How to Determine Website Cost

March 31, 2020

It's important for businesses to know exactly how much a website will cost them. Here's a guide to the 3 factors that determine the cost of a website. 

Websites are essential for every business in today’s digital economy: it’s one reason why over 1.7 billion sites exist on the internet today.

But how much does building a website actually cost? Googling this question will yield a dizzying number of conflicting answers. 

The answer may be underwhelming: it depends. 

There are a number of decisions and factors that impact the cost of building a website, starting with your business goals. 

Ultimately, 3 key factors determine website cost: 

  • Technology used to build the website
  • Features and functionalities
  • Resources used to design and build the website

This article will teach you how to determine the cost of your website and decide whether to build a site in-house or rely on outside expertise.

1. Use Business Goals to Determine the Scope of Your Website

Figure out what you want your website to accomplish. This will help you accurately develop a budget for building your website

Specifically, think about how your company website will serve overall business goals. A few examples of the goals websites can support include: 

  • Building brand awareness and trust
  • Attracting new customers
  • Selling products online
  • Developing and featuring thought leadership in your industry
  • Improving customer service

These benefits aren’t mutually exclusive, either. A well-designed, formatted, and maintained website can provide all of the above benefits. 

Set clear goals for your website to determine which features and technologies you need to incorporate. This, in turn, will determine the resources you’ll need to develop the right website for your needs. 

2. Determine Which Web Features and Functions You Need

The features that you include on your website also dictate cost: A website that includes comprehensive external features may cost more to secure and maintain. 

Depending on the objective of your website, a different set of website features and functionalities are necessary to ensure you develop and maintain success. 

A shortlist of these include: 

  • Mobile responsiveness is necessary for every website since Google switched to mobile-first indexing. If your website isn’t mobile-responsive, you could risk SEO penalties from Google.
  • Load time also is necessary for your website to make the best impression on customers. If your website doesn’t load quickly, people might abandon your page and Google could record that as a “bounce.”
  • Navigation structure ensures that Google bots can crawl and index each page of your website with ease. 
  • Customized themes make your website consistent with your brand’s visual identity.
  • Live chat options help customers find information quickly and easily on your website. It’s also an inexpensive customer service tool.
  • Social media integration makes it easier for people to share and distribute your content. 
  • Contact forms help customers know how to reach you.
  • Content management systems create easy access to create and maintain content on your site. 

Each feature of a website corresponds to various business benefits. Reference your business goals to determine the features that support those. 

3. Choose Resources for Building a Website: In-House Staff Versus Web Development Company 

The price range of building a website depends on who builds it and how. For most companies, it boils down to 2 core options

  • Develop it yourself through investing in a DIY Platform such as Squarespace or Wix or hiring in-house development resources to build on a content management system (CMS) platform. 
  • Hire a web development company to build your website on an existing CMS such as WordPress or Drupal or build from scratch using development technologies and frameworks. 

Developing a Website In-House

Developing a website in-house usually means leveraging one of 2 separate resources: 

  • DIY Web Platform
  • In-house development resources

Building your own website on a platform such as Wix or Squarespace may be the least expensive option for some businesses.

These platforms often offer a free option, but these versions mostly are suited for personal blogs or websites.

To build a more complex or comprehensive website, additional features and functionalities usually include a cost. These include:

  • Premium add-ons and plugins such as widgets 
  • Custom theme templates found in WordPress or other CMS solutions

In addition to defined monetary costs, your business will incur time costs from building your own website:

  • Hours invested: Expect to spend dozens or even hundreds of hours learning, trouble-shooting, and tailoring the design and architecture to your needs.
  • Downtime: Sometimes, plugins and theme updates can “break” your website, leaving it unable to function. These problems can often be fixed with the help of customer support, but you may have to wait a day or two for help.

Hiring a Web Development Firm

The costs of hiring a web development firm to build your website vary depending on who you hire and what you want to build.

While hiring a web development firm may cost more than the DIY option, the advantages often pay for themselves:

  • Build your site quicker than you can do it yourself
  • Develop a user-friendly interface, design, and structure 
  • Build a solid website structure that meets the needs of your customers

When hiring a web development firm, look for one that specializes in the type of website you want to build.

Website development firms often set different minimum project requirements. Additionally, many firms include monthly maintenance fees after your site launches. Monthly fees depend on your needs and the scale of your website.

Businesses Should Budget for Website Creation and Maintenance

After your site launches, you can track metrics such as site visitors, engagement rates, conversions, and sales to gauge the success of your website.
The cost of building a website depends on who builds it, what platforms or technologies you use, and what features you want to be added to the site.