Every business has been at that point, including yours, where you've done your one-page website, and now you're stuck. Either that or your company has changed so much in recent times that you're due a rebranding. Or you're still telling customers to visit your office when you realised one day you can run online meetings instead and save a tonne of money.
Either way, we're here to help you overcome the daunting prospect of pricing up a brand new, shiny website.
This article enables you to understand the different costs involved in creating the right website for your business. It'll also help clarify your budget you will have to set aside for the website you deserve.
We'll be covering 4 areas:
- Why costs vary so much
- DIY website solutions and costs
- Using a digital agency - benefits and website costs
- The cost-time-value triangle
- Ongoing website costs
- Marketing considerations
1. Why do costs vary so much?
Building a website is like creating a car; you need to have the right kind of tools and equipment, you need to be good with your devices and have excellent planning skills. And like cars, the price of websites vary a lot, and that's why it's so important to price up your website.
Much of this depends on your business needs, the software you choose, and the features you need to make sure the job gets done. Some companies will need a custom-designed website, while others will need specific brochure sites or landing pages. This decision is one of the dozens of factors you'll want to consider when calculating the cost to create a professional website for your business.
So how do you decide what the best option is to choose? Well, the most obvious answer is that it depends on your circumstances and whether you have the time and skills to commit to the project yourself. So let's delve into this in more detail.
The key to a successful business website is ensuring that you have the proper functionality. But what does this mean?
To put it in simple terms, you have to cater to the specific needs of your business on your website. For example, will you need a shopping cart? Or maybe you need an online booking system for appointments.
As alluded to before, if you plan on keeping visitors on your site for any length of time, you’ll need an engaging and interactive website. That may mean some custom animation or scroll-triggered transitions.
Visitors want to engage with a site that's interactive and interesting. And if they can't do that, you'll lose them and never see them again.
When designing your website, you may not always know how many features your site will need. So it can be useful to start with a smaller build and then expand on features as and when you need them.
It might sound obvious, but for some companies, we're talking big numbers here. Some websites easily run into six-figure sums to set up and maintain, so the strategy phase is crucial in determining whether you could be wasting your money on features that none of your site visitors will ever use!
Platform, aka Content Management System (CMS)
To understand what platform you will build on your website, you need to consider what's available on the market and your website's end purpose. For example, many retailers choose to build their ecommerce site on Shopify, around 1.5 million, to be precise.
WordPress is another commonly-used website solution. In itself, it's free to set up, but premium builder plugins can range anywhere from £10 to over £1000, plus it has a great number drawbacks:
- Clunky CMS - no live updates and inconsistent previews
- Plugin incompatibilities - updates to one plugin can break another!
- Security vulnerabilities - more susceptible to hacks
Webflow is becoming ever-more popular and is our builder of choice at Beyond - we’re confident that Webflow is going to shake up the market over the next few years!
We've written comprehensive guides below comparing Webflow to two of the hottest website builders around; WordPress and HubSpot.
Do-It-Yourself vs. Done-For-You (DIY vs DFY)
If you're looking for something straightforward and have 5 pages at the most, a DIY website could be right for you. And, if you're looking to give your website a refresh but don't have the time or resources to do so, pre-made templates are also an option.
Templates are a plug-and-play solution though, so be warned, although they are an easy no-code option, they limit customisation.
These templates can be enough for some beginners or start-ups looking to take an MVP approach as they provide valuable insights into the direction to take your website. Still, any professional company that intends to rank high on Google or keep visitors on their site for longer will need something custom-made.
Ask yourself if you want to spend hours slaving away at making your own presentable website. The chances are your answer will be no! The solution? Hire a freelancer or an agency. If you outsource the job, you will save a lot of time and stress, making it a very worthwhile investment.
In-house vs. freelancer vs. agency
If you're hiring someone else to do the site design for you, there are several ways you can achieve this. Depending on your choice, each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. So consider your budget, business model and the method that best suits your needs.
Consider the roles and skills of your employees. For example, if you have someone on your team who is great at web design, delegating the work to them is likely the cheapest option as it doesn't cost you any more than you're already paying in wages.
Still, it takes away your resources in their existing workspace, so consider the repercussions of such a move first. If it ends up taking them a year to create your website because they’re trying to multi-task with client work, too, your website could essentially end up costing the equivalent of their annual salary.
Hiring a freelancer is a great option if you are confident in the quality of the freelancer's work. Many smaller businesses choose this approach as it gives a personal touch and is often cheaper than agencies.
However, depending on the freelancer, it might also take twice as long as an agency as you’re working with a one-man-band. So, ask yourself if you are losing out on any trade that might negate this saving.
Outsourcing the work is definitely worth considering for any business. Using a third party brings a new perspective which can shed light on how your audience perceive your product/service and how they navigate around your website.
Most businesses choose to partner with a website agency for the safety of outsourcing to an expert team. In most cases, you're looking at spending £10,000 upwards. Depending on your requirements in terms of functionality, animation and timescale, this could easily run to £50-100k.
It’s a worthwhile investment as they can do the job faster and provide an excellent resource range. They are likely to have a full team of experts for branding, design and content and will take a handle on everything from project management, content production and the technicalities of launching. Not to mention, they usually offer some sort of post-launch support and aftercare.
Even if you are a competent site builder yourself, often your own work gets put to the bottom of the pile. Running a business is time consuming so being able to commit to building and maintaining your website is a big ask.
2. DIY website solutions and costs
Whether you're doing it yourself or done-for-you option, your site has a good chance of developing tools such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace or Shopify. In the case of WordPress, it's easy to assume that paying $79 for the website builder Divi Pro is a bargain, but that's only for a year.
You might decide then, that you need Rank Math SEO for helping your website rank higher, which comes in at $199 a year. You can see now how fast these figures can add up on the do-it-yourself model as well. So it's essential to plan and make sure you're choosing the right platform before jumping straight in with building a website.
We've already highlighted the pros and cons of WordPress above and how it's best for bloggers. But if your company isn't media-driven, you'll want to look at some of the most popular competitors and why they're taking some of WordPress's market share.
Wix website builder
Wix is an all-encompassing DIY website builder that offers a range of options. Its diversity is what makes it so appealing to early-stage businesses. It has a knack for being user friendly and their drag and drop builder makes it easy to create a website with little to no technical skill needed.
Wix starts at £4 per month and goes up to £21 per month for the more professional VIP package. For the top tier package, you'll get features to entice you in such as ad credits, a professional logo and unlimited bandwidth.
As with any template-based website builder, there will be limitations, so it’s best to strategise first and figure out exactly what your website needs - you may find that a template isn’t the right solution.
Squarespace web builder
Squarespace is, on the surface, a very similar site builder to Wix.
But, when you get stuck in, many consider it a much better design scheme once you're used to how it works. Again, designs and templates exist ready and waiting for you, but it is limited in what you can do with the platform (such as plugins).
Still, if all you want is a simple store or portfolio website, it might prove the ideal solution. You can start small and decide afterwards whether you need the larger package.
Pricing-wise, it's similar to Wix. You can work with only the basics at £10 per month or go all out by paying for extras, such as extra templates and features. The top tier is £30 per month, but on all levels, there are discounts for paying for the year, which Wix doesn't offer.
Shopify DIY ecommerce
A platform that takes away the need for design knowledge via an intuitive drag and drop interface. It's not always ideal for blog sites, but it can be a good option if you have an online store such as a clothing shop or other products. The template-based approach can work well for those just starting out, however, research shows that some people have reported that Shopify is not so easy to customise, especially for SEO purposes.
Shopify combines payment processing with the site hosting and design. This feature takes away a lot of the hassle of setting up your website but does mean paying an annual fee. In effect, Shopify takes away the tech headaches so you do not have to worry about any of that stuff as a small business owner.
You'll need someone on hand to manage orders and stock, or you’ll need to look into drop-shipping for a third-party to handle this aspect. Shopify is a great solution for a business that already has an eBay or Etsy shop, or a more traditional brick and mortar setup.
Prices start at $29 per month and can go way above $299 per month for an enterprise model. Coupled with transaction fees, these can ramp up fast, so offset this with the cost of a custom-built ecommerce website and you may find that an initial more expensive option may actually work out cheaper in the long run.
For example, with Shopify running costs, sales commissions and Stripe/Paypal fees, you could easily end up paying out in excess of £1,000 per month. Compare this to a custom-built ecommerce site, typically starting around £15k, with £100 per month hosting and maintenance and you’ll quickly find that Shopify over 2 years is just as expensive, with those fees applying for the remainder of your website’s lifetime.
3. Digital agency website costs
Your website deserves better than looking like it was born from a template.
The better quality the designer you choose, the better outcome you'll see; a professional and unique site.
Choosing the right company means you get a team of experts who have clever tricks to make your company stand out.
Not only will you get a site that works and is easy to update, if you hire an agency, you’ll have specialists working on every aspect of website design, from coding and design to SEO and copywriting.
Here are some primary benefits of outsourcing the work to professional web design services:
We're happy to sound like a broken record with this one; your time is valuable. When the vast majority of businesses run the numbers, the investment in a done-for-you solution recoups itself within weeks or even days.
If a company expects to bring in £10,000 a day in online sales leads, and spending £100,000 gets the website running a month before an in-house team member can cobble something together, then there's an expected £300,000 gain to be had. Not to mention the fact that the professional site will have a higher conversion rate once live, too.
As a result, the numbers become much more appealing.
By hiring an agency, you'll also save yourself the hassle of figuring out the technicalities; they'll take care of all this for you. Plus, it assures peace of mind that you're getting the website your business deserves, without missing any key elements that could cause significant issues down the line.
Value of a professionally designed website
By hiring a web designer, they bring their expertise and experience to your project. They know what works, what doesn't, have tested various designs and have learned which methods have the most significant impact. Thus, better decisions arise due to them using their design and marketing expertise than you can as a non-expert on the subject.
Not only that, you get a customised, original design that represents your business in the best manner. This setup allows much more flexibility down the line to expand and develop your site as your business evolves.
In the short term, sticking to a generic template may be okay at first. But when you've spent all your free time making your business extraordinary, realising that you need a redesign can be a costly affair!
The design is what people notice first and, if you have a low-quality website, it will put people off using your business. People will also leave your site if they don't like the look of it. Whether you're producing a brand-new website or refreshing an existing one, building a professional website requires getting someone with excellent graphic design skills on board.
The importance of UX & UI
Design isn't only about how pretty your site looks, but how easy it is to use. If you're a start-up business, your website has to feel professional and easy for users. It might seem like a small detail when you're first starting, but get it wrong, and your customers will become frustrated with your site.
Google Search came down on mobile usability in 2021, and penalised searches that didn't load fast enough. There's nothing worse than having a website on your phone and seeing nothing but a white screen for ten seconds!
A responsive format is also a basic necessity these days, so no matter where your visitors are accessing your site, it should look great on every device.
Conversion-optimised user journey
Indeed, this goes without saying; having a great website is all about surpassing your expectations and creating a unique brand for your business. A great website will build brand recognition and result in more sales, also known as conversions.
A website with innovative design flows with ease and is intuitive. Flawless flow brings customers to your site and encourages them to buy something, whether it's a physical product or a service. It could be as simple as ensuring brand consistency across digital touch-points.
Tried and tested methods equal best results
The great thing about using an agency is that they know all the tricks that get your visitors converted to sales. They can help you get more out of your site than you could achieve on your own and ensure that you are getting the most value for money from every pound paid towards the project.
From all of their years of experience, they'll also have a proven strategy for approaching your website project. This ensures nothing gets missed and is typically something like this:
A good web designer will help you to refine your plan for the website. When you approach a web designer with a list of possibilities, they'll be able to work out which ones work best for you based on your business goals and the data available. They can also help you think through ways to boost traffic potential and make the most of what you have available at any particular time.
Website design should be at the core of your business if you're looking to convert visitors to sales. An experienced web designer will help you create a website that looks professional and catches visitors' eye. Small gains are what experts master in ways amateur designers struggle.
Content & SEO
You'll also want to optimise your website for rankings in Google search results. Aside from the technical and on-page SEO that takes place during the initial website build, this is a prime time to consider regular long form content and robust on-page optimisation.
Increasing your website traffic is something you can't discount either. Your audience needs to find you online somewhere, so optimising for search engines will help drive more traffic from potential customers.
Here's a tip for pricing up SEO:
- Imagine a keyword costs £5 per click to advertise on Google Search.
- If the keyword has 1,000 searches every month and ranking 1st place results in over 32% click rate, you could be paying around £325 per month in paid advertising.
- Stop running your ad campaign and the clicks disappear.
- Suddenly, ranking organically shows its value and hiring a pro seems like a bargain!
Your site is only as good as its coding.
If your code isn't up to scratch or has other problems, such as bugs or security issues, then visitors will leave, and you'll miss out on potential sales.
Having a website built from scratch or having your existing site updated requires a developer's input. The benefit of working with an agency means your designer and developer with work in harmony.
You're not going to be the only person using your website, so you'll need to test it out. Testing will help you make improvements as soon as possible, rather than waiting for problems to arise and then trying to fix them.
For example, an agency will thoroughly test every link, button and form submission on your website, not to mention the responsiveness and site performance to ensure that your website is top-notch.
An agency can often help you develop a launch campaign to showcase your fabulous new website.
They’ll also be on-hand for any post-launch fixes - despite thorough testing, there will always be something that crops up once users start coming to the website. You might notice that
Your fantastic site will not only make brand recognition unforgettable but will result in more sales.
4. Cost, time and value
The process of building a professional website from scratch can take anywhere from 4 weeks up to 4 months, on average. What surprises most people is that this process is a full-time job for one or two people, so consider an average salary for this length of time before you decide whether you perceive your quote as expensive.
Of course, the best solution is to be well-prepared in advance. If you have a deadline that means your project needs finishing at speed (e.g. you need to be live in a couple of weeks), expect to pay a premium.
Other clients will take a hit if your designer has to abandon everything for your site. So prepare to spend more on speedy delivery, even for a small website.
Functionality will also play a part, as touched on before. If you’re looking for custom animation, expect the development process to take 4 times longer than without it. And 4 times longer = 4 times more expensive.
Your website requirements will play a big factor in the cost of your professionally-built site. Website development is a lengthy process so the difference between a one-page landing page, typical corporate website and ecommerce store will be vast.
One-page landing page
As mentioned, if you're looking for a website to advertise your company and provide contact information, then a one-page website will do the job fine.
A smaller website will of course be the cheapest option, but to keep in mind that there will always be costs that extend way beyond setting the website up - hosting and maintenance is a requirement of any website, no matter how small.
Expect to pay around £5,000 for a high-quality landing page from an agency, with managed hosting and maintenance clocking in between £25-50 per month.
Typically, we see start ups take this approach since they want to get moving quickly and anticipate changes in the near future - it's much faster to launch then update 1 page than it is a 10-page website.
Sometimes a landing page just isn't quite enough, often there's a need to showcase an overview of services or the team involved in delivery said services. For that reason, you might find yourself needing a lean site of say 3-5 pages.
Expect to pay somewhere between £5,000 and £10,000 at this stage.
Corporate sales website
If you're a small or growing business, especially one looking to rank on Google, you'll likely need a few more pages; rankings need content and content needs pages!
In that case, it's time to consider creating a sales and marketing website with around 10-15 pages.
Your site will most likely need the following:
- A homepage offering an overarching introduction to your organisation
- An About page detailing the company's history and team
- A contact page providing various information from instant message to the more traditional email and phone
- Service pages - individual pages detailing the exact services you offer
- Careers page - especially if you’re looking to grow your business by acquiring new team members
- Individual job vacancy pages
- Blogs area - long-form content is vital for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Case studies area - important to show the success you’ve had previously so that customers can see how you've completed projects in the past
As a rule of thumb, budget for around £15,000-25,000 for this scope of website.
It could, of course, be multiples of this figure depending on integrations, interactions, complexities and customisations, but it's a valuable investment for any business serious about building acredible online presence.
You might be thinking that seems expensive but don’t forget the strategic element of website production so factor in the costs of collaborative workshops, wireframes and revisions, plus the project management and extra services such as setting up Google Analytics, integrating CRMs, linking form submissions to email marketing software, professional content writing and SEO and so much more!
These all add up in price, so having an idea of your website requirements before approaching an agency is crucial. It's all too easy to underestimate website costs if you don’t understand the requirements.
Your business might be looking to sell products online. In that case, you'll need a proper e-commerce solution. E-commerce is a little different. You'll need an alternative backend system that can accommodate a customer journey beyond the initial sale.
E-commerce sites are much more complex, usually due to the sheer number of product pages. Plus there is the integration of a payment provider and ensuring that the check-out process is secure.
The average e-commerce site will have all the features of a corporate website, plus the product pages, category pages, functionality to buy and custom check-out pages that need consideration.
Plus, you'll need expert knowledge to make sure your site is SEO optimised because multiple product pages for varying colours and sizes of clothing can bring about problems if not properly optimised with technical SEO.
Expect to pay in excess of £25,000 for a custom e-commerce site, depending on your business model and number of product listings, this cost could easily run to £100,000+.
Alongside any of the website types mentioned above, you may need a members area. This is a database that stores information about each user who has set up an account and, in the case of e-commerce websites, for example, stores information about previous orders, delivery updates and payment details.
There are some third-party platforms that can be built and integrated into your website to keep your members area costs to a minimum, but for a custom-built database, expect to pay around £15,000, in addition to your website build.
5. Ongoing website costs - website maintenance, hosting and support
Akak the forgotten budget.
The costs don't end at website production.
You'll need someone to host and maintain your website and look after it for you. Whether that's someone in your team or an external professional depends on your skill sets and resources.
Often, a business will opt for the same agency that built the website to maintain it, too. After all, who else is in a better position?
You might need the designer to update your website as things change in your business, for example, a new page for a new product or a landing page for promotions.
They'll also be responsible for uptime monitoring and jumping onto any issues that may arise server-side. There are tools you can use to track this for yourself, such as Uptime Robot, but what's the point in being alerted that your site is down if you don't have the technical expertise to fix it?
It's best to have a professional on-hand to make sure that all the hard work that was put into building your site in the first place doesn't go to waste because you aren't paying someone to look after the site.
And if you're not convinced yet, consider the hassle of dealing with a GDPR breach because of a security risk. That one sentence in itself makes outsourcing your site maintenance and hosting priceless.
Trained professionals serve to protect sites in this way so look for qualifications. Depending on your company and your business insurance, it may be compulsory that specific security criteria reach the highest standards. It can also double up as a promotional tool to give your customers peace of mind, especially in industries where sensitivity is essential, such as the medical and financial sectors.
You can get a high-quality service from around £75 per month, going up to around £300 for 24/7 monitoring and technical support.
6. Marketing considerations
There's another significant advantage to hiring an agency for your website project, and that's the potential for added value to the services provided, as well as quick access.
Expect to budget either a cost per hour for these services, or commit to a monthly bundle where you’ll likely receive SEO, content creation and other digital marketing services for an all-in-one fee.
We'll not go into the nooks and crannies in this article, but if you're not sure why you need a marketing agency, take a look at this.
Your website as a marketing tool
Creating a great website is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools in itself. It's human nature to fall for fancy websites with lots of bells and whistles, so you are more likely to attract potential customers by having a stunning website.
An excellent website can create a viral wave of positive feedback and reviews. And a poorly-considered webpage can have the opposite effect that is often ten times worse. This fact in itself is a great reason to get an agency onboard.
Choosing a marketing partner to grow website traffic and conversions
A well-designed site will help you capture leads, regardless of your industry, but how do you get customers to your website in the first place?
Google (most likely).
And since Google is becoming more and more 'human' every day, ranking factors now consider usability, visual aspects of websites and the 'helpfulness' of content, so a content strategy needs to be your no.1 priority post-website launch.
If your chosen agency has already built your website, they understand your business and are in the best position to support you with its ongoing growth. Whether that's revamping your pages or working with you to create content for your website, it's always worth checking what other services your digital agency can provide.
Agencies often have in-house content specialists who understand how to create compelling content that pulls in visitors who want more information about your business or only want to buy products and services.
Social media is another add-on area that brings value to the service. Integrating social media functions into your website is a fantastic way to reach even more potential clients and can also build DA - Domain Authority - which builds your website’s credibility.
It's no secret that leads generation is more important in today's business world than ever before. But most businesses don't have a concrete content strategy for lead generation and waste vast amounts of time and money on lead generation campaigns that don't work.
Working with an agency that combines multiple skillsets under one roof is a sure-fire way to ensure that your marketing efforts are a success.
What's more, think about the long-term when deciding how to choose your marketing partner. You can waste a lot of money on Google Ads and paid media if you don't know what you're doing, so it's best to get someone in who understands how to get the most for your money.
Agencies will also provide other services, as previously discussed, so expect them to upwards of £1,500 per month, depending on services, ROI or time allocation.
So, how much does a website cost?
You might have guessed at this point that the answer depends entirely on 3 key factors:
- Your requirements
- Your skillset
- Your budget
It can cost anywhere from £20 for a DIY approach, up to and beyond £50,000 for a custom-built, high-converting website that's delivered by experts.
What is undeniable is that a professional-looking website makes a long-lasting impression on your clients. Website visitors form first impressions in just 0.05 seconds of arriving and 75% of consumers judge a business's credibility by the design of its website.
The longer they are on your website the better, especially when it comes to appealing to their senses and making them want something. Remember, you are competing against other businesses and the big technology companies like Amazon or Google. You might not have their budget, but it doesn't mean you can't create a lightning-fast website that will offer a fantastic user experience.
If you’ve learnt one thing from this extensive guide, it’s probably that you should outsource your website creation, right?