This may be one of the most common questions we get – “How much does it cost to build a website?” The answer can vary widely — anywhere from free to $100,000+. It’s akin to asking a general contractor, “How much it costs to build a house?” A builder might respond, “Well, how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want? Do you own the land? Do you have blueprints? Is this a garage apartment or a dream home?” You get the idea.
Just like with building a home, a lot can go into building a website. That’s why it helps to have a good understanding of the options and what makes the most sense for you and those who you want to attract to your site.
Do It Yourself with a Free Website Builder
For those that are on a budget, or who have no assets except time, a free website builder like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace might be an option. You’ll have to put in your own elbow grease, will be limited by whatever preset templates are offered, allow ads on your site, and generally be on your own when it comes to any strategic decisions. But the price is free!
If you are looking to create a website to support a hobby or establish a temporary startup presence for a new small business or non-profit, then a website builder might do the trick. And with monthly fees often less than $25 it can be a cheap way to simply “get on the web.”
For an established business, or someone looking to join a competitive marketplace, however, website builders typically won’t be the solution you are needing. They often look unprofessional, lack flexibility, and can be a time pit without a strong return on overall investment.
Find a Freelance Designer
If the idea of wrestling with a website builder isn’t exciting or if you simply need a website with a bit more functionality, a freelance designer is the next step up. You can find yourself spending anywhere from $2,500 – $10,000+.
Advantages include having someone to provide guidance and a bit more know how. You are still likely choosing from a template (with perhaps modest customization.) That being said, the end product is usually better than what you’ll achieve on a do-it-yourself website builder. If your website needs are fairly basic and you don’t anticipate your website growing over time this can be a reasonable alternative.
It is not without risks, however, as you are subject to the expertise and availability of a single individual who may not be up to speed on the latest technologies or even still in the business of designing websites a year from now. Consequently, you still have to drive many of the strategic decisions and may be left holding the bag when it comes to updates or enhancements over time.
Hire a Digital Agency
Now if your company goals demand a digital presence that is more than a me-too template or you need features that require some serious know how you may find yourself looking at a digital agency. Admittedly, this is a pretty broad bucket and includes teams as small as 3 and upwards of 50+ people. Capabilities and price points between digital agencies can cover a broad continuum. Here you’ll find project costs of $15,000, $50,000, and $100,000+ and may need to allocate a significant budget depending on what your website needs to accomplish.
The advantages, however, are numerous. You can expect guidance from a team of web experts with specialization across user experience (UX), design, development, and digital marketing. A digital agency should take the time to learn about your company, your users, any existing challenges, and long-term goals, and then help formulate a plan to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Additionally, they should be able to demonstrate the experience and capabilities to execute the plan, mitigating the risk of moving forward with a team that may be in over their head.
The Bottom Line
To answer the question of what a website costs requires a good definition of your needs and expectations and a good understanding of the pros and cons of your options.
If you are at a loss of where to begin, White Lion can help you explore what makes sense for you and your company. If we aren’t the best fit we can certainly help point you in the right direction.