On My Own

A Personal Journal
by Davood Denavi

How Much Does A Website Cost?

I’ve been asked many times over the years by potential clients what I charge for a website. There are many ways to answer that question. The simple answer is I charge a minimum of $5000. However, that would not be completely true and I believe in being transparent. There are many simple three page websites that I have built or redeveloped in one or two days for far less than $5000 over the years.

What most people starting a side hustle or even a small business do not understand is that building a website could take a professional website designer one day, many months, or anything in between based on what they want the website to do. Then there is also the topic of will the designer/developer be creating the content for the homepage, about page, etc. or will it be provided by the customer.

At the end of the day the cost of a website depends on many different things. If you are working with a website developer, such as myself, or an agency here are the things you should be considering:

  1. Does the developer or agency you are working with charge hourly or flat rate for development?

    Whether the developer charges flat rate or hourly is actually matters because if they are charging hourly their hourly rate can get inflated by planning and design meetings. In general, it is best for most clients to work with a developer who will charge a flat rate and include meetings in the flat rate for their website development services.

  2. Are you using WordPress or having the website built from scratch not using any Content Management System (CMS) or third-party services like Square Space?

    The answer to this question can get quite dicey. I’ve written proposals for clients in the past who wanted to use Square Space for their main website and then have a help desk and client area for accepting payments built separately. In some of these cases I found myself writing two proposals. One for a website completely build on WordPress with the help desk and client area and another for having the two things split up on Square Space and a self-hosted WordPress website.

  3. If you are using WordPress or another self-hosted CMS will you need to pay for a premium theme or premium plugins or add-ons?

    Most of the time a designer who knows how to write custom code to build a custom theme based on designs made in Photoshop and approved by the client. However, freelance developers do not typically include design in their proposals because they do not like doing the design; instead, that provide premium theme options to the client to pick from based on their needs.As for premium plugins and add-ons. This can get quite dicey like the answer to #2 did. Freelance developers who are not doing the work in between full-time jobs or as a side hustle will typically have developer licenses that they allow their clients to use as long as they are working together, that includes following launch. However, if the client has an e-commerce site there are sometimes plugins or add-ons that do not offer developer or multi-site licenses so the developer or agency will have the client purchase these licenses which come with a yearly renewal cost.

  4. If you are using WordPress, some other CMS, or having it built from scratch without a CMS do you want the website to have any functionality to sell products/services, accept payments, or some other custom functionality like a support ticketing system or some thing else that I have not suggested?

    Extra functionality is a tricky one to discuss because there are some many things that would be considered extra functionality. As a result I will keep it simple… extra functionality can take anywhere from ten minutes to many hours or days to implement depending on what the client is wanting the website to do. This is where the biggest cost comes in when having a website developed because an invoicing system, for instance, should not be built using an invoicing plugin but should be built using some website software separate of the CMS or a custom plugin that works within the CMS that is being used. Building a custom plugin when the website is going to be built on a CMS is actually the better option because it keeps the design of the client area where invoices will be viewed the same as the websites design which is important to the usability of the website.

  5. If you are not using a service like Square Space you will likely need to pay for hosting too, how much will that be?

    Some developers and agencies offer hosting in their services. Be careful though because once the website is launched you own the work that has been completed as long as you have paid in full for the work. In other words, if you are going to have the developer or agency host the website for you make sure it is separated out in the contact agreement and you have full access to the website and the server once the website is launched.

  6. Will the developer or agency charge hourly or flat rate to fix problems after your new website is launched or do they offer a flat rate maintenance option of some sort?

    As I mentioned in one of my posts the last few days… I offer a maintenance package. When a client calls me with something that falls outside of that maintenance package I still charge them flat rate for the work that will be done. Most developers will charge an hourly rate for work that falls outside of maintenance. As a result, starting in 2024 I will be offering a Support option that is one step lower than Maintenance but still has a recurring renewal cost. This Support option will come with an hourly rate for work that falls outside of Support.

  7. How much is a domain name?

    Do not have the developer or agency buy the domain. You need to buy it yourself from Hover, Godaddy, or another domain provider. Domains start at $10.99 per year unless the provider you purchase it from is running a promotion. It is best to register your domain for more than one year at a time.

  8. How much is website hosting?

    Much like maintenance I offer my clients who I am building new websites for to host on my server. I charge $450 per year but include my Maintenance plan in the cost of the hosting rather than charging extra. When paying for hosting separate of the developer or agency you are working with the hosting will start at $5 per month depending the provider you use and what package of theirs you pick. Most providers offer a new client promotion on an ongoing basis these promotions are usually only good for the initial term. When a client wants to get their own hosting I advise them to take a new customer promotion and sign up for more than one year on that promotion if they are able to.

  9. Do you need a premium SSL Certificate or will the free one offered by your hosting provider be good enough?

    If you need a premium SSL Certificate how much will that cost?90% of websites can use the free SSL Certificate that comes with their hosting package. However, if you need a premium SSL Certificate for whatever reason it can vary in cost between $8 and $1000 per year.

  10. Does the website hosting include reliable email services? If not, how much will it cost to have an email service such as Office 365 or Google Workspace set up with your domain?

    While most hosting providers offer email with the hosting it is best to use a separate provider for email services at your domain for better security and uptime. The best two available are Office 365 for Business and Google Workspace which both start out at $6 per month/user.