Determining how much a web site should cost is one of the most frequently asked but rarely answered questions in the web design world. Even now, with millions of websites online, there exists no magic formula for calculating either the cost of a new web site or the cost of a redesign.
But why not? Questions about website design cost are common online, but very few people are prepared to answer, even when it comes to professional web design prices.
For this article, the WebpageFX team of professional web designers, developers, and SEO specialists have worked together to examine some of the most important factors that go into a web design quote. These include historical website development costs, as well as web design costs for different components. The data also includes current website features and design costs.
It can still be a challenge to nail down a specific professional website cost. That's why we made a website quote calculator that you can use to ballpark prices for websites you want to create.
Our website cost calculator can help you determine how much you should expect to pay for a site with the functions and features you want. Use the sliders to select the features you prefer, then click "get your quote now" and the cost estimator will generate a quote instantly!
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When it comes to determining website cost, it comes down to the fact that you get what you pay for. A cheaper website will have less content and fewer features, while a more expensive site will have lots of additional design features and functionalities. Your overall web site costs, like functionalities and interactive elements that can include Flash web design prices, completely depends on what you want.
What is the Average Website Cost in 2016?
Like other goods and services, the costs associated with designing, developing, and building a web site have changed over time. A website's value is drastically different in 2016 than it was even a couple of years ago. The above chart provides a timeline of historical dates compared to web site cost, including the vareage cost to build a website.
The basis for the chart was a small business that wanted a professional web site with approximately 15 pages, website hosting, email hosting, a domain name, and an aesthetic quality level of around 7/10. As website creation has become more streamlined in recent years, the cost of a website has gone down, making it a more effective investment than ever for new businesses. The average cost of a website, particularly basic websites, is now lower than ever.
Cost of a website over time
Why Has Website Cost Fluctuated So Much?
Responsive design is now a necessity for web design. Responsive design means that a website functions on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. With 232 possible screen sizes in 2016, it isn’t difficult to understand why responsive design has driven the high end of website cost upwards. The necessity of having a website with responsive design is one reason for the widening gap between the highest and lowest possible costs for a website.
Although responsive design has driven the high end of website pricing up about 20%, it is definitely not something that websites can afford to skimp on. Websites priced at the higher end of the cost scale because of responsive design needs may spend more money, but they are also able to adjust their website design and functionality to provide better visitor experiences on tablets and mobile devices. This ensures that their visitors experience their website smoothly and efficiently, increasing the cost of a professional website, but also increasing their potential for reoccurring customers.
Websites in the $2,200 range rarely include responsive website design elements, which is why they are less expensive. However, tablet and mobile visitors do not receive a device-specific web visitor experience, so they're less likely to return to these websites. If you can afford professional website design costs for high end websites, you're likely to see better results.
On the lower end of web design pricing, competitive industry pressure and advancements in web design tools pushed pricing down by about 10% in 2016. First, there exist substantially more competitors in the web design market today, perhaps as many as ten times more than a decade ago. Jobs for web developers and computer network architects are expected to grow 22% by 2020, which is faster than the average for all other occupations in the U.S. Because so many jobs are being created in this market, competition is driving the low end of website pricing down. If you're looking for a basic site, your professional website design cost will be more affordable than it has in prior years.
Second, modern tools have made it easier for web designers to create great looking websites. Advancements in web design tools have contributed to the inexpensiveness of the lower end of website cost. Many free web design tools have been created and made available to the public, giving websites access to design tools that they likely would have had to purchase only a few years ago. This allows almost anyone to create a website or design graphics for free or at very little cost. That means that a simple web page costs very little these days.
However, it does pay to spend the money to have a professional company create or redesign your website. While free tools can be useful, you are more likely to get a better, more reliable website if you pay to hire a professional web design company. Websites built on free tools often lack a unique identity because free templates usually only allow a certain extent of customization. Websites using those tools may have no brand identity or may have trouble attracting traffic. When it comes to web page cost, cheaper isn’t always better. But what is a reasonable cost for what your website needs?
Because of the increasingly disparate costs of websites, with freelancers charging as little as $500 and other agencies charging tens of thousands of dollars, the WebpageFX team developed a website cost calculator to help website visitors attempt to put a price tag to their website project. Simply slide the movable bars down the gauge to find the estimated cost of your website and get your web design cost estimate now!
Why Has the Base Cost of Website Design Changed So Much?
Based on client surveys and our team's research, the above pricing data demonstrates a significant decrease in the base cost of a website over the last decade. We believe that the reason for this drop in website cost is driven by two factors.
First, there exist substantially more competitors in the web design market today, perhaps as many as ten times more than a decade ago. Second, modern tools have made it much easier for Web designers to create great looking websites, and typically in much less time than before. As a result, the average cost for website design on a basic level is lower then ever before.
These factors have also led to some unforeseen results. Most notably, in the last five years, the cost of web design has become more disparate. After further analysis, we believe these trends can be explained through the increasing demand for cost-effective websites along with the drive for higher-end, interactive, and highly functional designs.
In other words, as websites become the marketing standard for all businesses, the competition grows to produce higher-quality, lower-cost designs. And with more Internet competition, a company now needs to work harder to differentiate its site from those of its competitors. In that regard, the cost of websites can quickly grow, depending on all of the features you want to include.
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The monthly costs for a website may fluctuate based on which services you are utilizing from month to month. However, if you have an Internet marketing package that includes ongoing optimization or other services, you may find that your website development costs are similar each month, including your web design costs, web development costs, and more.
Monthly, you should expect to pay for your website hosting, SEO, other ongoing optimization, any content creation, link building services, and special design projects. This may cost anywhere from $100 to $1000 a month.
How Much Does a Website Cost Per Year?
A website's yearly costs depends on the number of ongoing services associated with it, as well as any special, one-time-only charges or projects. For example, you may factor in the cost of a new logo design or a website redesign, which are typically one-time-only items. If your Internet marketing company performs the same tasks month after month with only one or two special tasks or assignments, your yearly costs will range anywhere from $1500 to $15,000.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to figure out how much your website will cost without knowing what services you need! So in order to help you better understand why a website costs what it does, or what your site will cost on a monthly or yearly basis, you can read the section below about website components and the cost of website creation. This may help you better answer your original question of "how much should a website cost?"
Breakdown of Some Common Website Components and Their Costs
The cost of a website can vary dramatically based on the specific components included. As you can probably guess, a website with basic functionality is going to cost much less, both initially and over time, than a site that acts as an online store or integrates with a company database or piece of software.
This section will break down some common website components and how much you should expect to pay for them. Some of the components in this website cost breakdown have initial investments, while others are ongoing. We frequently update this page to ensure that the amounts listed below are current and fit into the average cost of website design for 2016.
Your website’s domain name is the unique name that appears in the URL for your website. It’s kind of like your online fingerprint — it is specific to you. Although other websites may have domain names similar to it, your domain name is yours alone. However, to get the rights to your domain name, you have to register it annually, which factors into the cost of website maintenance.
Your domain name is important because it creates an online identity for your website. Having a domain name establishes credibility with site visitors and potential customers while helping you further grow your brand. It is also important because if you ever change your hosting, your domain name will go with you. Lastly, your domain name is important because it expands your opportunities for online advertising, which has become necessary for attracting traffic to today’s websites.
Cost: $5 to $15 per year
Hosting is simply the service that allows your website to be accessed by other Internet users. A web host will provide space on its server for your website, allowing people around the world to view it. Website hosting is also a factor in your website costs.
Hosting is important because the quality of your host can affect page loading time, the tech support you receive if your site crashes, and the ability of your website to expand in the future. To put it simply, your hosting provider has a huge impact on how your website functions. Although free hosting services exist, their tech support (if they supply any at all) will not be as good as paid hosting services.
Cost: $75 to $200 a year (depending on traffic and hosting features)
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS will allow you or your employees to edit information on your website without having to edit any of the code or mess with any of the files you already have in place. A CMS makes it extremely easy for you to adjust the little things here and there just in case you need to add something later or if you want full control of what is shown on your website.
A CMS like Magento may be free, while others may have monthly or yearly licensing fees or usage charges associated with them. What you choose depends on what specific functionality you need your website to have. Choosing a free option may limit you, but it'll also help save on web page prices.
Cost: $0 to $15,000+ per year (depending on the platform chosen)
Ecommerce is another moving part for websites that might require a major effort in overall design and development to make it functional. The addition of ecommerce functionality requires extensive testing of shopping carts, payment options, and shipping systems, as well as the time spent setting up products and ensuring their individual pages display correctly to shoppers.
Typically, there is no extra cost to add ecommerce functionality. The expense comes from the amount of time it takes to ensure every component is working, the acquisition of a payment gateway, and any additional effort you may require to integrate your store with shipping or tracking systems hosted elsewhere. While it may only require a single payment on your part, ecommerce inclusion can have a big effect on the cost of a web site.
Cost: $500 to $5,000 (initial investment)
Website Design or Theme Creation
Design can go from a zero budget all the way to world class quality, meaning the fees for website design can heavily impact web page price. Obviously, a zero budget style of design will not look as good, and a world class design will certainly be eye catching and perhaps even award winning. It all depends what you would like your website to look like and the desires of your target audience.
For some CMS, like Wordpress, creating a website design is as simple as creating a theme or "skin" to apply to your site. This may cost far less than a created-from-scratch design for another CMS, but it may also look less unique and lack some functionality. Website designing costs will be higher for the unique, from-scratch sites, but they'll also distinctly reflect you and your business.
Cost: $250 to $20,000+ (initial investment)
Copywriting goes back to the number of pages your website has. The more pages it will have, the more copywriting it will need, making copywriting an unexpected factor to website creation cost for many first-time webmasters.
Copywriting ties into search engine optimization (SEO): The content on your website needs to contain the keywords relevant to your products or services, because if it doesn't, your site won't be found in search for those terms. It takes a trained writer with knowledge of SEO to create copy that contains the right keywords and compels your visitors to take action. Some of the bigger content pieces may add more to your website creation costs than you'd like, but content is king — and it pays dividends.
Cost: $50 to $500 per page or article
To attract the most visitors as possible, you must fully optimize your website for search engines. SEO services can range from very inexpensive to thousands of dollars per month, depending on how much work you want your agency to put into the ranking and visibility of your new site. After it's designed and developed, make sure you include SEO in your costs of a website to make sure your estimate is as accurate as possible.
SEO services typically include multiple ongoing methods and tactics. For example, WebpageFX's SEO packages include optimization of website copy, keyword research, targeted outreach, link building, content creation, and more. The money you invested in your professional web design cost won't mean much if visitors can't find your site, and SEO is critical to making your site visible.
Cost: $300 to $1,500 per month
Flash or Multimedia Design
Whether you desire to have an interactive and eye-catching demo for your website or you just want an interesting header, multimedia design is what you need. Flash website design pricing varies from firm to firm, but the investment can give your website an invaluable element that engages visitors.
Interactive website design can be very inexpensive, or it can be extremely costly, depending on the functionality of what is being developed. For example, a simple Flash animation may only cost a few hundred dollars, if that, while the creation of an interactive on-site application or tool to visualize colors, patterns, clothing, etc. could cost tens of thousands of dollars to create from scratch. If you want to make a powerful impression on your visitors using Flash, it can become a huge part of the cost of website design and development.
Cost: $250 to $10,000+ (depending on level of interactivity required)
Database integration can lead to some really cool additions to your website, but a portion of your cost depends on how much development is necessary and how much time it will take to fully implement and test the integration. Integration can be a valuable addition to any online presence, which also makes it an essential consideration in the cost of a new website. Websites that have database integration tend to have a lot more things that can go wrong.
Cost: $5,000 to $25,000 per integration
Ongoing Website Maintenance
Website maintenance is the entire process involved in updating and managing a website once it is online. This includes ensuring that your website’s hardware and software are working well and that your site is up to date with the latest products and features. In general, there are a lot of different elements that can impact how much website maintenance costs.
Site maintenance is important because it affects how interested your visitors are in your site, it allows you to maintain your search engine rankings, and it essentially keeps your website functioning. You need to be willing to spend the money to maintain your website after it launches, or else your site will likely fall into disarray and lose any chance of ranking on search engine results pages.
Cost: $500 to $1250 a year (depending on number of updates required)
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Does the Cost of a Website Vary by Its Type?
To completely answer the question "how much should a web site cost," it's also useful to review specific website types. The cost of a new site absolutely varies by its type! Generally, the more involved your website has to be, the bigger impact you'll see on your website pricing. For example, you should expect to pay more for a site with ecommerce functionality than a site without it. This is because more time and effort will need to be spent populating product pages, adding images, testing the shopping cart, and so on.
Here are some estimates for specific kinds of websites and how much you should expect to pay for them.
So How Much Should a Website Cost? Here Are Our Findings
In conclusion, the cost of a web site can vary greatly depending upon the site's features, its needed Internet marketing services, aesthetic qualities, and the company that is creating the web design. While the cost of a basic website has dropped, the need for more interactivity has helped hold steady the price of a high-end, competitive design.
As of 2016, you should expect to pay between $2,250 and $10,000 for a fully functional small business website. This price may be lower if your site has very few pages and minimal functionality, or higher if you require custom development, extensive design, or interactive elements and advanced integration.
The price of a website will continue to change as time goes on and new technologies and features are developed and become popular. Because of this, it may be wise to invest in a website maintenance plan so that you do not have to pay for a new site again in a few years.
Planning for Your New Website
When determining the budget for your website design or redesign project, it is important to take the costs into consideration. However, the costs of your website project are not the only factors influencing the profit that you are able to make from your site. As mobile internet usage continues to surge, designing for mobile users is imperative. Investing money in creating a responsive Web design may allow you to make future conversions and profits that outweigh the initial cost of redesigning you site.
Planning ahead and finding the exact cost of your new web site design or redesign in 2016 will keep your project on track. Timelines, features, and custom design factors will all vary greatly based on the price your website requirements. We think that the charts above will prove very useful in getting a grasp on what your final website cost will be.
If you are considering investing in a new or upgraded website, the WebpageFX team recommends that you view the portfolios of several web design firms and inquire "how much should my web site cost?" You can get your first quote now by using our own free website cost project quote form!
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