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 2024 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 discussing how much a website costs 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 in!
📚 Table of contents:
- But first – how much do you think a website costs?
- The main components of website cost
- How much does the backend infrastructure cost?
- How much do design and functionality cost?
- Total cost of a DIY website
- Total cost of hiring a web designer
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 2024 costs a lot less than you might think!
The main components of website cost
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 the backend infrastructure cost?
There are three main backend infrastructure costs that you’ll need to consider when building a website:
1. Domain name – $10 to $15 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 to $15. You’ll need to pay this ~$10 to $15 every year to maintain ownership.
However, for our valued readers, we’ve arranged a special deal with Bluehost, one of the most reputable WordPress hosting companies, so that if you sign up for a hosting plan with them, they will include a free domain name registration. You’ll also get an ultra low discount that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
It will cost you only $33 for your entire first year.
Considering that you’d normally have to pay around $10 to $15 just to register the domain name itself, the per-month hosting cost at that point is less than a cup of coffee.
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, about 43.1% 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. Check out our previous article that deals with all the aspects of your WordPress budget to know exactly how much should a WordPress site cost.
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 $16.00 per month or $144 per year with the annual payment discount
- Wix – viable plans start at $16.00 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 – Free, but if you want a legitimate website, then $2.75 per month to start
What a hosting company does for your website, is that it provides 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.
However, if you use self-hosted software like WordPress, or other free content management systems like Joomla or Drupal, you’ll eventually need to purchase your own hosting to install and run that software.
When you’re just getting started, free hosting is available from a number of hosting companies, with 000webhost being arguably the best one. Unfortunately, all free hosting comes with significant limitations. It’s fine for a proof-of-concept type of project or to have a personal online journal, but for any kind of serious website or a site that’s intended to stay online long-term, you’re better off with investing a small amount into a cheap hosting plan.
As we mentioned earlier, if you go with Bluehost, one of our recommended WordPress hosts, it will cost you a mere $2.75 per month. Plus they’ll throw in the free domain name for you as we already talked about.
(Pro Tip: If you purchase multiple years upfront, you’ll save even more.)
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 $33
To sum things up, paying for the backend infrastructure for your site in the first year will cost you:
- ~$33 if you self-host WordPress – free domain via Bluehost, free WordPress software, and $33 for hosting.
- ~$150+ for a website builder – $10 for your domain and $140+ for a year of the website builder.
Remember that unless you pay for multiple years ahead of time, these hosting packages and domains will need to be renewed every year. So you’ll need to consider not only the upfront website development costs, but also the ongoing costs to run and maintain your site.
And as you just saw, for both website design cost and for website maintenance cost, WordPress tends to give you more for your money. Even after the first year with Bluehost, when the promotional rate is replaced by the regular rate, it’s still less than the annual cost of the website builder options.
How much do design and functionality cost?
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 $69+
Let’s go back to the examples before. How much do you think these two websites paid for just their designs:
🎯 The answers are:
Exhibit A: $0
Exhibit B: $69
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. The best part is that there are about 11,700 for you to choose from in the official WordPress repository so lack of options will never be an issue.
You can install a theme in only a few clicks. Then, you’ll be able to customize that theme to meet your needs using either the WordPress Customizer or the Full Site Editor – depending on which type of theme you choose. Both of them are very user-friendly though.
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 Neve theme. The second site was built with the Hestia PRO theme, however, Hestia also has a free Lite version that would allow you to build an equally aesthetic site, albeit with less functionality than the PRO version.
If you find a premium theme that you love, here’s what you can expect to pay:
- WordPress – $69 is the average price of a WordPress theme, though it varies per theme.
- Squarespace and Wix – usually $100+
- WordPress page builder plugins like Elementor can help you further enhance your design using drag-and-drop visual editing for free.
- The free, native WordPress block editor also provides a great no-code-required option to design your website, with many free block plugins available to extend its functionality even further.
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 60,000 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 get by without spending 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.
Total cost of a DIY website. Not that much
Ok, so if you’re willing to go the DIY route, website development costs 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 $33 in your first year. Although as you continue to develop your site and start including some premium extensions, a more realistic long-term budget would probably be $200-$300 per year.
Total cost of hiring a web designer
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, Ripemedia, a full-service design and marketing agency, suggests that web designer pay typically starts at $60 per hour.
They go on to add that the website design cost can be arranged to be by the hour or a flat fee can be charged for the entire website. For hourly rates, the average freelance web designer might charge roughly $75 per hour.
That amount can vary based on a number of factors. One of them is the difference between website design cost (i.e. – the cost to design the layout, colors, and general aesthetic appearance of the site) versus website development cost (i.e. – the cost to make it a fully functioning website with security against hackers, custom functions, plugins, etc). Think of website design as the outward appearance, and website development as the stuff going on internally that makes everything work properly.
Ripemedia then provides an idea of what those two costs could look like:
The going rate to design a website ranges between $27 to $60 per hour. In contrast, the price to develop the site can go up to $100 to $180 per hour.
Conclusion on website cost
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 ~$33 for the first year if you use WordPress, or ~$150 for a premium website builder like Wix.
From there, you could get by with using exclusively 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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