How Much Does a Website Design Cost?

Having a well-designed website is essential for many modern companies. A website is as much the face of your company as any storefront and just as likely to make people judge you. A design that seems too out-of-date makes potential customers think you’re not invested in your success, which can rapidly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That said, how much does it cost to improve your UI/UX design and make a good website? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

The Real Cost of Creating a Website

These days, creating a new website is heavily automated. For a simple small business website, you may be able to modify an existing free template and create a site that way.

That’s right: Your website design could be free, although you will need to spend some time working on it.

Things get a little trickier if you need a site designed from scratch. For a typical business website, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 for setting it up, getting the basic design, and posting some initial content.

Much of this expense goes to your web developer, where you can expect to pay about $75 an hour. Some developers may charge less, and others will charge a lot more, but one thing is common: quality isn’t cheap.

The most important thing to know here is that you don’t need to hire a developer for an ordinary site. Any basic site design is available through customizable templates, which are faster and easier than hiring a developer.

Skilled developers are for sites where your needs go beyond typical requirements. There isn’t much in-between anymore because software advances have taken over the lower and middle ends of website development.

Complex custom sites for large businesses can be significantly higher. A large eCommerce website, like Amazon’s, can easily cost $75,000 upfront and more in ongoing improvements.

Which Way Is Better?

The right choice for making a website depends on your needs. Using a website builder can keep costs down, but elements of the site are streamlined and can be hard to change. Hiring a developer is more expensive but offers complete control over every aspect of the site.

Be Careful About Edits

One common mistake businesses make when ordering a custom website is trying to change too many elements of the site after its initial design phase. The problem here is that a change that sounds simple may be challenging to code, possibly to the point of requiring a complete rewrite of the site.

Developers hate it when businesses do this. It’s always better to finalize a design before making the site. You can also ask a developer for their recommendations. Most developers know more than you about what will make for a great website, so hiring someone you trust to make good decisions tends to give a better ROI, especially on enterprise-level UX.

The Two Costs

Most people focus on just one of the costs of making a website, but whether you’re making one for personal or business reasons, there are two to consider.

The first is the payment cost of getting someone who can code the website to your needs. That might be software these days, but it could also be an experienced web designer.

The second cost is time. Even the best automated systems usually require some customization and personalization once you get things set up. These changes could be anything from adding a few pictures and some contact information to thousands of words of site material. Someone has to add that, and it might be you.

To an extent, you can reduce your time cost by paying someone else to develop that part of the site for you, and you can reduce your direct financial costs by doing more of the work yourself. Only you can decide how to balance each of these elements.

What Are the Main Costs of a Website?

The actual costs of designing a website fall into several main categories. While these may seem separate at first, each choice influences the others. For example, your hosting capabilities determine how much you can do with the site, and there’s no point in designing a website beyond what you can host. Here are the costs.

Website Domain: The location on the internet where your website exists. This cost is usually low unless it’s a highly competitive domain name. Sites that end in .com are generally the best, but some other high-level domains have been growing in popularity lately.

Website Hosting: These are the costs for hosting the site. Most people rent a server from a hosting company or at least part of a server. These costs can run up to several hundred a month. Some people and businesses host the websites themselves, but this has fallen out of favor lately.

SSL Certificate: Some websites need an SSL certificate, which helps ensure secure hosting and communications. It can cost up to $200, but hosting companies often include this as part of their package.

Site Design: This has a wildly varying cost. Basic themes can range from free to $200, but custom site designs can be up to $10,000.

Ecommerce Systems: If you want to sell things on your website, you could pay upwards of $20,000 to set it up correctly. That’s mostly true for larger businesses, though, and smaller people may be able to get a system for less than $100. Basically, the more you want to sell, the higher this will go.

Content: Every website needs high-quality content. Expect to pay up to a few thousand dollars for your initial amount, then ongoing payments if you want to add fresh content to your site on a regular basis. New content can provide a strong ROI over time, so businesses often invest heavily here once cash flow allows.

Apps: There’s an app for (almost) everything these days, including websites. These can add new functionalities, improve performance, and otherwise improve things. If you’re paying more than $100, you’re overpaying.

Marketing: Finally, it’s hard to get a good response from your website if nobody knows about it. A basic ad campaign can cost less than $100 but still help create a solid launch.

Are Free Websites Any Good?

No, free websites are generally not any good.

Here’s the thing: Free websites usually come with many caveats, like ads you can’t control, minimal features, and a domain you can’t customize. They may have little or no e-commerce features and little help for editing or improving things.

You get what you pay for, and your visitors will notice if you don’t invest in a good website. A basic business website doesn’t need to cost tens of thousands of dollars, but if you try to avoid every cost, you may not like the result.

At a minimum, expect to pay for your hosting. This amount could be less than $10 for a simple site, so it’s easy to fit into almost any budget, but even the most basic paid plan will unlock far more than a free site allows.

What Should I Pay Attention to in UI/UX Design?

The most important thing in website design is creating a site that works as naturally as possible for the user.

For example, almost every shopping website has a cart in the upper right corner. It may also appear on other parts of the page, such as the lower right or at the end of a list, but people expect their cart to be in the upper right. Deviating from this for no reason will just confuse people.

Similarly, down and right mean forward, while left and up mean back. If you want new content, you either scroll down the page or click the right button to go to the next page. The left button is for going back to things you already visited.

This matches all English writing, where you start reading in the top left and go to the bottom right.

Visitors shouldn’t have to learn more unique elements for your website than necessary. If visitors get frustrated, they’ll just leave. You have a maximum of just 15 seconds to engage with the visitor, and that time frame shortens quickly if your site takes too long to load or is too confusing for what they want.

The easiest way to keep someone’s attention is to ensure they see something they value. That could be information, a product link, or something else, but the less time they need to spend finding that hook, the better.

Unnecessary complexity is bad in UI/UX design, but it’s okay to have any necessary complexity. You’re on the right track as long as you try to minimize the number of clicks people need. Also, less-complicated sites are more affordable, so good designs will save you money.

Final Thoughts

In many ways, building a website is easier than ever before. If you want to do it yourself, builders help keep costs low and make it simple to create any basic site. If you can invest more money, developers now have the experience to create some genuinely complex sites.


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