How much does a website cost in 2021?

how much does a website cost

By Dan Barraclough | Updated: 18 January 2021

Having a website that you’re proud of, and that accurately represents your brand, is a truly important thing for any business. Research has even suggested that having a website can increase turnover by around 45%. However, the prospect of setting one up can be daunting.

One of the reasons behind this is expense. There's still plenty of confusion to be found over how much building and maintaining a website does, and should, cost.

Do you need to spend thousands, or could you get away with building it yourself? And if you do pay to have a website designed, what are the ongoing costs? We get it. It’s hard to know where to start, and your research can give conflicting results.

So, to give you a better idea, we’ve explored all the costs involved in setting up and maintaining websites of all different sizes.



website designers prices

Web design costs at a glance: Website designers prices

You can expect your website to cost anywhere between $300 and $20,000, or possibly even more, in total – it’ll depend on the type of website you want to create. There are several different types of website, but for the purpose of this article we've broken them down into four categories: basic, small business, ecommerce and bespoke.

Type of siteFeaturesIdeal forDesign cost
Basic
  • ‘Brochure’ style
  • One to five pages and a landing page
  • Responsive, with a contact page
  • Self-employed workers
  • Small businesses in traditional industries
  • Best for those who do not need to update their content regularly
$0 to $1,000
Small business
  • ‘Brochure’ style
  • Several pages
  • Feature-rich
  • Responsive design and CMS
  • Social media integration
  • ‘Google My Business’ optimised
  • Google analytics and maps
  • Startups
  • Small businesses
  • Freelancers
  • Best for those who need to update their content regularly
$1,000 to $5,000
EcommerceAll the features of a ‘small business website’, plus:

  • Ecommerce functionality
  • Order management system
  • Delivery tracking functionality
  • Live chat
Any business looking to sell online$2,500 to $10,000
Bespoke
  • Database-driven websites
  • Advanced functionality
  • Unlimited sub pages
Business requiring complex functionality, like financial services, recruitment companies, property companies, health and fitness businesses, architects, etc$5,000 plus

DIY vs. website designers

Of course, the cheapest option for building and maintaining a website is the DIY route. There are plenty of website builders on the market that allow you to create a website from scratch, for free, and with no technical experience.

Website builders are great for creating a simple site that can fit into a pre-designed template (for example, a site for a restaurant, or an online shop). However, for a more sophisticated and unique website, we would always recommend using an experienced web developer.

So, how much does a website cost?


The cost of building your own website

If you're keen to avoid the expense of hiring a professional web designer, consider using a website builder to create your site. Website builders are tools that allow you to quickly and efficiently create an attractive looking website.

With website builders, all the technicalities are taken care of. Web hosting is provided by the website builder provider, and you can simply drag and drop elements around your page to make it look the way you want without knowing how to code.

Another key benefit to using website builders is their low cost. Loads of website builders offer a free version of their product that’ll allow you to create a basic website with limited functionality. For $15 to $200-plus a month, you can upgrade to a paid plan that offers greater customisation and specifications.

Note that creating a website this way means you will be kept within the constraints of the website builder itself. So, again, for a more powerful, complex or unique website, we recommend hiring a web designer instead.

Website BuilderBest ForCostStar Rating
WixAll-roundFree version
SquarespaceExcellent Templates$16 to $25 per month
WeeblyEase of UseFree version
ShopifyEcommerce$29 to $299 per month
BigcommerceEcommerce$29.95 to $249.95 per month
1&1Choice of TemplatesFrom $1 per month
Sitebuilder.comKeeping it SimpleFree version
Site123Speedy Set-upFree version

website prices


The cost of a basic website

A basic website is made up of one to five pages, and requires only very simple functionality. It’ll be a ‘brochure’ style website, with a contact page and a landing page as well as its core pages. Like any website, it should still be mobile responsive – but it’s always worth checking that this is included in the design price.

Basic websites are great if you’re after a very simple, stripped back online presence. It is a place to showcase your business, and receive enquiries. Think of it kind of like a modern day business card.

You can go down several routes when creating your basic website. Each option has its own pros and cons:

Build your own basic website

As explored above, website builders have become more prevalent and sophisticated in recent years. They are now a legitimate option for businesses and individuals alike.

Other than a clear cost benefit, website builders also allow you to get a website up and running in just a few hours, with no prior design experience required. Take a look at the table above to get an idea of the costs you can expect.

Use a web design agency

Design agencies are typically very reliable and experienced. Creating websites is their bread and butter, and they have it down to a fine art. They are the perfect option if you want a basic website but lack the time or skills to make one yourself. Plus, agencies provide a quote for the project as a whole, making it really easy to compare offers.

To request free quotes from top web design companies, fill a few details in our quick form and you’ll receive bespoke quotes from the agencies that can help you.

Compare Prices from Leading Web Design Agencies GET FREE QUOTES

Hire a freelance developer

Using a freelance developer is another option for creating your basic website. Finding a freelancer may take a little more research, but you can typically enjoy a more personalised service.

You will find, however, that a freelancer won’t have the broad range of experience that an agency does. They will also typically charge per hour (at a rate of anywhere from $20 to $100). This can make it hard to predict the total cost.

Find an offshore web company

Using an offshore web company is definitely one of the cheapest options (From $5 per hour). However, they’re often a lot less reliable than the other options presented here. Always be wary of offers that sound too good (or cheap!) to be true.

When creating your website, bear in mind how your needs will change over the next few years. If you’re planning to expand your company, or you predict future surges in the number of visitors to your site, remember to mention this when requesting quotes and you should get a website that’s future-proof.

The cost of a basic website will roughly be:

Cost of a Basic Website
Upfront costs
Design$0 to $1,000
Domain$15 to $80 per year
Total Upfront Cost$15 to $1,080
Ongoing costs
Hosting$4 to over $100 per month
Content Updates$0 to $20 per month
Total Ongoing Costs$4 to over $120 per month

Of course, these prices depend very much on both the size and the complexity of your site. When requesting a quote, try to be as specific as possible and ensure that you get the total cost.

Transparency in the early stages of the web design process, between both you and your designer, ensures everyone is on the same page – and will help prevent pricey amendments further down the line.

small business website


The cost of a small business website

Small business websites are, as you’d expect, perfect for businesses that need a little more than just a very basic website, or are looking to upgrade from an existing basic website.

Small business websites are also ‘brochure’ style, but are far more feature-rich. Such features may include:

  • Social media integration
  • Responsive design
  • A content management system
  • Google Analytics
  • A Google Maps presence and Google My Business capability
  • More pages than a basic website

The fact that small business websites can boast more pages than a basic website, and can also be regularly updated with fresh content, makes them a better choice for startups, freelancers or any growing organisation.

The cost of a small business website will roughly be:

The cost of a small business website
Upfront costs
Design$1,000 to $5,000
Domain$15 to $80 per year
Total Upfront Cost$1,015 to $5,080
Ongoing costs
Hosting$4 to over $100 per month
Content Updates£0 to $50 per month
Total Ongoing Costs$4 to over $150 per month

Paying for a well-designed website isn’t a guaranteed formula for internet success. Once you have your completed website, we recommend that you reinforce your presence with regular marketing and content updates in order to keep visitors coming back. Allotting a monthly budget of time and money can be a great way to ensure this important job isn’t forgotten.

When requesting quotes for your small business website, choose design companies with experience in working with other small businesses. Otherwise, you may find yourself lumbered with fancy (and expensive) features that won’t actually offer you any real benefit.

Again, website builders are a great option for creating your small business website. Wix categorises its templates by industry, making it really easy to find the one that’s right for you.

ecommerce website


The cost of an ecommerce website

The cost of an ecommerce website can vary massively. The price is impacted by the number of items you want to stock, and the number of varieties of each item you have available.

It’ll also, of course, depend on the number of additional features you want to incorporate. In addition to the features of a typical small business website, you can expect an ecommerce website design to include:

  • An order management system
  • A delivery tracking functionality
  • A live chat facility

When commissioning your ecommerce website, really think about what you want from your new site. Will this website make up most of your brand’s presence – do you want people to hang around, to read blog posts, to engage with your social media? Do you expect people to return to your site? Or will it be more of a stripped back one-stop shop? Do you expect a lot of your customers to shop on mobile, or mostly on desktop?

The cost of an ecommerce website
Upfront costs
Design$2,500 to $10,000
Domain$15 to $80 per year
SSL certificate$10 to $500 per year
Total Upfront Cost$2,525 to $10,580
Ongoing costs
Hosting$4 to over $100 per month
Content Updates$0 to $120 per month
Total Ongoing Costs$4 to over $220 per month

In addition to the usual maintenance, hosting, domain and design costs, we suggest you also factor in the cost of an SSL certificate. This will add another layer of security to your website, and help to reassure customers.

Having a SSL certificate gives your site a ‘https’ prefix, instead of the usual ‘http’. The ‘s’ stands for secure, and it’s something we’re seeing more and more as online security becomes a key concern for customers. An SSL certificate also means you have a padlock icon in the address bar.

In short, an SSL certificate will encourage customers to take your website seriously – and so will Google. So, you should check that your web designer will include one as part of your package.

Again, being as specific as you can about your requirements will help you to arrive at an accurate quote early on. It can be hard to guess at the price of an ecommerce website due to the many variables involved, but you can fill in this short form to get personalised quotes from Expert Market-approved agencies.

bespoke website


The cost of a bespoke website

Bespoke websites are great for larger companies that need more functionality, have a higher number of site visitors, or have more information to share. Now, we know what you’re thinking – surely all websites are bespoke? Well, that’s not necessarily true.

For smaller websites without any complex requirements, a web designer can normally repurpose an existing web template. In this case, the website is tailored, but not bespoke. A truly bespoke website is built from scratch to an original and unique set of requirements.

Need a bespoke website with ecommerce functionality? Take a look at the section above for a breakdown of ecommerce website costs.

Bespoke websites are database driven. They have advanced functionality and unlimited subpages (pages created within the subcategories of your site). There are certain industries whose businesses will almost always need bespoke websites, including:

  • Financial services firms
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Property companies
  • Health and fitness businesses
  • Architects

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive – any business requiring complex functionality may well find that they fall into the bespoke price bracket.

Bespoke websites will also take mobile responsiveness to the next level, creating a ‘fluid’ design that may look completely different on mobile. As over 50% of searches are conducted on mobile, making this experience as great as possible for your customers should definitely be a priority.

Compare Prices from Leading Web Design Agencies GET FREE QUOTES

When requesting a bespoke website, you should look to work with a dedicated partner. Unless you have a strong relationship with a talented freelancer, we’d definitely recommend looking for an agency to work with. This ensures you’re getting the best possible service, and that the team you hire understands your business and what you’re trying to achieve.

When getting started on a bespoke website it’s even more vital that you get a quote for the project as a whole, rather than a ‘per hour’ rate. After all, larger projects have the potential to produce time-consuming problems that are out of your control as a customer.

Cost of a Bespoke Website
Upfront costs
Design$5,000 plus
Domain$15 to $80 per year
Total Upfront Cost$5,015 plus
Ongoing costs
Hosting$4 to over $100 per month
Content Updates$0 to $120 per month
Total Ongoing Costs$4 to over $220 per month

In terms of price, a bespoke website is certainly a step up from a small business website that has been built with a template. If you’re unsure whether you need a small business website or a bespoke website, think not only of the functionality and number of visitors you’re working with at the moment, but also what your needs are likely to be in the coming years. Having a website that is primed and ready to grow as you grow is imperative.

If you’re not sure what kind of website you need, have a go at filling in this short form and suitable agencies can get in touch to talk through your needs.


Upfront costs

Domain name

Other than design costs, the main upfront cost you’ll encounter will be buying a domain name (if you don’t already have one!).

A domain name is the unique ‘address’ of a website. For example, our domain name here at Expert Market is ‘expertmarket.com’.

Domain typeTypical cost
.com.au$15 to $80 per year
.com$10 to $100 per year

Once you’ve found a domain name that doesn’t already have an associated website, you can pay for it on a website such as 123 Reg or GoDaddy. Prices vary depending on how popular your chosen domain name is: the most desirable site names cost tens of thousands of pounds per year, so check out a few combinations before settling on one.


Ongoing costs

Hosting: at a glance

Every website needs to be hosted on a web server. Hosting a website makes it accessible via the web. It basically means renting or buying some ‘space’ on the internet, ie. some bandwidth. Fully understanding what hosting means is not necessary, but you should know that your website will need it in some form and you have a few options for this:

Type of hostingTypical cost
Shared hostingFrom $4 per month
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hostingFrom $30 per month
Cloud based web hostingFrom $10 per month
Dedicated hostingFrom $100 per month

Expert Market Recommends: HostGator for websites of all shapes and sizes. It’s the best overall web hosting provider, with great customer service to match. Prices start at just $2.75 per month.


Shared hosting

When it comes to hosting, shared hosting is your cheapest option. You’ll share your hosting platform with a number of other sites, therefore sharing the cost too. The downside, though, is that you’ll also share the bandwidth – so in effect you’ll be fighting for server space with other sites. Nevertheless, shared hosting can be a great low-cost option for basic or new sites that don’t yet get many visitors.

Prices tend to start at $4 a month.


Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting

A VPS server is a good middle ground between shared hosting and having your own dedicated server. A VPS is one physical server that allocates multiple, separate servers to its sites. In this way, you can avoid the problems associated with shared hosting, without a jump up in cost that’s too eye-watering.

Prices tend to start at $30 a month.


Cloud-based web hosting

With cloud-based web hosting, your website will be hosted on a virtual server. This is a popular option for a number of reasons:

  1. Cloud hosting plans can accommodate unusually large surges in traffic.
  2. Cloud-based hosting can easily adapt to your changing needs.
  3. With cloud-based web hosting plans, you pay only for what you have used.

Overall, cloud-based web hosting is a logical next step for a website that might have started on a shared hosting plan, but has started see a larger volume of traffic.

Prices tend to start at $10 a month.


Dedicated hosting

With this option, you’ll have your own server dedicated to hosting only your website. Websites that are particularly large or complex, or that require exceptionally high levels of data security, will benefit from dedicated hosting. It’s also the best option for websites that enjoy a high and steady volume of traffic.Not sharing a server with other websites will come with its advantages, namely that you won’t have to compete for bandwidth. This, of course, is reflected in dedicated hosting’s higher price tag.

Prices tend to start at $100 a month.

Top Tip: Websites such as 1&1,123reg and GoDaddy regularly offer package deals for domain names and web hosting.


Expert Market Recommends: Bluehost is an ideal hosting provider, especially for sites built using WordPress. Choose from shared, cloud-based, VPS and dedicated hosting packages. Prices start at $4.16 per month.


Content Updates

In addition to hosting costs, you’ll need to factor in the cost of content updates. Costs will vary depending on the size of your website, any updates you want to make, and how much you pay the people tasked with making these changes.

Remember your website is never really finished, even when you’re happy with how it looks and works. Its content will need to be updated in some form or another on a regular basis, in order to keep your audience interested and to appear on Google searches.


Additional costs

Aside from the costs we’ve already explored, it’s worth considering these additional services:

1. Content production

To keep costs down, you can produce the written content for your site yourself. But if writing isn’t exactly a strong suit of yours, it can be worth getting a freelancer or agency to help out. You can expect to pay between $20 and $75 per hour for content generation.

2. Imagery

Hiring a photographer to collect a bank of images for your brand or product is always advisable if you’d like to create a strong brand image. You can also buy stock images and graphics from sites like depositphotos, or download free images for commercial use on unsplash.

3. SEO and marketing

Let’s say you own a cupcake shop in Manchester. Googling ‘cupcake Manchester’ produces around four million results – so how do you get your business to appear near the top of the list?

Well, a lot of it has to do with how relevant your business is to the search, how up-to-date the content on your site is, and how many visitors you get coming in from other sources, like social media. However, there are also some additional steps you can take to make sure you’re securing the best rank possible.

That’s where SEO comes in. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and concerns the process of making a site the best that it can be in the eyes of search engines like Google, so it appears near the top of their search results pages. Search engines give preference to sites that load fast and offer the information people are searching for, amongst other things.

It’s a good idea to ask your web design company if they offer SEO services as part of their packages. For websites with a lot of content, consider getting a freelancer or agency that specialises in SEO to take a look through your site once every couple of months to make sure it remains well-optimised.

Compare Prices from Leading Web Design Agencies GET FREE QUOTES

The 6 stages of the web design process

So now you have a rough idea of how much your site might cost, and it’s on to question number two:

How long will it take to create?

It should come as no surprise that the answer to this will again depend on the size and complexity of your desired site, as well as the agency you’re working with.

Website builders are likely to be the quickest option – you can use them to build yourself a basic website in only a few hours. Working with an agency may take anything from a couple of weeks to a few months.

To get a clearer idea of how your project will progress, it helps to have an idea of the steps involved. This video will give you a run-down:

Kieron Woodhouse, head of UX for a major UK tech company, breaks down the web design process.

web designer


10 questions to ask your web designer

Communication is the key to making the web design process as streamlined as possible. You’ll need to know exactly what you’re getting from your web designer, and they in turn should know exactly what you expect of them.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a few questions that you should ask your designer before getting started:

  1. Do you arrange buying the domain name and hosting for the site, and is this included in your quote?
  2. How easy will it be for me to report on and update my website? If it requires specialist knowledge, will you provide training for myself and my staff?
  3. Will there be any ongoing costs for general site maintenance?
  4. Will you optimise the website for search engines?
  5. Will the site be mobile responsive?
  6. If I am unhappy with the finished design of my site, can it be amended and is there a cost associated with this?
  7. Will you provide content and imagery for the site, or should I provide it?
  8. What is the scope for future development of the website? Is it built to grow quickly?
  9. How much will future amendments to the site cost?
  10. How is my website protected if something goes wrong?

Other things to bear in mind

Web design is a service, not a product

Thinking of web design as a service rather than a product will help you to understand why it can be difficult to put an exact price on it.

Quotes are subjective

You could be quoted $1,000 by one agency and $10,000 by another, for the same project. This goes back to the thought that web design is a service rather than a product. Different agencies will have different ways of doing things, and prioritise different aspects of the site. Being as clear as possible about what is important to you, and what is less so, will help make your quotes more accurate.

Standards vary from agency to agency

As with any industry, the quality of work will vary from one agency to another. It’s a good idea to have a look at customer reviews and examples of previous work when deciding which agency to go with. And remember, the cheapest option isn’t always the best – anything that looks too good to be true probably is!


A word on WordPress

People often ask how much it costs to build a website using WordPress. WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering over a third of the entire web.

Although WordPress is free to download and install, there are some costs involved which can be broken down as follows:

  • Hosting
  • Domain
  • Themes/custom designs
  • Plugins

Expert Market Recommends: Bluehost is a hosting platform designed with WordPress websites in mind, offering shared, cloud-based, VPS and dedicated hosting. Prices start at $4.16 per month.


At the cheapest end of the scale, it’s possible to build a beginner WordPress site using only the 4,000 free templates and plugins, and pay around under $20 per month for the domain name and hosting.

As the size and complexity of your WordPress site increases, so does the price. Expect to pay around $1,000 a year for a mid-range WordPress site, with a paid theme and useful plugins.

A unique and custom-built WordPress site will require extensive work from a developer. Costs for this can be in the region of $4,000 to $10,000, depending on the design.


Next steps

Even with a guide to help, trying to work out the exact cost of a website without a background in design is really tricky. As an excellent starting point, try filling in this short form to receive custom quotes for your business from Expert Market-approved web design suppliers.

Dan Barraclough

Dan’s a Senior Writer at Expert Market, specialising in digital marketing, web design, and photocopiers, amongst other topics.

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