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How much does it cost to build a website?

build a website
(Image credit: Image Credit: 377053 / Pixabay)

With lockdowns around the world affecting people’s ability to get out and visit businesses in person, it’s never been more important to have a website so that you can connect with people online. But how much does it really cost to build a website? How long does it take, and what’s involved?

These are the sorts of questions most people who are new to the process of creating an online presence will have. But to get answers to these questions, there are some questions you need to ask yourself first. And in this article, we’ll outline what these are to help you to understand the costs involved in building websites.

Step 1: Define what you want

The first thing you need to know is what sort of website you want to create. The larger and more complex a website is, the more expensive it will be. There’s no one size fits all approach to the pricing of websites. It can range from a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands or even more, depending on what sort of site it is.

So before you consider the cost of a website, a few questions you need to ask yourself include:

  • What is my website’s purpose, e.g., to provide information, capture business leads, sell products, or take bookings?
  • What sort of content will it have, e.g., text, photos, custom illustrations, infographics, animations, video, data tables?
  • What sort of design should the site have?
  • Who is the intended audience? Where do they live, what types of technology do they use?
  • What will the domain name be, e.g., xyzwidgets.com?
  • What type of web hosting will my website require, e.g., shared, VPS, or dedicated?
  • How large is my website audience likely to get and how quickly could it grow?
  • Will you be updating the website yourself, or will you want someone to do it for you?
  • How will you be promoting your website? Will you require a marketing strategy to ensure it starts generating leads or income as soon as it’s finished?

The answers to all of these questions can have a bearing on what the final total will be on the website you want to build, so let’s look at them in a bit more detail to understand why.

Step 2: Analyzing your site’s purpose and content

If you require a simple site that provides information about your business, often called a marketing or brochure website, it is likely that it will only require a few pages. The fewer pages a site has, the less it will cost. Or rather, the fewer pages that require different designs or display different content, the cheaper it is. 

A five-page site that has a different design and different type of content on every page will cost more than a five-page site where the design and content requirements are the same, e.g., some paragraphs of text and a few images.

Think about all the pages that your site will need and what will be on each page. Each time you come up with a page that has different content requirements, it’s likely that a new design and template will be required for that page, which will increase the cost. 

Different content requirements can include forms for capturing data, tabs or accordions for hiding and showing content, image or video galleries, data tables with rows and columns of information, or complex layouts with a variety of columns, boxes, or other layout devices.

Step 3: Consider the technology that will be required

If you’re completely new to building websites and you employ someone to do it for you, a lot of these considerations will be left up to your web development team. But for them to arrive at the correct technology stack for your website, they’ll need the answers to some of the questions we posed earlier.

These include the site’s domain name and the sort of web hosting it will need. Be aware that the size of the intended audience and how quickly it is expected to grow will influence what the sort of web hosting required. 

If the site is going to receive a lot of traffic or if its traffic is likely to experience unexpected spikes, i.e., sudden increases, then it will need web hosting with a lot of resources that can quickly scale up. VPS or dedicated hosting plans will be required for these sorts of sites. Such plans are more expensive, but they will pay for themselves by guaranteeing that your site is always available and operating at peak performance.

What the site will do and whether you need to be able to update it yourself will influence the type of technology that will be used to build it. So too will considerations about the technology and devices people use to access your site. 

Many sites are built with what’s known as a content management system (CMS) which enables non-technical users to manage the content of their own sites without having to know any programming languages. There are very many different CMSs and which one is used can vary from one site to the next.

Step 4: Consider how you will promote your site

Having the best site in the world with the most engaging content and stylish design will mean nothing if no-one knows about it and doesn’t visit it. If you want your site to start attracting visitors straight after launch, you’re going to need to have a marketing strategy in place. And it can’t be something that is only considered after launch. 

To run a successful search engine marketing (SEM) campaign, search engine optimization (SEO) factors will need to have been considered during the site’s build. In some cases, SEO considerations will also have a bearing on the technology used to build the site and track its performance after launch. 

For a site to be successful, getting it to launch is only the beginning of the process. Ongoing work will need to be done on it to make sure it’s continually promoted and improved to keep capturing an audience.

Summary

So exactly how much does it cost to build a website? There is no one single answer—it will depend on each site. 

You must not only consider your site’s purpose, design, and content, but also its users, the technology they’ll be using to access the site, and the technology that will be used to build and host the site. Finally, you’ll have to consider how to promote the site to ensure you get the best return on investment (ROI) possible.

Because those considerations will be unique to every website building project, you will need to have a discussion with a web design or development specialist to get an answer that suits your own individual purpose.