There’s no denying that websites are becoming more and more essential. In fact, 77% of Canadian businesses have a company website and 25% engage in some form of ecommerce sales. However, you might be wondering, how much does it cost to build a website for a small business? The answer varies, because it often depends on what you want and how much you’re willing to spend. That’s often why developers exclude their pricing from their websites. There are, however, some unavoidable expenses that you can expect. Here’s how they add up.
Basic Costs of a Website
Regardless of who is building your website, there are a few items that are required to make your site function. This can give you a ballpark figure of what a basic site build is going to cost. We’re using the analogy of building your dream apartment, so you can better understand why each cost is required to build an amazing, high performing site.
Domain Name – Your Website’s Address
A domain name or URL is what people type in to locate your website. It is basically a digital address for your site and is therefore required. The cost can range anywhere from $10-$20 annually. Price breaks are usually given if you pay a few years in advance.
Content Management System – Your Website’s “Design Room”
When it comes to websites, a content management system (CMS) is much like a blank space or room where you build your site’s content, such as your pages, your blog posts, or your digital storefront. A CMS can range from free, like WordPress, to thousands of dollars, if you want to build your own customized platform. WIX and Squarespace are third-party CMS platforms that may seem like cheap DIY alternatives. But beware, some customizations may not be possible, and options are often limited unless you pay for premium plans, which can quickly add up.
Website Hosting – Your Website’s Landlord
A website doesn’t magically appear on the internet as soon as you build it. For that, you need a web hosting provider. Think of them as your building landlord, who rent space to you on their servers, so your website can be accessed on the internet. Web hosting is an ongoing cost and can vary between $10 to $125 a month, depending on what plan you choose, the size of your site, whether you select shared or dedicated hosting, and your site traffic. Hosting companies can offer savings if you pay a few years in advance.
SSL Certificate – Your Website’s Security Sign
You know how people feel safer entering a building that prominently displays a security monitoring sign? Website visitors like to know that their information will be secure if they enter your site. An SSL certificate is a guarantee that their sensitive data and personal information will be secure and protected. If you run ecommerce on your site, you must have one. Otherwise, Google will penalize you. Your hosting provider can give you one, and they often do so for free with a hosting plan. If not, costs can vary from $8 to $80 per year.
Website Design Costs
How much does it cost to build a website for a small business? As you can see, there are basic monthly operational expenses. Then, there’s the actual cost to design your website.
You could try to save money by designing your own site, but a professional web designer can probably do it faster, with better results. If you decide to hire someone, here are some costs you will have to factor in.
Custom Website Design and Development – Your Website’s Architect
If you’re serious about your business, a professionally designed website will increase your chances of being found and making a great first impression. Hiring a web designer is like hiring a master architect to build your business’ headquarters, except in this case, your HQ is on the web. You can expect more professional results, and greater functionality, but it can cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $50,000, depending on the design you choose, and how much customization you want. If you need to integrate things like ecommerce, it will also cost you more. You should also expect to pay for a website redesign every few years, to keep things fresh, secure and to keep up with technical requirements, which are ever-evolving.
Your Theme – A Site’s Design Template
You don’t have to start with a template or “theme”, but it can save time, if you want to get your site up quickly. Themes give designers a basic layout and site structure that they can build on or customize. Some are free, while some can vary between $10 and $100, depending on how complex they are. The downside to using a free theme is that many others will do the same, so you sacrifice some design originality. Also, free themes aren’t as likely to be optimized for search and they are typically unsupported, which can become problematic.
Content Writing – Your Website’s Realtor
Think of your website as being in a constant state of having to sell itself to visitors. Great content is like a great realtor. A good one will make sure you make the right first impression and close the sale. The wrong one could actually turn off visitors. In the case where you might not be an expert wordsmith, you might want to consider hiring a content writer to help you craft the right narrative for your website. Since the website content communicates your brand’s value to your customers and contributes to your website SEO, this isn’t the place to compromise on budget.
At Original Ginger, we like to include content writing in our small business packages because it is so essential. Expect to pay around $350 per page, for 500-1,000 words.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Your Website’s Doorman
You know that great building doorman who can suggest the best places to eat and all the best stores? SEO is like that. For instance, you type “best local restaurant” into Google, and it shows you a list of search results, ranking them in order of how well it matches your query. Whatever your industry, that first page of results is where you ideally want your website to rank, and your site’s SEO directly affects that ranking. Without good SEO, you won’t get traffic from people who are searching for products and services likes yours.
But SEO can be a complex topic when it comes to web design, and it’s often best to let professionals handle it. SEO costs vary per agency, depending on the approach. Just make sure you budget for it, as SEO will be integral part of your online marketing strategy.
Website Maintenance – A Site’s Property Manager
Once your website launches, you still need to invest time, effort, and money to maintain it. If you have a WordPress website, you will require ongoing technical maintenance to install updates and security patches to core files and plugins. This protects your site from being hacked.
This can take a lot of work and we strongly recommend that you allocate budget for an expert web master to take care of regular maintenance and backups for you; much like a building owner would hire a property manager to make sure that everything runs smoothly. This will, of course, result in maintenance fees and possibly annual licensing fees for premium plugins and services. But in the event of a hardware or software failure, or user error, a webmaster can quickly restore your website from a recent backup, if it crashes.
Most agencies provide maintenance packages costing between $25/month to $350/month.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website for A Small Business?
The final answer depends on what you want and what will work best for your business.
Hopefully, we’ve given you some idea of the basic costs and what you can expect if you’re looking to build a new website or to redesign your old one. Just remember, 75% of consumers judge a business’ credibility based on their website design, so choose your designer wisely.
Want a more detailed quote? We’d love to build your website and we can work with budgets big or small. Contact us today.