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How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website?

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This blog originally appeared on Whittington Consulting’s Online Results blog.

One of the most common questions that companies have about a website redesign is: “How much does it cost to build a website?”

While I’ll give you some actual numbers below, as well as some pricing considerations you may not have thought of and some circumstances that warrant more spending on a website, I have to start by saying that the cost of redesigning your website can vary.  It depends on if you plan to do it yourself or if you have a website design firm build a custom website for you.  Other factors can affect cost, too.

Factors That Affect the Cost to Build Your Website

Here’s why the cost to build a website varies so much.  Building a website is a lot like building a home. You can build a small 3 bedroom, 1 bath starter home on a small lot, and that’s going to cost a lot less than a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath family home in a nice neighborhood or a much larger home with a pool on a golf course.

You get the picture. So here are some factors that can affect the cost of your website redesign:

  • Will your website have a “custom” design that’s unique to you, or will it be a templated design that may be strikingly similar to other websites?
  • How many pages will your website contain?
  • Will you need multiple designs to choose from?
  • Will your new site be optimized for search engines?
  • Will your website be designed for phones, tablets and computer screens?
  • Will you need someone to organize pages into sections and determine appropriate linkages between pages?
  • Will your website be used to provide a steady flow of business opportunities?
  • Will you define your ideal customer so you know how to write and organize your website?
  • Will you write your own website or have a professional do it for you?
  • Will your website have a blog?
  • Will your website include detailed reporting and analytics?
  • Will your website require any specialized features, like a quoting system, maps, payment processing, logins, linkage with a CRM, etc.?
  • Does your web server have nightly backup and a server engineer on call in case of an outage or problem?
  • Will your website have an “open source” (free) or commercial content management system?
  • Will you want a training workshop to show staff how to update the website?
     

The Cost of Having Your Website Professionally Built

We’re a web design company, so I’ll focus this article with the assumption that you’re at least researching the option of having a company professionally build your new website. I’ll also say that the prices below are our prices, and that some firms charge a lot less than we do, and some charge a lot more.

Base Cost of a Website Redesign

According to a survey, the average cost of a website redesign is $38,572.

The “base cost” for a professional website redesign is $15,000.  A $15,000 website is intended for small businesses and would include the following:

  • Basic target audience research
  • One custom website design that’s a unique, one-of-a-kind website designed from scratch
  • Roughly 10-15 pages
  • A mobile friendly, “responsive design” that is so critical for good exposure on Google
  • A content management system that’s customized to suit your staff’s technical abilities
  • Recorded training session to show you how to use and update your website
     

As I mentioned earlier, the more options and requirements that your website has, the more the website costs to build (just like in the example of the house). I’ll also say that very few websites will fall under the “base price” you see above, so let’s explore some other pricing details below.

Average Cost of a Website Redesign

So if a base website costs $15,000, then what’s the top end of a professional website redesign?

Very few of our website redesign projects exceed $60,000, with a vast majority falling in the price range of $25,000 – $40,000. 

What makes these websites different from the $15,000 website?  Here are a few “options” that we typically would build into a new website, which in turn raises the price:

  • Detailed research on your ideal customers and their needs
  • A commercial content management system that not only lets you manage your website easily, but also lets you store in-depth information about visitors for marketing and sales reasons
  • One or more professionally-written detailed guides/e-books/whitepapers that you can use to generate sales leads
  • A content strategy/roadmap of future additions to your website to attract and convert visitors
  • More than 10 professionally-written pages
     

Of course, companies that pay extra for these things tend to get more business opportunities on a monthly basis than those that don’t.  Spending a little more up front can pay big dividends over the life of the website, as the information on your website produces results month after month.

What you see above is our pricing, so here’s some outside perspective on cost. According to HubSpot’s “The Science of Website Redesign” webinar and report that surveyed over 100 small and medium-sized companies, the average cost of a website redesign (2013 data) was $38,572.

Ongoing Costs 

Just like you may pay for maintenance on your home, websites generally have some ongoing costs that you should consider in any price discussion.  Here are some of those ongoing costs that you’ll need to factor into your budget:

Budget item What is this? Cost
Web hosting (required) You pay for a server that’s connected to the web 24/7/365, and your website lives there. This includes nightly backup and an on-call server engineer. $50 per month – $150+ per month depending on the complexity of your website
Support and training (optional) You may need help updating certain things on your website that are more design-oriented. You may also need someone to walk you through making changes from time to time. $250 per month
Content creation (optional) Get help writing your blog or adding/improving web page writing. $1,200 – $3,500 per month depending on volume.
Search engine optimization Taking steps on a regular basis to make sure your website is visible and optimized for search engines. $1,000 – $2,000 per month

The Cost of Building Your Own Website

On average, you’ll spend 28% less on a do-it-yourself website redesign.

In the spirit of presenting the other side of this story, I want to explore what it might cost to build your website yourself (in-house using your own employees). Hopefully this will provide enough information to help you decide which route is best for your company.

Rather than rely on speculation, let’s again look at HubSpot’s “The Science of Website Redesign” report for answers on how much it costs to build your own website. The reported cost of a website redesign that’s done internally is $30,106.

On average, you’ll spend 28% less on a do-it-yourself website redesign.

Also keep in mind that the ongoing costs mentioned above also apply if you are building your new website internally.

You might think that if your company employees build your new website, it’s “free.” That’s not always the case, because most small and medium sized companies don’t have a dedicated web person that’s paid just to work on the website.

In most internal website redesigns, a committee or small group is formed to do the work. This responsibility is in addition to normal work responsibilities.

Pitfalls to Building Your Own Website Internally

Because I’ve personally managed a few internal website redesign projects, I speak from experience when I say there are some “gotchas” that you might not know about at the beginning of the project:

  • If you are rewriting, updating or editing your existing website, it takes time to gather information from the expert sources at your company. They may not be on the web team you’ve assembled, so they may have difficulty devoting time to updating website information in addition to their normal responsibilities. As a result, only 49% of websites are completed on time (according to the report mentioned above).
  • When delays occur in any part of the website redesign project, management may become impatient. The focus then becomes “getting it done,” not doing it right. The customer experience then suffers as a result, which can affect sales or the number of new business opportunities.
  • It takes much longer to write web pages that you may think.  In my experience, websites take 4x longer to write when you write your own web pages.
  • The cost of not communicating properly to your customer can cost tens of thousands (if not more) over the life of the website. Internally written websites, while often factual, tend to be written more for the company than with the customer in mind.
     

Website Cost Considerations You May Not Have Thought Of

Is Your Website Really Ever “Done?”

Your website isn’t a brochure. When you design and print a brochure, you hand them out until they’re gone. You can’t make a change — they are already printed.

A website is exactly the opposite. You have a plethora of ways to measure your website’s effectiveness and make changes to it.  In fact, I would challenge you to change/test something on your website every month.

Once you complete the website redesign, you can’t just forget it and never update it. If you are building your website as a sales engine and customer resource, you should be constantly adding information. This is true regardless of if your website is designed internally or outsourced to a design firm.

“Financing” a Website Redesign

When we complete a website redesign, we offer two different payment options.  You can pay for the website in three payments, or you can divide the cost of the website over 12-36 months and pay a flat monthly fee.  Paying $1,000 per month for 24 months might be more budget friendly for your company than paying $24,000 over the course of the typical 4 month project.

Marketing and Sales Software Costs

If you are looking to attract business from your website, you may choose to include marketing/sales software that runs your website but also serves other functions. This software can range from $99 per month to $2,500 per month in addition to the cost of building the website.

“Big Bang” Approach Versus “Incremental Redesign”

You may think that completely overhauling your website all at once is the only way to update your website, but there’s also an option to incrementally redesign your website.  For example, you can redesign your website in 4-8 weeks — updating the look and the words on the homepage, but keeping all other information the same.  In subsequent months, you’d revisit, re-write, optimize and restructure all of the other pages.  This may take several months to complete, but because it’s done in small chunks, it’s easier to make progress and build on results over time.

As the new website evolves from old to new, pages are tested and improved using performance data. With an approach like this, you get incrementally better results as you improve and add features that your customers can use.

When is the Extra Cost of a Professional Outsourced Website Justified?

There are certainly do-it-yourself options, you can buy a template and customize it, or design a custom website with an in-house designer or team.

But since you’re here, you’re likely researching how the cost of building your own website compares to the cost of outsourcing the work to a professional firm.

When you are evaluating website redesign cost, there’s more to the decision than the one-time or monthly cost. Another factor to consider is how many new business opportunities a new website might win for your business.

So when is the extra cost of outsourcing worth it?  Here are some legitimate reasons you might consider paying more for your website:

  • Your company is seeking growth but you haven’t used your website to deliberately get that growth in the past.
  • The website needs to educate to sell, not just talk about the company.
  • You want to make the website accountable for business results.
  • Your company needs to satisfy investors that are concerned with business performance.
  • Other sales tactics like trade shows or advertising have gotten too expensive or not producing the outcomes that your company needs.
  • From a sales perspective, it’s critical that your company communicate well with your target audiences.
     

There you have it — the complete guide to how much it costs to build a website. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and ask, or leave a comment below.  If the feedback/comments/questions warrant it, I’ll add to this article over time to make it a better resource.

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