If you’re looking to price a small business website or find some basic idea of what it costs — either your head is spinning by now, or you’re totally pissed off. No one seems to be willing to give a straight answer.
Well, you’re partly right — there is no simple answer. There’s a reason for that. Every website has to suit the business it represents and every business is unique. Every small business website is going to be different. However, just as business follows basic rules of commerce — building a website follows basic processes of development and management. Remember — cost is not all of the equation. A good website is going to grow your business, and potentially, make you money online.
So, let’s talk about cost. Here’s a basic breakdown of the cost of a small business website:
- Domain Name – $10/year
- Hosting – $10 to $100 a month (depending on traffic, security, plug-ins & hosting services)
- Strategy – you need a strategy to direct the creation of your website — starting at $500
- Design — starting at $1,500, depending on complexity
- Development — this is where developers make the site sing — starting at $1,000
- Continued website Maintenance – $500 a year and up (depending on number/type of updates required)
- Marketing your website online – $750 a month and up
All right, too many variables and what if’s — let’s break this down to make sense.
Before you start to build, you need a plan. A plan that takes into account your business, your business environment, what you need — and one that knows what your competitors are doing. You need to take advantage of most recent developments, and rapidly changing best practices. Strategy provides the heads-up approach that makes a website work first time around. Less time and worry on the back stretch by doing your homework at the front-end — budget at least $500. Remember, you save money by working smart.
All aspects of building a website are important but your interface design is where the rubber hits the road. It is often called the “skin” as it is the part that goes on last, and it is what your visitors see and experience. Your interface design must always work with your brand and brand colors to define your presence. Like all design projects, the designer will show you several options and then modify those based on your feedback. For a small business website, budget $1,200–3,500 to get you from concept through to the final design that will then be handed off to development for programming.
Images and Graphics
Images — pictures and graphics — are an integral part of website experience. Solutions range from stock photos to customized graphics by a dedicated graphic designer. Stock photo fees for commercial websites range from a low of $50 per photo to several hundred per photo. You will also need icons and buttons to complement your design. Budget at least $250 for images — but be prepared to spend more if a custom graphic is the way to go. Of course, any photos you supply are great — but a bad amateur photo can ruin a great site. Trust your designer to advise you which photos work — and which don’t.
People often confuse development with design, but they are two separate processes when you build a website. Design is the way things look — development is the coding behind the look that makes the website work interactively. Today’s consumer wants and expects a site that responds to them — and that is what development does. Count on a ground floor cost of $1,000.
Mobile and Responsive Design Cost
Mobile devices are now part of the formula for online success and your design should at least be mobile-friendly. The best designs are “responsive“ — they automatically adjust their layout to look good on multiple devices: smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Creating a responsive design can cost 20% – 30% more than a site designed only for a desktop web browser. The additional cost is because the interface designer needs to design how the site will look on various devices, the programmer needs to program the designs, and more testing is required before the site is ready to launch. Almost all projects these days include responsive programming.
Costs for Content Creation and Insertion
Of course, you can create all the content yourself and insert it into the website yourself. Most designers have no problem delivering a blank design template that you can populate with text and images. But if you want the design firm to add your content and adjust the layout of the text, you should budget $100–150 per page.
These are the fundamental cost centers of website publishing. There are many additional features that can be added to your website that will affect the cost — check out the article Special Features Cost Extra.
Another Way To Look At It
Another way to break down the budget is this way:
- 15% Planning
- 25% Interface design
- 40% Programming
- 20% Project Management
Maintenance Counts, Because If You Don’t — It Will Cost You
The best websites change all the time. Maintenance is something most businesses forget to budget or they think that they can do it themselves. You need to be blunt with yourself — maintenance is a full-time job — what do you want to do — maintain your website or run your business? Be sure to include maintenance as part of your budget.
Maintenance contracts vary greatly depending upon what you expect from the firm. You should budget a minimum of $250 per month to have a designer/developer on call if you have a problem that you can’t fix. And if you expect them to do additional work such as creating new images, adding new content, maintaining social media or newsletters, the price will go up.
What You See Is Not All That You Get
As you have seen — the pricing of a small business website involves a number of options and variables. But there are the basics: strategy, design, development and maintenance. They are essential to building a website that is going to work for you and your business. Budget to include all four.
So, what is the bottom line? Here it is: for a small business website you can spend as little as $6,000 or as much as $20,000 or more. Your budget should be based on what your business needs. Remember, the plan is to generate traffic, customers, and more revenue. Don’t be afraid to spend money to make money — after all — that’s business.