What is the cost of building a website? The answer can vary greatly depending on many different factors from your budget to the goals of the website itself. In this guide, we will discuss how much building a website will really cost for most people.
The Necessary Resources To Build a Website
Before we can discuss anything else, it’s important to understand that building a website isn’t necessarily about money.
On the other hand, money is just a tool to buy the necessary resources to build the site. How much you need these resources will ultimately determine your budget.
There are four important resources in building a website:
In a nutshell, where you put your website. Just like in the ‘real’ world, you can either purchase or rent a property. The online ‘real estate’ will mainly include a domain name and a server (or a hosting service, which is technically a rented server).
2. Programming Skills
Pretty self-explanatory, the required coding skills to build the website. If you don’t have the necessary skill and interest/time to learn about it, you have to hire someone else to do the job, or use a platform that will bypass the coding requirement (more on this further below).
3. Design Skills
A website isn’t just a series of programming code, but how the visitor can experience the visual aspect of the site also matters. Similar to programming skills above, if you have the requirement, you can technically do the design by yourself.
The last, but probably the most important resource is time. You might have the coding and design skills to build an excellent website, but you might not have the time— or, your time is probably better spent somewhere else—.
Each of us will be limited in one resource or more, and this is where we’ll need to spend money. Below, we will discuss how to calculate our website’s cost based on this fact
Determining The Cost of Your Website
In building a website, there are at least four important stages to consider:
- The technical aspect, building the back-end of the website.
- The design aspect
- Decide where the website will be hosted and the domain name
- Content development
- Ongoing maintenance
For each stage (except about hosting and domain name), we have to determine whether we have the available time, programming, or design skills to build the website ourselves. If not, there are two different options to choose from:
If you are more willing to spend money than time, hire a professional.
On the other hand, if you are more willing to spend time than money, use a website builder software.
So, now we have three different options in building a website:
Option 1: Build Your Website From Scratch
Here, you can hire a programmer and designer, or a website developer to create your website from the ground up.
This option is generally inefficient, since website builders like WordPress and Wix can save time, cost and resources while providing similar quality, unless you have a very specific need (i.e. if you need an interactive site that can’t be made through WordPress).
Option 2: Using a Technical Website Builder
Platforms like WordPress and Joomla provide everything you need to build a website. However, this type of software platforms will require at least basic programming knowledge and you will need to assemble the website yourself.
Also, this type of website builders typically don’t include a hosting service and/or a domain name in its package, so you’ll need to purchase them separately.
However, these platforms typically offer more versatility in customizing your site, so if you have the time to learn, this is a great option.
Alternatively, you can hire a professional to build a WordPress website—which typically will cost less than building a website from the ground up—
Option 3: Using a Visual Website Builder
A relatively new option today is to use a fully automated, drag-and-drop website builders like Wix or SquareSpace. These platforms are very easy to use, so you most likely can do it by yourself.
Any technical details including hosting services are tackled by the platform, and there are plenty of design templates to choose and customize from.
However, they are typically more expensive than the ‘technical’ website builders, and will be more limited in terms of versatility, since you can’t edit the coding aspect of the templates.
Calculating The Cost To Build a Website
Option 1:Building A Website From Scratch
Here, the cost will vary depending on the professionals you hire or work with from just $100 to thousands of dollars. Again, this is not a recommended practice unless you have a very specific needs. If so, you can observe various freelancing platforms (i.e. Upwork or Freelancer.com) to find your talent.
Option 2: Using a Website Builder
Let’s use WordPress and Wix as our platforms here, and let’s assume you hire a professional to help you setup a WordPress site, here are the essential costs for a year:
1.WordPress fee VS Wix Fee
WordPress is an open-source platform, so it’s totally free. Wix’s plan starts from $4.5/month and $17/month if you want to build an e-commerce site. The most expensive plan is $35/month
However, with WordPress you’ll need to invest on a separate hosting service, which can be as cheap as below $4/month and as high as $400/month. Also, you might need to hire a professional to help setup the hosting, domain name, and make sure that your site is secure. This will cost around $50-$200.
Cost of WordPress Fee: $0/year
Cost of WordPress Hosting: $4-$400/month
Cost of WordPress setup (one-time)=$50-200
Cost of Wix Fee: $54/year to $420/year
2. Learning Costs
You can learn WordPress for absolutely free. Which, depending on many different factors, might require a few weeks to a couple of months if you practice diligently. If you only want to use the basic functions, however, you can learn in just a few hours. There are also a lot of resources (blog posts, community forums) to learn about WordPress.
Alternatively, there are great paid online tutorials out there that will only cost you below $50.
Wix, on the other hand, is a very easy to use website builder and you will only need a few hours or a day to be able to use its full functionality.
Cost of learning WordPress: $50
Cost of learning Wix: $0
3. Website Design
This will be a very broad subject, as you can spend very little or very expensive depending on your needs. Generally with WordPress there are three different alternatives:
- Using ‘default’ WordPress Themes: $0-$200
There are free WordPress themes that might suit your needs, but generally you will need to spend around $40 to $200.
- Customized WordPress Themes: $400-$1,000
As mentioned, everything with WordPress can be customized, so you can hire a designer to customize a premade theme. The cost will vary depending on your needs, but generally will cost below $1,000.
- Fully Custom Design: $5,000+
Pretty self-explanatory, you hire a designer to create a fully custom website design and put in on WordPress. Again, the cost will vary depending on your needs and the quality of the designer.
Cost of Website Design With WordPress: $0-$5,000+
With Wix, the calculation will be a little more complicated since you’ll get more templates with the more expensive plans. Since you can’t customize Wix’s templates, it’s unnecessary to hire a designer. Let’s use Wix’s most popular plan, the $12.5/month ‘Unlimited’ plan as our assumption.
Cost of Website Design With Wix: $150/year
4. Content Creation
There are two types of content to consider when building a website: static content, which is the initial content of your website like your about us section, and dynamic content, which will be updated regularly (i.e. your blog).
With WordPress, some of the Themes offer pre-made content, and with Wix, there’s a royalty-free media library you can use.
Content creation costs from logo design to video creation to blog writing can vary depending on your specific needs, but with Wix you have more premade options that you can directly use to lessen the cost.
Cost of Content Development With WordPress and Wix: $500-$5,000+, will vary depending on needs
5.Ongoing Maintenance and Troubleshooting
With Wix, you have access to Wix’s customer service with your membership (even for the free plan), so essentially your maintenance cost is $0 (outside your monthly membership plan).
With WordPress, since it’s an open-source platform, you don’t have any technical support. On average, you will need to spend around $500-$1,000 a year if you hire a technical support to maintain and troubleshoot a WordPress site.
However, you can also use a managed WordPress hosting for as low as below $10/month which will handle all maintenance issues like conflicting updates. More expensive themes and plugins (or free but quality ones) will also update their products automatically, but not always.
Cost of Maintenance With WordPress: $0-$1,000 a year, depending on needs.
Cost of Maintenance With Wix: Included in Your Monthly Membership, so $0.
Above, we have discussed the average cost of building a website, using WordPress and Wix as our assumed platforms. However, keep in mind that expenses can vary depending on many different factors from your specific needs to your availability to do things by yourself.
Consider the four important resources we have discussed above, and change your mindset from “how much should I spend?” to “how much is worth it?”.