Whether you have a new business and you’re building a website from scratch or you’re just due for an update, you’ve landed here because you’re wondering how much it costs to build a small business website. You want answers! And we’ve got them! Well, kind of—there are a lot of factors in determining how much a small business website costs, so while we can’t give you an exact price to expect, we can help you understand what you’ll need to consider.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website for a Small Business?
We’re not going to bury the lede here: it can cost under $1,000 to build a website, or it can cost over $20,000. That’s a sizable price range, and the cost you’ll end up paying depends on the size of your site, the features you want or need, the complexity of your needs, and whether you DIY it or hire a professional web design team.
Factors That Determine Website Cost
Let’s dig into the reasons for the large range of prices for website design. Here are the factors at play:
If you are lucky, you’ll type your business name into GoDaddy or Namecheap, add “.com” to the end, and purchase your domain name for a few bucks. Easy!
Unfortunately, good domain names are getting harder and harder to come by. Sometimes it’s simply because someone else shares your business name. Other times, some squatters snatch up promising domains and lie in wait until someone like you needs one—and then they expect you to pay through the nose for it.
If this happens to you, you’ll have a few potential options:
- You could use a different top-level domain. While your options were once .com, .net, or .org, today there are top-level domains (TLDs) for just about everything: .guitars! .biz! .bike! .ooo! The upside of this is that you can (probably) use your business name in the domain without any alterations, but the downsides are that people are less likely to remember your domain and that search engines favor traditional TLDs over these newer ones.
- You could tweak how you write your business name. Add a hyphen, put “the” in front of your business name, add your location after your name—there are some small changes you can make that could give you the ability to get that coveted .com even if your first choice is taken.
- You could pay up. It might be hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get the domain you want, but it can be worth it. Most people will type in yourbusinessname.com when looking for your website. If you have to explain that there’s a hyphen in there, or that it’s theyourname.com, or that it’s actually yourname.inc instead of .com, you’re going to kick yourself for not getting the domain you wanted.
A lot of small businesses simply go with the cheapest host they can find—or the one they know from advertising. This works out just fine for many business owners!
Still, there are reasons to invest in a better hosting service. Inexpensive hosts tend to have poorer performance and lackluster customer service. (You know what they say: you get what you pay for.) Most of the time, people have no problems with their hosting until they do, and then they want to pull their hair out trying to get the answers they need.
Setting aside the different hosting providers, you have a few different hosting options to consider:
- Shared hosting is the least expensive option because you’ll be sharing a server with other websites. This is the best choice for a small website that doesn’t require a lot of resources.
- A virtual private server, or VPS, is an upgrade from shared hosting; you’ll still be sharing a server, but you’ll have dedicated space on it.
- Dedicated hosting, or your very own server. These are typically only needed for very high-traffic websites.
- Managed hosting, is a hosting option that has the host take care of your hardware, software, updates, and maintenance. We recommend this for small businesses that want to be more hands-off with the backend of their websites and would rather have their host resolve any unexpected problems that come up.
We generally recommend managed hosting for businesses that are looking to rely on their website for leads or sales. It’s more reliable than shared hosting, but not as expensive as dedicated hosting.
SSL certificates have gone from being an option to a must. Short for secure sockets layer, SSL certificates protect sensitive data from your users. If you don’t have an SSL certificate, most browsers will issue a warning to users steering them away from your website. (Not having an SSL certificate isn’t good for your SEO either!)
Some hosting companies include SSL certificates as part of their hosting packages (most good managed hosting companies include a free SSL certificate), but in other cases, you may need to purchase one. The average cost is around $60 per year.
Everything we’ve discussed up until this point is small potatoes compared to design. This is what will make or break your budget. It’s also what can make or break your business.
Poor design can leave visitors feeling skeptical about your business and can even impact your search rankings. In contrast, a well-designed website can help you soar above the competition, make Google rank you at the top of the SERPs, and convert visitors into customers.
For most small businesses, coming in somewhere in the middle of the road is best. You don’t want to go with the lowest cost option, which will probably involve outsourcing all the work overseas and fitting your website into some premade theme with a poorly done logo, but you also don’t need to pay a fortune for the developer who custom codes everything and works with a graphic designer who draws your logo by hand.
At a minimum, you’ll need your designer to create a homepage, templates for your product or service pages, and a contact page. From here, you may want to add more pages and options and naturally, your costs will go up, too. Remember that you can always add more later, so there’s no need to get in over your head—take care of the basics first, then add more as your budget allows.
Number of Pages
Related to the previous point, the number of pages will impact your costs as well. An e-commerce website that needs 200 pages will cost more than a site for an accountant who simply needs 4 different service pages.
If, as mentioned above, you have a template built for your product and service pages rather than having them all built out by your developer, you can save yourself a lot of money.
If you’re building your website on WordPress, you can add a lot of functionalities by using simple, free plugins. If you’re not on WordPress, or you want to do something that doesn’t have a free plugin (or that requires several different plugins working together), it will add to the cost of your website—and sometimes significantly. Things like subscriptions, secure online payments, or digital product sales all require more of an investment.
Content Management System
The most common content management system (CMS) for small businesses is WordPress. This is great news for you because WordPress is free. (Hooray!) But unless you use a free WordPress theme, or template, you’ll need to pay a licensing fee for it. And if you don’t use WordPress, or if you use a custom CMS, you can expect to pay a lot more.
DIY vs. Professional Web Design
You’ve heard the ads on your favorite podcast—it’s easy to create a small business website with [insert name of trendy website builder]. If your favorite wacky podcast host built his website without any help, surely you can too, right? Ads never exaggerate or lie, right?
Here’s where we’re going to surprise you: you can definitely build a nice-looking website without professional help. (Can you believe we’re telling you this? We sell website design services!) And these options can be easy if you have some baseline knowledge about how the internet works.
That said, DIY is a smaller financial investment, but it is a bigger time investment—time spent learning, building, and maintaining your website. If you have more money than time, then it makes sense to hire a professional web designer. If you’re short on both, then read on to help you make a decision.
DIY With WordPress
WordPress requires more knowledge to use than other DIY website builder options, so we recommend it only if you have some level of familiarity with it or if you have the time to really dig in and learn something new. WordPress is free to use, but as discussed, there are additional costs if you choose a theme that’s not free or if you’d like to add functionalities via plugins.
WordPress has several free theme options available, but these are used so commonly that they begin to have a very cookie-cutter appearance unless you’re proficient enough to make changes to them. Premium themes will help you stand out more, but these cost more. If you’re still learning, we recommend choosing a free theme to start, then upgrading to a premium or custom theme later on.
As far as plugins are concerned, here, too, there are both free and premium options. These days, there seems to be a plugin for everything, but there are still times when a business might need a custom plugin built for them, which you’ll need to pay to have a developer code. For small businesses, it’s common to use plugins for SEO and, if you sell products through your website, e-commerce.
DIY With a Website Builder
Website builders like Squarespace and Wix are quite easy to use, so they’re a great option for anyone who doesn’t have experience with WordPress and doesn’t have the patience or time to learn. (There’s no shame in that! You’re a busy person.) Squarespace in particular can build stunning websites, but they do have a very distinctive look to them—and this look might not be a fit for every business.
Although easier to use, website builders have limited options and are less customizable than WordPress. If you want to stray from one of the pre-made templates in the builder, you’ll have to tinker with the code yourself and it might not look pretty.
Learn more: WordPress vs. Squarespace: Which is Better for Your Business?
Hiring a Professional Web Developer
If you decide not to DIY it, then you’ll be hiring a professional. (At least that’s what we recommend. Using your neighbor’s 15-year-old nephew to design your website is usually a recipe for disaster.) Typically, this involves paying an upfront fee for your design, and then paying a smaller amount on an ongoing basis for maintenance.
The cost of professional web design services can range from $2,000 to $20,000+, not including ongoing maintenance.
Website Maintenance Costs for Your Small Business
Most of the costs involved in building a small business website are upfront, but there are some ongoing costs you’ll need to consider. These include:
- SSL Certificate
- Website Hosting
- CMS, including subscriptions to the website builder or to WordPress plugins
- Ecommerce functionality
- Website maintenance, including performance and security updates, as well as miscellaneous fixes and troubleshooting
Things to Look Out for When Building a Website for a Small Business
Unfortunately, when you’re coming to the table without a lot of background knowledge on web design, it can leave you vulnerable to price gouging. Here’s what you need to know before you sign on the dotted line:
- Don’t pay for things you don’t need. The services and features you spend money on should be things your business needs today, not tomorrow. You can always add more later when your site begins to get consistent traffic. Don’t let yourself get talked into things you could need.
- Don’t pay extra for features that should be free. For example, most WordPress themes these days are responsive out-of-the-box. Your website designer shouldn’t be charging you an add-on fee if you want your website to be responsive.
- Know who’s doing the work. Will you be able to communicate directly with your design team? Or are you hiring someone who’s going to outsource the work to the lowest bidder overseas? Communication can be a nightmarish game of telephone when it has to pass through two or three people to get to your actual developer.
- Understand your audience before building your website. Know how to reach them and how to convert; without this knowledge, your website might not have what it needs to capture leads for your business. This doesn’t even need to be an online store; it could be something as simple as a contact form or newsletter subscription.
If you’d like to learn more about our website design services at Main Street ROI, contact us today.
Need Help With WordPress Design?
At Main Street ROI, we offer WordPress website services. Whether you’re setting up a new website or you’re on a different platform and you’d like to move on up to WordPress, our skilled developers can get the job done seamlessly, with minimal downtime for your business.
Interested in a new WordPress website, migration, or redesign? Click here to request a WordPress website quote.