The Ultimate Guide to Website Costs
Website cost is often a big deciding factor when it comes to my prospective clients choosing their website, no matter how informed one of my fellow fempreneurs may be, there are always surprises and things that just weren’t thought about when it comes to the cost of their new or redesigned website.The statement I often hear is, “WOW, I didn’t realize there were so many other costs involved in having a website. I chose WordPress because it seemed easy to use and I thought it was free.”
Because I know I don’t like surprises and it’s important to me that you’re educated so you can make a well-informed decision, I’ve created this comprehensive, ultimate guide to website costs.
While this guide was written mainly referring to websites build using WordPress.org (aka self-hosted) websites, many of these website costs will apply no matter what platform your website is built on.
How much does a website cost for my business?
Table of contents
How much does a website cost for my business?
The cost to build a website can vary greatly. I’ve seen websites cost as low as $100 to as much as $10,000+. Why such a wide range? Because while they may look alike on the surface, websites can look very different under the hood.
Factors of website design prices
Some of the factors that go into the cost of building your website are
The expertise of the designer and/or developer
The complexity of the website
The time it takes to build the website
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Let’s take a look at each of one these in a bit more detail.
The expertise of the designer and/or developer
As with any business, the more experience the person you hire has, the higher the cost. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “You get what you pay for.” When you hire someone who is more experienced, you are paying for their skills and expertise. The more experienced person has been to school, taken training and worked with several clients to make sure they hone in on their skills to be the experts they are.I also want to mention here that there is a difference between a website designer and a website developer.
A website designer is someone who creates how your website will look. She will hopefully design the website based on your website goals and the unique needs of your business.
A website developer is someone who works under the hood to make sure that your website functions as it should. This person knows how to code and makes sure the pretty and functionality work well and play nice in the sandbox together.Can this be the same person? Absolutely!
The complexity of the website
The more complex your website, the higher the cost. A membership or ecommerce website is going to be more complex in its build than a basic 5-page website that consists of a homepage, about page, services page, contact page, and a blog.
The time it takes to build the website
It should go without saying that the longer it takes to build a website, the more expensive it is because it takes more time.
You can’t (well you can, but I don’t advise it) just throw up a website. These days you need more than just a pretty brochure. You and your website designer and/or developer need to talk strategy.
What are your big, scary business goals and objectives?
What role will your website play in helping you reach those goals?
How could your website keep your visitors from buying your product or service or signing up for your free offer?
Who is your audience?
What will your business look like a year from now?
The list goes on and on, but whatever you place on your website, it should have a purpose. It’s not just there for the sake of being there and taking up space. Talking strategy first saves a headache later.While it may not sound very sexy, strategy conversations help create a playbook for how your website is built and how successful it is in helping you to meet those big, scary business goals.
Having a bunch of web copy isn’t going to be the most exciting thing for your website visitors. Who wants to look at a wall of words? The imagery on your website helps to not only break up the text on your website but also to convey your message and help your website to be more aesthetically pleasing.
If your website designer is helping you plan your content by creating an editorial calendar, this can help with the planning of your website for now and the future.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the strategy applied to your website to help you rank for certain keywords. For example, if you wanted to rank on the first page of Google for the word Nutritionist, that would be difficult because it’s such a popular word.However, you would have a better chance of ranking on the first page of Google with the keyword phrase Nutritionist for diabetes and an even better chance with the keyword phrase Nutritionist for diabetes Washington DC.Working with an SEO expert can help to increase the eyes on your website with organic search.
If you’re not familiar with the world of web design, hopefully, your web designer will offer training in the form of videos, an ebook, and/or one-on-training. This is an invaluable part of your website journey. It will empower you to have the confidence to maintain your website if you so choose.Now that you’re familiar with the factors involved with hiring someone to build your website, let’s talk about the additional costs that you may not have considered with the cost to build a website.
What are my website design costs?
While each website is different, I’ve listed the most common costs associated with having a website built.The first 2 items on this list are must-haves. Without these 2, there is no website.
Your domain is a necessity when it comes to your website. Think of your domain as the address for your website, just as you give someone your home address. When some asks, What’s your website address,?" you’re telling them what street they can find your website on.
Hosting is the second must have. Hosting is your home and allows you to rent your space online. That space is a server, which is nothing more than a huge computer. These servers store many types of websites on them; not all websites on shared hosting servers are WordPress, which is called shared hosting.
Managed WordPress hosting also uses servers, but one of the most obvious differences with this type of hosting is that they only host WordPress websites. There are several different hosting companies from which to choose and also different types of hosting. For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to touch briefly on shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting, because typically, these types of hosting will meet the needs of most business owners.
Shared hosting servers are usually overcrowded and typically do the best job of monitoring the number of resources a particular website is using, which affects all of the other websites on that same server.
For example, if you have 100 websites on a server and one of them is using a lot of resources, it can cause the other 99 websites on that same server to go slower. While more expensive, Managed WordPress hosting closely monitors the resources a website uses on their servers to make sure other websites are not affected by a resource hog. This type of hosting typically take care of security, speed, updates, and backups.
To make it even easier to understand, I look at shared hosting as the general practitioner you go to when you aren’t feeling well and managed WordPress hosting as the specialist you go to visit for a specific problem. You pay more for the specialist, but the specialist is very familiar with your ailment and is able to quickly provide a diagnosis and provide the necessary treatment.
Of course, you can’t live anywhere for free so, you pay your hosting company a fee each month, or if you prefer, you can pay annually, to allow your website to live on their servers.
Shared hosting prices vary but typically ranges from $47.88/annually - $191.88 annually. ($3.99/month - $15.99/month)
Managed WordPress hosting prices vary, but typically range from $180.00/annually - $1,188 annually. ($15.00/month - $99.99/month).
I recommend all of my clients use Managed WordPress hosting. While it is more expensive, it is a much better product and you have more peace of mind, knowing your website is safe and well taken care of. If at all possible, this is one area you do not want to skimp so your money should go here if you have to choose.
One of the great things about WordPress is the large number and variety of themes. You can have a different look to your website at the drop of a hat if you'd like by simply buying and installing a new theme. There are thousands of themes to choose from.
When it comes to pricing, themes are classified as free premium themes (paid themes). The free themes are typical of low quality and are not always compatible with the latest version of WordPress or available plugins. If you are going to use a free theme, do so knowing that at any given time, the person who created the theme may no longer support it and that you must consider the source.
You don’t want to just upload anything from the internet. Premium themes, which are themes you purchase come from more reliable sources and have support. With premium themes, you are provided with more options for customization than free themes. This support can come in various formats but are typically forums where there is a community who can assist you and not just the theme developer.
There is a large variance in price when looking at themes which range from $19.99 - $200.00+. On average, themes from reputable sources are $75.
Some themes are priced annually, while others are a one-time price. If the theme is an annual price, this price is for access to support and receiving the updates to the theme. If you do not pay the annual fee, you will no longer have access to support, nor will you have access to receive updates for your theme.
Genesis Framework with StudioPress Child Themes
Note: I'm often asked about WordPress themes on ThemeForest. There are some really great themes on ThemeForest and there are some really bad themes on ThemeForest. While it does have a large number of WordPress themes, it’s hit or miss. If you just absolutely have to use a theme from this source, make sure you do your due diligence to research the theme, the developer, and the support they offer.
Google takes security very seriously. In fact, July 2018 marked when Google said that it would flag websites that don’t have SSL certificates. Your website will show a not secure tag to the left of the browser address bar.
Can you imagine how uneasy your website visitors would feel if they were viewing a website that says, “not secure,” especially if they were making a purchase?In case you aren’t familiar with what an SSL stands for it is Secured Sockets Layer. If you are gathering any type of sensitive and secure information on your website such as credit card information you definitely need an SSL certificate.
SSL certificates provide another layer of security and allow that information to be encrypted and transported across the internet securely by creating an encrypted link between your host's server and the browser a website is being viewed on.There are two types of SSL Certificates; standard and wildcard.
A standard SSL Certificate covers your website if someone types in yourdomain.com OR www.yourdomain.com. A wildcard SSL certificate covers your main domain whether a www is used or not and any subdomains. That would look like yourdomain.com, www.yourdomain.com, www.subdomain.yourdomain.com.
A SSL certificate is going to change your domain from http://lynnwhitedesigns.com to https://lynnwhitedesigns.com. The difference? There is now an “s” at the end of the http.What if you don’t sell anything on your website? Do you still need an SSL certificate? Yes.
If you aren’t collecting any sensitive data, there is a free SSL Certificate by Let’s Encrypt. This certificate lasts for 90-days and must be renewed. Speak with your website designer to have a discussion on whether this is the right solution for your website.
Certificates can range in price from $70/annually - $200/annually.
Most hosting companies offer SSL Certificates
Plugins are another reason WordPress is so popular. Plugins are what give it the functionality it can have. Out of the box, WordPress doesn’t do a lot. It’s the plugins that allow it to do all the fancy things you see, such as rotating images and testimonials, shopping carts, memberships, using Facebook for comments, and viewing social media feeds on someone’s website.
At the time of this post, there are over 54,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Repository. Guess what? That’s not including all of the other plugins that are sold privately on the developer’s website!As you can imagine, if you can think it up, there is probably a plugin for it.
Please keep in mind, just because there are so many plugins, doesn’t mean you need to use all of them. There are many plugins that perform the same functionality and plugins that have several functionalities built into one.
Like themes, there is a wide range when it comes to the prices of plugins. The range is from free-$200.00+ and can be a one time fee or an annual fee.
You may also see a plugin listed as freemium. This means that to use the basic features of the plugin, it’s free. If you want more functionality, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version.
When choosing a plugin,
Do your research to make sure you are purchasing a plugin from a reputable source
Read the reviews
Review how support is handled
Ask others for suggestions
Because there are so many types of plugins, it’s impossible for me to recommend plugins or one source to purchase them, but there are some types of plugins which should be on your website.
You should have a plugin for:
Decreasing the number of spam comments on your website
Backing up your website
Social sharing and following
Analytics (if you aren’t comfortable adding the code)
Cache (if you’re not on WP managed hosting)
Website Security Monitoring
Unfortunately, there are people who have nothing better to do than to make other people’s lives unhappy by trying to hack into their site. What if you could know if this was happening before it happened? These systems will scan and protect your website.
Pricing can range from free to $199.99/annually
Depending on your industry, you may need stock images for your website if you don’t have your own high-quality images. Stock photos can be expensive, but there are several websites that offer high-quality photos at no cost to low cost.When choosing stock photos for your website, make sure you read the license so that you know how you can and cannot use the images. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with Creative Commons Licenses.
Free - $200/image
Fonts can bring a website to life or it can leave it dull and drab. I just love fonts and hate to admit it but I am a font snob! I can look at fonts all day every day and never get bored. There are so many and for me, the more swirl and loop in it, the better! I don’t use these often as much as I love them because I have to think of my website visitors experience and those fonts can be difficult to read.
When Google Fonts came out, it was such a wonderful thing because it meant you no longer had to use those plain, boring fonts that come with your computer. There are also many other fonts available other than Google Fonts which can be coded into your website. You cannot just find a font online and use it.
You need to read the license to see if you are allowed to use it or if there is a cost. Purchasing a font (aka font license) will give you the permission to use a particular font on your website, marketing materials, or wherever you need to use it.
You have to be careful because not all fonts are licensed the same so read the fine print!Some fonts have a desktop license and a webfont license. There are others, but for most entrepreneurs, these are the two most commonly used.
Desktop font license: allows you to use the license on your desktop. Make sure you pay attention as to how many devices you can install the font on. Some licenses limit the number of devices. This font is going to allow you to make design files.
Webfont license: you can use the font on your website, via code and you can even use it in your email! Pay close attention to the limitations of this font license too. These are oftentimes limits on the number of pageviews.
Font licenses range in price from free to $400+. Recommendations for free fonts
Recommendations for paid fonts
Email Marketing System
If you want to stay on the minds of your website visitors, (aka prospective clients), I recommend you have some type of signup form on your website. To have this form, you need an email marketing system.
If you plan on gathering information from your website visitors, send out broadcast emails like a newsletter, and have a nurture campaign, you need an email marketing system. You cannot use your personal email client such as Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL.
Your personal email marketing system is not compliant with CAN-SPAM laws. If you aren’t familiar with this act, make sure you read about the CAN-SPAM Act. Violation of this law can result in a $10,000 fine per occurrence. Ouch! Do you know how many pairs of shoes you could buy with $10,000???
I’m sure you’ve been on a website where there is a form asking you to enter your name, email address, and other information to get tips, strategies, an ebook, chapter of a book, etc. When you do, you begin to receive a series of emails asking you to confirm your subscription and if you want to receive the information.
From time to time you probably also receive emails about products, services, or classes being sold, or a newsletter.That seamless process happens because of an email marketing system. These systems provide the code you need to add to your website for the form, and once you have everything configured, will send out those emails based upon what you have set up.
Email marketing systems range in functionality from simple, such as MailChimp, to more robust systems such as InfusionSoft.
Recommended Reading: Why You Don’t Need InfusionSoft
Email marketing system plans also have a wide range because of the features available for each system. These systems start and can be as much as $200+/month.
Recommendations for free to medium priced email marketing systems
Recommendations for more advanced, higher-priced email marketing systems
We are not all blessed with the ability to write copy that can grab our audience's attention. And maybe you are blessed with it, but you just don’t want to or you don’t have the time. That is a-okay!
The wonderful and amazing people out there whose sole purpose in life is to make our potential clients love us and hire us with amazing copy that converts are Copywriters and I’ve used them. They are great!There is no shame in hiring a Copywriter.
Everyone has a gift and their gift is how to use words that evoke emotion, convert, and help your audience know that you get them, and show you as the expert that you are!
This varies based on the Copywriter, but my suggestion is to set aside $1,000 at a minimum for this service.
If you’ve got the time to write and feel like you do a pretty good job of writing to reach your audience, but need some help in the grammar, spelling, wording area, then an Editor just might be for you.
I’ve used Editors too and it’s amazing how they can take what you’ve written and make it concise and clear, especially if you’re someone like me who has a tendency to be wordy.Again, don’t be ashamed to hire these folks. They are there, just like Copywriters to make sure you look good!
This varies based on the Editor, but my suggestion is to set aside $1,000 at a minimum for this service.
You’ve worked hard to have a website that looks great, speaks to your audience, and converts. You need to protect it and yourself! There are certain legal pages that should be on your website for your protection.Pages such as a
Terms and conditions
This list is not all-inclusive, but these pages are the bare minimum that should be on your website. Now that we have GDPR, these pages are even more important!Don’t skimp on protecting yourself and your website. It’s no laughing matter.
This is going to vary greatly depending on if you choose to hire a lawyer to write these specifically for you or if you choose to use templates. I recommend setting aside a minimum of $500 for this part of your website.
You can’t have a website that is great under the hood and horrible to look at!Graphics are definitely something you need on your website. Every web designer is different, some may include these with your website, some may not.Graphics include, but are not limited to,
Hero images/website banners
Pricing varies greatly, but if not a part of your website design, I recommend budgeting $500 for this part of your website.
PDF + Ebook Design
Keeping your banding consistent is important, even when it comes to your PDFs and ebooks and this is where PDF + Ebook design comes to the rescue! You’ve got this amazing website that’s protected and getting traffic. When you invite someone to join your online family (your email list), you should put your best foot forward!If you offer a cheatsheet, ebook, checklist, anything that involves a document, it should reflect your brand.
A plain ‘ole World document is just boring and you deserve better and so do your website visitors. Remember, those who have decided to be a part of your online family, deserve better too!
Pricing varies for this service, but I recommend setting aside a minimum of $300 for this service.
If you’re design savvy, Canva is a great tool to design your PDFs and ebooks! InDesign by Adobe is also another great tool if you choose to go the DIY route.
Once your website is complete, that doesn't mean it's time to forget about it. Website security shouldn't be taken lightly. Do you have a plan for making sure your website is backed up? What preventative measures are you taking to lower the likelihood that your website will be hacked?
Maintenance isn't just about security. If you're a super busy entrepreneur or if you just have no desire to blog, source images, add pages, etc., then finding someone to maintain your website is a route you may want to take.
This can vary depending on the type of maintenance you receive. I recommend budgeting $150/month.
You may wonder what a Photographer has to do with a website. A lot! Hands down, personal, on brand photos are always better than stock images. These days it's much easier to find a Photographer to snap photos of you in you in action.
Gone are the boring headshot photos of yesteryear. Now, the more authentic, the better! There are Photographers who will meet you on location, whether that's your home, office, park, wherever you're best represented in your element.
Remember, people hire people, not businesses. So when you can, always go for photos taken by a Photographer that represent you and your brand.
The price range for hiring a Photographer varies greatly, but I recommend budgeting a minimum of $700
As you can see, there are many costs to building a website from the ground up. With website redesign cots, while you may not need everything on this list, it’s good to know what may come up.
Don’t let this list scare you because everything on this list may not apply to you, but you know how I am. My goal is to always make sure you are an in the know fempreneur so you can make an educated, and well-informed decision.
I always say, “You don’t have to do the work, but you need to know about the work.”What else would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.Have a friend looking to start a business or redesign a website? Share this with her so she’s informed too!