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how much does a website cost in 2014

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.

*Editor’s Note: We just published our analysis of Website Costs for 2016, feel free to read both articles for an in-depth look into Website estimates.

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.




  • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

      • J Gilbert

        Every time you don’t bill those rates you are underselling every other talented developer. Most of us are developing sites that are either going to bring in a lot of capital, or save an equal amount of capital by reducing total human labor. If you aren’t charging rates that reinforce the idea that our skill-set is valuable, you are underselling the career of others.

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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



  • 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


  • 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.

    • Tim

      YOU are the one that might want to reconsider what YOU charge. Those prices most certainly can be reasonable, depending on the scale/complexity of the project, but I have a feeling you’d charge $7,000 for a simple 5 page website that could easily take less than a week to do. THAT is not right. THAT is overcharging.

      • AlexVela

        You mean stealing…

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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!

    • So cool to see the copywriting brought up. Website designers who don’t utilize copywriters make a big mistake. PLUS they are missing out on a lot of additional revenue that could be generated by providing the copywriting service via a freelance writer.

      • Good point. I started to use copy writers more and more. I write that into my proposals. Clients are notorious for not coming up with content, or they are glacially slow in coming up with it.

  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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

      • Johny Derp

        Not just that but a wordpress site can potentially be handed back to the user to maintain, good luck teaching them HTML. This may no bode well for people looking for overvalued service agreements, but for the end user the ability to add your own content easily only increases the value of going with WordPress. Since most sites are just online business cards most people are best off using an easy to use CMS like WordPress or Joomla though wordpress seems to have the market pinned down pretty well so I’d just go with them for anything other than a site that requires actual web programming… not just HTML and CSS.

        That all being said, it’s not that hard to make and sell your own HTML/CSS templates and give your customers the best of both words without overcharging them. Most people just want some text and some pretty graphics on a clean interface. If you expect your website to sell your business for you, your going to fail.

        • Agree with you. its better for a small business to make a website with wordpress because that way they can get the ability to edit/update or even manage the website themselves without the need to contact a web designer to get it updated which is the case with making websites with only html/css. However to get the most of a website with wordpress make sure hire a good web design service who can customize or completely make a custom designed wordpress theme site and also also configure it for SEO, security etc.

  • 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.

      • Hey Michael, you are just assuming a lot of things here. Like I said before a professional service located in the US will need to charge factoring US wage and admin costs where as giving the same level of service from a office in India or Sri Lanka will cost less because cost and wages are less here. I know because I run full time registered web design service here with office expenses and wages here.

        • holmessph

          Only problem is, the work we see coming from Russia, China, is junk.. Pure junk.. 17 years in the business, I can tell you I’ve tried to outsource so many times, it’s always a huge disappointment.

          • Please don’t paint all of us with the same brush. I don’t disagree with you that there are lot of junk and third class web design services from these countries but their are genuine services like us as well

          • Ray Rivera

            Honestly, with all due respect Holmessph is right. I just looked at your site..and everything is really dated and generic looking. I’d love to see the day when countries like india can produce agency like quality for the rates you guys pose. Yes, it’s cheaper to get design from 3W countries but these designers and companies usually are not seasoned and in the KNOW like designers from the US or even EURO are.

          • Hi Ray,
            You are correct, we’ve been so busy working on our client web design projects we’vee neglected our own site. Thank you for looking at our site and making me update it. I’ve now removed the outdated examples of websites we’ve done from the portfolio section and updated it with new website we’ve developed.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • I’ve seen plenty of websites that when I was told how much a client paid for it, I was shocked. … I recently read a good article from Forbes (How Much Does A Website Cost), where the author, Ilya made some good points on Website cost.


    This is nice post if you are in web developer, you must be aware of global market for improvement. Pricing actually varies as per the requirements.

  • holmessph

    $1500 will get you junk, and usually created by a sole proprietor. Companies that build sites for $1500 are either outsourcing, moonlighting, or have a spouse bringing down most the bacon. Once you expand past 1 employee this is literally impossible to keep up.. Even in most cities just to have a middle-class wage means you have to produce 33 sites a year… lol Having been in this business for 17 years, and started out thinking the same way you do, I can tell you a lot changes once you have a staff of 15+ employees and you have to feed them and your own family. The only time we see people doing sites that cheap here are moonlighters, beginners or college students, no serious web business would bother doing work at that rate.

    • Ray Rivera

      Well said. I think even for a professional designer or freelancer that rate is still absurd..of course it mainly depends on your cost of living. Born and raised in NYC and living in LA..1k-1.5k for a site wont get me by unless I can produce 5 a month at least.

  • holmessph

    $1500 will get you junk, Even in most cities just to have a middle-class wage means you have to produce 33 sites a year… lol Having been in this business for 17 years, and started out thinking the same way you do, I can tell you a lot changes once you have a staff of 15+ employees and you have to feed them and your own family. The only time we see people doing sites that cheap here are moonlighters, beginners or college students, no serious web business would bother doing work at that rate.

  • Post is amazing agree with you.

  • Interesting breakdown of cost, I guess every market is different. Are you referring prices for the US, European/ Australian market?

  • Oluwatoyin Adelakun

    This a very good article. Very good. Thanks

  • Would you charge for yearly fee in advance? Like re-registering the domain?

    • admin

      Absolutely. I prefer clients to do this because it’s extra hassle for a web agency and not worth billing a client for management of this.

  • Great breakdown, though I will admit 20K for a “basic” 20 page site seems high. However, I think it’s a great perspective. I offer design, development, marketing, and SEO packages to small business and continually undervalue what I offer. Part of this comes from my background with non-profits where expectation was high and budget non-existent. However you made your point clear – if you’re about to spend 100K on a physical location for your business, budgeting 5K-12K on a website that is your business’ digital first impression is not unreasonable.

  • Anupama Panchal

    Hey, Could you please tell that what is the reason for charging extra for photo gallery? How do you explain this to a client?

    • admin

      There are a hundred different photo gallery plugins out there. You will need to determine what one is most appropriate for your client’s needs and then configure it and possibly theme it to fit the site design and train the client how to use it. That takes additional effort. Then charge the client for the time to upload their photos and captions and possibly add SEO keywords on the backend.

  • Divine

    Great article. I’m a small business owner with a small budget. I’m looking to have my website redesigned. I’ve been searching for a company for 6 months. I’ve received quotes that range from $3,500 – $30,000. I had to ask if the $30K was American dollars!!! LOL I have to admit that company did EXCELLENT working judging from their portfolio. However, that isn’t my reality. My budget is $5K *TOPS*. I’m finding this is like buying a house! There is so much to consider and not all builders are created equal. Yesterday I got a $25K quote and their work was NOTHING like the other company in that price range…and all the sites in their portfolio looked the same. If I had $30K to spend they wouldn’t get my money. How do I improve my web presence so I can get sales that will enable me to hire the top companies on a limited budget???????

    • Jeff

      You need to understand how to drive traffic. There are lots of choices when it comes down to it. What you’re looking at is ad budget, market analysis, current site metrics, ad execution, lead generation… etc. Do you have a product that can be bought directly online? or is your company service based? Lot’s of questions.

  • popular design

    website cost is depend on client requirement, but this information very useful.

  • admin

    Hi Megan – it comes down to how much value you put on your time. What is your experience level and what does your overhead cost. If we were to do what you describe, I’d put it at at least 40 hours – probably 60 plus, if you’re doing a logo and training them on how to use WordPress. If you charge a minimal amount, like $35 an hour – that’s $2,100. If you charge what we charge at $120/hr it’s $7,200.

  • nice post

  • Douglas

    I’ve been a web/App developer & designer since the mid-90s. In my experience, the ability to program a website or employ a template alone does not make an effective site. Seasoned developers will get to know the client’s business objects and competitive landscape, then work to provide the optimal solution. As mentioned here, content creation can be a non-trivial difference in pricing. Less experienced developers also tend to simply push a design on a client with little understanding of their business. This probably explains the price differences mentioned in this post. For example, if the project is being done for $1500, then it’s doubtful there’s much market research going into it. More likely it’s a turnkey solution in which case the client might as well go with a templated hosted solution and skip the developer altogether. With that said, $30k seems a little steep unless it’s a web application or high-trafficked site with special requirements (compliance, security, load balancing, etc).

  • jaybaker1968

    Just curious, in this case, why didn’t you agree on a price with the client up front?
    Roughly how many hours do you think you applied towards the project? Again, I’m just wondering. I almost always bid on projects with a flat rate. But I still have problems, even now, under-bidding on projects. It is something I am actively working on.

  • Manny

    You are absolutely right Anna, but how much % of the over all business website project should be in the pie of the total project cost or even maintenance cost?

  • Isabella

    Thanks for sharing these details of web developing cost.It really helps me in estimating accurate price for my current online webshop.

  • AlexVela

    A lot is BS, a basic website, for a small buissnes like no other, you can go to wix or any other web site builder and build a web site your self with hosting, domain, etc, for about 120 bucks… And it will look the same like the one they charge you 30k,,,.. Web design become a scheme…

  • Rani Craft Robinson-Kiganda

    Really good takeaways. Content is king, so in my opinion, it’s as important as the design. But in terms of serious dollar figures, this was spot on.

  • Gramm Wang

    You are smart guy!

  • Ray Rivera

    And that is why you would earn the “Worst client of the year” Award! The only anyone looking for custom web design for 1k-1.5k is either a bad client or very very uneducated about the market.

  • Ray Rivera

    Tim, for what you just described..yes 3k seems feasible. But, what does “simple” mean to you? Don’t confuse SIMPLE with “it takes less time” so it should cost less…All of apples products are designed on the principal of simplicity…just saying.

  • Ray Rivera

    This is why I stopped designing websites for “small business” owners or joe schmoes. Pricing is very subjective and the overall “small business” owner is generally someone who does not understand market pricing for this kind of work and automatically thinks 1,500 is as much as anyone should ever spend on their business…It’s very difficult to break this down to people but the more seasoned designers and agencies educate the better the world would be for the rest of us. My advice to any JR designer struggling with pricing is to evaluate exactly why anyone should work with you and what you bring to the table to your clients and THEN set your rates based on the market and where you live..and adjust from there to be competitive. Use your unique set offerings as your reasoning behind your rates. Find clients who respect whatever it is and keep working with people like that.

  • Xavior Miller

    You are not paying for the destination you are paying for the journey. A proper experience design strategy is not a set of templates. Producing a great experience is like making a movie and the cost of the movie is not the 2hr film.

  • JK

    I think simplicity goes a long way in the on-line world. There are just too many flashy websites clamoring for attention out there – and thus the cost for building and maintaining it. Business owners somehow think they need all the features that his competitors or peers have but actually a storefront is merely what it is, a storefront. Keep it simple, easily navigable, and truthful and uniquely and helpfully informational and it should justify it’s existence. The WIIFM factor is a must-have for the page – that is why the visitor landed on the web-page in the first place. Unless the WIIFM is logically and systematically spelled out, it won’t be the much-needed salesman for the business. Just my two-cents. 🙂

  • Carolyn Veith Krienke

    “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.” Are you kidding! STOP right here! This article is totally fooling you. You can’t even buy 2-3 stock images for that price and no, you cannot make a bad image look good. I’ve been an art director over 15 years and the biggest heart ache is dealing with bad images. Not because I can’t do tricks, which yes good designers can do, but because good images, sell or break your brand, final case point. Invest in good images and plan a minimum of $1000 in your budget. They are 100% worth the success of your business.

    • admin

      Sorry – totally disagree. I’ve been an art director for 25 years and Thinkstock for example has millions of images that are available for very reasonable pricing. I will admit that 70% or so are crap and you need to sort through them carefully BUT depending on your client, a person with some imagination can make a stock image work pretty well. I do agree that in a perfect world all clients would be able to afford a professional photo shoot but the reality is that many of our clients can’t.

  • You should all thanks wordpress and cheap templates for these low prices. Everyone including their grandmother are web designers.