A good quality website designer may charge you from $500 to over $10,000 to create or redesign a website for you. Understandably, that's a huge gulf in pricing. If you're only looking to create a small site of a few pages to list your business details, then you can expect things to be at the lower end of the scale.
In this guide, we'll talk you through the costs you can anticipate to pay for a website designer, plus explain how you can get comparable quotes for a more tailored idea of your own likely costs
It all boils down to how much work is involved.
Specifically, the 2 factors determining how much work is involved are the size and complexity of your site.
That means a nice-looking, professional 15-page informational website with standard customization is going to cost less than a highly customized 50-page site with all the bells and whistles.
In terms of actual dollars, the cost to build a website for a small business could be less than $1,000 or more than $10,000.
The 2 Options (With Pricing) For Designing And Developing A Small Business Website
OPTION 1: Hire A Professional
If you’re super busy running your business and/or tech just isn’t your thing, then you need to hire someone to build your site for you. It’s that simple.
However, if you’ve searched online and visited sites of website designers/developers, you’ve probably encountered:
No prices listed at all.
Prices all over the map, from ridiculously cheap to crazy expensive.
The good news is we rolled up our sleeves and did the research for you regarding what it costs to build (or redesign) a small business website in 2021.
For competent, experienced web designers that did list their prices, we found the going rate in 2021 to build a modern, professional small business website was typically $4,000-$10,000 but could be as much as $20,000 (or more) depending on the number of pages on the site and the amount of customization required.
Website Design vs. Website Development. Website design and website development are often used synonymously, but they’re two very different things. Website design is like working with an architect to create the blueprint for your house. Website development is like working with a contractor to actually build your house. The 2021 pricing estimates listed above are for website design *as well as* website development (i.e. the complete, all inclusive cost).
Now that you have a ballpark idea of what things cost, here’s a closer look at the specific factors affecting the price of building a small business website:
Page volume. Let’s say a web development firm offers a 10-page website package for $3,500, but your site needs 25 pages — how much extra will that cost? A good rule of thumb is to add about $100/page for each page over and above what’s included in the standard website package. In this example, adding 15 pages (to the 10 pages included in the standard website package) would cost $1,500. Add this amount to the original base price of $3,500 and the revised total is $5,000. Every situation will vary, obviously, but at least this gives you a reasonable cost estimate based on common pricing in the industry in 2021.
Custom site layout. Every website starts with a theme or template. Nobody codes a website totally from scratch anymore. That’s way too time-consuming and expensive. A template or theme often gets you 50-60% of the way to the finish line, but there’s still tons of customization and coding needed to get your site looking and functioning how you want it. The more customization and coding required, the greater the cost. Templates and themes are a major reason you can often build a professional small business website in the $4,000-$10,000 range instead of $15,000-$20,000 or more.
Custom images & graphics. Fancy images and graphics can give your site a one-of-a-kind look, but it comes at a price. Sophisticated visual effects often require special editing software, not to mention the talent of a custom graphic design specialist.
Custom logo. Although not required, a custom logo is a nice addition to any website. A custom logo kicks up the trust/credibility factor a notch. To get a decent-looking, professionally designed logo in 2021, expect to pay somewhere in the $100-$1,000 range.
Custom programming. Sometimes you can find a WordPress plugin providing the exact functionality you want right out of the box (i.e. image carousel, membership portal, payment calculator, etc). Other times, getting your site to do what you want requires significant trial/error and testing. In a perfect world, everything would be plug-and-play and work perfectly the first time — but that’s rarely the case. A fair amount of tinkering and testing is usually required to get everything working as intended.
Number of design revisions. Most website projects start with an initial concept design (kind of like a rough draft), then it’s common to have 1 or 2 rounds of design revisions to get everything just right. Some website designers offer as many as 3-5 rounds of design revisions. Technically, a website designer can offer as many rounds of design revisions as they want. But keep in mind, every design iteration adds to the overall cost of the project. In my experience, 2 rounds of design revisions are more than sufficient 99% of the time.
Website content development (i.e. copywriting). Solid, thoughtful, persuasive content is the foundation of any great website. If you’re launching a new site but don’t have any content yet, it needs to be developed. If you have an existing site but the content is weak, stale or outdated, it’ll need to be refined, enhanced … maybe even overhauled. Over the years I’ve discovered the # 1 obstacle to launching a website is content development. Our clients struggle with this because it’s time-consuming and difficult to do. That’s why a few years ago we began offering professional copywriting services to our website design and development offerings. Yes, you want your website to look modern and stylish, but it’s your website’s content that moves the needle.
OPTION 2: Attempt To Do It Yourself (DIY)
If you have a basic understanding of web technology and you’re fine doing the work yourself, you can totally build your own website. This processes takes longer.
The raw materials you’ll need aren’t horribly expensive:
Domain name: $10-$12/year to register a new domain. There are a zillion registrars to choose from. I prefer Godaddy.com
Website hosting: Costs range from about $100/year for standard web hosting from companies like BlueHost or HostGator to $300-$500+/year for more robust web hosting from companies like WPengine or SiteGround — which really isn’t needed until your site is getting gobs of traffic (i.e. more than 100,000 visitors/month), at which time you could upgrade to a web server with more horsepower.
SSL certificate. Even if you don’t plan to sell things directly from your site, you’ll still want to secure your site with HTTPS protocol. You can get an SSL certificate for as little as $10/year or as much as $200-300/year. Shop around, but don’t buy more than you actually need. UPDATE: Some web hosting companies now offer a free SSL certificate as an incentive to host your site with them.
Premium website theme. $100-$150. There are hundreds if not thousands of themes to choose from. Some free, some paid. I urge you to spend a few bucks and get a quality theme. Don’t skimp here. You’ll thank me later. We’ve experimented with many website themes over the years and the ones we now use exclusively, both for our own site as well as our clients’ sites are from StudioPress — great design + solid coding.
Premium plugins. $100-$200. As with website themes, you usually get what you pay for. Do yourself a favor and invest a few dollars to get quality plugins. For example, two premium plugins we use on nearly every site we build are Gravity Forms and Envira Gallery. Yes, there are lots of free plugins and many of them are very good. But there are also lots of bad plugins that don’t work as advertised and will waste a bunch of your time. So be careful.
Stock photos. If you’re a good photographer or you already have high-quality images for your site, then you’re all set. But chances are you’ll need to purchase some images to dress up your site a bit. The two places we recommend are BigStockPhoto.com and iStockPhoto.com. They have lots of high-quality, royalty-free images at reasonable prices. In most cases, you can probably get all that you need (at least initially) for $50-$200. After that, you just buy what you need as your website evolves. UPDATE: Here’s an image site we just learned about where you can get free, high-resolution, royalty-free images for your website >> Burst (from Shopify). The only drawback is there’s a limited selection. But the images they do have are very nice. IMPORTANT: Never, ever, ever just copy/paste images from other sources onto your site, unless you’re 1000% certain you have permission. Otherwise you can get sued. Play it safe and just purchase your images — it’s way less expensive than a lawsuit — and you’ll sleep better.
Education. $25-$300. Unless you work on websites every day, you’re probably going to have to buy a few books or take an online course or two to learn Photoshop, HTML/CSS coding language, etc. to get yourself up to speed in one or more areas of website design and development.
In total, you’re realistically looking at about $300-$600 in expenses to get up and running is you do it yourself.
Obviously the main cost with the DIY option is your time.
Even for a “simple” site, don’t be surprised if it takes you 20-40 hours to produce something of decent quality you can be proud of. And that’s assuming you’re already somewhat familiar with how to build a website. If you’re totally new to this, multiply that time estimate by 2x or 3x. I’m not exaggerating.
Building a modern, well-engineered website is way more time-consuming than most people realize. But if you have more time than money right now and you don’t get overwhelmed by web technology, the DIY approach is a perfectly viable option.
The Cost Of Website Updates, Upgrades, Maintenance & Licenses
Once your website launches, your work’s not done. Just like buying a house, you’ll need to invest time, effort and money to maintain it.
For example, you’ll have annual hosting & maintenance fees and possibly annual licensing fees for premium plugins and services.
It’s likely you’ll purchase new images as you upgrade and expand your site. You might add staff or hire freelancers to assist you in creating new custom web content or videos to boost your marketing efforts.
Your site also requires ongoing technical maintenance to install updates and security patches to WordPress core files and WordPress plugins to protect your site from being hacked. Yes, even small business sites are targets for hackers.
If you’re comfortable performing these updates yourself, great. But sometimes routine updates break your site, so you need to know what to do if/when this happens. Are you prepared to deal with …
You also need an offsite backup system so your website can quickly be restored in the event of catastrophic hardware or software failure (or user error!) crashing your site. Sorry to alarm you, but these things really do happen.
If you prefer not to deal with the messy, behind-the-scenes technical upkeep of your site, you can purchase a website maintenance plan for $40-$300/month depending on the services you need.
Expensive Website Design & Development Mistakes To Avoid
Since building my first website back in 2011, I’ve wasted a TON of time and money on:
Faulty technology. The theme and plugins you use to build your site matter. Shoddy, untested coding can result in security risks, software incompatibilities and site instability. Stick with proven, name brands that continually test and support their products. Use premium digital components, otherwise you may be constantly fixing your site or worse — rebuilding your entire site from scratch.
Incompetent idiots. Beware of knuckleheads knowing just enough to make them dangerous. A few years ago I hired a subcontractor to assist with some custom programming on a large project. A few weeks into the project it became clear he didn’t know what he was doing. He talked a good game, but couldn’t deliver. So I fired him and cut our losses — but only after wasting precious time and money on a project with a deadline. Do your best to carefully vet people before hiring them.
Bad advice and information. This has cost me more time and money than anything. Tens of thousands of dollars and years of my life I will never get back. It wasn’t always directly related website design and development. Sometimes they were ancillary things like SEO, Google advertising, Facebook marketing, content marketing, business development, etc. Most of it was hype and fluff that didn’t deliver results as advertised. Bottom line, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. There are no magic bullets. Success takes time, effort and persistence. Period.
No need for you to repeat these mistakes. Learn from others who have already experienced these issues.
Pro & Cons: Hiring A Professional vs. Do-It-Yourself Approach To Building Your Website
Hiring A Professional
No need to spend hours, days or weeks trying to learn the technology required to build and operate a website.
You’ll get a modern, professional website you’re proud of … one that accurately represents your company and your brand.
Visitors will have a good experience on all devices — desktop, tablet & mobile.
They can help you manage your site once it’s launched.
They can develop your site’s content and overcome the curse of knowledge. The curse of knowledge is when you can’t remember what it’s like to not know everything you know. Thus, you omit critical information from your site because you assume everyone already knows what you know — when they really don’t.
They can recommend ideas and help you avoid pitfalls you probably wouldn’t have thought of yourself
Will require an investment of several thousand dollars (most likely in the $3k-$10k range) to create a new site from scratch or redesign an existing site.
If you don’t understand web technology, you will be somewhat dependent on your website designer/developer to manage your site after it launches.
Doing It Yourself
If you currently have more time than money, building your website yourself will be less expensive that hiring a professional website designer/developer.
You can use a website builder like Wix or Squarespace to launch a simple, decent-looking site within a day or two. Wix plans currently range from $13-$39/month. SquareSpace plans range from $12-$40/month.
No lag time. Any changes or updates to your site after it launches can be made instantly.
If you’re not up on current website design trends, your website might look amateurish and negatively impact how your company is perceived.
Building a website can feel like a monumental task, so it’s common to procrastinate for weeks or months. If the aversion to building your site is large enough, your site might never get built at all.
It’s incredibly time consuming. You might have to spend 2-4 hours or more researching how to get something working on your website when an experienced website designer/developer can have that particular task finished in 5-10 minutes.
The Shortcut To Building A Great Website
Yes, I’m biased, but I’m also being honest. Creating a modern, professional website that generates leads and sales for your business is way more difficult and time-consuming than most people realize.
If funds are tight right now, and the DIY approach to creating your company website is your only option, then just do the best you can.
However, if you can afford it, hiring an experienced web designer/developer to build (or redesign) your website will save you tons of time, money and headaches — and the finished product will be better than you could’ve done on your own.
It’s the same reason I gladly pay dentists, accountants, auto mechanics and roofing contractors for their expertise. They can usually get the job done quicker, better and cheaper than I could do myself.
Let's break down the average website design cost one more time explained in a different way.
How Much Does a Website Designer Cost?
While there’s no set cost, the average price of professional website designs can range from $500 to over $10,000 depending on the selection of features you'd like, and your business needs.
Here's a quick rundown of the options for web design contractor jobs, and what prices to anticipate.
Website Design for Under $1,000
For small or mid-size businesses that don't require much, a small website of between one and five pages should be all you need. In addition to the main landing page, the site might include an About Us page and a page listing contact or location information.
Prices for this type of “brochure” style site might dip as low as $250, or shoot as high as $700, but should stay solidly under $1,000.
It's a trim price for a sleek but limited professional website. This option suits most companies that conduct their main business offline and need a simple site that points internet goers in the right direction.
Website Design for Up to $1,500
A slightly more expensive website design might include a few additional features, listed here:
A content management system — If business owners plan to make regular updates to their website, this system will allow them to do so. A good feature for a site with a blog.
Social media integration — This embeds social media pages directly into the website, allowing it to be updated effortlessly via Facebook or Twitter.
Google Business and Maps integration — By adding additional code to the backend of a website, a designer can ensure that Google highlights your site if a Google user in the area searches for your industry.
Analytics integration — This allows website owners to track their visitors and see a record of how those visitors interacted with the site.
Website Design for Up to $3,000
This pricing range covers ecommerce websites — sites that function as online stores. Rather than point to an offline business, an ecommerce website functions as an extension of the business, or as an entire business by itself. Here are the features these sites need:
Order management system — This lets an online store collect customer orders and track the products sold.
Delivery tracking — This allows the customer to see where their package is in transit and when it has arrived, giving them a peace of mind and avoiding any potential miscommunication about when a lost package might have last been seen.
Live chat features — Customers feel better knowing there's a human behind the website, and a chat feature allows for real-time two-way communication that does just that.
Website Design for Over $10,000
Large businesses might need a database-focused website: This type of site allows a local or regional business to gain data from their customers, which can then be fed into a service custom-built to turn the data into insights that can improve analytics, tracking, or orders.
The more customized services that the website data is used for, the more expensive the price tag for designing a site. National or international businesses will be in need of an even more advanced database site, and can expect to pay over $13,000 for a professional website that accommodates their needs. With a higher price comes a higher return on investment: The data that a large company gathers can help it better hone its services, potentially saving millions in the long run.
Website Design Agencies
What's the difference between a website design firm and a website design agency? It comes down to size and function. Firms tend to be larger and cover a range of services, while agencies might subcontract out certain services or simply stick to providing a single service.
An argument in favor of firms is that their in-house talent ensures quality. However, a point in favor of agencies is that the wider range of potential third-party designers offers a better variety.
In the end, it comes down to the individual firms and agencies themselves. They both thrive on industry connections and healthy reputations.
If they're professional, know what they're doing, and can deliver on their promises, they're worth their weight in gold.
Freelance Web Designers
Individual freelancers can be just as great as design firms, though they can be more difficult to track down if you're new to all this. Asking for referrals from trusted business owners in your network is often the best way to find a great freelancer.
When working with an individual for the first time, you'll need to prioritize expectations of the project and a clear contract. Make sure both parties agree on the features that are needed, the timeline for the work to be done, and where and how the payment will be delivered.
Neither you nor the designer should rely on a handshake. Any reputable designer will set out a contract with agreed stages for review and delivery of the project.