You might as well ask, “How much does a house cost?”
The cost of building and maintaining a house will depend on a lot of factors. For example:
- Whether you need to buy the land separately or whether it is included in the price.
- Whether you want a large house or something small will suffice.
- Do you want an architecturally designed house or are you happy to buy off the plan?
- Which builder you go with and whether you choose a package or go bespoke.
- What fixtures and appliances you select or whether those are included in the price.
You get the idea. The same goes for websites.
I think the best way to tackle this is to give you an overview of the most common things that you need to pay for when getting a new website. Some costs, you only pay once and some will be ongoing. Then I’ll do a cost chart for an example website. This will hopefully give you an idea of what it costs to build and maintain a website.
Keep in mind that my costings are based on building a website using WordPress, since that is what I know best. I have added a note at the bottom for licenced website software platforms such as Squarespace, Wix and Shopify.
How much does a website cost for a wordpress website?
You need a content management system or website software to build your website and I build using WordPress. Since WordPress is an open source software, it’s free for anyone to use. So no costs here!
If you’ve read my article on web hosting, then you know your website has to live somewhere on the internet and that place is provided by a web hosting company. They will charge you an annual cost so you can ‘rent space’ for your website.
If you’ve read my post on SSL Certificates, then you know that every website needs an SSL Certificate to show that it’s secure. There are many different types and are usually provided by your web host company. The cost will be an ongoing annual fee.
Your website is an important asset for your business. You MUST have daily backups set up for your website so that should something go wrong, you can easily restore it from a backup. Every web host will provide backups as part of your hosting package, but usually they only offer monthly backups. You need daily backups. You can use a plugin for this or you can talk to your web host about upgrading to daily backups. The cost will be an ongoing annual fee.
You website should have some form of security monitoring set up to protect it from brute force attacks, spamming and other nasties. There are a tonne of options for this one, but I use a plugin to do the job and it’s free.
Most people know you need to register a domain. And if you’ve read my article on web hosting, then you know a domain is the address to identify the location of your website on the internet.
The cost to register a domain will vary depending on the domain type you choose, but are usually charged annually or every two years.
A theme is what provides the visual look of your website. Think of a theme as all the fittings, fixtures and interior design for a house (where WordPress is the house), though some are much more than this.
I should point out that you can build a perfectly respectable website on the WordPress software, without using a theme, but it takes longer and requires coding knowledge.
Standalone themes can be purchased by a range of sites like Theme Forest or Template Monster and there are literally thousands available to choose from. There are many great free themes, but you will need to pay for a premium theme. Sometimes this cost is a once-off fee and sometimes it’s an annual fee.
The better option in my opinion is to buy a licence for a theme builder like Divi or Elementor. You never have to buy another theme again because you can design your website any way you like with these builders. Some charge an annual fee, some offer a once-off lifetime fee.
Plugins are pieces of software, that do a specific task or set of tasks, that are packaged up and installed onto your website. These plugins will extend the functionality of your out of the box WordPress site significantly. And since WordPress is open source, there are literally thousands of plugins to choose from. There is almost nothing you can’t do with WordPress and the right plugin.
Most plugins have free versions and you can then pay extra for the premium features. In my costing info sheet, I’ve included examples of the plugins I use most often when I build a site.
Web Designer and Developer
A web designer will design the visual aspects of your site and a web developer will usually build the website. Sometimes these are the same person (like me) and sometimes, usually in agencies, these are two separate people.
The cost will depend on what you need for your website, but it is usually a once-off fee.
Other Services You Might Need
Who’s going to write the copy for your website? It’s time consuming and it’s tricky. A professional copywriter will write the words for you in the style of your brand voice.
Do you already have images that you can use on your website? If not, you will need to hire a photographer to take some branding shots for you. Good photography is half the battle with designing a great website.
If you’re an established business, you probably already have a brand. If you’re just starting out, you will need to get some branding done. A brand expert will tease out your brand for you and provide you with a Style Guide that will include, at minimum, a logo, colour palette, font choices and guidelines for how all your branded materials should be used.
If being found on page 1 of the search results pages is important to you, then you will need to hire an seo expert to do some keyword research for you and develop a strategy for improving your seo.
Example Cost for a WordPress Website for the first year
So now let’s look at an average website to help us answer that question – how much does a website cost? Let’s see what the ongoing costs are. Our example website is for a 5-page custom designed website, hosted with Siteground, using Divi and some plugins. I haven’t included costings for any of the “other services” you might want as it will depend on who you go to.
Once Off Cost
Ongoing Annual Cost
Design & Build the website
(for the first year, then $240 per year)
(cost included with Siteground)
(cost included with Siteground)
Divi Filter Grid Plugin
Divi Overlays Plugin
Performance Plugin (to increase load speed)
(cost included with Siteground)
Social Sharing Plugin
(no cost if you use Divi)
Website Monthly Maintenance
So you can see that the cost for the first year is $4,755 with ongoing costs of $895 from the second year onward.
A Note on Shopify, Wix and Squarespace
Both Shopify and Squarespace have built their own self contained environments that includes hosting and transaction or selling fees (for commerce websites) as part of the cost. They both have their own brand extensions or plugins that you can purchase to extend the functionality. Shopify and Squarespace are both great platforms depending on your needs. Wix has had its problems in the past, but I believe it has improved a lot over the last year. But be aware that these all have limitations and are not nearly as extensible or flexible as WordPress.
So you can see, that it’s not just the cost of some one actually designing and building you a website that you need to factor in. There are a bunch of other costs that you will definitely need and others that you might need. Note that I haven’t included commerce websites in this post as I wanted to keep it simple.
But if you’re smart about it, you can cut costs a lot if you know what to look for and how to find it. Like choosing a good web host that has a full range of features included. With Siteground, you no longer need a performance plugin, a security plugin, a backups plugin, or to purchase an SSL certificate because it’s all included. (yes, I’m a Siteground fan girl – check out my post on why I love Siteground).
And if you choose a good theme builder that includes a bunch of features that you would normally need extra plugins to do, then you can save heaps. With Divi theme builder, you also get the Bloom, Monarch and Extra plugins which handle pop up email opt ins, social sharing and a magazine/blog theme respectively.
I hope I’ve helped you answer with your research and you now have some idea how to answer that question – How much does a website cost?