How Much Does a Custom Website Cost? What to Budget and Other Factors to Consider

How Much Does a Website Cost?


“How much will this cost?” is one of the most common questions that those considering a custom website have, and it is one of the most difficult questions for website providers to answer without a formal consultation. Figuring the cost of a website is similar to the process of estimating cost for a newly constructed home. The home-builder may have pre-made floor plans with a pre-determined price tag for those configurations, but if you want a custom home built specifically for your needs and lifestyle, there are many factors to take into account before the builder can provide an accurate estimate. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Do you want the coffered or vaulted ceilings? Hardwood or laminate?

In addition to the features your custom home will have, the differences among the bidding contractors themselves will result in varying estimates. Builder A may buy materials at a lower cost from suppliers than Builder B. Builder B may have an electrician in-house to do the wiring, while Builder A sub-contracts electrical work. Builders A and B may only offer builder-grade cabinetry, while Builder C offers a premium line.

So although I can’t put a definitive price tag on a website without first consulting with my potential client, I can help demystify this process and give you a better idea of what to expect when seeking a website proposal.

The Top 3 Things That Effect Website Cost

1. Features

The features that will be implemented on your website largely determine the overall project cost. Good website providers will sit down with their potential clients and thoroughly assess their needs, since you may not be familiar with what features are available or which features may provide a better user experience. For example, it may not have crossed your mind that a calendar of events would be very useful to users on your website.

2. The Number of Pages

For many website providers, the sitemap is also largely determines the cost of a website. Referring back to the custom home metaphor, it is logical that a 2-bedroom house will cost less than a 5-bedroom house. Reasonably, a 4-page website will cost less than a 400-page website. More pages simply require a greater time investment, which results in higher cost. With that said, you should not let cost deter you from providing useful pages on your website. A good website provider should be able to help you determine what pages will be useful to your target audience and which pages you could probably do without.

3. The Skill Level of the Provider

A college freelancer will likely have a lower cost than a full-time website developer. They will also be less experienced. Not to rib on college freelancers. We all have to get our start somewhere – and in fact, I got my start freelancing over 10 years ago. Looking back, I can honestly say that I am embarrassed by the quality of work I provided in those days.

An important distinction between a good website provider and one who is poorly skilled is the initial research and analysis that should go into a developing a website. Before even one line of code is written or one wireframe is sketched, a detailed strategy should be put in place for your website to help achieve your marketing goals.

Another distinction is that some website providers may use antiquated technologies or lack experience with current development tools and design standards. These important differences are often indiscernible for the average consumer, but here are some tips for assessing whether or not a website provider is qualified for your project:

Ask questions about mobile usability. No website in the modern age should lack mobile functionality.

Ask if a content management system will be used to streamline updating efforts, and if so, if training is provided.

Ask about support policies following the launch of a website. If technical support is billed at an hourly rate, then you should be aware of the rate beforehand and anticipate that expense at some point during the life time of your website, especially if you aren’t planning to do updates yourself.

Don’t hesitate to ask to view their portfolio or provide references. 

Other Things to Consider

Choosing a website shouldn’t strictly be about cost, though. It is very important that you generally like your website provider as a person or team. During initial consulting, if you have difficulty receiving quick responses or straight answers – consider how this may worsen over the long term (since everyone is on their best behavior during these initial meeting stages).

It is also important to consider that most custom website providers have a unique style. Browse their portfolios or ask for examples of their work to determine if their style is well suited for your project.

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