In one sense, asking “how much does a website cost?” is a little like asking “how much does a house cost?”
That is, the answer depends a lot on the person who’s asking it and their needs and preferences. What location? How many bedrooms? What style? You get it…
However, because of how much simpler it is to create a website in 2020 vs the past, you might be surprised by how affordable creating a website can be…if you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty!
In this post, we’ll start by answering “how much does a website cost?” for a DIY approach, which is an approach that’s accessible even if you’re not a techie.
Then, we’ll discuss what you can expect to pay if you want to hire someone to build your website, with some real survey data from people who build websites for a living.
Let’s dig into the question of how much does a website cost…
But first – how much do you think a website costs?
Before we get any further, let’s play a little game. Which one of these websites do you think cost more? And more importantly, how much do you think they cost? $500? $5,000?
This is kind of a trick question because both of those websites are something you could build for less than $100, even if you’re not a technical user.
And that’s my point – building a website in 2020 costs a lot less than you might think!
How much does a website cost? Here’s what you’ll need to pay for
When it comes to the cost of a website, you can break things down into two broad categories:
- Infrastructure – this is all the underlying stuff that powers your website. Software, hosting, domain name, etc.
- Design and functionality – this is all the stuff that your visitors will interact with, like the design of your site and its functionality.
Beyond that, there’s also the question of whether you want to pay someone to set that stuff up for you, or if you’re happy to go the DIY route.
Let’s break down the essential costs of a website first (that is, the stuff you’d need to pay if you did it yourself). Then, we’ll discuss what it might cost if you want someone else to build your website.
How much does a website cost for backend infrastructure
There are three main backend infrastructure costs that you’ll need to consider when building a website:
- Domain name
- Website software/content management system
1. Domain name – $10 per year
Your domain name is your website’s permanent address on the Internet – ours is
You’ll purchase your domain name from a domain registrar.
The exact cost of your domain depends on your TLD, which is the part that comes after your name – e.g. “.com”, “.net”, etc. However, a regular “.com” domain will usually cost you ~$10.
There are however hosting companies like Bluehost, one of our recommended WordPress hosts, which costs just $71.40 for your entire first year, which include a free domain name (you’ll save even more if you purchase multiple years upfront).
You’ll need to pay this ~$10 every year to maintain ownership.
2. Website software – Free OR $16+ per month
Nowadays, the vast majority of websites aren’t coded from scratch. Instead, you’ll use premade website software, called a content management system.
For example, more than 35% of all the websites on the Internet are powered by one single piece of software – WordPress. Yes – that number is as crazy as it sounds – more than one-third of all the websites on the Internet really do use WordPress.
Beyond being super flexible, one of the reasons why WordPress is so popular is because the software is 100% free. So if you use WordPress, you won’t need to pay a dime for your website software. Side note – we mean the free open-source software at WordPress.org, not WordPress.com – they’re different things.
Another popular route that you could go is a dedicated website builder – like Squarespace or Wix. These tools charge you a monthly fee in order to use them, which you’ll pay for as long as you want your website to work. Here’s what you can expect to pay:
- Squarespace – starts at $16 per month or $144 per year with the annual payment discount
- Wix – viable plans start at $16 per month or $150 per year with the annual payment discount (there are cheaper plans, but they’re pretty limited)
If you want the absolute simplest way to build a website, using one of those website builder tools can be a good choice.
Want to see what real websites built using those tools look like? Check out these posts:
3. Hosting – $5 per month to start, more when you get more visitors
When you pay for hosting, you’re basically renting space on a computer to power your website and make it available to visitors from around the world.
If you choose a website builder like Squarespace and Wix, those services already include hosting in their prices, so you won’t need to pay anything else.
When you’re just getting started, cheap hosting is totally fine and will cost you less than $6 per month. For example, Bluehost, one of our recommended WordPress hosts, costs just $71.40 for your entire first year, including a free domain name (you’ll save even more if you purchase multiple years upfront).
As you grow, you might need to pay more to handle the increase in traffic – but that’s a good “problem” to have.
Website infrastructure cost summary – As little as $70
To sum things up, paying for the backend infrastructure for your site for an entire year will cost you:
- ~$70 if you self-host WordPress – free domain via Bluehost, free WordPress software, and $70 for hosting.
- ~$150+ for a website builder – $10 for your domain and $140+ for a year of the website builder.
Remember – these are ongoing prices. So you’ll pay this amount every year to continue running your website.
How much does a website cost for design and functionality
Once you pay for the stuff above, you’ll have a working website…but it won’t look or function how you want it to…yet.
Next, let’s discuss how much you’ll need to pay to add your own design and functionality.
1. Website theme/design – Free to $60+
Let’s go back to the examples before. How much do you think these two websites paid for just their designs:
How does that happen? Well, one big benefit of using a content management system like WordPress is that you can change your website’s design using pre-built “themes”, rather than needing to design your site from scratch.
You’ll install a theme with a few clicks. Then, you’ll be able to customize that theme to meet your needs using a beginner-friendly interface.
All the website software options – WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc. – offer both free and premium themes.
So if you’re on a budget, it’s totally safe and fine to choose a free option. For example, the first site above is using the free Zelle Lite theme, and the second site is using the free Hestia Lite theme.
If you find a premium theme that you love, here’s what you can expect to pay:
- WordPress – $59 is the average price of a WordPress theme, though it varies per theme.
- Squarespace and Wix – usually $100+
2. Website functionality – Free to ???
This is the category that has the biggest variability because a lot of this depends on your needs.
Like themes, pretty much all of the major website builder options let you add functionality to your site via third-party extensions. Usually, these are called “plugins” or “apps”.
And again like themes, these come in both free and premium packages. For example, the official WordPress.org plugin directory offers over 55,000 free plugins alone.
For a very basic site, you might be able to get by entirely with free solutions.
However, most sites – whether built with WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix – will need at least a few premium extensions.
It’s impossible to tell you the exact price “per extension”, because it 100% depends on the developer. However, we can point out a difference in payment structure between different platforms:
- WordPress – most premium “plugins” are a one-time payment, though you might need to renew to continue receiving updates after the first year. Even if you don’t renew, you can keep using the tool…it just won’t receive updates.
- Squarespace and Wix – most premium “apps” charge a monthly fee that you need to pay for as long as you want to continue using them.
Website design and functionality cost summary – $0 to $100+
The total cost for design and functionality depends entirely on your needs. For a basic site, you could not spend a dime. However, if you want lots of advanced functionality, be prepared to increase your budget.
Most simple sites will probably spend at least $100 on extensions.
So how much does a website cost if you go DIY? Not that much
Ok, so if you’re willing to go the DIY route, a website can be surprisingly affordable. You’re looking at just a couple hundred dollars for your entire first year.
Most websites just plain don’t require custom functionality, which means you can be totally fine with off-the-rack solutions. What’s more, the technical part of creating a website has become a lot easier, and it’s possible for anyone to create their own website.
In fact, you can create something that looks good and functions well for as little as ~$70, though a more realistic budget would probably be $200-$300 to allow for some premium extensions.
How much it costs to pay someone to build your website
Going the DIY route is the cheapest way to make a website, but it’s also cheaper in part because you’re putting your own sweat equity into the process.
If you want to hire someone to build your website, you’re going to pay for the same basic infrastructure costs…plus that person’s sweat equity…plus a hefty premium for their expertise.
So what does that cost?
Sorry for the annoying answer, but again it depends on:
- Your needs.
- Who you’re talking to.
However, to try and give you a rough idea, I dug into some Facebook communities for people who build websites for a living.
First, I found this poll of 111 designers who build WordPress sites with Elementor. These estimates are for a “basic 10-15 page website”:
Second, I found a similar poll of 158 designers who build WordPress sites with the Beaver Builder page builder:
Because both these polls cover designers who build sites using WordPress and a visual page builder (rather than, say, coding something from scratch), these polls represent the bare minimum of what you should expect to pay for a simple website.
And if you need something beyond a basic website, costs can quickly rise.
How much does a website cost? Less than you might think
Because it’s now possible for regular people to make a website, the cost of building a website is less than you might think.
Squaring away the basic infrastructure will cost you ~$70 per year for something like WordPress, or ~$150 for a premium website builder.
From there, you could squeak by exclusively with free extensions, or, more realistically, you’ll probably spend at least another $100-$200 on premium extensions.
On the other hand, if you want to hire a professional, you’re looking at ~$2,000 for a basic website at a bare minimum, with higher costs for larger sites or more advanced functionality, like an eCommerce store.
Do you have any questions about how much a website should cost? Ask away in the comments!
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