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 $35 to $5,000 per month.
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 for about $60/year. Or you could hire a freelancer, which might cost you anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple thousand, depending on their hourly wage and the duration of the project. Or you could work with an agency, which can cost upwards of $50,000.
In this post, we’ll focus on the DIY route since it’s the most affordable option.
How much does a website cost?
You can build and manage a site for free on a few platforms, but you’ll have limited control over the appearance and functionality of your site. 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. To remove third-party ads from your site, you’ll have to upgrade to one of their premium plans.
For more control over the content and design of your site, you might opt for a content management system (CMS) instead. The cost of building and managing a site on a CMS will largely depend on whether you use open-source or proprietary software.
To help you more closely estimate the cost of the site you want to build, we’ll walk through the major expenses of building and managing a website below.
The first and most important choice you’ll have to make is whether to use open-source, like WordPress, or proprietary software, like HubSpot. The former is completely free to use, but you’ll have to pay for hosting from a third-party provider.
Most providers offer different types of hosting services, including shared, managed, VPS, and dedicated hosting, that range from $3 to $300 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.
After the first year, you’ll have to pay for your domain and SSL certificate. You also might have to purchase additional tools to help you secure, update, and maintain your site.
If you opt for proprietary software, 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, which can range anywhere from $13 to $300.
Total cost for software: $13 - $300/month
Domain Registration and Renewal Costs
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 and Bluehost offer it for free for the first year. Others like SiteGround and HostGator require you to purchase a domain from a third-party registrar like GoDaddy and then connect it to your account.
Generally, registering and renewing a custom domain costs around $12 per year. You can check out GoDaddy’s pricing for different extensions below.
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 the HubSpot CMS 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.
If your hosting provider does not provide SSL, you’ll need to purchase one from an SSL certificate provider. Depending on the provider, certificates can range from $7 to $250 per year. Take a look at the pricing of the SSL certificates offered by Network Solutions below.
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.
Now imagine that it’s time for a redesign. Some 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 premium theme or hire a freelancer or agency, which can get pricey.
Total cost for site design: $0 - $200
For most platforms, you’re not limited to the features provided out-of-the-box. You can download or purchase extensions to add features to your site.
As mentioned above, the selection of extensions can vary drastically from platform to platform. For example, WordPress has over 55,000 free plugins available in its official directory alone. Joomla, on the other hand, has around 7,800. Magento has a little over 2,000 free extensions.
The other 3,000 extensions in Magento’s marketplace range in price from $25 to $28,700 (!). 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.
The HubSpot CMS, 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.
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 $175 to $4,562 building and maintaining a website without the help of a designer or agency. While it’s smaller than WebFX’s range, it’s still broad.
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.
Originally published Feb 13, 2020 5:37:48 PM, updated February 13 2020