Only 64% of small businesses have a website today.
But 29% among those who don’t have a website are planning to build one soon. And if you are here, it means you, too, are working your way towards a website. Which is a good thing.
But it will cost you more than just a couple of dollars.
How many dollars exactly?
Well, it depends. On a lot of factors.
You could get a website up and running for as little as $200 if you go DIY with a website builder. For expert web design and development services, you might also have to pay $6,000 or more upfront.
And of course, the cost would be much more if you decide to set up an in-house website building department. However, this is not something small businesses should (or would) do.
Now, let’s not talk about averages and approximations. It is time to take the guesswork out. Let’s talk about real numbers.
In the following guide, we will discuss and determine how much it would cost you to build your small business website. (And also how much you’d have to shell out on its maintenance each year.)
But before that, we need to clear something…
Website Design vs. Website Development
Website design and website development are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they mean different things. Website design refers to just creating a bare-bones structure of your website. And website development involves populating the structure with elements.
Both these processes are important to get a complete website that is ready for visitors. And in this guide, we will help you ascertain the cost of your small business website’s design and development both.
How much does it Cost to Build a Website for Small Business?
How much it costs to build a small business website depends primarily on how you choose to build the website.
If you hire an expert web developer or an agency, the upfront payment would be somewhere between $2,000 to $10,000. On the other hand, you can use a website builder with a monthly charge between $10/month to $200/month.
Both these options have their upsides (which we will discuss shortly). But irrespective of the method of website development you choose, you have to bear some costs. We will first discuss these costs.
Breaking Down the Cost
Domain Name – $10 to $20 per year
The domain name is the address of your website on the Internet. And you cannot get started with your website without having a domain name. You can select from plenty of domain name registrars on the web to buy a new domain name. The cost depends on the type of domain you choose (.com, .net, .edu, etc.)
Some domains (like hotel.com or business.com) sold for several thousands of dollars. But it is a one-off chance. And most regular domains won’t cost you more than $20 per year.
Some website builders also offer you a free domain for the first year of use. And then from the next year onwards, you have to pay the renewal charges.
Website Hosting – Starting at $3/month
When you build a website, you want it to be available to users on the Internet. And for that, you will need website hosting services. Several website builders also come with hosting solutions.
To determine the per-month hosting cost, you will first have to decide what kind of hosting you want to go with. There are three main options, shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting. And both come at different price points with different features.
Shared hosting plans start for as low as $3/month. And go up to $7/month. With shared hosting, your website shares server space with other (unknown) websites. And it is the most economical hosting solution. However, you might face server performance and security issues. Thus, it is important to not go for the cheapest option but find reliable shared hosting providers.
Now, shared hosting stands at one end of the spectrum. And on the stark opposite end, you have dedicated hosting. With dedicated hosting, you have a server specially reserved for your website. All the server’s resources are yours to use. The cost of dedicated servers starts at around $75/month and can go upwards of $2000/month as well.
However, dedicated servers are not recommended for small business websites. Websites with high traffic volume, special configuration needs, and those hosting games should go for a dedicated server.
Another option lying in between the two opposite ends is the Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. With VPS hosting, you still share the server with other websites. But there is a limit on how many resources each website can use. This way, the cost comes down, and safety and performance issues are minimized. The cost of VPS hosting starts at $17 or $18/month, and the average cost is around $26/month. Thus, small businesses can get VPS hosting services for their website between $20 to $30 per month.
SSL Certificate – Usually Free
Websites that do not have a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate are flagged as not-secure by Google and it shows in the address bar. This means that using an HTTP connection to the server would mean you lose your customer’s trust. SSL certificates are also important because Google rewards websites with SSL certificates in rankings.
And, of course, SSL certificates actually keep your website safe.
Most hosting service providers offer SSL certificates for free. Also, website builders that come with hosting offer a free SSL certificate.
However, if you feel that you might switch hosting later, it is best to get an SSL certificate independently. The cost varies depending on the certificate authority you choose to buy it from. On average, it costs between $50 to $200.
Templates and Themes – Free – $200
Themes and templates decide and define the design aspects of your website. While a theme is for the entire website, a template is a layout for a single page. Most website builders come with free themes and templates.
However, if you are looking for more options, you can go for premium themes. Premium themes cost around $50 on average. But the price can go up to $200. It is a one-time cost, after which the theme will be yours to use and edit.
In most cases (whether you are using a website builder or getting the services of a web developer), you can go with the premade themes that are available on multiple platforms.
But if you truly need something unique and specialized, then custom theme development would cost you anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000. Or even more, depending on what experts you hire and what kind of a theme you are getting developed. Though, we do not recommend such an expensive option for small business websites.
eCommerce Functionality (Optional) – Starting at $15
If you want to set up an online store for your small business, eCommerce functionalities can be added for an extra cost.
Most website builders don’t let you sell stuff online on their basic plans. Exceptions include Weebly that lets you sell even on the free plan.
eCommerce plans cost between $15/month to $50/month. If you are using a CMS solution like WordPress, you’ll have to go with specialized eCommerce hosting that starts at around $7/month.
Depending on your business needs, you can also add eCommerce plugins and functionalities that can have an extremely wide price bracket ($20 – $24,000). Most small businesses generally make do with free plugins and don’t need to pay at all.
Website Content – Highly Variable
Your website also needs to have custom content that can aid the visitors in their journey on your website. The cost of website content creation depends on what agency or writer you choose.
Also, it depends on how many pages your website has. On average, you should budget somewhere around $100 for content for a five-page website.
Apps and Plugins (Optional) – Highly Variable
Depending on business specifics, you might have to use additional apps or plugins on your website. Most website builders have an application store or plugin marketplace. Free and premium options can be found with ease. Starting from free plugins to apps that enhance website functionality cost up to $100.
Web designers and agencies might also be able to offer custom plugin development services. And it is impossible to set a price range for plugin development. It ultimately boils down to what functionality it offers.
However, be ready to pay at least $100, which can go up to $1000 (in most cases) or even $10,000 or more (in case of very specific and extremely functional plugin development).
SEO – Highly Variable
Again, depending on your business needs, you might also need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. Website builders come with basic SEO functionalities, and you don’t have to pay for them separately. If you wish to use SEO plugins, then too, you have both and premium options.
Website developers and agencies will usually do the basic search engine optimization for your website. Some also offer specialized SEO and digital marketing packages. Or you can also look for digital marketing and SEO agencies for higher-level needs.
The cost depends on your location, the level of optimization you require, and your website’s size.
Comparing The Two Options For Website Building
Now that you know the cost components for building a website for your small business, it is time to compare which option is actually cheaper – hiring experts or going DIY with website builders.
If we look at the average cost of website design for small business using website builders, it comes to around $200. You can find the best website builder for small business websites and get started in a jiffy.
If you don’t need a lot of features on your website and are just looking for a simple 10-15 page website that offers information (no eCommerce), you can also use a free website builder.
However, even the best free website builder for small business won’t give you as much customization control and ease as a web designer or agency would. But then, for the added ease, you will have to pay at least $6,000 in upfront cost.
Another factor that you should consider is…
Recurring Website Maintenance Costs
Once you create a website, your job has just begun. Updates and enhancements are required to make sure that your website remains functional and relevant.
Other than the recurring fees (for hosting, for example), you’d also have to spend time and money on website updates. If you are working with a website builder, you can do it yourself. But that sometimes might result in version inconsistencies, and your website might break.
To hire experts for problem redressal, you’d have to spend $100 to $125/hour. Instead, it is better to look for website maintenance plans that start at $40/month and go up to $300/month, depending on the type of service you need.
Now, it might seem that it is cheaper to make your own website using a website builder due to low cost, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
Hiring a web developer is expensive but comes with its own perks. You will get a customized website, continuous support, and you’ll not have to lift even a finger. For technically-handicapped business owners with custom needs, this is the best option.
For those who can spare time navigating the learning curves of website builders, those who have the technical know-how, and those who don’t have specialized needs, website builders, prove to be a better alternative.
The cost of building a website depends on the method you chose and the specific requirements of your business. We have mentioned the different elements that you’ll have to pay for as well as price ranges for those.
Now, it is time for you to do the math. A little time spent in calculations today would save you from making a wrong decision tomorrow.