How Much Will It Cost to Build a Website (DIY v Professional)
Do you want to establish an online presence, but find yourself wondering how much it’s going to cost to build a website? Less than two-thirds of small businesses have a website, which is a shame in this digital age. After all, the saying every business needs a website and every website needs a blog rings true more than ever as the eCommerce landscape continues to change and become more competitive. Unfortunately, the 26% of small businesses that don’t have a website cite cost as the key thing holding them back. Building a website from the ground up doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. However, it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing. And don’t forget that there’s a big difference in cost when you build your site yourself versus hiring a professional to do it for you. That said, if you’re ready to build your own website and:
- Are worried about how much it’s going to cost
- Want to know how much you’ll need to spend on the DIY method
- Need to know whether hiring a professional is worth it
What Should You Know Before Building a Website?Before you jump into building a website on your own or with a professional, you should know that the cost to create a website ranges from $0 to more than $25,000. There’s a lot of room in between that range and where you fall will depend on many things. That’s why the first thing you should do is ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of website are you looking to build? You’ll need to know whether you’re creating a blog, online business, or a full-fledged eCommerce shop. Each type of website comes with its own set of features and some of the functionality you’ll need to incorporate into your site might cost you.
- What must-have features do you need? Are you looking to collect online payments? Do you want to beef up your marketing efforts and build a bigger email list? Are you wanting to give people a way to register for an account on your site? All of these things matter when it comes to building a website. It’s better to know ahead of time what you need (and what you don’t) so you can plan accordingly.
- How are your technical skills? If you know right away your technical skills are not strong enough to build a custom website on your own, you need to start researching professionals right away. However, if you know you can manage a simple content management system (CMS) like WordPress, then you can start the DIY method.
- Are you open to hiring a professional web developer? If it’s in your budget to hire a professional, you’re on a tight deadline, or you just don’t want to do it yourself, you might be open to hiring a professional. This will definitely increase the cost of your website build, but that may not matter to you.
What Do You Need to Get Started (the DIY Way)?Before starting, make sure your website or blog format is correct, weather you are creating an informational, eCommerce, or business website. If you’re set on creating a website yourself, you’re going to need 3 specific things to get started:
- Domain name
- Content management system/website builder
- Web hosting
1. Domain NameYour domain name is the URL, or website address, that appears to site visitors in their web browser when they land on your website. For example, revealize.com is this website’s domain name. Domain names have many different extensions - .com, .net, .org, etc. – though .com is still the most widely used and well known. There are also domain name extensions that are reserved for certain countries too, like the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) that helps people register Canadian domain name extensions. When you need a domain name for your website, you’ll need to purchase it and register it from a domain name registrar. Sometimes your web host will offer you the option to buy a domain name through them (and even give you one year free!). If not, you’ll need to use a third-party domain name registrar such as Namecheap. When you register your domain name, it’s good for one year. If you want to continue using it each year, you’ll need to pay the yearly renewal fee. The verdict: domain names usually cost around $15/year.
2. Content Management System/Website BuilderIf you’re taking the do it yourself route when it comes to building a website, it’s best to take advantage of a website builder. Not only are they affordable, they’re simple to use, even if you’re a beginner. Some of the best website builders include:
- WordPress.org (free – must pay for a domain name and web hosting)
- Shopify (starting at $29/month – no need for web hosting or domain name)
- Weebly (free with option to upgrade to paid plans depending on the features you need)
- Squarespace (starting at $12/month for a hosted platform and a free domain name)
3. Web HostingWeb hosting companies are in charge of storing your site’s data and files and delivering it to site visitors when they click on your website. A high-quality web host is also responsible for things like speed and performance optimization, site security, customer support when you have issues, and even site uptime. If you choose to use the self-hosted WordPress.org platform, you can invest in shared hosting to get started. Shared hosting plans start as low as $2.95/month and offer all the basic features you could possibly need. If you’re curious however, here’s a brief look at other types of web hosting available:
- Shared Hosting: your site’s data and files are stored on a server alongside 100s or even 1000s of other people's websites and all the resources are shared.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting: all sites are hosted on one physical server, though resources are allotted to each website owner and there is no sharing.
- Cloud Hosting: there is no physical server hosting your site’s data. Instead, all resources are based in the cloud so scaling is infinite.
- Dedicated Hosting: you get your own private server to store your website’s data on. You never have to share any resources and you have control over everything.
- WordPress Hosting: hosting services are optimized to work for WordPress websites. If you go with managed WordPress hosting, you won’t have to worry about things like updates, speed, security, and more because your web host will do it for you.
- Bluehost (starting at $2.95/month)
- SiteGround (starting at $3.95/month)
- HostGator (starts at $5.95/month)
- DreamHost (starts at $2.95/month)
How Much Will Adding Design and Functionality to a DIY Website Cost?The type of design and functionality you’ll need on your website will depend on the type of website you’re building. In addition, some of the things you add to your website will cost you money, and some will not. That’s where a little research on your end comes in handy. If you’re using WordPress to power your newly created website, here are some extras you may (or may not) have to pay for:
ThemesThemes are responsible for the overall look of your website. The theme you use will determine your site’s layouts, font styles, and some of your site’s functionality. You can get high-quality free themes from the official WordPress Theme Repository. You can also buy premium themes from reputable marketplaces like ThemeForest, MyThemeShop, and StudioPress. Premium WordPress themes range anywhere from $30-$100 each depending on how popular they are, who developed them, and what kind of built-in features they come with. The verdict: you can get a great theme for $0, which works for those just starting out.
PluginsPlugins extend the design and functionality in smaller, more specific ways than your theme. Just like WordPress themes, you can get high-quality free plugins from the official WordPress Plugin Repository. There are nearly 55,000 plugins at WordPress.org alone, and thousands more free and premium ones found in third-party marketplaces. Here’s a look at some of the features that WordPress plugins offer site owners:
- Site security
- Social sharing
- Image optimization
- Contact form creation
- Lead generation
- Analytics and data collection
- Site backups
- Spam protection
- Site speed optimization
- And much more
How Much Will You Spend on a Professional Web Developer?If you decide the DIY method isn’t for you, you can approach hiring a professional to build your website in three different ways:
1. FreelancerIf cost is an issue, you can hire freelance web developers and designers from places like Fiverr to get the basics done. Most freelance databases let you search for professionals, choose the one offering the best work for the lowest price, and enjoy a satisfaction guarantee so you don’t get swindled. The verdict: cost ranges anywhere from $20/hr - $100+/hour.
2. Generic Web Design CompanyIf you want to take things up a notch and work with a business dedicated to website creation, there are generic web development companies that will build a website for you for a flat charge. For instance, Hibu makes having a professional website created affordable for those just starting out or those on a tight budget. In fact, their team of expert web developers will create a custom site with your needs in mind for $99. Keep in mind, however, that in order to qualify for such an appealing price, you’ll need to invest in a certain advertising package and commit to a minimum monthly contract that comes with monthly fees. All of this is written in fine print and requires you to reach out to them for exact pricing. The verdict: initial cost is $99 + whatever contract and monthly fees you are required to sign up for (third-party websites like WebsiteBuilderExpert quote monthly fees at between $99/month - $159/month and claim those fees cover things like web hosting, site security, access to Hibu support, and maintenance requests).
3. Custom Website Development AgencyIf your budget allows, and you want a truly unique website built from the ground up just for you, you might want to consider hiring an expert custom website development agency like Revealize. Sure, the upfront costs are going to be much more, but you can expect services such as:
- WordPress installations and domain name connection
- Webpage creation and edits
- Caching system implementation
- Site speed testing and performance optimization
- Built-in Google Analytics dashboard
- Extensive site security to protect your site against brute force attacks, SQL injections, and cross-site scripting
- eCommerce product page creation
What About Maintenance of Your Website After It’s Built?If you decide that ongoing site maintenance is something you’re interested in, whether it’s part of the package you purchased with a professional or not, add that into the total cost. Website maintenance is a broad term and may include services such as:
- SSL certificate installation
- Web hosting
- Specifies support hours
- Site backups and restores (if needed)
- Security monitoring
- Content changes
- Software updates
- Speed optimizations
- Content creation
- Social media management
- eCommerce product add-ons
- Additional design or functionality enhancements
SummaryAnd there you have it! You now know how much it will cost to build a website whether you take a DIY approach or decide to hire a professional to do it for you. Launching a website doesn’t have to be expensive, unless you want it to be. But for those that are just starting out, there are plenty of affordable ways to get up and running without spending tons of cash. The key to not overspending is having a plan before you get started, no matter which approach you want to take – DIY or professional. This way, you get exactly what you want and nothing you don’t. And remember, you can always add web design elements and functionality to your website as your business grows and you begin to turn a profit. In the end, you don’t have to go big or go home when it comes to starting a website – starting small and scaling is just as effective and is easier on the pocketbook too.