I frequently get asked how much a website costs. The answer is, it depends! In this post I wanted to answer this question in depth to explain the options out there and put you in the right mindset when looking for a designer.

Nowadays, a website is a must-have for your business. Even if a new client has your business card, brochure, and a great referral from a trusted mutual contact, he or she is likely to still want to check out your website. Knowing this, many small business owners have a website designed and launched, just to have a web presence. While yes, it's true that having a website is better than no website at all, many people are not aware of the options out there. Initially websites were created to give people information, but now they are so much more than that.

Websites are a powerful sales tool used to represent your business, engage visitors, and convert your visitors to clients and customers. Your website gives you exposure on an international level, much more than a physical business card or brochure would. Think about that - anyone in the world could potentially see your website, so every one of those visitors could bring you business. That is the number one reason why you need to invest in setting up the right website for your business.

Here, I'm going to break down the three types of websites and their costs.

  1. Basic: $500-$1000 range

There are countless companies and freelancers out there who can design a website, or you may try building one yourself, and a lot of small business owners are tempted to go with a lower-budget option. If you see a quote within this price range, tread carefully. Good website design requires several key elements:

  • Strategy and Planning
  • Well-executed Design
  • Thoughtful Content

Those are the essentials that you should receive, no matter what designer or company you choose to hire. Unfortunately, most companies quoting for a website design within this price range will not offer all of the above. You may think "that's fine, I'm just looking for something basic" and basic usually means a simple website with information about your company and how to contact you. Here's the problem with this line of thought: every website out there starts as a "basic" website, and likely, so did many of your competitors' sites. Without a strategy and without designing your website with intention, you may end up with something that looks like every other website and will not get you the results, whether that be sales, more clients, more inquiries, etc. Designers who price their work in this range are typically beginners working to gain experience and you will get what you pay for. Spending less money to work with a beginner may also limit your options with functionality and lead to potential issues later on.

2. Quality: $2500-$5000 range

A website in this price range is the industry standard and typically you'll get more bang for your buck. For this range, you should receive the 3 key elements I listed above, on a website likely designed on Wordpress or Squarespace or a similar system that makes use of pre-designed templates that can be customized, rather than a custom-coded solution. While this may be at the higher range of your budget, it is a worthwhile investment and the one I recommend because you are getting more than a "basic website", you will receive more value for your money and deliver more value to the people visiting your site.

  • Strategy and Planning: Planning is the most important part of your website! While your thoughts and ideas are very important, make sure you work with a designer who will offer their expertise on how to translate your ideas for the web. You should work closely to define your goals for the site, who your target audience is and your overall vision. Without defining a strategy, your website will just be another website. 
  • Well-executed Design: Before you hire a designer, check out their work! Websites are not all created equally, so you need to understand the taste of your designer to get a sense of what they will create for you. Reference sites you like and why, and make sure that your brand is strong and defined before you even start to think about your website. Read this blog post for more details. To elaborate on this, your brand should drive your website design, not the other way around.
  • Thoughtful Content: Content is often an afterthought for a website design, but the design philosophy of Blank Canvas is that content informs design and the two exist in harmony. If you are planning content for your website, remember to keep it simple. Text-heavy sites are not great for design and can make for a dry, lengthy website. Instead of typing out huge paragraphs of information and expecting your visitors to read it, focus on your key messages and making sure they are clear on every page. Include high-resolution images to complement your brand. If possible, try to have all your photography be custom for your business, rather than using stock images. Again, this will set you apart and enhance your brand equity. Your designer should help you create a sitemap of how to organize content, and make recommendations on the content requirements on each page, making sure that everything you put on that website adds value to your potential client or customer.

3. Advanced: $7000+

This is the price range you would typically find from a larger agency and for a larger business. For this type of cost, you might receive more thorough planning and a more segmented design process. Websites at this range would not make use of templates, but would likely be custom built by a developer to include more in-depth options. As a small business, you should receive a website that works well and covers all your needs within the Quality price range above.

I hope this helps to shed some light on the costs of website design and what to expect at each price range. Keep in mind that on top of design costs, there may also be fees for domain setup, hosting and maintenance. Before you hire a website designer, make sure to find out what is included in the quote, how thorough they will be, and what style of work to expect from their previous designs. Remember that not all websites are created equally. This may be one of the biggest investments you make in starting up your business, but if you think about it as your biggest sales tool to attract and convert your customers, you will see a return and more.