According to WebFX, the average cost of building a site ranges from $12,000 to $150,000, and the average cost of maintaining one ranges from $400 to $60,000 per year.
You might be wondering why are these ranges so large? That’s because website costs depend on a whole slew of factors, including who builds your site, what type of site you’re building, what hosting service you choose, and what templates and extensions you add.
For example, you could build a website yourself using a website builder or content management system for a few hundred or thousand dollars per year. Or you could hire a freelance web developer, which might cost you a couple thousand or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on their hourly wage and the duration of the project. Or you could work with an agency, which can cost upwards of $100,000.
In this post, we’ll focus on the DIY route since it’s the most affordable option. For example, with CMS Hub, you can get all the tools you need to create and optimize your web content, convert visitors into leads, and secure your site for $300 per month.
We'll explore alternatives at other price points as well. Let's get started.
How much does it cost to build a website?
The cost of building a website depends on a wide range of factors. If you use a free website builder, you’ll only pay about $200 to register a domain and SSL certificate. If you opt for a more flexible platform, you’ll likely spend somewhere between $15 and $300 a month.
For example, you can build a site for free with the website builders Wix and Weebly. However, each of these free plans is ad-supported and requires you to use a subdomain. To remove third-party ads from your site and connect a custom domain, you’ll have to upgrade to one of their premium plans.
The first and most important choice you’ll have to make is whether to use open-source software, like WordPress, or proprietary software, like CMS Hub.
Open-source is completely free to download, but you’ll have to account for other costs, like hosting from a third-party provider and SSL certification. You also might have to purchase additional tools to help you secure, update, and maintain your site.
If you opt for proprietary software like CMS Hub, then you won’t have to worry about hosting or the security, performance, and uptime of your site. You will just pay one monthly fee for the fully managed service.
The costs of proprietary software can range considerably. While a proprietary website builder like Wix starts at $14 per month, CMS Hub Professional is $300 per month. Enterprise content management systems are more expensive. CMS Hub Enterprise, for example, is $900 per month while Contently ranges from $3,000 to $25,000 per month.
Total cost for software: $0 to $25,000 per month
Web Hosting Costs
Since web hosting is included with proprietary software, you only have to factor in web hosting costs if you opt for an open-source solution, or if you're building your site from scratch.
Most providers offer different types of hosting services, including shared, managed, VPS, and dedicated hosting, that range from about $3 to $400 per month. Shared hosting is the most affordable option since you share a server with multiple websites, while dedicated hosting is the most expensive because you get your own server.
Let’s look at a specific example to help narrow down that range. Say you choose to create your site on WordPress.org. You’re a small business looking to get your site up and running as quickly as possible. You might sign up for Bluehost’s Starter plan for $2.95 a month, which includes 24/7 live chat support and a free SSL certificate and domain name included for the first year.
Regardless of how you host your website, you’ll need a domain name. As your address on the internet, it’s an important part of your web presence. By picking a domain name that matches your company name, you’ll strengthen your brand identity and make the site seem more professional.
Virtually all hosted and self-hosted platforms include domain name registration in their sign-up process. Some platforms like Squarespace, as well as third-party hosting providers like Bluehost, include a free year of domain registration when you sign up for a plan. Other hosted platforms like CMS Hub and providers like SiteGround require you to purchase a domain from a third-party domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap and then connect it to your account.
Let's take a look at the average cost of a domain name below.
Average Cost of a Domain Name
Generally, registering and renewing a custom domain costs around $12 per year — but the price can vary depending on a range of factors, including:
Domain registrar: Domain registrars range in pricing, depending on the available domain names, privacy, reputation, and expiration fees they offer. Domain.com, for example, offers domain registration for as low as $2.99 annually and most .com domains for $9.99 annually. This makes it one of the most cost-effective options. Other best domain registrars include Namecheap, Name.com, and BlueHost.
Domain extensions:Domain extensions can affect the overall cost of your custom domain. The extension .com, for example, is the most popular and therefore more expensive. It typically costs between $12 and $15. Less popular extensions like .org, .site, and .biz are typically less expensive and cost between $7 and $11. You can check out GoDaddy’s pricing for different extensions below.
Domain privacy and protection: When purchasing a domain name, you can add domain privacy and protection. This will prevent your personal information (including your name, address, phone number, and email) from being listed in the public WHOIS database for anyone to search and view. This can help prevent threats and attacks on your website. Domain privacy and protection typically costs around $10 per year.
Term of registration: When purchasing a domain, you can select how long you want to register your domain. Setting it for one year will allow you to pay the least amount up front, but some registrars offer a discount for multi-year terms. Since this option will also allow you not to worry about the renewal process for a few years, it can be appealing.
Total cost for domain: $0 to $25 per year
SSL Certificate Costs
An SSL certificate is a standard security technology for securing information between a visitor’s browser and your website. Because it ensures that sensitive information like passwords and payment information remains private, visitors expect your site to be encrypted with SSL.
Fortunately, many hosted platforms like CMS Hub will include an SSL certificate in your plan. If you opt for a self-hosted platform, many hosting providers also include an SSL in their plans. HostGator, for example, includes an SSL certificate in its lowest-tiered plans.
Total cost for SSL certificate: $0 to $250 per year
Many website builders and CMS platforms come with free templates that you can customize using a drag-and-drop editor. That way, you can quickly change the appearance of your site without needing to design it from scratch.
Some platforms offer a more limited selection than others, however. In that case, you might have to purchase a premium template to get the exact look you want.
For example, of the 72 themes that Shopify offers in its marketplace, only 8 are free. The other 64 range in price from $140 to $180.
Joomla, on the other hand, has around 6,100. Magento has a little over 1,000 free extensions.
The other 2,500 extensions in Magento’s marketplace range in price from $25 to $15,000 (!). While most extensions fall within a much smaller range, they can add up.
Let’s say you create your site on a platform that doesn’t have built-in SEO or social media tools. In that case, you might sign up for a premium keyword research tool like Semrush with plans starting at $99.95 per month. You might also sign up for Hootsuite to schedule your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. That’ll cost you $29 per month for a single-user account.
You’re already looking at $130 per month and we haven’t even gotten to other features you might need to help with lead generation, analytics and reporting, and more. To cut down on your costs, look for a platform with robust built-in functionality.
CMS Hub, for example, comes with many HubSpot tools out-of-the-box so you don’t have to integrate with a bunch of third-party software. These tools include CTAs, lead forms, marketing automation, conversational marketing software, multilingual support, list segmentation, live chat, email, and reporting.
The average cost of maintaining a website ranges from $400 to $60,000 per year. The most common maintenance costs are domain SSL certificate, and software or web hosting renewal. Other costs might include purchasing additional extensions or investing in a major website redesign.
When budgeting how much it costs to maintain a site, it can be helpful to categorize your expenses into monthly, annual, and one-time fees.
Domain renewal, for example, is an annual fee. So is SSL certification.
For software or hosting plans, you can usually decide whether to pay for the plan for the whole year, or break it up into monthly installments. Most providers offer a discounted rate if you pay for the year upfront.
There are also some one-time fees associated with website maintenance to account for in your budget.
The biggest is a website redesign. If you're looking to simply rebrand your website, then you might just need to update your theme. Some website building platforms are flexible enough to let you add custom CSS and HTML to templates and even build pages from scratch. If yours isn’t, then you might have to purchase another theme or hire a freelancer or agency, which can get pricey. We're talking hundreds or tens of thousands of dollars pricey.
If you're looking to change the functionality as well as the appearance of your site, then you'll likely to have to download or purchase additional extensions.
Let's say you want to improve your website performance, for example. If you're using WordPress to power your site, then you might just need to install a caching plugin.
If there's no such extension available for the website building platform you're using, or you need help identifying what's causing your site to lag and a more custom solution, then you'll likely need to hire someone. That can cost another few hundred or thousand dollars.
Total cost for website maintenance: $400 to $60,000 per year
Estimating the Costs of Your Specific Website
With so many different ways to build a website, predicting the costs of building and managing one can be difficult. If we add up all our estimated costs for a grand total, you could spend anywhere from $439 to $365,475 per year building and maintaining a website.
Figuring out which type of platform will best meet your needs and goals will give you a much clearer idea of what your site might cost. If you opt for a self-hosted platform, calculate the costs of a hosting provider and plan, domain name, SSL certificate, theme, and extensions that might suit your site.
Or you can opt for a robust and fully hosted CMS that gives you everything you need, like CMS Hub.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Feb 8, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated February 08 2021