You Know You Need a Business Website. But Do You Know How Much That Will Cost?
What You Need to Know About Website Costs
It always surprises me how many business owners have really no clue regarding the costs of designing, building, and maintaining a business website. Some clients have budgets more than twice what they need. Others could not even afford an initial consultation on their budget. So what do you really know about website costs?
If a few hundred dollars is all you can invest in your business website don’t expect much in return!
You may realize this is a loaded question. The actual answer is that your business website can cost as much or as little as you want or need it to. Our team has built websites for as little as $ 2,000.00. At the other end of the spectrum enterprise level sites can easily run into six figures or more. So where does the big difference in website costs come from?
The answer is that there are many different types and sizes of business websites. For the sake of this post we will talk about an informational or brochure business website. I will cover the real cost of building an e-commerce site in an upcoming post. So let’s take a look at the different website costs involved.
The Website Costs Spectrum
The Low-End Site
A $2,000 business website is what we call a “build and forget” website. Your business needs a website, now! You need somebody to build you a mobile-friendly design based on a CMS platform like WordPress. Once the site is done it most often just sits there. The business owner does not want our help to maintain the site, and usually they don’t have the skills to do so themselves.
To be honest with you, we don’t really like this kind of project. It hurts us to see one of our creations simply fade away into oblivion. Instead of seeing the website costs as an investment in your business you pretty much just wasted the $2,000.00. Your brochure website just turned into a flyer; it gets read and forgotten almost immediately.
The High-End Site
A six-figure website is usually a mission-critical, “your business depends on it” website. The significant website costs come from a variety of factors. It takes considerable resources and time to build this type of business website. It maximizes lead conversions, automates processes, does in-depth reporting and analytics, and most likely plays a key role in your product offering.
To build this type of site you need massive resources that are well beyond the means of even large businesses. The dedicated teams both on the client and agency side required to build this kind of site can number in the hundreds, working for months on end. Since we usually run out of coffee well before then this is not our ideal website project either.
If you think hiring a professional is expensive just wait until you work with an amateur!
The Extremes at Both Ends
There are people who will build a business website for as little as $ 300.00. Most often they use a crappy website builder like Weebly or even a free website template. We have seen sites like this, and it makes us shudder. If $ 300.00 is all you can afford for your business website you should seriously reconsider your decision to go into business at all!
And there are companies like Amazon who spend billions of dollars a year on their web platforms. Now we are talking about real serious money! At that level even our lazy cats would have solid gold espresso machines!
Now that we have covered both extreme ends of the spectrum and the parts in between where does that leave the average small to mid-sized business owner? I am glad you asked, because now we finally arrived at our sweet spot, designing and building business websites that provide sustainable and measurable results.
Realistic Website Costs
Here at the highly caffeinated agency we divide website costs into up-front costs and maintenance costs. The up-front fees are what you need to pay to have us design and build your business website. The maintenance costs pay for the ongoing support and maintenance after your site is built. Similar to having children, websites need ongoing care and attention.
As far as up-front fees are concerned, expect to pay $3,500 or more for an effective business website that is designed to be mobile-friendly and responsive. This means the website is designed to provide the best possible user experience from smartphones to big screen TVs.
That will get you a well-designed, well-built business website that meets modern coding standards and offers a basic set of features like a contact form or a home page slider (an animated series of images and/or text.) Please note that this is for designing and building your business website.
If you need help with content creation or keyword research and SEO it will add at least $1,500.00 to your website costs. That means for around $6,000.00 you get a business website, content, and search engine mojo that will connect your website to your target audience. Not a bad deal when you think about it.
If you want to see how the different aspects of website creation add to the up-front website costs give our awesome website cost estimator a try! It is fun and interactive, and helps you determine where website costs can quickly add up.
Let’s Talk Customization
Maybe your needs are a little greater and you need something more custom. This is when your website costs can start to vary greatly depending on your specific requirements. At that stage it becomes very important to work with a web designer or agency that can analyze your requirements and determine the best approach to your project.
Custom functionality includes interaction with a database, such as media sites, inventory management, customer lead capture, analytics and reporting, etc. Other customization options include styling specific design elements to your specifications. If you need this level of customization you should at least double your up-front costs. In these cases, plan $10,000 as a good starting figure.
And if you absolutely positively need everything to be completely custom, including the development of a WordPress theme from scratch, you need to double your website budget again. Website costs approaching $ 25,000.00 can be a major investment. Since your business website needs to provide some sort of measurable ROI you really need to do the math and figure out if the mounting up-front website costs are really worth all that money.
Website Maintenance Costs
The single most important aspect to your website is regular maintenance. Google requires fresh and relevant content if you want to perform well in search. Everything from search engine optimization to visitor engagement and return visits is directly related to how often your website is updated.
If you think regular website maintenance is expensive just wait until your site goes down!
A website designer or agency that does not offer to maintain your website, blog, content marketing, and social media on a regular basis is not helping you get the most out of your website. Yet many clients resist maintenance plans when we first mention them. Usually that changes the first time their site goes down, or when their phone stops ringing.
My advice is if you had to pick between a regular website maintenance plan spread out over a year or two or a one-time up-front development effort to deliver you a brand new website in a few weeks, take the maintenance plan.
A good website maintenance plan can cost you a few hundred dollars per month, and depending on the size of your business and how much you need or want your web designer or agency to do for you, go up to $ 6,000.00+ a month.
For example, we have options that range from $ 105.00 a month for a bare-bones small businesses website maintenance plan, anywhere from $ 1,500.00 to $ 6,000.00 to maintain your social media presence, and up to $ 8,000 per month to manage all of the content marketing efforts of a medium-sized business, including blog posts and email newsletters.
Website Costs That Make Sense For Your Business
Your business website is an essential investment in the long-term growth of your business. And like any business investment you need to think about this carefully. If you invest too little you end up with a useless website that does not serve your business. Basically you just threw that money out the window.
On the other hand, if you go totally overboard and blow your entire budget for the first two years on up-front website costs you will have nothing left over to maintain your business website. Like a toy left out in the rain it will eventually become totally useless. More money just went out the window! And by the way, would you please tell us where that window is so we can stand underneath it with open baskets?
We recommend that you start somewhere in between. Invest between $ 5,000.00 and $ 8,000.00 to get a business website that will attract online visitors and converts them into consumers of your product or service. It will not have every bell and whistle, but Rome was not built in a day either. Instead of getting everything at once why not do it in phases? It will definitely be easier on you and your budget if you spread your website costs out over time.
Related Web Design Resources
If you are building your first business website, or if it has been a long time since you last considered options and functionality for your business website you might like these related posts from our ESPRESSO Shots Blog:
- Finding Your Ideal Mobile-First Web Design Agency
- 16 Web Design Terms to Impress Your Web Designer
- Business Website Traps You Must Avoid
- Business Website Errors That Repel Visitors
- What You Need to Know About Website Costs
- Building Your Own Business Website – Good Idea or Not?
- Establishing a Successful Business Website
- Template Website or Custom Web Design, Which Is Best for Your Business?
- 15 Key Small Business Website Success Tips
- Business Website Pages: How Many Do You Really Need
Let Us Help You Get Started The Right Way
Here at ESPRESSO.digital, we offer a full range of business website consulting and design services, including brand strategy and design, content strategy and creation, website design and development, commercial photography services, search engine optimization, social media integration and business website hosting.
Feel free reach out to us to learn more about our small business website design services, and how our team can help you keep your website costs down. The highly caffeinated team is always happy to help!
Do you have anything to add to our website costs? Maybe you have some experiences of your own you can share? Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And help other small business owners get a cost-effective business website by sharing this post with them! Thanks, we appreciate your help!
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