What should a website cost?

by | Sep 24, 2018

We all know that having a modern, great looking mobile responsive website is critical to any business today.

Your website is not only a soapbox to shout about what you can offer the world, but it’s a vital way to generate new business leads.

The website cost of designing your site should be thought of as an investment in your business

It’s obvious if you think about it, with a website you’re going to have a higher turnover than without.

Industry stats are around 45% more.

It really doesn’t matter whether you sell ice-cream, you’re a dentist or make engineering parts, the fact is people search online to find what they are need.

Without a website = 0 traffic = less turnover.

It is estimated that Google receives 3.5 billion searches dailyThis proves having a good website can really help your business.

People are already searching online for the kind of products and services that you supply.

image displaying google searches per year

It’s stated by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy that in the UK there was approximately 5.7 million business at the beginning of 2017.

Incredibly out of these businesses, half still don’t have a website.

The point we’re trying to get across is that a website is a must today.

This guide will talk you through the various factors that affect how much a website will cost to build and maintain.

It covers the following key points:

Who builds your website

  1. Designing your website with a free online web builder
  2. Working with a freelance web developer
  3. Choosing to get a site designed by a professional web company
  4. Opting to get your site designed offshore

Types of websites there are

  1. Brochure websites
  2. Ecommerce websites
  3. Bespoke websites 

Essential mandatory ongoing website costs

  1. Domain name costs
  2. Shared hosting cost
  3. Virtual private server pricing
  4. Cloud hosting costs
  5. Dedicated hosting prices

Other website costs once your site goes online

  1. Website SEO improvement costs
  2. Website maintenance
  3. Promoting and advertising your website
  4. SSL certificates

But how do these affect the cost of a website?

Depending on who builds your site and the type of website you need, these are the main two main costs associated with getting a website up and running.

If you’re looking at getting a website designed, you need to give it the care and attention that it deserves.

How much you spend on a website, should be offset against what a good website can potentially do for your business. This is not to say you should pay ‘through the nose’. But that you should realise a great website, a bad website or no website at all will have huge implications on your business profits.

But how much should you spend building a new website?

That’s a great starting question.

Firstly, you must consider the routes you can take to build a website, there are four main avenues. All have different costs and implications.

  1. Build a website yourself
  2. Employ a freelancer to build your website
  3. Work with a UK web design agency
  4. Create a website with an offshore web designer

Option 1) Build it yourself

Again, this comes with another question, which platform?

Now with this option, you’ll need to use a website builder, unless you know how to code or have web development skills.

Some website creation platforms are free, some you pay to build the site and have a monthly fee such as Squarespace or wix which is free but has premium monthly plans to upgrade to.

image of Squarespace logo

Most of these website builders rely on you using their web templates and by dragging and dropping photos and text on to the webpage.

These are straightforward to use and offer you, the budding web developer an easy way to build a website.

They even take care of all the elements such as getting the site online and hosting it. They offer a cheap way to build a website.

Now, if you’re strapped for cash or you’re a start-up looking for a new website then this is a cost-effective way to get you going. This could be a great option for you.

If you do have the budget to spend on a new website, then I’d probably look for a more professional option.

Don’t get us wrong, free and monthly subscription website builders are excellent and will ‘do the job’ nicely.

It’s the lack of knowledge and experience behind the build that’s the real problem.

You wouldn’t pick up a scalpel and call yourself a surgeon, would you?

Much thought and skill go into creating websites that rank (link our blog on ranking) and how to convert visitors into customers.

We’re not saying that building a website by this method is bad, it’s just that there are two major elements that all successful websites need.

1. Getting your website high up in search engine results when someone searches for the kind of things that you supply.

It’s stated that websites that rank in the first three spots get the majority of traffic.

image displaying CTR by position

To get into the top three positions in search engines (SERP) is reliant on many factors.

Such as building quality backlinks to your website, creating great outbound links, domain authority, social media indicators, mobile responsiveness, SEO, website speed and bounce rate etc.

2. Once you have visitors on your website you need to use certain techniques to get them to want to use your products and services e.g. convert them

Neil Patel, who is an internet and marketing guru shows what the best converting techniques, websites use.

As you’ll now understand, although using a cheap or free website builder is an option for you, a lot more is needed than just a few pretty pictures and a bit of text on a web page.

Although the website cost is cheap or free to build, what is created may not do you any favours, especially if your competitor websites are much better put together.

Option 2) Freelance web designer

Now, this is where things start to get more serious. Yes, the initial website cost will be more, to begin with.

Once a freelance web developer finishes building your website there should only be very minimal ongoing costs.

So, if you think about it, if you’re paying £15-£20 per month for a subscription-built website, it won’t take long for the freelancer to become just as cheap and shine through.

You’re just paying more upfront, to begin with.

If you choose your website designer carefully then they should bring a host of benefits along with them.

If they’re any good they will be able to help you with the planning of the website, strategy, keyword research, online marketing and offer a wealth of web advice and experience.

Finding freelance web designers that can produce you a great website at a relatively low cost is easy.

There are plenty of websites out there such as Upwork, peopleperhour or Fiverr that will help you find some quality freelance developers.

There are a couple of potential issues with using a freelance designer vs a professional web design company.

As they are ‘one-man bands’ they will probably have a few clients on the go at any one time.

The process of designing your website could be slow. But it’s the cheapest way to professionally build your website.

Secondly, you’ve heard the saying “jack of all trades, master of none”. This can apply sometimes to poorer freelance web developers.

graphic of fiverr freelance website

Not everyone can do everything right

Should you need a skill that they can’t do or have little experience in, then you’re pretty much stuck without bringing someone else in.

Even if you ask them to do something out of their comfort zone, do you have the confidence that it’s done right?

If you do use a freelance web designer, then the websites mentioned above allow you to choose a suitable person by checking out their reviews.

We would always suggest you do this.

Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of working with many excellent freelance web designers that don’t charge the earth to build a website.

We’ve also worked with many clients that have had sites built by freelance designers who have simply ‘shut up shop’ and disappeared, leaving our clients in the lurch.

But by using a freelance web designer, it will reduce what you could spend and it could be a good option for you.

example of a web design agency

Option 3) Web design company

Now I’m not pulling any punches here. Out of all the four options, this will be the most expensive choice.

But with good reason.

Most website design companies have earned their stripes, they build successful websites day in and day out.

They bring with them a raft of experience and skills that will be used on your website project.

They have more people working for them with various talents and specialities.

Should your web project need something different than what was originally planned then a good web design company should easily rise to the challenge.

Working with a website design company is a great way to really future-proof your site.

You know they will be ready on hand when needed.

Should you need SEO, advice on content marketing or a plethora of other things in the future they should be on tap to help.

As we said earlier, the website cost of using a web design company will be more but it should be money well spent.

Like in all business sectors, there are good website design companies and then there are bad ones.

Don’t just think that because they are a business and the website cost will be more than a freelancer that you’re getting ‘bang for your buck’.

Do your homework, check their portfolios and testimonials.

Just like finding freelance web designers, there is a website that you should pay attention to.

RAR (Recommended Agency Register) is a site that lists thousands of web design companies that are all independently reviewed.

Another tip to knowing whether you have a good web design company is to look at their Google My Business ratings.

If you have the cash and are prepared to invest a little more in your business, then a professional web design company could be the way to go.

The website design cost will be more, but like everything, you pay for what you get.

Option 4) Offshore web designers

Let’s start with the website cost, the price normally sits somewhere between a freelancer and a web design company.

They sometimes have huge teams of developers.

Many work on a couple of pricing options.

Either hourly rate or you pay for certain elements/blocks on a website such as, £200 to add a blog or £150 for an image gallery for instance.

Now, we have had many clients that have come to us that have used these offshore teams before.

They can be a bit like marmite, it seems to be, you either love them and have had a great experience or the worst time ever.

There is no doubt that they can build excellent cost-effective websites, however there are some things to bear in mind.

The time difference can be a major issue, depending on where they are of course.

Even to send a simple request such as make an amendment; the email back and forth can take days. E.g. you email them at 2 pm, it’s 8 pm where they are and closed.

Sometimes there may be a language barrier and a lot gets lost in translation.

The other big thing is many don’t know the UK market and have an appreciation of how we do things here.

It may not sound like a major issue but sometimes it can be the difference between a site looking and feeling right or a sense of “there’s something not quite right”.

Offshore web developers could be a great option to reduce what you spend on designing your site, as always do your homework.

That’s the four main choices of getting a website created, let’s talk about actual costs.

From this point onwards, we’ll be talking from the design company perspective. We can’t tell you exactly what a freelancer in Durham or London charges.

We can’t even tell you what offshore companies in Sri Lanka or India charge as they vary so much.

But, we can give you an indication of what you’re likely to be charged by a web design company in the UK.

Again, web design costs will vary, but it should give you a clearer idea.

And that’s probably why you found this article, looking for what a web company will charge you to build a site.

So, let’s crack on.

What type of websites are there and how much do they cost to build?

Most people who don’t work in the world of web design simply don’t have a clue on what a website should or what a website does cost.

Should a website cost £100, £1,000 or even £10,000?

We get it, you’re probably confused.

There are many technical terms flying about related to building a site, that you don’t fully understand.

We’ve done the hard work and have broken it down into simple bite-size pieces, so you’ll get an idea on what a website may cost you.

Firstly, let’s look at what types of websites there are.

There are several types of websites including

  • Brochure websites
  • Online shops
  • Simple one-page websites
  • Sites with blogs
  • Booking system websites

The list goes on.

Although they normally all fall into three main categories, brochure websites, e-commerce sites and then bespoke custom built websites.

Brochure website cost

Brochure websites are simple websites that have great functions such as blogs, contact forms, social media integration, content management systems, landing pages and galleries.

Although ‘simple’ they should be fully mobile responsive and look amazing.

In fact, most of the websites in the world are classed as brochure websites.

They can vary in size from one page to a limitless amount of web pages.

Brochure sites come in all shapes and sizes, they are there to showcase your business in the best possible way.

Think of them as, dare we say, an online brochure used to get you found online and help a visitor understand more about your business.

Brochure sites are what most businesses need.

Why should you use a web design agency to build your brochure website?

Well, to start with a web design agency will have experience of building websites daily.

They will know the pitfalls and all the technical elements to make your site successful to get it to rank well and convert visitors into customers.

Web design agencies also have the skills to create a site plan and full design brief of what your website should contain and what you’ll get for the money.

The benefit of this is that they will be able to give you a firm quote based on it. Most work to fixed prices, there should be no nasty surprises.

Brochure website cost: The build

Depending on the number of pages and the functionality that the site needs to include.

Typical brochure websites cost in the region of £700-£2000.

Just to reiterate, these costs are very much dependent on the size of your website, the functions and how in-depth everything needs to be.

When requesting a quote (link to quote) try and be as precise as possible with what you would like to achieve.

If you’re working with a time served web design company, they should provide you with a detailed quote so there will be no shocks halfway through the build.

After your site is launched, what next?

Even if you had the most brilliant website built in the world, it will still need ongoing time, effort and possibly more money to make it successful.

Great performing websites all have a few things in common.

They are constantly updated with new content, their galleries and blogs are added to, rankings are checked, and competitors are always kept an eye on.

SEO and domain authority are key to having a great ranking website.

ecommerce website design example

Ecommerce website cost

Now e-commerce website design pricing is like asking “how long is a piece of string”. We’ll try and explain and give you a figure.

Online shops are much more complex than brochure websites.

The cost to build an e-commerce website will be impacted by many more factors such as:

  • What platform is chosen to build the website?
  • The number of products the site will have
  • How many variants a product will have? E.g. selling jeans, you could have colour, length, waist, the wash, a pair of shoes will have completely different variants.
  • How does the order management system work?
  • Does delivery/courier tracking need to be incorporated?
  • Does the e-commerce site need to include an external stock or accounting system?
  • Automated email set up e.g. ‘thanks for ordering’, ‘your order has been dispatched’ etc.
  • Live Chat
  • Customer account dashboard
  • Client auto text messaging status alerts
  • How will social media play a part?
  • Can clients leave product reviews?
  • How will returns be managed?
  • Will it have an active blog?
  • User experience – UX
  • Client data retention
  • Payment gateways
  • Security
  • How will promotions work?
  • How will you re-market to previous purchasers?
  • Will you include a client reward or referral program?
  • Customer purchase process

The list really does go on here.

If you’re thinking of getting an e-commerce website developed, then it really is time to speak to the experts.

Again, there are ‘do it yourself’ e-commerce website builders which can keep the design cost to a bare minimum.

Online shops need meticulous planning to get right first time. There are a lot of factors that need to be thought about and then thought about some more.

E-commerce website cost: The build

Taking all the above into account there are vast differences from building one online shop to another.

You’re here to get some idea of pricing, so here goes.

The website cost of this will be in the region of £1,600 – £4,500 more if the site is super complex.

Bespoke website cost

When we say bespoke, all sites are bespoke and built to your exact requirements. But these little beauties need much more development and design time.

These types of websites are normally for larger organisations and require a lot more complex functions than a standard brochure website.

They can include elements such as client/customer logins, visitor personalised dashboards, quote retrievals, dedicated booking systems, integration of third party websites or software.
I’m sorry to say again, but the list goes on.

An example would be a school that wants to have a parent login area, so they can see what is happening at the school.

With a separate login area for teachers to have restricted access to other content.

Another example would be a recruitment agency that wants a job board, a client CV database, text alerts to be sent to registered people looking for work automatically as soon as it’s posted online etc.

Out of all the ‘types’ of websites, this is the one that you need to get the professionals in.

We would suggest that you fully explain to your web design agency what you need from the site.
They should then come back to you with a firm plan and a quote. We would also suggest that you try and get a fixed price here.

Bespoke sites can run into more problems than brochure sites.

Sometimes a ‘simple’ fix isn’t possible, and it could take days to sort issues out.
Try and get a flat price for the project and not an hourly rate. If on an hourly rate you could end up paying way more than your original estimate.

Bespoke website costs: The build

You’ll be looking in the region of £2,800-£9,000

We understand that you’re probably scratching your head, thinking “do I need a brochure website, or does it fall into a bespoke website?”.
Good question!

The best option would be to talk to a web designer and they’ll advise you, however the majority of most business will probably only need a brochure website.

Now you know roughly what a website costs to build, how do you pay for it?

Many web design agencies charge in various ways. Sometimes if the website is fairly low cost then full payment upfront is usually the norm.

This is usually so your web design company can book time in their developers schedules to work on the project.

They’ll block book slots to dedicate time to your site.

If the website is more complex and has a higher price tag then it’s not uncommon to pay a deposit and then at set dates and times to pay the remainder.

For the top priced websites, it’s usually a sliding scale.

A deposit will be required and then at key milestones or dates payments will need to be met.

Typically, this can be done in three or four chunks or more.

Remember that you’re paying not only for skills and experience but you’re paying for the work to get done.

Like a lot other service industries, you’ll be possibly expected to pay something at least before work commences.

What are other associated website costs?

Some business that we work with think that you pay for a website to be designed and that’s it.
This isn’t true.

There are ongoing costs, some of which are very minimal that you must have and some that are optional depending on your needs and budget.

Domain Name Cost – Must Have

All websites must have a domain name. For those who don’t know, a domain name is simply your website address. It’s the part after the www.

Ours, for instance, is ‘midascreative.co.uk’

When you’re looking for a domain name, try and get one that is your business name e.g. ‘midascreative’.

If not available, try and get an industry-related one ‘websitedesignmansfield’.

There are many types of domain names such as .co.uk, .com, .eu, .io etc. In fact, over the last few years more and more have come into play.

Try and get a .co.uk or a .com if you’re UK based.

Website users have a little more trust in them as they are what people have always known.

Another tip, when looking for a suitable domain name, try and make sure the social media same account names are available to streamline your brand identity.

Our Twitter is @midascreative our Facebook is /midascreative.

Last thing to bear in mind, make sure you own the domain name and not your developer. We’ve seen it countless times where web design companies have brought domains on behalf of their clients and closed.

It can be a nightmare to get this back, although it is possible.

How to find domain names

There are literally hundreds of websites that you can purchase a domain name from.

Two that we recommend to clients is Namecheap and 123-reg.

When on their sites just do some searches for relevant names and see what is available.

How much do domain names cost?

Most domain names are relatively cheap, in the region of £6-£15 per year.

If you can afford it we would recommend that you register at least the .co.uk and .com.

Some premium domain names have crazy prices. The highest was insurance.com with a cost of £26.9 million!

You don’t want a competitor purchasing your .com and you have the .co.uk, so buy both.
Once you’re ready to buy the domain name you’ll be asked for how long you want to purchase it for.
Again, if you can afford it. Buy it for as long as possible.

The reason for this is that Google favours companies that have domain names with a long expiry date as it believes you intend to have a website for a long time.

It only plays a minute part, however.

At the end of the expiry date, you’ll need to renew it and pay again.

Don’t worry you’ll get a reminder and will have ‘first dibs’ on securing it again.

Hosting Costs – Must Have

Website hosting in the simplest of terms is where your website lives on the internet.

This is done on things called servers. They are basically big computers that store digital information.
All websites must be hosted somewhere, without it you can’t get your website online. It also includes your email hosting.

When looking to buy website hosting. You’ll see a lot of technical jargon about bandwidth, databases and security etc.

Don’t worry, as with the design of your website, the company you work with will help you get you up and running.

They should take care of the hosting for you. Many web design companies even host sites for clients, just as we do.

Although we said ‘don’t worry’ about the technical side there are a few things you’ll need to know.

There are a few different types of hosting available that are based around varying needs. These are the most common.

  • Shared hosting
  • Virtual private server or hosting
  • Cloud hosting
  • Dedicated hosting

Shared Hosting costs

This is the ‘bread and butter’ of hosting, it’s the cheapest available, it’s commonly what most standard small business websites will need.

There can be certain restrictions like bandwidth – the level of traffic and the amount of data between your site, users and the internet.

Again, don’t worry.

Your website will live on a server with many other websites. This isn’t a problem, there is no security threat.

Think of it this way, it’s like three people sharing a taxis and splitting the cost between them.  They all get to the same destination, as they are sharing the ride it’s just cheaper.

Shared hosting typically costs no more than £5-10 per month this cost however never ends if you have a live website.

Virtual Private Server hosting (VPS) costs

VPS hosting is possibly not what many of you will need.

You have a physical server (big computer) that allocates your own space, the server mimics how a dedicated server works.

These VPS’s are really only needed for high traffic websites or sites that need their hosting configured in a specific way.

Most won’t need this.

Cost wise they vary from around £15-£50 per month. Again, this is an ongoing monthly cost.

Cloud hosting costs

This is a step up from a shared hosting plan.

Instead of getting set bandwidth limitations with shared hosting, ‘cloud hosting’ adapts to fluctuations in traffic that your website may get.

A good example would be if you sold Christmas tree ornaments. From January to October sales are steady.

If on a shared hosting server, you comfortably keep within your bandwidth most of the year.
Come November your traffic goes through the roof, you go over your allowances and poof the site could go down.

With cloud hosting, this doesn’t happen as it adapts to the change in website traffic.

You pay cloud hosting costs based on the amount of usage or strain you place on the server

Prices vary a lot but look to pay around £20-£400 per month.

This option is good for businesses that are gaining more and more traffic.

Dedicated hosting costs

This is your own server, only your website is hosted on it. Only large websites or ones that have masses and masses of traffic will need a dedicated server.

Or businesses that need the best security.

It’s probably not the right answer for most small businesses, a bit overkill.

Expect to pay around £60-250 per month

The above are the only two mandatory website costs

So, you’ve had your website designed and built, you have brought your domain name and your developer as uploaded your website to your hosting provider.

You’re now online and free to go about your daily business.

STOP right there!

What are the optional website costs once a site has gone live?

If you successfully want your website to do well. It should rank highly, ideally in the top three results.

It should get lots of visitors, those visitors should be enticed into becoming a potential client and contact you. This is called a conversion.

If your business is in a competitive industry, then you’ll either have to spend money or invest time and resources in methods to achieve the above.

Ongoing website SEO improvement costs

We are all probably aware of what SEO (search engine optimisation) is, in a nutshell, it’s the process of trying to get your website in front of potential clients by continually improving your website.

It’s a complex process of many methods that helps someone looking for your type of business, run a search and your website appears as high in the rankings as possible.

Let’s say you own a surfboard shop, someone Googles ‘surfboards for sale’ and your website only appears on page 4, with lots of competitor companies before you.

You’re probably not going to sell many surfboards. SEO is one way to help you get more traffic and more sales.

SEO comes in many forms such as page content, how fast your website loads, how relevant it is to the original search. In fact, there are hundreds of ‘metrics’ that Google uses to decided where to rank your website against competitor sites.

As you can probably tell there isn’t an out of the box scenario here on how much it is going to cost. You’ll need to talk to your website company or hire an SEO specialist and work out a plan.

It can be ongoing, an extra charge, but as long as you’re getting a good ROI then it’s worth it.

Ongoing website maintenance charges

What happens when your website breaks? Do you need to change elements in your website? Do you need any new functionality? Does your plugins need updating?

These are just a few of the questions that website maintenance will help you overcome.

It’s the day to day running and keeping your site in the best possible state.

Many website design companies will offer you a monthly package to take care of the smooth running of your website post-launch.We suggest that it can take anywhere between an hour a week to a couple of days per month, depending on the size and complexity of your website.

Look to pay anywhere from £60-£300 per month.

The cost of promoting your website via online platforms

This one is impossible to put a price on.

There are multiple social media platforms that you can pay for promoted or sponsored posts.
You pay for the number of people your advert gets in front of. The more you pay the more people will see your advert.

There are also ways such as advertising on major search engines like Google AdWords or Bing Ads.
This works in a slightly different way, but essentially you only pay when someone sees your advert, and then someone clicks through, this is called the click-through rate.

For instance, Google AdWords is an auction where you can set a maximum cost you’re prepared to pay for someone to click. The costs of Google AdWords varies a lot.

Both advertising and promoted posts also let you set a maximum you’re prepared to spend in total either per day or per campaign.

It lets you keep control of your spending online.

images showing how ssl makes your website secure

Security of your website costs

Every website should really protect its visitors using encryption via an SSL certificate. This is done on the hosting platform. In simplest terms, an SSL protects your web visitors by encrypting the data sent to and from your website.

The easiest way to explain it, for instance, would be sending a letter via the mail.

Without an SSL certificate it’s like sending a letter without an envelope. If hackers wanted to get and read that letter they could.

With an SSL your letter is written in a language that only you and the recipient know (encrypted). It is also sent in a steel and welded shut envelope.

With an SSL certificate, your web browser will display a padlock the top that helps visitors trust your site.

Whether you decide to have an SSL certificate is optional, however, Google and other search engines place a warning in font of website visitors that the site is unsecured if you don’t have one. Plus search engines are putting more focus on this as time goes by.

Entry level SSL certificates you can get for free. For more robust encryption, especially important on e-commerce and sites that send sensitive private data then look to spend £10-£20 per month


It’s essential for every business to have a quality website.

There are various ways to get a website designed starting from free with a website builder to paying to get a web design company to do it for you.

Website design is a service, depending on the skills of who’s going to build your site, the size and functions of your website, the costs can vary a lot.

Choose the right web design company that you have vetted and feel comfortable with.
Without a talking to a web designer and getting a specific quote, it’s hard to give a firm price as there are so many variables.

Once your website goes live there are going to be ongoing costs.

Some are mandatory, and some such as online marketing and SEO are optional but can be done as your business grows or on an ad hock basis.

End thought

A website can cost as little as you can afford to pay to as much as you’re prepared to spend to get results.

If you truly want to get not just a website but a site that works hard for your business then speak to a few companies and find out where the land lies.


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