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Cost to Make a Website – Broken Down

So you’re interested in having an online presence? Great! But what does it cost to make a website? And what is the goal for this new website? 

There should be a reason behind what your website is about. Get specific if you can. Having a niche that you focus on will help your site rank for relevant content. The more resourceful the information being provided, the people seeking it out will likely stay on the website longer, because it pertains to what your audience is searching for.  

Along with what your website is going to be about, it’s equally important to determine the type of site it will be. 

What does that mean? I’m talking about the functionality and size. These can generally be (very general here) lumped into two types. 

Simple website: 5-10 pages, with basic company information and/or lead generation. These websites typically have a few pages about their services or products, informative pages about your company (about us and company history) and lead generation via email signup and contact us page. Nothing too fancy. 

Image of a laptop computer on a desk.

Complex website: 50+ pages, usually used for an ecommerce site with lots of products. This could have a bunch of product pages, in-depth resources, customer service (chat app) and cart/checkout process. There is usually a lot of unique functionality involved with this type of website. 

Now that you’ve got an idea of what it is, we’ll cover the following questions in this article: 

  • Who needs a website? 
  • Can I make one on my own? 
  • What are the most expensive aspects of creating a website? 
  • How can I find the best website development company? 

So How Much Does It Really Cost to Make a Website? 

There are two routes you can go here: 

  1. Build a website on your own (more on that later) 
  1. Hire a professional web development company (we’ll touch on this first) 

Look for a full service firm, one that covers web design, development and management. Call it the triple threat. 

How much work will go into it? This directly relates to the earlier question about the type of website that you’ll need. The more intricate requirements involved, expect the price to rise. 

As with most services, don’t be surprised if you see a very wide range of pricing when searching for the right agency. 

You can attempt to piece everything together separately. Hire an independent graphic designer to perfect the look, pass this off to a developer who may not provide the best communication and possibly a different person to manage the completed project.  

Sounds like a lot? Yeah, it can be a headache trying to juggle all the aspects of creating a website. Plus paying separate contractions can lead to surprises if everything isn’t clear from the start. 

Image of women frustrated over a laptop computer.

That’s where partnering with a full service website development company will save you time and money. Customized rates based on your specific needs will help ensure that you’re not paying for any unnecessary aspects. 

Who Needs a Website? 

Who doesn’t need a website?! At least that’s how it feels at times. From lawyers & dentists trying to increase their client base, to artists or musicians looking to get in front of a larger audience, and even small retail businesses that want to reach more customers. 

Basically, if you have a “brand” in virtually any industry, it’s time to take that baby online and let the world know. 

But how will you know if your site is doing well after launch? It’s best practice to determine your KPIs (key performance indicators) before going live. These can vary, but at Celador Media we recommend tracking at a minimum the following KPIs: 

  • Visibility 
  • Acquisition of leads/customers 
  • Reputation Management 
  • ROI 

Don’t worry, we’ll explain these with some context. 

Small Business Websites 

Visibility can be viewed (pun intended) as where your website appears in search engine results. This matters? You bet your behind it does! The higher your search result rankings, the better the odds of getting clicked on. 

Quite simply, a small business that does not have a website in this day and age is destined to fail. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but as the competition is growing their online presence, it will eventually happen. It’s key to get ahead of your competitors and take a nice foothold in the search results of keywords that are relevant to your business. 

Acquisition of new leads or customers is critical to the success of a business. This is what drives sales and if you’re doing things right, repeat customers. Just ask Ryan Howard how important customer retention is, “It’s 10 times more expensive to sign a new customer.” 

A website with a simple email collection form is an easy way to gather email addresses. The best practice is to request minimal information at the top of the page and ask for more further down. If they’re scrolling or clicking to other pages, they’re interested, so you have to take advantage of that and get as much info possible before contacting them. 

Reputation Management pertains to the reviews that your company receives and how they’re utilized internally. This is a direct reflection of how customers view your business, so you have to stay on top of these. And also be active!

Icon of person leaving reviews for reputation management.

Building off of acquisition, you need to request feedback from your clients to grow your reputation. Before anybody makes a purchase or applies for a service, they seek out online reviews to assess their business. If what they find is minimal or outright negative, expect them to move on to the next option. Make sure your company is taking advantage of user generated content, it’s basically free and highly beneficial. 

Return on Investment (ROI) may be the most important of them all, because if it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense! If you’re putting more money into the website than you’ll  eventually get back, it’s a waste. 

When seeking a company to make your website, cover all costs up front. There will likely be some surprises if you do not iron out pricing. An all-in-one firm should be able to provide a complete price breakdown that they’re able to adhere to. If you’re uncertain, just ask questions until everything is clear.  

Can I Make a Website Myself? 

It’s definitely possible. But the success you’ll have will ultimately depend on two things; time and knowledge.  

If you have a lot of time but don’t know how to get it done, study up! There are books available from beginner to advanced levels of website development that can you can learn from. Unless you’re a speed reader though, it may take some time to get to the skill level needed. 

Now if you’ve already got some understanding of web development, then you might be able to build a website. There are a lot of basic website builders out there that are very user friendly.  

Image of a computer screen showing programming code for website development.

Website Builders for Beginners 

The best option for a low or no skill developer will be Squarespace. It literally can’t get any simpler than this. They take out the complications of coding and utilize preprogrammed “blocks” that can be dragged and dropped in the editor.  

Though easy to use, this format is incredibly rigid. Meaning you have little flexibility when it comes to changing functionality. There are plenty of widgets available, but you’re limited to only those made by Squarespace, no third party apps. 

If you need a barebones/minimalist website, then Squarespace could be all you require in a website creator. To avoid additional expenses down the line, consider if you’ll ever want a broader range of capabilities or functionality. There are other website platforms to choose from or it might make sense to hire a professional from the start. 

Expensive Aspects of Creating a Website 

The initial cost of building a website is one part of the equation. Once it is completed, there is ongoing maintenance and optimization that needs to occur.  

Icon of money, signifying a cost for web development.

Web Development Costs 

Okay, let’s put some actual numbers on paper. Got your pencil sharpened up? Good, let’s see a breakdown of what it costs to make a website. 

Domain Name ($12)  – This is what it sounds like, the name of your website. It’s what people will type in to get there (until you start ranking for related keywords in Google, you can learn more about that here). And there are a bunch of registrars out there, such as godaddy.com. Typical cost is around $12/year. 

Hosting Service ($30-$500)  – Your new website needs to “live” somewhere and that’s what a hosting service is for. A smaller site can get by with a cheaper option, but as your traffic grows it may become time to research web server options. Typical basic hosting is around $30/month, but can range up to $500/month for more advanced servers. 

Website Theme ($50-$200)  – Yes, there are free themes out there. Are they good? Not likely. If you’re trying to make a website on your own, this is where I’d urge you to drop a little coin. You’ll be happy with the additional features a paid theme will provide. These usually cost around $50 – $200 (one-time fee). 

Additional Apps/Plugins ($10-$100)  – All of the coolest things are never free. Unfortunately, that holds true with web development. If you want all of the bells and whistles, you could end up paying some hefty fees. Research is crucial and I’d avoid any apps with little to no reviews. Some apps are free, but most range from $10/month to $100/month. 

Stock Images ($12)  – To combine the quickest path to online and high quality images, your best bet will be stock photos. Sure, you can snap some good looking pics with your cell phone, but that’s not always realistic. Typical cost per image is $12. 

Your Time & Development Knowledge (Priceless – unless you already bought some books)  – If you go at it alone, this is the unknown. Those trying to learn as they go may run into hurdles they are not yet familiar with. Heavily researching prior to starting should decrease the amount of development time, but this could also lead to of referencing past lessons. 

Find the Best Website Development Company 

For those of you who’ve decided to hire a development company, how do you find the best one? A rating such as “best” is completely subjective, so we have to rely on prior customer’s feedback. Utilize every available review platforms to investigate all potentials. It’s important to find a full service agency that understands your vision and can actually bring it to life. Don’t settle, it’s your business after all. 

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