How Much Does a Website Cost?
Technology today offers a plethora of options for creating and building websites. Depending on your business’ needs, this means that the cost of a new website can range from a $100 “do-it-yourself” project to a highly technical website with complex functionality that costs over $100k and requires a team of highly skilled experts. The main differences between these two extremes are the amount of time, expertise, functionality, and customization invested into achieve the site you want.
Understanding how much a website will cost
When understanding and determining the cost of a website, we look at three key cost drivers. These are:
- Creating the content
- Designing the aesthetics
- Programming the functionality
The amount of time, customization and expertise given to each task will push the cost of your website up or down – and it’s often surprising to people which of these three drivers has the biggest impact on cost.
Cost Driver 1: Creating website content
Yes, content is often the biggest cost driver for websites. This is not only because it takes skill and expertise and you need quite a lot of it even if your site is comparatively small, but also because it takes time to get right. It’s not a matter of dashing off a 200-word web page on a Friday afternoon – great content is carefully curated; highly relevant, informative, or entertaining; connects your target audience, and is optimized for SEO.
When we talk about content we don’t just mean words – although they are clearly very important! Content also covers graphics, pictures, videos, forms, case studies, ebooks, checklists, animations, whitepapers, podcasts, and more. There are two options for filling your website with content:
- Repurpose existing content
- Create new content
Repurposing existing content
Repurposing existing content is only an option if you actually have existing content. Most companies have some content on an existing website, in sales materials, product brochures, presentation decks, emails that your sales and customer service teams have sent to prospects and customers answering commonly asked questions, videos, photos, advertisements, etc.
Repurposing content means that you refresh this content to make it suitable for your target audience, easy to read or digest online, relevant, and timely. This will probably require some degree of rewriting, redesigning, and maybe even changing the layout or format. It’s good to start with repurposing existing content as it saves time and money – but it can’t go on forever and that’s when you need to create new content.
Creating new content
If you are a new company or are making significant changes to your branding and messaging, it’s highly likely you will also need to create completely new content. While this is an extensive process that will mean a significant investment of both time and money, content is one of the most important aspects of your website and is absolutely necessary to engage visitors, build their trust, answer their questions, and ultimately to choose to buy from you. Having great content directly impacts sales.
Most companies use a combination of new content and repurposed content when redesigning a website. The amount of content (new or repurposed) is another content cost driver. For example, if your website needs content for 10 pages, the cost will be much less than content for 100 pages.
Cost Driver 2: Website design
Another important cost driver when building a new website is the design. This includes everything from page layout, use of graphics, and fonts to colors, backgrounds, buttons, and site navigation. There are two options for website design:
- Pre-built theme website design
- Customized website design
Pre-built theme website design
A pre-built theme is a website design that has already been developed to provide a set of page layouts, navigation, fonts, and functionality that you buy “off-plan”. Think of it like buying a spec home. You save money by buying a pre-built home from a standard blueprint that the builder produces in repetition. You get some luxury perks like granite, hardwood flooring, and crown molding, but what you sacrifice is a choice and voice in the building process – and this means compromising in areas you may not want to compromise in.
There are literally thousands of themes to choose from. Once you’ve selected a theme, you can then customize it for your brand. The more you customize the theme, the more time and money it will require. If you use a pre-built theme it’s best to find one that meets 80-90% of your requirements from the outset.
A pre-built theme is great for smaller companies requiring limited functionality and a simpler design.
Custom Website Design
Custom website design is more like a custom-built house. It takes more time and costs more money, but the end result is a website that’s exactly what you want – with no sacrifice or compromise. The website will be uniquely yours and will help you stand out to your customers and get ahead of your competitors. If you have the time and budget and don’t want to make any sacrifices, a custom-built website is absolutely the way to go.
It’s also a better option if you have complex functionality on your site, such as an e-commerce platform selling a wide range of products in different sizes and with different delivery options.
Cost Driver 3: Programming and functionality
Programming your website to perform the functions you need it to perform is the third cost driver for a website project. The most basic website, and therefore the lower end of the cost spectrum, is a content website that simply delivers information to its visitors but doesn’t perform many other functions. It doesn’t require too much interaction on the part of the user other than reading content on different pages and probably completing an enquiry form.
Websites that require advanced functionality also require more development time, which drives the cost of the website up. This type of functionality includes features like booking systems, search functions, calculators, photo galleries, smart forms, advanced filters, blogs, e-commerce functionality, and more. Some of these features can be supported with plug-ins which may save time and money, but often advanced functionality requires bespoke solutions that need to be figured out, developed, and rigorously tested. However, while advanced functionality may drive the initial cost of a website up, it also has a promising return on investment with more leads, customers, and sales.
Other cost drivers
While content, design, and functionality are the three main cost drivers of a website, there are other things to consider. These include whether the site is being built from scratch or an existing site is being updated, technical SEO requirements, whether ongoing updates are needed, which hosting platform is used, and also the quality standards you expect from the person or company building your site.
So what exactly is the cost of a website?
While we don’t want to sound flakey, the ultimate answer really is that it depends on your individual requirements. As you’ve seen there are many variables that impact cost, but the top three drivers can also help you get a feel for what your website project may require in terms of budget (and time).
A digital agency or freelance web developer can consult with you on the various options you have that meet your needs and can help you get the best website for you while staying within your budget. It may be that it’s better for you to develop your own website, and there is a lot of guidance, support, and choice out there to help you do it. It’s important to only pay for what you need, as a complicated website when you need a simple one will not be beneficial to you or your customers.
Here at LimeLight Marketing, the cost of a website typically starts at around $8,000. If you’re considering that type of investment, you may want more information on the website redesign process. We’ve created a comprehensive article titled Website Redesign – Everything You Need to Know. It’s about a 15-minute read, but full of answers to the questions we are commonly asked.
Make sure your business stands out – contact us to chat about a new website for your company.