If you want to make an impact on the world in the 21st century—with a business idea or some personal project—you need an online presence. But how much does it cost to build a website or web app? The truth is, the cost of building a website ranges from $0 to hundreds of thousands. Why? Because there is more than one way to build a website, and because websites can be extremely simple or incredibly complicated, as well as anything in between.
To help you estimate the cost of building your website, we’ve put together a list of factors that you need to take into account to produce a realistic estimation regardless of whether you want to hire an agency, pay a freelancer, or create the website yourself using readily available website builders and content management systems.
Factors to consider
Do you want to know how much does it cost to build a website? Then you must consider the following three factors. Depending on your answers, your website may end up costing you closer to $100 or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
1. Website type
Do you want to build an online CV to attract potential employers, or do you want to build an online store with a shopping cart, payment gateway, backend, and many other features that online shoppers have come to expect over the years? The type of website you want to build largely decides which tools and technologies to use.
While virtually anyone can put together a simple static website these days, fully-featured e-commerce websites require a fair amount of web development experience to be secure, usable, and well-performing. Don’t expect to compete with the likes of Uber and Lime unless you’re willing to spend money on professional web developers who are familiar with the latest technologies and know how to put them to good use.
2. Domain name
Without a domain name, it would be impossible for anyone to reach your website—at least not the way people are used to browsing the web. All generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as .com, .info, .net, and .org, cost more or less the same (between $10 and $20 a year), and the same goes for many country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), such as .us, .uk, .il, .au, .de, .fi, .fr, .jp, .kr, .nl, and others.
Everything changes, however, when the domain name you want to purchase is already registered. In that situation, you can ask the owner of the domain name if they would be willing to sell it and for how much. If the domain isn’t too attractive, expect to pay between $500 and $10,000. If the domain is very attractive, the price can be much higher. For example, the domain CarInsurance.com sold for $49.7 million, the domain PrivateJet.com sold for $30.18 million, and the domain Internet.com sold for $18 million.
3. Web hosting
The cost of web hosting can range from a few dollars a month to hundreds and even thousands—it all depends on which web hosting option you choose and how many visitors your website gets. The most affordable web hosting option is shared web hosting because it allows multiple websites to share a single server and its resources.
Because shared web hosting offers limited performance and reliability, many larger websites instead choose dedicated hosting, a type of web hosting in which the customer leases an entire server not shared with others, or cloud hosting, which has become very popular in recent years due to its fantastic scalability.
According to Internet Live Stats, there are currently over 1.7 billion (yes, billion) websites online right now. To stand out, it’s not enough for websites to simply be functional anymore. Your website must also look great and provide a fantastic user experience. Ready-made website templates have made it possible to create a professional-looking website for around $100, but they don’t replace bespoke website design, which starts at around $1,000 for simpler websites.
Why? Because their one-size-fits-all approach makes them more difficult to customize, optimize, and make truly unique. That said, a ready-made website template can be a great option for smaller websites of a regional character or non-profit organizations that don’t need to worry about fierce competition. Of course, ready-made website templates are an absolute boon to people who want to build a website on their own, which largely explains why so many websites these days look nearly identical.
To keep visitors engaged and coming back, you need high-quality content. E-commerce websites, for example, need product pages, product descriptions, resource pages, and blog posts. Ask yourself if you want to create this content yourself or if you would rather let someone else take care of it for you.
Most agencies will be more than happy to work with you on an ongoing basis and supply you with fresh content. Instead of spending time on keyword research, writing, proofreading, and marketing, you will be able to focus entirely on growing your business and attracting more customers.
Website development approaches
There’s always more than one way to skin a cat. When it comes to building a website, you can do everything on your own, pay someone else to help with it, or hire an agency to do everything for you. Each of these three options has its pros and cons, and each comes with a different price tag attached to it.
How much does it cost to build a website on your own?
Answer: $0 to $300
To build a website on your own, you don’t need to be a professional web developer and designer. All you need is a website builder like Wix.com or a website platform like WordPress.com. In the case of WordPress.com, you don’t even need to spend money on web hosting thanks to their free hosting plan. From there, you can add a custom domain name to make the website truly yours.
If you have a more advanced understanding of web hosting technology, you can build a website using a content management system like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, or Ghost. For that, you’ll need a web hosting plan, domain name, SSL certificate, and preferably also a premium website template. Depending on your choices, you can expect to spend anywhere between $0 to $300. Just keep in mind that many web hosting services cost significantly more after the first term, so always read the fine print.
How much does it cost to build a website with a freelancer?
Answer: $100 to $5,000
Instead of building your website on your own, you can pay a freelancer to help you with certain tasks, such as the initial set up, graphic design, or content creation. You can find freelancers on sites like Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, or various online job boards. Their rates range wildly depending on their location, skills, and experience. For an average website with 4–6 pages and not many interactive elements and complicated features, you can expect to pay between $100 and $5,000.
You might be able to find a freelancer living in a developing country who is willing to build a complicated website for next to nothing, but there’s a chance the freelancer would use a stolen template and copyrighted assets, so take such offers with a grain of salt and always insist on signing a proper contact before you spend any money.
How much does it cost to build a website with an agency?
Answer: $1,000 to $100,000+
Website development agencies employ a team of professional web developers, user experience and user interface designers, QA engineers, SEO specialists, marketing strategists, and sometimes even content writers. While an agency might be the most expensive option for building a website, it’s also the most convenient. You can expect only the most professional results and access to many value-added services, such as ongoing maintenance.
To get the most value for your money, choose an agency located in a country where skilled professionals charge a lower hourly rate. Poland is a good example because the average salary of a Polish web developer is $27,000 a year, compared with the United States, where the average web developer earns around $70,000 a year.
Building a website is just the start
With a website ready for launch, you should already be thinking about the constant upkeep it will require to remain functional and attractive to visitors. Try to remember how websites looked 20 or even 10 years ago. They were blocky, awkward to use, and very limited in functionality. In fact, anyone today can create a better website than Apple or Coca Cola had in 2000 using open source tools and extremely affordable templates.
At the very least, you should continuously supply your website with fresh content, preferably as a part of your larger online marketing strategy. Building a blog is one of the best ways to do that, especially if you have a lot to say to your visitors.
Regardless of whether you decide to use a popular content management system like WordPress or build a custom solution from scratch, it’s paramount that you keep your website evolving with code improvements, security updates, and new features. Unless you’re 100% confident in your web development skills, you should hire professionals instead. The fines websites can be hit with for security breaches are so high that you don’t want to take any chances.
There are many different ways to build a website, so there’s more than one answer to the question of “How much does it cost to build a website?” If your budget is very small and you decide to build a website on your own, you can expect to pay up to a few hundreds of dollars, depending on which web hosting you choose and which domain you purchase. To obtain more professional results, you can always hire a freelancer to help you out, or you can partner with an agency and just sit back as they take care of everything for you.