How Much Does A Website Cost?

Written by:  Mark Praschan

Businesses of all sizes can reap huge benefits from a well-made website, but it can be difficult to know how to budget for one. It can be especially difficult for small business owners that don’t have a lot of experience with website technology. Rather than just throwing out a number or not setting a budget at all, it’s important to first understand the upsides of a great website… and the risks of a poorly-executed one.

Websites are an investment, not an expense

A great website is a game-changing, small business super-power. Does it sound like I’m over-stating things? Websites can fill the lion’s share of Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service roles, automate repetitive tasks, and they’re often the first impression of your business that your customers see. A well-built and informative website works for your business 24/7.

Considering all that a website can do, it’s often one of the highest-return investments a small business can make.

What does it cost?

Websites come in all shapes and sizes (and costs vary accordingly), but we can get a rough estimate by comparing common setups. Keep in mind that websites also take time to build and manage.

Website Design / Initial Setup

If you don’t already have a website, one needs to be created. This phase accounts for the majority of the project’s time and money. The out-of-pocket costs of creating a website varies from very little (for those willing to learn and do the work themselves) to thousands of dollars for larger or more complex sites.

Note: Beyond the bottom-line, don’t forget to also consider the amount of time it can take to learn to build a website yourself. Oftentimes, hiring a professional to assist can save money in the long run.

Recurring Costs

Regardless of their size, all websites need a domain (e.g. Domains usually cost only $12-20 per year to register. Niche domains (e.g. can cost anywhere from $50-100/yr, while premium resale domains (e.g. can cost thousands of dollars to acquire from another party.

Other recurring expenses like website hosting, email, platforms, themes, plugins, and maintenance vary more by the type of setup so we’ll cover those below.

Common Website Setups

Websites come in all shapes and sizes, and can be tailored for any application. We can get a better understanding of website budgets by grouping them into the following tiers.

Free/Ultra Low-Budget Websites

There are ways to publish a website using free or nearly-free platforms, but these almost always result in a poor outcome.

Web service providers who are able to offer their services for such little cost have to make up that money somewhere else. This usually takes the form of displaying ads, cutting corners, or upselling customers other services that may not be in their best interest.

Websites powered by super low-cost service providers will usually load very slowly and offer a terrible user experience. Worse yet, these free and ultra low-budget providers are sometimes used by ‘bad actors’. associating your business with such providers can lead to search engine penalties and other dangers.

Anything you might save in up-front costs, you’ll likely lose in time, frustration, and fixes. In general, it’s worth investing a few more dollars each month to get a better service.

Economy Tier

A great fit for small businesses launching their first website, economy setups are a great overall value. Solid web hosting providers usually offer entry-level plans that cost around $5-20/mo. Typically, these plans offer moderate performance and additional tools that cater to first-time website builders.

Economy website hosting is most commonly ‘shared hosting’, meaning your website will share space and resources with other websites on the same server. This keeps costs low, but means your website won’t load as quickly as it would with a dedicated server.

Building a simple 5-page economy website might take a novice 40+ hours, but may only take a professional 5-10 hours to complete. If you’re not comfortable learning how to use new tools on the internet, it may be more cost-effective to hire a professional to work on the project.

Example costs:

  • Do It Yourself (DIY)
    • $5-20/mo website hosting
    • 10-40 hours initial setup
    • 5-10 hours/mo maintenance
  • Professional Web Designer
    • $5-20/month website hosting
    • $250-1000 initial setup
    • $25-100/mo maintenance

Medium Tier

For most small businesses, mid-range providers are “the sweet spot”, offering much better service than economy plans, but without breaking the budget.

If your business plans to sell anything online (Ecommerce), mid-tier plans (which include faster and more powerful servers) are usually the recommended starting point. Plans in this range may offer more customization, allowing businesses to better optimize the performance of their website.

Businesses taking advantage of medium-tier plans may be best served by hiring a part-time web developer on a monthly retainer to assist with the ongoing development and maintenance.

Example costs:

  • Do It Yourself (DIY)
    • $20-50/mo website hosting
    • 40-80 hours initial setup
    • 10-20 hours/mo maintenance
  • Professional Web Designer
    • $20-50/month website hosting
    • $750-2,500 initial setup
    • $75-150/mo maintenance

Premium Tier

Premium website services are appropriate for high-traffic or mission-critical websites, especially those processing high volumes of Ecommerce transactions.

At this level, customized services and high-performance resources are typically set up and maintained by a at least one part-time website developer. Professionally expertise is needed to get the most value out of premium website services.

Example costs:

  • Professional Web Designer
    • $50-300/month website hosting
    • $2,500-7,500 initial setup
    • $200-1,000/mo maintenance

Final Thoughts

Websites can be your small business’ most efficient resource, and often pay for themselves many times over.

Think Long-term

Your website should grow with your business. Build your website on a solid foundation that will allow it to expand and meet the needs of your business in the months and years to come.

Tip: Many web service providers will try to lure in customers with introductory pricing, resulting in long-term costs that are much higher than advertised. Check the fine print and make decisions based on non-promotional monthly costs.

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to reach out to an experienced website professional if you’re not sure how to tackle your web project.

About the author:

Mark Praschan

Websites / Ecommerce – Caro, MI

I help small businesses succeed on the internet.

I’ve been building websites professionally for 20 years and I specialize in WordPress, Ecommerce, and membership/subscription websites. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Fortune 500 companies, main-street solo-preneurs, and everybody in between.

As an owner of a small small business myself, I know how to work through the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that small businesses and entrepreneurs encounter. I’d love to talk about your next website project.

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