How much does a website cost?

If you are asking this question you are likely trying to determine what you will need to budget for a website for your business. You have come to the right place.

So how much do your websites cost?

Knowing how a great website is created can help give you a better understanding of the cost. Websites, like cars, have a wide range of pricing options. You can get a website for $50,000 or $50,000,000 — it all depends on its features. Keep in mind that building a truly great website is a big task. I always equate building websites to building a brick-and-mortar store location, except it’s somewhere people around the world can visit 24/7/365. Today we will go over each stage of website development and the potential cost involved.

LET’S DIVE IN!

Website discovery

Price depends on a number of factors: the size of the website, the number of competitors, the complexity of the sales funnel, and the depth of research areas the website team explores during discovery. For example, one client might need a discovery into their website’s conversion rate optimization, possibly including a deep dive into performance analytics and session records to determine how visitors are using the current website. Other clients during discovery might simply need us to become familiar with their business and their goals before we begin work. Ultimately, discovery comes down to how able you can specifically identify your website’s problems to solve. The more gray areas, the more a discovery phase can help.

Website discovery cost:
Simple: $500.00 – $1,500.00
Moderate: $2,500.00 – $4,000.00
Complicated: $5,000.00 – $20,000.00

For most businesses, a moderate discovery will suffice. At that rate your website development team should have a firm understanding of most aspects of your business and can apply . If you are skeptical about the need for a discovery, talk it over with your website team and see why they think it’s important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; most web design agencies are flexible and willing to figure out the most cost-effective way to solve problems.

Flow mapping

Website flow mapping is all about thinking of how users will navigate through your site. You add on layers of complexity as you think through how a user will navigate through every page of your website. Many website companies and their clients believe that people go to your homepage first. That could not be more wrong. People arrive on your site by searching Google for a specific keyword and land on a related page. This is why at our agency we see every page as its own “homepage.” By looking at your website holistically, we can control what happens when someone lands on any page and push them into a sales funnel where appropriate so they convert. The next time you are doing a web search, think about where you are landing. Take note. You’ll see that understanding how users navigate though the site is critical to conversions, goal completions, and revenue.

Website flow map cost:
Simple: $200.00 – $1000.00
Moderate: $2,000.00 – $4,000.00
Complicated: $5,000.00 – $20,000.00

Every business needs to keep flow mapping as a consideration. If you choose not to do a flow mapping exercise, you will lose potential business. Moreover, Google won’t trust websites whose pages are not organized optimally or do not relate to each other in a way that makes sense. What’s important to Google’s advanced algorithm are the page relationships uncovered in flow mapping exercises. Flow mapping connects pages’ subject matter and establishes you as the expert around those specific subjects. That’s huge for both Google and your visitors.

Site architecture

Site architecture is essentially mapping out the navigation of your website. And if you do a flow mapping exercise, it will be clear what pages you need on your website. We use a program called Slickplan to create our site maps. A robust site architecture gives your users and search engines an easier time getting the information they need. Google loves a great filing system. It makes their job easier. By having an easy-to-digest site map, Google rewards you with higher rankings in the SERPS and users reward you with more conversions and goal completions.

Website Site Architecture Cost:
(If you skip flow mapping, this price will likely be very different.)
Simple: $200.00 – $1000.00
Moderate: $1,500.00 – $3,000.00
Complicated: $4,000.00 – $7,000.00

You really can’t get away from this step. Yes, you can do it yourself, but it’s always better to have a team of trained experts by your side because, over and over again, we have seen what works and what does not.

SEO (search engine optimization)

A mistake I made early in my career was not including SEO at the beginning of a project. I’d finish a website and then bring it to an SEO specialist. All it did was frustrate them. Why? Because it turns the website into a game of “What keyword are you trying to rank for?”, a lot like putting the cart before the horse. If I build an entire site with, say, forty pages and every page lacks a keyword focus, several things can happen:

You build pages that rank for zero keywords.

You have multiple pages with the same keywords, therefore cannibalizing your own pages. Google then has to make a decision about which page to serve in its result pages, and if there are a ton of pages with the same keyword, it causes Google to say, “I’m confused. I’m not going to serve any of these pages because it’s unclear what is the best page to serve.”

Google’s job is to serve the best result for any given query. Keep that in mind always, and then common sense comes into play. (If you have pages with the same keyword, make sure to put a rel:canonical tag on the one with the best content.)

You miss keywords that are critical for your business. Missed keyword opportunities mean missed business.

So what will an SEO team do at the beginning of a website project?

  1. Keyword mapping: Keyword mapping is the process of researching the search volume and intent around relevant keywords. Typically our keyword maps start with 300 to 600 keywords, but we quickly expand to tens of thousands after site launch with an important, ongoing SEO retainer. Building a site is just the start. You must think of your website as an evolution. If you don’t you are wasting money!
  2. Content assignments: Our team creates in-depth content assignments for our content creation team and/or your team’s content writers. These assignments list out the main keyword focuses, synonyms of those keywords, and break down each page by <h> tags (header tags) so it’s easy for Google to index and crawl.
  3. Site architecture recommendations: Words matter in search; so does the structure of the website. SEO specialists are always looking for ways to optimize. Having a keyword in your navigation is great, but how it connects to all relevant content is even more important.

Website SEO pricing:
Simple: $1000.00 – $2,000.00
Moderate: $2,500.00 – $4,500.00
Complicated: $5,000.00 – $20,000.00

Website SEO monthly retainer cost:
“I want to play the game and have an internal team”: $1,000.00 – $2,000.00
“I want you to do my SEO and I just want to be relevant in search results”: $2,000.00 – $3,000.00
“I want to win SEO and get to page one in SERPs within the next 6-12 months for specific keywords”: $4,000.00 – $14,000.00

Choosing not to do SEO at the start of your website is a horrible mistake. Trust me! I already told you I’ve skipped it once, and we have the occasional client that decides to skip it even after all my warnings. They all pay the price — retroactive SEO fixes and changes are expensive!

Website content development

Content is king, queen, and everything in between. Search engines rely on content to decipher what is on your website. There are a ton of best practices prescribed to content creation. If you want to be a player in the SEO game, then you must have the content to back it up. Great content (like this amazing post you are currently reading) is critical to website success. A quality content team will write with SEO in mind… ALWAYS.

Did you know that Google wants you to write like a 5th grader? We use the Hemingway app to ensure we deliver content that’s easy to consume. Google also wants your content to be above 300 words. They like 500 better but if you look at pages that rank in the number one position they are typically over 1500 words. My top ranking articles are often over 7,000 words like my article on “Music Video Costs” that ranks #1 or #2 for the keyword “Music Video Cost” since 2013! I beat Wikipedia. That’s how important great content is. Great content helps the reader by supplying them with solid, trustworthy information.

Don’t write your own content? Want to know why? Because you won’t. The majority of clients who say they will write their own content won’t actually do it because it’s hard and requires a dedication that most people don’t have time for. (This blog for example has taken me five airplane trips between Atlanta and Boston.) It’s beyond a simple matter of convenience. Content is not easy to do the right way. Hire an expert. It’s worth it.

Website content development cost per blog article or standard page:
(Depending on the writer and word count.)
Simple, using freelancer: $50.00 – $700.00
Moderate using an agency’s content team : $500.00 – $1000.00
Complicated using an agency: $1,000.00 – $1,.500.00

Website content development cost per in-depth resource (i.e., e-books, white papers, case studies):
(Depending on the writer and word count.)
Simple, using freelancer: $1,000.00 – $1500.00
Moderate using an agency’s content team : $2,000.00 – $3,000.00
Complicated using an agency: $4,000.00 – $6,000.00
*Case studies can be very dense and require a ton of research.

The great thing about creating quality, evergreen content is it has value year after year. I tell clients to think about it like compounding interest. I write articles every year that drive revenue for my business each year after I wrote it, as long as I keep it up-to-date with new information, or if it receives a decent amount of attention online. You can’t just let a piece of content sit stagnant. You need to keep it fresh and accurate.

Website design

Website design is critical to the success of your site. It’s not only the first impression, it’s the full user experience. You’ll hear the term UI/UX thrown around a lot these days because understanding how people use a site is paramount to its success. A good website design team understands user flow and conversion rate optimization — it’s critical to the success of a project. For exceptional and thoughtful website design, you can plan on spending a decent amount of cash; however, that kind of design is critical to helping drive conversions and revenue for your business. Good design is even more critical to e-commerce sites as it helps to reduce checkout friction — from selecting products, to entering payment and shipping details, to confirming purchase.

You can find designers online from $25.00/hr all the way to $150.00/hr depending on experience, but in my opinion a dedicated design team is the way to go. A website design team will produce much more powerful work than a single person building a site. Primarily, there is no diversity in thought with one designer, so you often get opinions rather than decisions based in facts and data. You see, today’s modern design teams don’t just design things that look good. They understand the reasons why websites should be designed a particular way. They have data to back up why sliders usually don’t work, or that you need multiple calls-to-action on a page. They know that anticipating how a user will use a site is more important than how pretty it is. They know that if a visitor doesn’t see what they need in 5 seconds, then they are likely to bounce off the site.

If you are only concerned with how your website looks, take a step back and think about how you use websites. Rarely are you concerned with design aesthetics over practicality. Of course, you won’t trust a site that looks like it was coded in 2008, but you also want a site that gets you the information you are looking for quickly and easily.

Website design cost: homepage
(The homepage is always more costly as it’s the website’s anchor.)
Simple, using freelancer: $300.00 – $700.00
Moderate using an agency : $3400.00 – $4,800.00
Complicated using an agency: $7,000.00 – $10,000.00

Website Design Cost: key pages
Simple, using freelancer: $150.00 – $300.00
Moderate using an agency : $2400.00 – $3,800.00
Complicated using an agency: $4,000.00 – $6,000.00

Website design cost: simple pages
Simple, using freelancer: $100.00 – $200.00
Moderate using an agency : $675.00 – $800.00
Complicated using an agency: $1,000.00 – $1,500.00

Most designers and design agencies will work to get you the most cost effective quote based on the effort involved. It’s likely that the cost of design varies even more deeply than I have laid out above. It’s also important to note that there are a ton of amazing page builders like Elementor and Octane that exist. These page builders allow designers to work within a drag and drop framework allowing them to build custom graphics and build out beautiful pages quickly. The website world is changing and there are a ton of options. A great digital marketing agency will work with you to decide what the best path forward is to you.

Website development

Website development is an area where you don’t want to cheap out. You can do every other step correctly, but this is where the rubber meets the road. The way your website is developed will affect everything from the user experience to the way Google and other search engines index your website and its pages.

In other words, if you take the cheap way out and skimp on development, you are likely to accumulate what we call technical debt. And technical debt is expensive. Technical debt refers to the shortcuts and their bad coding which cause the need for future code fixes (which cost money). You can also go into technical debt from your website going down or a hack caused by poor security measures. Technical debt can be avoided by hiring trusted developers or trusted agencies to code your website. In development you will always pay a price. The question is how much risk you want to take on. Do you pay upfront and know the cost, or do you cross your fingers and deal with the technical debt when it comes out?

Development costs vary greatly depending on the project and the language you are coding in. For example, a WordPress website will be far less to code than a .NET or Node.js website. Another variable is the development team. A younger and less experienced development team might be less money per hour but they will likely take longer to do the work or the quality might not to be as good. That said, there are a ton of really bright young developers so just do your research. An older and more experienced website development team is likely to have a higher hourly rate but also move faster. Again, every situation is different so do your homework.

Website development will affect the following:

  1. SEO indexing in the SERPS
  2. Page speed
  3. User experience
  4. Conversions
  5. Your overall stress levels

Look, #5 on the list is no joke. Worrying about your website can be very stressful and time-consuming. As many of you know, your website is the backbone of your business, and when the website goes down, business is affected. Worrying about the health of your website is a big distraction from running your business operations. It’s always best to hire a reliable team of experts to back you up.

Website development cost: homepage
(The homepage is always more costly as it’s the website’s anchor.)
Simple, using freelancer: $500.00 – $100.00
Moderate, using an agency : $3,600.00 – $5,000.00
Complicated, using an agency: $7,000.00 – $20,000.00

Website development cost: key pages
Simple, using freelancer: $150.00 – $300.00
Moderate, using an agency : $2,600.00 – $4,200.00
Complicated, using an agency: $5,000.00 – $7,000.00

Website development cost: simple pages
Simple, using freelancer: $100.00 – $200.00
Moderate, using an agency : $1,000.00 – $2,000.00
Complicated, using an agency: $3,000.00 – $4,500.00

The cost to develop a website could be expensive, but going back to my aforementioned car analogy… you can get an 1988 Ford Escort and it will get you there, but a new BMW is going to be a better ride and is less likely to breakdown because it’s better engineered and newer. Don’t be cheap. You will pay for it! Technical debt is very real. In 2010 I built a social network for a specific sport. The project went so far over budget that we were pushed to take shortcuts when the client refused to recognize major issues that would come back to haunt their website and severely complicate it down the road. One year after launch the company was out of business because of those issues that were skirted over.

Opinion: Outsourcing the code for cheap, with a company you don’t know, in some faraway place is not a viable option. For example, early in my career I worked with several small development companies in India that promised $12.00/hr for web development. Although they were friendly, I got exactly what I paid for. The point is this: If you are paying anyone $12.00/hr for web development, you can count on the end result being garbage. Don’t learn the hard way.

Disclaimer: I am speaking from my own experiences with developers. This is not a knock against any of the fantastic Indian development companies out there — my point is they likely don’t charge $12.00/hr and I’ve never had the chance to work with them. I’m always open to working with great people so if you have a international team you trust please share them with me in the comments.

How do you choose the right website design and development company?

Choosing a website design partner is not easy. Use these steps to evaluate prospective web dev partners:

  1. Know your budget. Don’t go in blind. Map out your spending threshold and give a range to your prospective web development partners. The saying “the one who says the first number loses” does not apply to the web development world. A budget helps the team building out the website proposal come back with a realistic solution to your problem.
  2. Figure out how much time you can realistically commit to working your website, and determine if your internal team will provide the content. If you don’t have free time, tell the prospective website partner. It allows them to understand how much of the mental load they will hold, which affects the pricing and the process.
  3. Review your website development partner’s portfolio. The portfolio and client list will tell you a ton about your potential partner. Note that just because they have not done something exactly like your project does not mean they can’t do it. Many teams are very agile and can adapt to different businesses and needs. But a good team will be open and honest about their capabilities.
  4. We started our website design and development agency when clients from one of my other businesses kept complaining about their web team’s response times and communication skills. When evaluating a web partner and their proposal, keep an eye on their responsiveness and when they deliver. If they are slow to respond in the sales cycle, think about how their responsiveness when it’s time to deliver a design or a build. Think about how long it will take them to respond if your site goes down or is hacked. Digital marketing moves fast and so should your agency.
  5. Once you get the proposal, make sure that that partner truly understands the project, deliverables, and timeline. Building a website is not easy, so make sure the team pitching truly gets it. Call out things they missed and ask them to make sure those things are considered. However, website designers and developers are people, too, and everyone makes mistakes, so don’t necessarily ditch a great vendor over a missed detail. There are a ton of details with every website, so the occasional oversight shouldn’t take anyone by surprise.

What happens after my website launches?

What happens after you launch is 100% up to you and your budget. The most important thing to remember is that a website is an evolution. With today’s advanced data collection tools, businesses have real insights into how people use their websites. This is an opportunity to dial up your website to boost conversions and revenue. Below are common website questions I get asked after launch:

  1. Do I need to keep doing SEO after my website launches? You should! SEO is a never-ending game, one that most of your competitors are playing. And if you’re not playing, you can’t win. Websites gain authority in the SERPS by creating trustworthy content that’s optimized for specific keywords. And those websites are shared because they provide value. Look at this post. I created this in the hopes that it would help people answer a question I hear all the time: “How much does a website cost?” If it’s truly useful, people will share it and other websites may link to it. This will add value to our entire website.
  2. How much content do I need to create monthly for my website? My opinion is you should be putting up a new article every week at a minimum and you should be editing old post to make sure they are relevant every quarter.
  3. Are blogs important for SEO? Yes. Blogs are one way to stay relevant, and search engines like blogs because they want to see that a website is active, not stagnant. Blogs are also easy to write if you are actually writing about something you know and about which you’re passionate.
  4. How important is social media marketing for my website? Huge. Social media sites and apps are, ultimately, how your content is shared. Although most social network links are opaque and considered “no follow” within website analytics, search engine algorithms still consider social signals as a big trust factor, and will rank your website better because of them.

How much does a Brain Bytes Creative website cost?

Our website costs span a massive range depending on the project. Most sites are between $30K and $60K, but there are many outliers from $15K to $400K. If you’d like to get a quote it’s as easy as clicking here or calling me right now (yes, really).

Good luck!

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