One of the number one questions we get in terms of website design and development is: how much does a small business website cost? The answer is that it depends on a lot of factors, but we’ll break many of them down in this blog post so you have a really good idea of what to expect.
Before we get into all the nitty-gritty, let’s look at some basics. If you hire someone who specializes in business websites, 99% of small businesses will end up paying somewhere between $2,000 and $50,000 for their website.
An Introduction to Small Business Website Pricing
For $2,000, you can expect to have a decently designed website that explains the very basics of the who, what, when, where and why of your business. You probably won’t get a very creative design, any unique functionality, or the ability to blog or otherwise add new content. Any photos on the site will likely be free or cheap stock photos. You probably will get very few or even no revisions or time to suggest ideas or changes. But you will have a professional looking website.
At Kapok Marketing, we try to avoid designing these types of websites because they limit our ability to provide the ideal website for the client. What happens is that we and the small business owner come up with all kinds of great ideas for their website, but ultimately we can’t include them all because they are out of scope for a $2,000 website. We also are mindful of each of our client’s marketing budget, and our websites start at around $6,000. We will make that website beautiful, but we may have to make some hard decisions about what is and is not included.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can get basically anything a small business might ever need for $50,000. Your website will have tens or hundreds of pages, a blog component, an ecommerce section and most other custom features you could envision for your website. You’ll also get an amazing design, ample revisions, and other totally custom content and photography. Your website will be top-of-the-line and even in the same league as many larger businesses.
At Kapok Marketing, we don’t think most small business owners need a website this intricate or expensive. Most of our medium to large website projects actually cost between $10,000 and $25,000, and the average project usually falls in the range of $6,000 to $12,000. In these price ranges, most small business owners can get everything they want and be super happy with the totally customized website they receive from us.
Now that doesn’t mean you can get any website for that price. Remember this is the price for 99% of small businesses. You will need to pay more if you’re that 1 in 100 small business that requires something super complicated. This also just applies to websites for small businesses. If you want someone to design and develop the next Facebook or Amazon, that’s an entirely different proposition.
What is the Cheapest Small Business Website?
Many business owners want to know how cheaply they can get a website designed. The problem is that websites are not a commodity, like sugar or lumber. Your website is a reflection of your business in the digital world. So unless you want to look cheap, you should probably not be looking for the absolute cheapest option available.
That being said, you may be thinking, “that’s all great, but just tell me how to get it done as cheap as possible.” The good news is you that can get a website cheaper than $6,000. Even better yet, the totally honest answer is actually that you can actually have a website for free! Even better yet, we’ll even show you exactly how to do it.
Free Small Business Website
Automattic, who owns and operates WordPress.com, has an offering called “WordPress.com Free for life” that is 100% free and includes a subdomain, free themes, basic design customization and more.
We actually have used this service in the past here at Kapok Marketing. We needed an example of a DIY website gone wrong for our previous blog post on digital marketing. We turned to this free offering to create kapokmarketing.wordpress.com. It was the perfect way to create a website as quickly as possible for the least amount of money. And it worked great. We paid $0, spent under 15 minutes on the project, and we got a free website forever.
Of course, if you visit that example website, you may start to realize some of the problems with a free website that was created in less than an hour. A website is only as good as its design and content, and it should accurately reflect your business. If you aren’t paying someone else to envision and create that amazing design and content, it’s not going to happen on its own.
If you aren’t happy with your free website at this point, you have two options. Luckily, if you still don’t want to spend money, one of these options is still free. That free option is creating that design and content yourself. But as a business owner, you also likely realize that there is an opportunity cost to you customizing your own website.
Since your time is worth money, you may actually be better served by working on other business tasks. That brings us to your second option, which is to pay someone else to customize your free website.
Cheap Small Business Website
There are plenty of services that provide free or super cheap websites. We mentioned the free option from Automattic. They also have plans with slightly more features that cost between $50 and $300 per year. Wix and Squarespace have similar pricing options for small businesses. All three are very popular as DIY alternatives to paying for a custom website.
All of these DIY website builders offer templates or themes. The demo for these themes often look amazing and some even look like a $10,000 custom website. However, once you go to customize the theme, you realize that if you want to make any significant changes, you need to know what you’re doing. Unless you have some experience, the more you change the more the design starts to fall apart and look less and less aesthetically pleasing.
Since you didn’t go the 100% free route, you probably have decided your time is better spent on other business tasks. So you can hire a freelance designer to make whatever tweaks you need to your template. Experts can cost between $20 and $80 per hour according to Wix. WordPress and Squarespace freelancers will cost a similar amount of money.
Most business owners looking for the minimum amount of changes will probably need 5 – 15 hours from a freelancer. That works out to anywhere from $100 to $1,200 plus whatever recurring costs you’ll pay to Automattic, Wix, or Squarespace. And that is about the cheapest you’re going to get a website that looks halfway decent.
One important note about customizing a theme or template is to not spend too much money. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than $2,000, because around that same price point you can start to get a basic, totally customized website theme designed just for your business.
Now, you may be thinking something like this: “maybe I could get my niece (or significant other, or friend, or uncle) to tweak this template; he or she’s pretty good with this online stuff.” This is the number one way to end up with a bad website and/or a broken relationship. The other idea people have is to hire a total amateur on Craigslist and pay them $50 to do their website.
The biggest problem in both cases is that these people know very little about website design and digital marketing for a business. If you are paying someone nothing, or very little money, what incentive does that person really have to build you a good website? And when you request changes, they have no reason to listen to you or do them in a timely manner.
What is the Most Expensive Small Business Website?
Admittedly very few, if any, people are thinking about this question when considering how much to spend on a website for their business. However, we all know someone who says when comparing options while shopping, “this is the most expensive, so it must be the best option.” It is true that many expensive things are of high quality and can be worth the cost, and websites are no different.
However, very few small businesses need the most expensive option, because they are not large enough to reap the rewards of spending the extra money. Websites can get expensive fast. There are a lot of things you can add and make more complicated, but do you really need that level of complexity? Added complexity can also increase maintenance, hosting, and training costs.
Take for example the US government. They once paid between $10 and $18 million to redesign one of their websites. This website is likely much more complicated than any small business site. But also keep in mind that if you are willing to pay millions of dollars for a website, you will find someone willing to charge you that much money. The truth is almost no one needs this sort of website, certainly not a small business.
Another example of very expensive websites is Magento Enterprise implementations. This is a high-end ecommerce platform used by many large online retailers like Coca-Cola and Paul Smith. Many medium-sized companies also use this platform and routinely pay upwards of $250,000 for customized ecommerce stores. As a smaller business, you might be able to get a barebones custom Magento design for between $50,000 and $150,000.
Magento is an amazing platform that can do great things, but it and other expensive alternatives are usually overkill for a small business. If you don’t have projected gross sales of over $5 million, you probably don’t need an expensive setup like this. And if you’re under $1 million, you should absolutely never spend this kind of money on a website. A small business will almost always be more profitable with a cheaper solution like a custom website using Shopify or WordPress with WooCommerce.
The Goldilocks Small Business Website
This brings us to what we think is the ideal type of website for most small business owners. For $2,000 to $50,000 you can hire someone to build you a totally custom website on a stable platform like WordPress or Shopify.
As we mentioned earlier, this price range will work perfectly for 99% of small businesses. That’s still a large price range, so let’s explore what you can expect at different price points in the Goldilocks price range.
Small Business Brochure or Corporate Presence Website
This is the simplest of all website layouts and should cost between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on the expertise of the designer and the complexity of the design. You can think of it as an elegant brochure or direct mail piece converted into a website.
This type of website usually limited to simple but well-designed pages with titles like “About”, “Who We Are”, “What We Do”, “Location”, “Our Story”, “Our Team”, etc. You’ll usually be limited to somewhere between one and ten pages, and most of the pages will have a similar layout and structure.
The goal of this type of website is just to educate the public that you exist and get your core message out there. If someone searches for your business in Google, it will show up and people who visit the website will get the impression you are a real business.
Small Business Content Website
The next step up from just a presence website is adding a component for the business to provide regular updates on the site. This is usually achieved through a section like a blog, articles, news, or something else unique to the business in question. Having the ability to add dynamic content like this increases the complexity of the site and the price. It may also require you or your employees to need training in order to keep the content up to date.
The cost for a custom designed website like this usually ranges between $8,000 and $14,000. Like the previous website type, the price will vary a lot based on the designer and the design. Basically, the more unique and dynamic you want the layout and the content, the more expensive the website.
Small Business Ecommerce Website
The other big step up is adding an ecommerce component to your store. This allows you to sell products or services on your website and accept credit card payments. The price for this type of store can range from $8,000 to $50,000 and depends on many of the same factors as the other types of website. Security and the number of products for sale in your store will also affect the price of your ecommerce site.
You want to make sure whoever develops and hosts your site is aware of and complies with PCI DSS, which is a set of standards that are required by the major credit card companies like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. If you use a company like Shopify, they handle all of those requirements for you. If you have a custom website build using a platform like WordPress it is up to you the business and the website developer to ensure that you are PCI-DSS compliant.
How Much Does a Small Business Website Cost?
The cost of designing a small business website can vary greatly. That is in part because each business needs something different on their website. It’s also the result of a lack of transparency in many instances. We strive to demystify all digital marketing for small businesses, including website design and development.
We’ve designed many great small business websites that our clients absolutely loved for between $5,000 and $25,000. And many of the best and most rewarding projects for both us and our clients were those that cost $6,000 or $12,000. Most small business owners can get something they’ll love designed and developed in that price range by us or another professional. If you think we missed something, let us know in the comments.