How much does it cost to build a website?

Ahh that good old question most freelance web developers get all the time. After a decade building custom websites for clients all over the globe I think I know a thing or two about answering this age old question. How much really does a website cost these days. This is my definitive guide to answering this simple but complex question.

You are asking me the wrong question!

It’s a bit like asking a builder to build you a 4 bedroom house and asking how much it’s going to cost from the get go. It may sound like a simple question to ask me, but in reality it’s quite a complex one. The question is very generic and lacks specifics. I usually retort back with questions like these:

  • What kind of website do you want? Simple brochure, a blog or a complex eCommerce website?
  • What features do you want to have in the website?
  • What is your budget and what are you willing to spend on the website?
  • What does success look like in a years time?
  • Who is your main competition?
  • What are their websites?
  • What design do you want your site based on?
  • Do you have the content for the pages?

See its not just a simple question with a simple answer. It’s really quite a complex one. There are many more questions I need to ask you before starting on a job to build a website.

  • The time it took to build?
  • Is it a custom build or a downloadable template?
  • what functions and technology does it use?
  • Does it use other technology like a cdn?
  • What is the main purpose and goal of the website?
  • Does it achieve the goal it sets out to do?

These and many other questions will determine the cost of a website which can range from zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars for something like the Ebay website.

Lets First get something straight!

When asking this question you may be looking to build one yourself or hire someone like me to build a website for you. Am I right? If you are looking to hire a freelancer then I need to get one thing straight. You first and foremost are buying a service, not a product.

I have worked with many people over the years and have come to realize that most people think that buying a website is like buying a product from a shop. Although a website is a mixture of HTML, php, JavaScript and CSS code it is also so much more than that. Hosting, maintenance, SEO, Social Media, CDN’s, the list goes on.

I hope that at the end of this post you will have a fair idea about the costs involved and how much it will cost you in the long run. We can break the costs involved into two Ongoing costs and the Website Design & Development cost.

Website Ongoing Costs

The ongoing costs of running and managing a website or blog can vary from a few to many thousands of dollars per month / year. It all depends on the decisions you take when starting out on this journey.

The first ongoing cost is the Address or Domain of the website. Second is Hosting, either using a Fully managed solution or choosing to host it Yourself. Other ongoing costs can include a CDN or Content Delivery Network.

Website Address or Domain.

Every website needs one and you can purchase domains for zero to many thousands of dollars. If you go for the free build your own service provided by Wix or some other then this is usually free and is owned by Wix themselves.

Most .com, and others can be purchased for an average of $10 per year from places like Go Daddy and Crazy domains. However there are premium domains like this one which I purchased for over two hundred and seventy dollars a few months back.

Fully Managed Hosting.

Lets first get these out of the way and get to the really good stuff. The fully managed sites like Wix, Shopify, Squarespace and Weebly are brilliant for those of you that want to build a site for yourself (check their features at

Although you don’t have to worry too much about security with these you are restricted somewhat to their designs and features and extending the website can cost you more in the long run as I explain in the Differences between a Pro and Custom Theme.

The costs for these fully managed sites can range from Free to Hundreds of dollars a month. Most of these though are usually about 10 to 40 dollars a month and these usually include a domain name for you to use.

Hosting it Yourself

Fully managed are good if you just want a basic web presence and you want to start a small hobby type of business but if you want to start a serious business or blog then a self hosted site is the way to go as you will get a lot more functionality and these generally are a lot more professional.

Hosting your own Website or Blog

It’s a bit of a minefield out there with regards to hosting. So much choice from companies vying for your business. I have a few general caveats when choosing website hosting.

  • I never go for hosting from a company known for domain name registration

Sites like GoDaddy and Crazy Domains are great to purchase your domain name as that’s their primary business model but they suck at hosting so never go for their hosting solution. Keep domains and hosting separate.

  • Speed, Customer Service and price

My general rule when choosing a client is to look for one not too huge with millions of accounts and one that’s not too small to cope with my demands. One that looks out for their client and one that is not all about buying other smaller companies to extend it’s own. One of the best sites to look for decent hosting is

I have found a great solution in 20i and been with them for about a year now. I host all my own as well as my clients websites with their reseller account. The price is spot on, they use the best technology and hardware so speed is not a problem and their customer service is second to none. All of my bases covered.

from a freelance website developer.

In Conclusion

I hope that by now you have a fair idea of how much a website can cost you. this was a rather indepth post covering what I think is everything a prospective web design client needs to know when choosing a freelancer to build a website.

Thank you for reading, Would love your thoughts.

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