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How Much Does a Website Cost? A Detailed Price Breakdown.

How Much Does a Website Cost? A Detailed Price Breakdown.

How much does a website cost?

In my two decades as CEO of Hudson Integrated, this is by far the most common question asked by prospects. The short answer is, the total cost to design and develop a website depends. The longer, more precise answer, is the focus of this article. 

Note: For this article, I will be focusing on professional business websites — not personal blogs or hobby websites.

When it comes to pricing out a new site, there are many factors that contribute to cost and overall price. If you want a realistic, defined cost estimate, then you’ll need to consider the following factors based on your company’s unique situation:

  • Who is building your website? 
  • How advanced should your website’s UI/UX design be? 
  • How much should you invest into the research and discovery process? 
  • What level of web development is needed to achieve your website goals?

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the baseline factors you’ll need to consider to determine your upfront investment in a website. Let’s dive into each of these factors a bit further to help you to establish an accurate cost range for your future website.

Who is building your website?

You have various options in terms of who can build your website. First, you can create a website on your own using some type of website builder, like Wix or Shopify. These platforms are great as long as you take the time to learn how to use them properly.

Or, perhaps you have a family member, neighbor, friend, or freelancer who has the skills to create a website — this is another common option that tends to be relatively cost-effective depending on the person’s skill level.

Lastly, if you need a more advanced website that incorporates strategy, branding, and research and discovery, then an agency may be the best route for you. In general, agencies are more expensive than building your own website or hiring a friend, but it’s a true business investment.

The good news is, no matter your budget, there are options available that will allow you to accomplish your website goals.

Depending on who you hire to build your website — plus the other factors we’ll cover in this article, overall, average pricing of a website ranges anywhere from $500 to over $100,000, and sometimes upwards of $250,000. 

How much does a content website cost? -  you can expect typical averages to range between $3,500 and $50,000 for a content website.

How much does an ecommerce website cost? - on the ecommerce front, you can expect typical averages to range between $7,500 to $100,000 for an ecommerce website.

“But how can there be such a wide range of cost for a website?” Great question. Let’s get into some more factors that impact cost.

How advanced should your website’s UI/UX Design be?

design style guide

Before we can determine how much UI/UX design will impact the overall cost of your website, you should know the difference between UI and UX.

UI (User Interface) consists of the screens, buttons, and visual elements that guide users throughout your website. UX (User Experience) refers to the actual experience users have as they navigate your website. If UI is the look of your website, then UX is how it feels to use your website.

A good UI without a proper UX will typically translate to lower conversions, poor customer experiences, and ultimately a lower ROI. A beautiful UI combined with a strong UX is the standard on websites that convert one-time users into repeat customers.

Again, there are options when it comes to the UI/UX design of your website. If you use a website builder, then you can use a template that has been tested to convert users. If you’re just starting out with a limited budget, this is probably the way to go.

On the other hand, if you work with a friend or freelancer, that person will ultimately decide whether to use a pre-tested template, design from scratch, or do a mix of both. If your website needs any level of tailored UI/UX, it’s probably best to work with a professional.

Lastly, if your website is essential to running your business online — especially if you run an ecommerce business — it may make sense to work with a web agency. You can typically expect a higher level of service and customization with an agency — meaning that the UI/UX designs are custom-tailored to your users based on research and data. However, it should be noted that with increased service comes increased cost.

The level of effort and strategy that goes into the UI/UX design of your site will dictate what this part of the process costs, and could range anywhere between $1,500 and $15,000. A DIY website builder will usually be the cheapest route, but also the most time-consuming and potentially frustrating if you don’t have experience as a web designer. If you’re looking to invest in a custom-optimized UI/UX design for your website, then a freelancer or agency is probably a better bet, but again, it will cost more upfront. 

How much should you invest in Research and Discovery?

sticky notes up on research/strategy board

The amount of research and discovery you invest into building your website is entirely up to you and the person or agency building it. In the decades we’ve spent building websites, we always advise clients to invest in research, as this part of the process is often the difference between a website that looks nice, and a website that looks nice and generates sales. The best UI/UX design is based on industry, competitor, and user research. The less guesswork, the better the results. This is why we always recommend starting with research. 

Not all research is the same; different levels of research are required for different kinds of websites. If you’re creating a simple content website, then the research and discovery can be lighter because there’s less functionality involved; your research will likely be primarily competitive. Similarly, if you’re looking for a quick and dirty reskin of your current website, this also requires minimal research.

On the other hand, if your website requires any sort of user dashboard, product visualization tools, advanced shopping cart features, multi-step lead-gen forms, custom user experience — anything truly unique — then conducting UI/UX, customer, and competitive research upfront can save you a ton of time and money in the long run despite the initial investment.

Depending on the level of research involved in your website project, this could cost anywhere in the range of $2,500 - $20,000, and sometimes more for extra large projects.

If you’re going to cut costs anywhere, research is not the place. Any professional or agency who advises against this part of the process is likely misinformed or dishonest, so beware!

How much Web Development is needed for your site?

Web development refers to the essential code that makes your website work. Some websites only call for basic web development, which is included in many of the popular DIY website builders like Wix or Squarespace. Straightforward content websites typically only call for basic web development, making them cheaper, quicker, and easier to build.

On the other hand, ecommerce websites require much more functionality since users need the ability to make purchases directly through the site. For standard ecommerce websites, off-the-shelf platforms like Shopify typically work just fine and offer tons of app integrations to customize your website.

However, if your site integrates with multiple third-party apps, works with multiple payment providers, or requires more advanced features or customizations, DIY website building platforms can quickly become costly due to recurring fees. Additionally, you’ll need to work with a web developer to implement any of the above custom integrations, which also increases cost.

For many businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, custom development provides a longer-term, cost-effective solution. The reason for this is twofold: on the one hand, you pay upfront and avoid recurring fees. On the other hand, you own the site and all its technology indefinitely, making it less likely that your site will crash or be hacked by outside parties — either of which can be costly.

That said, custom development initially requires a larger investment than off-the-shelf platforms, so you will need to have an adequate budget if you decide to take this route. Additionally, any custom-developed website should be backed by data and research, which will also increase cost.

This is why it’s so important to determine the level of web development you need upfront. Do you need a customized shopping experience or built-in user tools? Additionally, are you looking for back-office functionality, multi-level user permissions, or advanced technology integrations? These are examples of times when custom development is worth the investment. Conversely, if you’re looking to build a no-frills site with less customizations and basic features, an off-the-shelf solution is probably the way to go. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of the level of web development your website will need. Whether you use a DIY website builder, hire a freelance developer, or work with a web development agency, you should take the time to figure out the complexity of your needs. Depending on your needs, web development costs could range anywhere from $1,500 - $50,000+.

Point of reference: How much does our digital agency charge for websites?

hudson development team members collaborating

We’ve been designing and developing websites for nearly two decades. We’re not the lowest-cost solution because we offer a truly integrated approach, which includes the ability to build advanced, custom technology.

While most digital agencies specialize in one sector of digital, we specialize in combining multiple sectors to deliver truly integrated, research-driven digital solutions. In other words, our cost reflects the many and varied skill sets which work together throughout every project we take on.

To give you a general sense of what we charge, our website costs typically range as follows:

Content website cost - $12,500 - $35,000, with averages around $25,000.

Ecommerce website cost - $17,500 - $67,500, which averages around $35,000. much does a website cost?

My answer is still the same — it depends. As I’ve outlined above, many factors drive the cost of a website up or down, and the cost will vary greatly depending on your needs, from UI/UX design to research and custom web development.

If you’re looking to keep costs down because you’re a startup or smaller business, then using a DIY website builder internally might be your best bet. If you have some budget to work with and want something a bit more custom without any super-advanced features, it might make sense to hire a freelancer to customize an off-the-shelf platform. And lastly, if you’re a larger company or have more complex website needs, then building your website with a digital agency probably makes the most sense, as long as you’re prepared to make an upfront investment.

I hope this article has broadened your understanding of how much a website costs! If you have any questions or comments, I am happy to chat with you. Feel free to reach out here.