design which can be done using wordpress or joomla. The kind of website you describe maybe a small percentage of the overall small business owners

    • Chris

      I’m ready to launch a website. Your expertise and honesty is appreciated. Please contact me if your interested.

      • 143Steve

        Hi Chris, if you can provide me your email address I will show you some sites that I have designed and also send you the breakdown of how much it cost you.
        you can send you email to steve@printmis.com

      • 143Steve

        Chris, please provide me your email id and I will send you the pricing and breakdown of how much a e-commerce and static website cost you.

        • Simon

          could you provide me with that as well?emadin@tiscali.it

          • binay

            Hi Simon,

            We are a digital marketing company dealing in website development, SEO, PPC. we can deliver you website at
            best rate . Mail your requirement at binay.kumar@adglobal360.in

          • 143Steve

            Just emailed you please acknowledge receipt.

        • Er Sunil Kharat

          Hi Steve, Could you please send me the same on sunilkharat55@gmail.com

        • Er Sunil Kharat

          Hi Steve, Could you please send me the same on sunilkharat55@gmail.com

        • binay

          Hi Steve,

          We are an website development agency. we can deliver you website at
          best rate . Mail your requirement at binay.kumar@adglobal360.in

    • Lance N

      I definitely disagree with you. 1500 sites? So you’re an authority on how to practice business? All I see is that you left dollars on the table. I get real disappointed when I read stuff like this. Stop dumbing down the industry. Do you know ‘small business’ clients I work for have lots of capital. Capital in the millions. You’re in the wrong industry.

  • xxxxx221

    I find it funny… Growing up being addicted to the internet & MMOs, everything that is lsited here I taught myself… and it boggles my mind how some companies charge bare minimum $20k for something I know how to do. Then I realized how valuable my skills have become in the past 4 years… Web design/dev is in very high demand but relatively few know how to make it happen.

    • admin

      Congrats on building your skills – we have found that there are few people who can do it all themselves; sales, planning, IA, design, development, marketing, maintenance, etc. Like it’s hard to find a doctor who is also a nurse, hospital admin, ambulance driver and insurance specialist. So the $10K – $500K+ sites often have a team of professionals to get the work done. That’s why the costs get so high. Many small businesses however, can get a lot accomplished with a person with your skills. Live long and prosper.

  • http://www.annaraddatz.com Anna

    I think this overview will be very useful to a lot of people. However, as a copywriter, I have to take issue with the fact that you left out the very meat of the site – the content! While you list “content creation and insertion” on your list, you really only give a price for the insertion. As many designers can attest to, clients often are not actually good at coming up with their own well-written content – or they are glacially slow in providing it. I’m continually shocked that more designers don’t recommend the hiring of a professional copywriter to their clients. Not only does it give the designer/developer good content to work with (that’s custom-made for a web-based format), the copywriting process also helps the small business owner to define their business in a more powerful and effective way – it gives them perspective that’s difficult to achieve from the inside. My advice? PLEASE DON’T SKIMP ON THE COPYWRITING! It’s the heart and soul of any brand.

    • admin

      Hi Anna, well said. Content is still king and it’s surprising how many clients have badly written text, typos and all. Having a professional copywriter review website content is a relatively small cost compared to the overall cost of website design and development.

    • Justan Montana

      Agreed. So very, very true.

    • http://www.lifestyleupgrade.co.uk/ Andrew Akinyede

      100% agreed Anna, I come across this all the time. Copywriting also is make or break when it comes to converting visitors. Something that’s often overlooked.

    • RevolutionsPerMind

      Yes, I completely agree! I think a good copywriter can make the difference between a gorgeous website that isn’t engaging and a website that creates a community! well said!

  • http://www.ydeveloper.com/e-smart-ecommerce-suite.html Ydeveloper

    Any new eCommerce website today has to consider different costs that are involved while setting up a new business online. This is a big factor as far as the total budget of the business is concerned. As per the above article, we got to know many different types of costs that are mandatory and need to be taken care of for a startup or even a big enterprise. Considering these costs in the investment budget will only help in taking accurate decisions for a firm. Anyways, thank you for that insightful post.

  • http://www.zeeronsolutions.com/ Aksam Zarook

    Like @franceselfcatering:disqus says the web design cost estimates in this article seems bit expensive and not the average.

    The estimates mentioned here maybe the average prices charged by
    established web design businesses with a office in developed countries.
    They are reasonable because the hourly pay rate of designers and office
    rental, electricity etc. are high in those countries.

    In third world
    countries, wages and cost of living is lower, so professional web services and freelancers like us can charge less. That has brought the average price of small business web design down in the Internet.

    Through the Internet a small business can get a completely bespoke and
    professional basic website made today for well within $1000-$1500. And if you think the quality is less then have a look at $1000 websites done by a offshore web design business or freelancer from a country like India, Philipines or Sri Lanka.

    • Michael

      That there seems to be the issue here, the difference between “Professional”and “Freelancer”. The problem is everyone who learns a little HTML ends up calling him self a freelance web developer, it’s no surprise that you guys don’t charge industry standard rates.

      You pirate images you should be paying for, you steal other developers code / content and generally have a crappy sense of design not to mention absolutely no kind of pre-planning or , all this is well and good for the client that pays half or less than the industry standard, and realizes much too late that his site was practically stolen and pirated together.

      Bottom line is.
      You get what you pay for (Hope this sheds some light on the wildly fluctuating rates.) Its the same as buying a stolen Iphone, sure you got a good deal, owner shows up ith police.

  • Tharushi Anna

    Decorous post regarding web design thnax for the post. The web designers in sri lanka also mete out in same field and when it comes to web designing services we provide the best you can know more about us on our website.

  • Earl Henson

    $250/mo to have a designer on call every month? How about my furnace going out in the middle of the winter that’s only $100/mo for $1200 yr. kidding you can buy a new furnace for $2500.

  • http://deanethridge.com/ Dean Ethridge

    I disagree on these rates completely. This is an assumption that the web designer actually knows what they are doing. I see customers getting overcharged all the time and this is a great example of why. There are so many website developers that are crooks. A better article would be how to distinguish a good designer from a bad one. What SEO should be in place etc. The going rate on the street for MOST small businesses is $1000-1500 for a standard wordpress site in my area. Anything over that won’t get sold.

  • Justan Montana

    One major problem I hear again and again is that the “Skill Provider” they hired to do thus and such never completed the work or lived up to what they said they would offer.
    It’s kind of like they were working off the Proverb “In for a Penny- In for a Pound”. Which is to say “I’ve spent this much and, if I end the contract, I’ll have to start all over again and have to pay to get to this point again.”

    Did I miss the area where Legal Costs et al. were discussed?

    Plus… redesigns do not always cost less. Many time a web owner will have to start from scratch. (Note the above)

    Many people SAY they CAN Do… but end up proving they never knew how to cook to begin with. The proof is in the pudding. Lack of user/customer/client/growth tells you that your site (according to the public) is not fit to eat.
    So what did that cost you?

  • http://konstantinladwein.com/ Veronika Oster

    A superb article, but as said in the final conclusion, not all things can be considered always due to different constraints and different ways of working or different clients..But some areas were definitely an eye opener.

  • Lance N

    I’m a web developer and I agree that prices are all over the place. You will often find ‘one-man’ shows undercutting. Its very typical especially this day in age where you can learn anything online. Just about anybody can say they develop. One problem that many business’s can and will face is getting that ‘one man show’ to follow through or answer requests. Most of the time we encounter business’s that have dealt with the ‘cheapies’ who left them high an dry with a messed up site that doesn’t show correctly in a certain browser. Many times they need something posted asap and do not get the adequate response. They learn the hard way that YOU definitely don’t get what you pay for 9 times out of 10. I agree with Anna below that COPY WRITERS and the CONTENT are key.

  • http://a1value.co.uk Sam Daley

    Interesting polarisation here between the professional strategic website solution designers and what I call the ‘bedroom’ designers that bang together a WordPress template and there you go type, having done 2 before they are experts.

    The costs here are generally realistic, (for the US / UK, hourly rates do vary around the world) it is just that there are so many ‘bedroom designers’ that are either underselling themselves or aren’t as good as they think they are.

  • http://www.pepitabos.com/ Pepita Bos

    What would be valuable in this discussion is an indication of the hours spent instead of money value. Every one has different hourly rates.