The Costs of Building a Website in 2023
Building a website for your small business can require a significant investment, but the specific costs depend on the size and complexity of the site you want to create. In this blog post, I’ll break down the typical expenses involved in launching a new website in 2023.
The first cost to account for is registering your domain name, which allows you to claim a unique web address for your site. Your domain is your “.com” name where visitors will go to visit your site, think of it like your home address that you provide to friends and family to visit. Domain registration through a registrar like Google Domains or Godaddy typically costs between $10-$20 per year. The exact rate depends on the domain extension you choose. Popular options like .com and .net are more expensive than newer extensions like .site and .blog.
Registering for 1-2 years is great to start out. But once your site has been established, it’s recommended to register your domain for 5-10 years. This protects the domain from being taken in the future and gives your business long-term stability.
Estimated cost for a .com domain: $10-$20 per year
Next, you need web hosting to store your website files and serve the pages to visitors. Shared hosting plans with basic features start around $5-$10 per month. For a business site, upgraded plans in the $15-$30 per month range are better to provide faster speeds, more server resources, and better support.
At a minimum, even a simple brochure-style website will require a basic shared hosting account. Budget around $120-$240 per year for hosting if paying monthly. Opting for annual payments can get the price down to $50-$150 per year.
I typically prefer to work with hosting providers who work towards carbon neutrality, with programs planting trees and environment-friendly practices. Check out GreenGeeks as an example.
Estimated cost for web hosting: $50-$240 per year
Content Management System
Most modern websites are built using content management systems (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla. These platforms make it easier to build sites and manage content without coding. There are two options for getting a CMS:
- Open-source platforms like WordPress.org or self-hosted WordPress are free to download and use. But you need hosting that supports the required technologies. This is the recommended solution to look for.
- Managed CMS services like WordPress.com charge a subscription fee but include the hosting. Plans start around $5 per month for basic sites. Though this is an easier solution, it can become troublesome to migrate when your site realizes growth.
A self-hosted open-source CMS has more flexibility for growth. But a managed plan works well for simple websites.
Estimated cost for self-hosted open source CMS: $0
Estimated cost for managed CMS: $60 per year
Theme and Plugins
Most CMS platforms support installing themes and plugins to add features and customize the design. Quality commercial themes and plugins are available for $20-$60 each. Many free options also exist, but may be of lower quality or have limited features.
On the initial launch, budgeting $300 for a premium theme and a few key plugins is recommended. For a simple brochure-style site, you may be able to rely on quality free options. But for e-commerce stores and other robust sites, premium plugins are important.
Ongoing, budget $149 per year as a contingency for plugin/theme updates and new features.
Check out my blog on go-to plugins for a breakdown of functionalities that could be important to your site.
Estimated cost for initial theme and plugins: $300-400
Estimated cost for ongoing updates/upgrades: $149-250 per year
Custom Development and Design
If you don’t have the skill set to build the site and create content yourself, you may need to enlist a web developer, designer, writer, and/or digital agency. Here are the average cost ranges:
- Web development: $50-$150 per hour
- Custom design: $50-$100 per hour
- Copywriting: $40-$80 per hour
- Digital agency: $5,000-$30,000+ per project
Costs vary greatly based on project scope. A complete custom site could easily be $10,000-$20,000+. On the lower end, minor site updates would be just a few hundred dollars.
For a new small business site, budgeting $3,000-$8,000 for professional services to build and launch an MVP is recommended. Ongoing, you may spend $500-$2,000 per year on enhancements.
Estimated cost for initial custom development and design: $3,000-$8,000
Estimated cost for ongoing custom updates: $500-$2,000 per year
Internal Content Creation
If you will create content for the site yourself, account for your own time investment. A blog may require 5-10 hours per week for writing, basic editing, and promotion. E-commerce product descriptions and inventory maintenance can also be highly time-intensive.
Evaluate any internal time commitments needed to keep the site running. This isn’t a hard cost but is important for resource planning.
Estimated cost for internal content creation: Dependent on required time investment
Total Estimated Costs
Based on these estimates, a newly launched website could cost between $3,500-$9,000+ in the first year. Ongoing costs will be $700-$2,500 per year for maintenance, upgrades, and content creation.
These numbers assume a relatively robust small business website—more complex than a basic brochure-style site but less than a huge enterprise project. Costs ultimately depend on your specific requirements and scope.
The key is to budget adequately for your needs but look for ways to get value through affordable themes/plugins, free CMS options, and finding designers/developers with reasonable rates. This helps keep costs feasible as a new business while still launching a quality site. Having trouble finding affordable web design solutions? Fill out the contact form below to reach me for a free consultation and estimate.