How much it costs to build and run an “average” website can be a common question when you haven’t had any prior experience with building or running one.
Cost is generally one of the first questions I find myself asking in everyday life so it’s no wonder that what it costs to do something like build a website is also one of the first questions that many people including my consulting clients ask.
Please note the costs listed below are accurate as I am writing this article but subject to change at any time.
What is an “Average” Website?
This is probably the hardest part of understanding the cost to build a website, because what is “average” or “simple” for one person can be much more complicated for another, including the designers and programmers who might have to build the site. When requesting custom website coding, try to remember that because something may seem simple to a website visitor that it isn’t complicated for the programmer to build, especially in a way that is user-friendly.
But for this example we are going to use a set of simple criteria which I think in most people’s mind would be accepted as an average DIY type of website. This is not for an “average” website that you would hire a designer to build for you, although there is more information about that listed in the optional upgrades toward the end of this page.
Example “Average” Website Criteria
- Brand new domain name
- Shared web hosting
- You’re willing to try to do it yourself (You can’t break anything if you don’t already have a website so give it a try!)
- No custom programming or design
1. Brand New Domain Name
If you don’t already have a domain name, and many who are just starting out won’t, you will need to obtain one. You can get one from places like GoDaddy who will try to up-sell you on their other services such as web hosting. For most people I don’t recommend this, because I haven’t been terribly happy with their web hosting and by getting your domain separately you are just introducing more companies and moving parts with potential for headaches or something to go wrong.
I recommend you just get your new domain from the hosting provider.
2. Shared Web Hosting
For example, A Small Orange, one of my favorite hosting companies includes a free domain registration and 2 months free hosting as part of a basic package for only $50/year and if you use the coupon code “zuziko15” when you sign up, you will get another 15% off which brings you to $42.50 for a year equalling only $3.54 per month.
3. You’re Willing To Try Yourself
Once you have signed up for hosting and the account is set up, now you can begin to build your website. There are many tools out there, and you could hire a designer to build a website for you.
However, I recommend you give it a try setting up a basic website first using WordPress. If you’re not familiar with WordPress, it is a very popular web site and blog creation “software” that you can install on your own hosting package. It will allow you to create & edit your website without knowing any HTML or other web coding languages. I will cover how to install WordPress at A Small Orange another time, but if you have trouble figuring it out you should email their support department as they are very responsive and helpful, which is why I like and recommend them. If all else fails, you can contact me and I’ll do my best to help you out.
4. No Custom Programming or Design
Many people will think that an average website will have things like a shopping cart, store locator, custom functions allowing people to submit information and out pops something else. This really isn’t the case – lots of things can be done, but they are customized either through add-ons (either free or paid) or custom programming depending on what they are trying to accomplish.
For this example, if you wanted to customize your website design which I highly recommend otherwise your site will look like every other out of the box wordpress website, you can install a free or premium WordPress theme to customize the design. It’s literally as simple as uploading a file and clicking “apply” to get started. Some more complicated themes will require additional configuration.
First Year Total Website Cost
If you’re willing to try this yourself, using the example above your cost for the first year would be only $42.50 which comes out to $3.54 per month.
Ongoing Website Cost
In subsequent years, you may not have coupons available, and will have to pay for the renewal of the domain name. With the example scenario above, expect this to be in the $65.00 per year range, which comes out to $5.42 per month.
Future Website “Upgrades” if You Will
Of course you can add to your website if you need to or just want to really customize the look. Here’s some common options and ideas on what they might cost you.
Shopping carts can be added through plugins for WordPress, completely outsourced through Shopify, or Yahoo Stores to name a few. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of ways to do this including building your own from scratch.
Shopping Cart Cost: You will need a way to process credit cars, so figure around 2.5% of each transaction for that, plus potentially a set transaction fee of $0.15-0.30 and possibly even a monthly fee. Some providers charge a bit more percentage but don’t have the monthly or transaction fees. Then figure in the cost of the service, starting from $10 per month to hundreds or more depending on your needs.
Depending what you want to do, custom programming can be a simple little task to make some tweaks, or a much more complicated project to build a completely ground-up web application. There’s no way programmers can give an estimated price range specifically for your idea, without having any idea what you’re trying to accomplish so I recommend you create a detailed project plan of exactly what the users do, what the programming needs to do, and the expected result of each step. It is also highly recommended that you design each screen and step first with a designer so the programmer can implement the design at the same time to not only save money, but to also have a visual understanding of what you want to accomplish.
oDesk is my favorite place to find freelancers for all sorts of projects from virtual assistants to web programmers and designers, other than referrals from people I know and trust or when my go-to people are too busy.
Web Programming Cost: Varies greatly. I have built small web applications for as little as $25.00 with offshore programmers and been involved in more complicated projects costing upwards of $250,000.
Custom & Semi-custom Website Design
Like programming, design cost can vary quite a bit. You will not only need someone to design the visual aspect of the site, but that visual design will need to be “applied” which basically means someone will take all the images and create the HTML, CSS and PHP code necessary to make your website look like the image the designer provided. Some designers can do this themselves, while others will need a programmer to help them – ask before you hire them!
You can save money by using a semi-custom design which can be a template that is already made for either WordPress or another software you might be using. These range from fairly inexpensive – I’ve seen some as low as $10 – to more expensive upwards of a few hundred dollars. Themeforest is a good place to start looking for premium themes.
Website Design Cost: Varies greatly. Anywhere from $10 for semi custom to a few hundred or couple thousand for a completely customized design. More complicated projects, or “better” designers can cost more than $50,000 based on my project experiences.
How Much I Paid for This Website
Basic Website Cost
- Domain Name: $9.99
- Hosting: $42.50 for the first month and then $50 per month. I have a much higher plan because I host over 40 active websites amounting to quite a bit of traffic. This single site could easily do with a standard shared hosting plan.
- Design: $Free with the WordPress Spacious Theme
Please keep in mind hosting for this site is much higher than a basic shared hosting account because I host over 40 web sites on a Virtual Private Server. Shared web hosting with the same company, A Small Orange, would be only $42.50 for the first year including the domain registration.
Total Annual Web Site Cost: $602.49
Website Customization Cost
- Custom Logo: est $75 (in progress, not yet completed)
- Photography: $125 photo shoot for header image & other portrait images.
- Premium Theme: $39.20 – I upgraded to the paid WordPress Spacious Pro Theme because they were having a 20% off sale and I plan to do that sometime this year anyway so it saved me a few bucks. As of this writing, I am still using the free theme.
Total Customization Cost: est $239.20
Total first year cost will be around $841.69 or $70.14 per month for this website plus hosting for over 40 others!
Did That Answer Your Question?
Hopefully that will go to show you what it costs to build and run an “average” website and some options on customization. If you have any questions about my website costs, or some other follow up questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave a reply below or email me.