The shift towards online business has been steady but generally gradual over the past few years. However, the unusual situation that we’ve all found ourselves in this year has really accelerated this trend, and landed us smack dab in the heart of the digital age. What this means is that creating a website for your business should be one of your main priorities. So how much of your budget should you allocate for your website?
Creating a website budget
The main problem with budgeting for a website is that you can spend days hopping from one design and development website to the next, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a comprehensive ‘menu’ with prices. You won’t even find that here. And contrary to popular belief, us web designers haven’t all got together and plotted to keep you in the dark. The truth is that it’s very difficult to publish set-in-stone prices for projects that are anything but standard. A high-performance site never comes off-the-shelf.
In fact, if you do happen across a web design agency that publishes its prices, this should be a red flag. Think about popping into a shop, or going to the cinema; you pay a set price for a set product. But web development should never be treated in the same way. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to creating a website that’s tailored not only to your business, but also to your particular audience.
However, we know just how important it is for businesses to budget appropriately. You need to ensure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions which drive your brand forward, without introducing major financial risk. In a mid-2019 report by insights firm McKinsey, it was found that 57% of business owners are dissatisfied with the opacity of their spending. Naturally, you want to know exactly what your outgoings are, and where your investments are going.
That’s why we’ve developed this handy guide to offer more insight into the ins and outs of website creation. We hope it’ll give business owners a better understanding of how much it costs to create a website from scratch.
A brief overview of website costs
Just to add a bit of confusion to the mix, there are actually some areas of building a website where it is possible to give pretty accurate pricing information. There will always be some degree of variation of course, depending on the size of your business, your preferences, and the type of website you’re looking for.
Every website needs a domain name, or ‘web address’. Typically, you can expect to pay around £15 per year for a domain name, but the cost can be more, or less, depending on the name itself. Remember that choosing a domain name shouldn’t just be about price. When you’re creating an online brand, your domain name plays a big role in helping you to build, develop, and promote your brand’s digital identity.
If you’re planning to gather identifiable data from your visitors – contact or payment details, for example – then you should have an SSL certificate. This works to encrypt confidential information to reduce the risk of a data breach. Business technology resource TechRadar’s 2020 list of the best SSL services suggests that certificates can be obtained for anywhere from £5.67 per year to over £150 per year.
The cost of hosting your files on a web server will largely depend on whether you’re looking to create a static site, a more complex e-commerce platform, or a fully bespoke option. If you’re not bothered about dedicated servers, then prices will typically hover around the £250 per year mark for small and medium-sized businesses, rising to £600-ish for large businesses, and £1000 for large e-commerce solutions.
Web design prices & marketing costs
Domain names, SSL certificates, and hosting are all fairly standard necessities that you’ll need to include in your website creation strategy. Aspects such as design and marketing are where things get a little trickier. Together, these form the more creative side of website building, as opposed to the technical side. Here, there’s a lot more scope for flexibility and variation in the overall project.
Web design is much more complex than many people think. It’s not just about the colours and layouts that you use, but also about usability, navigation, and the overall user experience. The technical aspects are the building blocks that actually create the foundation. Web design is what develops your site into a usable platform that engages visitors, and supports them from awareness through to conversion. Business support website Startups advises that design typically costs between £50 to £150 per hour.
An often overlooked necessity of creating a website from scratch is marketing. While marketing isn’t required to actually build the site itself, it’s important to question how much your website investments can achieve if your audience doesn’t know that your site is out there. To properly budget for your website, you should take into account promotional aspects such as on-site SEO, off-site content, social media marketing, and perhaps even paid options such as pay-per-click advertising, which can be especially useful for new businesses. Looking again at the Startups resource, average industry prices are £10 to £50 per hour for content and images, and £100 to £500 per month for search engine optimisation.
Web design options
The good news for business owners is that there are two primary options available which allow you to take control over how much you pay for your website. The lowest cost option is to use online website builders such as Wix and Weebly. These usually cost between £3 and £20 per month, depending on the package.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that these website builders are only as good as the people using them. To get the most value from website builders, you’ll need to either possess the skills and time capabilities yourself, or hire an experienced in-house team to manage the builder. The DIY route may not work out as cheaply as it first seems, with businesses spending 27.5 days and £3000 per hire on average.
Working with a design and development agency may appear more costly initially, but in terms of return on investment, this often works out to be a more attractive option for business owners committed to creating a strong online presence. By utilising the skills and experience of professionals who do this for a living, it’s often easier to create a website that truly delivers. Businesses, especially small businesses, are often deterred by the perceived cost of partnering with an agency. However, with the rise in remote working, many agencies now have very low overheads, allowing them to offer cost-effective services.
So… how much does it cost to create a website from scratch?
We know that you’ve been told time and time again that it’s bordering on impossible to give an exact figure for web design and development, and unfortunately we’re going to tell you the same thing. However, in 2018, Forbes did offer some numbers from across the pond which you might want to use as a rule of thumb. The American business magazine estimated that total website costs should usually amount to $3000 (about £2400) for a basic level website; up to $6000 (£4800) for a portfolio website; up to $15,000 (£11,800) for an e-commerce website, and anywhere north of that for bespoke options.
Is it worth investing in a website?
That’s a question that only you can answer. What we will say is that at this time especially, when economic uncertainty has made us all more aware of our outgoings, it’s never been more important to ensure that your investments are aligned with your overall business strategy. And if your strategy is digital, then investing in your website should now be your biggest priority.