Asking how much it costs to make a website is akin to asking how much it costs to buy a car! There are many different factors and variables that can influence the cost of your site. In this article, we aim to provide you with a general idea of what you can expect to pay based on your specific requirements.
The good news is that nowadays it is possible to create a perfectly acceptable website for no money at all. By using an online website creation tool such as Wix or Weebly, you can get a site up and running with no up-front cost whatsoever. These services can create truly professional looking sites, so there’s no need for your Web presence to appear amateurish, even with no financial outlay whatsoever.
However, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” does ring true when it comes to website creation. By spending a little more you can build in functionality that would have cost thousands just a few years ago.
We shall now explore a few of the different ways you can go about building a new website, and discuss how much you should expect to pay for each.
Site Building Tools
Both of these tools use relatively simple drag and drop interfaces to help you design your site, and rely on templates to control the basic design elements.
This by no means indicates that sites built using these platforms are basic. It’s possible to build in all kinds of functionality, from the now ever-present social networking buttons, right through to online shops and attractive slider interfaces.
Both Weebly and Wix offer completely free options for building a website, but there is a tradeoff for this. As the free options use the respective services’ free hosting platforms, the free website URL you get will be something like www.yoursitename.weebly.com or www.yoursitename.wix.com.
URLs like this don’t look particularly professional, so if you’re serious about your website (and your business) you will want to register your own domain name, which in both cases means upgrading to a premium service.
The great thing is that these premium services do NOT come at a premium price. Wix premium plans (that include a domain name, hosting, and the removal of Wix advertising) cost from approximately $10-20 per month depending on the functionality you need. Weebly’s premium plans cost from $8-25 per month, with the top plan including full eCommerce shop functionality. This is very little to pay for a professional website.
You will find detailed tutorials for setting up these platforms here at Make a Website.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
CMS systems are what most Web developers now use to create websites, from simple company sites right up to highly sophisticated portals for blue chip companies.
The most popular CMS platforms are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, but we will concentrate on WordPress for the purposes of this article.
Over the years, WordPress has gone from being a fairly simple blog management platform to a fully-fledged site building system. It’s easy to get started with it, and the learning curve is gentle. There are also plugins available (often for free) that allow you to add any functionality you could imagine.
Like Wix and Weebly, WordPress uses templates (or themes) to control the basic appearance of sites, but WordPress themes have the ability to offer far more sophistication. Some premium WordPress themes offer complete drag and drop page building functionality, allowing you fine control of sites that are fast and responsive on all kinds of devices.
You will find some more details of why we love WordPress here at Make a Website in this article here.
In terms of cost, a WordPress website is not expensive, but you should obviously allow for your own time in developing the site. If you have time, basic technical ability and the willingness to learn some simple new skills, you should be capable of setting up a WordPress website without external help.
These are the costs you should allow for in order to create a WordPress site:
Web Hosting: Approx $140 per year, using our favourite hosting firm, HostGator.
Domain Registration: Approx $12 per year.
A Premium WordPress Theme: Approx $55.
TOTAL COST: $207 in the first year.
As you can see, the price of a CMS-based website is surprisingly low.
You will find our detailed guide to registering a domain and setting up a WordPress site here.
Using a Web Design Firm
Of course, the option to use a dedicated Web design company still exists, and there are certainly plenty of them around.
What you should keep in mind, however, is that they will probably use a CMS like WordPress or Joomla to create your site anyway.
Obviously this isn’t always the case, but unless you are a major technophobe or you simply don’t have the time, we would urge you to first have a go at building your own website using one of the methods discussed above.
Asking how much a Web design firm will charge to build your site really is a “how long is a piece of string?” question. The costs will often differ based on the quality of customer service you will receive, as much as the technical prowess of the person actually building your site. If you are intending to pay for a site in this way, you should consider what kind of after-sales support you can expect too.
Here are some cost examples:
1. A novice Web designer or off-shore freelancer may offer to build you a WordPress site for as little as $100.
2. A more experienced high-street designer with a good portfolio and more experience would probably charge in the region of $800-1000 for the same site.
3. A high-end creative agency could charge upwards of $10,000 for a comprehensive eCommerce site.
In all cases, you should still expect to pay annual costs for domain registration and hosting – from $100 per year to far FAR more if your site is very busy and requires a dedicated server.
A Final Word
As you can see, setting up your site could cost anything from nothing to tens of thousands of dollars, which highlights our original point that it’s hard to determine the cost of a “typical” site. Our main advice would be to experiment with the free or low cost options before paying out a large sum of money. As CMS platforms get more advanced, some Web “designers” are making a lot of money doing very simple work that takes them very little time.