How Much Does a Website Cost? The Definitive Guide

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The cost of building a website varies depending on the approach you take. It could be anywhere from $0 – $20,000, depending on if you’re using a website builder, a Content Management System (CMS) e.g. WordPress, or hiring a web designer for a unique website.

If you’re looking to save money (and let’s face it, a lot of businesses are at the moment), then doing it yourself with a website builder is the cheapest option. You can check out our website builder comparison page for a side-by-side overview.

But, professional web design isn’t something to be snubbed either. It can cost in the tens of thousands, but what you’ll get for it is a unique website that’s tailored to your specific business needs.

So, which is right for you, and how much does each website building method cost? Read on for a full breakdown of all website associated costs, plus a bonus outline of hidden costs you might not have considered.

Should I build my own website?

Our take: if you need a large site with complex functions and extra security requirements, it’s best to enlist the help of an expert web designer. You can find out what that would cost for your specific web design project by using our free quote-finding tool.

If you need a straightforward business site or online store, and you want to be able to control, run and maintain your website completely autonomously, we’d recommend using a website builder. Take a look our top web builders and ecommerce platforms for US business. You can always try one out for free to check that it’s the best option!

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website?

It can cost anywhere from $0 to $20,000 to build a website. Maintaining it can incur added costs, bringing the total cost up to $40,000 a year in some cases.

Using a website builder is the cheapest way to build a website, and typically costs between $0 and $5,000 per year. The reason the starting price is $0 is because there are free website builder options available.

Building a custom website using a web designer typically costs between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on the size and complexity of the website you’re building.

Here’s a breakdown of website costs:

Website FeatureCost
Website software$0-$2,300 per month
Hiring a web designer$1,000–$24,000+ one-off fee
Domain$10-$45 per year
Hosting$0-$420 per month
SSL certificate$0-$250 per year
Add-ons/Plugins$0-$100 per item, or per year, or per month
Maintenance$0-$15,000 per year
Total per year$0-$40,000
Different ways to build a website:

Using a website builder is typically the cheapest way to build a website, some even have free plans (though these tend to be very limited). It’s a DIY approach best suited to small businesses, looking to create a website that isn’t overly complex.

Using a web designer is typically a much more expensive option, and is best suited to medium to large companies that require a large website, or have very specific needs that can’t be met by a website builder.

You can also build a website using a Content Management System (CMS). This approach can suit businesses of any size, and it’s best for businesses creating content-heavy websites, such as blogs or news channels, who need to manage multiple pages. It’s not necessarily an expensive route (using a CMS can cost in the same range as a website builder). However, a CMS often requires the use of coding to maximize its potential, and a lot of businesses who use them hire web designers to personalize the website for them, which will drive the cost up.

If you’re interested in creating a blog, check out our guide to the top blog platforms.

Website Builder and CMS Costs

Website builders and CMS’s operate on monthly subscriptions, and it typically costs between $6 and $300 per month to use the software.

Some website builders also have free plans, but these usually include ads, and don’t include a domain, which means the website builder’s name will also appear in your URL.

Some CMS’s also don’t charge a monthly fee for you to use the software, but you’ll have to pay for hosting and a domain, and various plug-ins, without which the software will feel very restrictive (unless you know how to code).

Website builders also offer custom plans – typically $2,000+ per month – for larger businesses that require specialized support for their website.

screenshot of Wix website builder pricing plans
Here’s an example of Wix’s various price plans. As you can see, Wix indicates what the use-case is for each plan, to help you determine which one will best meet your needs.

Web Design Costs

Hiring a web designer to build a website typically costs $5,000 to $24,000+ depending on the size and complexity of the website.

There are two ways to hire web designers:

  1. Freelancers: reachable on websites such as Upwork, Toptal, and PeoplePerHour (don’t discount word-of-mouth)
  2. Web design agencies: these are companies that have a staff of web designers, such as AKQA, Straight North, or HigherVisibility

On average, it’ll cost between $75 and $200 per hour to hire a web designer, regardless of whether they’re freelance or agency.

Freelancers used to be slightly cheaper to use than agencies, but nowadays there isn’t much of a price difference between the two because a lot of highly skilled web designers operate as freelancers.

Who should hire a third-party web designer?

Medium to large businesses, high-end brands, or businesses where professionalism is paramount are all good candidates for hiring a web designer. It’s a good option for designer skincare and retail, medical services, and financial or legal consultancy.

If that’s your business, we can provide tailored quotes from leading web designers, to make finding one easy.

Domain Costs

Registering a domain costs anywhere from $10 to $45 per year, although most domains are in the $15-$25 range.

Your domain is the name of your website, and appears in the URL. For example, “” You have to pay for the rights to use it, sort of like renting out a property, and if you stop paying, someone else can snatch it up.

The cost of a domain typically isn’t included with a website builder or CMS subscription, but you can sign up for one at the same time that you sign up for their software. Some website builders let you have a domain for free in your first year.

If you’ve hired a web designer to build you a website, you’ll have to purchase a domain through a third-party domain registrar. Popular registrars include GoDaddy and Namecheap.

Registrars have a search bar, where you can check to see if the domain you want is free, and how much it costs. If your chosen domain isn’t free, you’ll usually be suggested alternatives. You can also reach out to the owner of the domain you want, and try to get them to sell it to you.

screenshot of search for domain name using NameCheap domain registrar
Here, I’m using Namecheap to see if the domain “” is available. It isn’t, but Namecheap has suggested alternatives, along with their cost.
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Hosting Costs

Hosting a website can cost anywhere from $0 to $420 per month. Hosting is what allows your website to go live on the internet.

The starting price for hosting is $0, because a lot of website builders don’t charge extra for hosting, it’s a service that’s included in your monthly subscription fee.

However, if you’re using a CMS, such as WordPress, or had a web designer create your website, you’ll need to pay for hosting separately.

There are three main types of hosting:

  • Shared: $2-$10 per month, the most affordable option. Your website shares server space with other websites. It’s best for low traffic websites, used by businesses such as restaurants, handymen, hair salons, or small consultancies.
  • VPS: $20-$150 per month, the mid-range option. Your website gets its own space on a server and won’t share RAM or CPU (memory or processing power), and will run more quickly. You can choose between managed or unmanaged, but you should choose managed unless you’re an IT systems administrator. It’s best for a growing ecommerce store or a business with increasing web visitors.
  • Dedicated: $100-$420, the most expensive option. A whole server just for your website means massive processing power: think huge amounts of memory and lots of technical capability. This is only for large business websites such as ecommerce stores or sites with loads of pictures, videos or email messages. Mega retailers, media streaming sites or popular entertainment booking hubs need this option.

SSL Certificate Costs

SSL certificates cost anywhere from $0 to $250 per year. SSL (secure socket layer), is a digital certification that verifies your website’s identity, and encrypts connections to your website. This protects website visitors from cyberattacks.

Websites that have an SSL have a URL that starts with “https”, and SSL certificates are often included as part of a website builder package, which is why the starting cost is $0.

If your website was created with a web designer, CMS, or your website builder doesn’t automatically include an SSL certificate, you can expect to pay between $20-$250 per year for one.

They can be bought from certificate authorities, which is a trusted organization licensed to sell SSLs. Well-known providers include GoDaddy, Comodo SSL Store, and DigiCert.

Do I really need an SSL certificate?

You can take your website online without an SSL certificate, but I highly recommend that you get one. Visitors to your website might find it untrustworthy without one, and their browser might even prevent them from accessing your website by issuing a “This site may not be secure” message.

Add-on and Plugin Costs

If you’re using a website builder or a CMS, you might want to integrate additional software into your site.

These additions, whether they’re called add-ons, plugins, or apps, can be free, but a lot of them come with a price tag. This could either be a monthly or yearly fee, or a one-off purchase. Either way, you can expect to pay between $7 and $100 per plugin.

WordPress, for example, is a CMS that’s known for plugins, and it has a library of around 60,000. Some of its most popular plugins are Yoast SEO (which is a Search Engine Optimization assistant to help your website rank high in search engines), and WP Bakery Page Builder, a WordPress-made plugin that makes editing pages on the platform easier.

screenshot of CMS WordPress page editor backend featuring WP Bakery plugin
I use WordPress on a regular basis, and here’s what the page editor looks like with the WP Bakery plugin. Without it, I’d have to use HTML code for simple formatting changes like bolding a word.
Don’t install too many plugins!

Overloading your website with plugins can slow it down, meaning your visitors might wait longer for pages to load. This could cause them to give up and leave your website.

Stick to five to 10 plugins for websites using shared hosting, and up to 30 for websites using VPS or dedicated hosting.

Maintenance and Running Costs

Once your website has been built and is live, chances are you’ll probably still have to spend money maintaining it, unless you’re using a free website builder.

If you’re using a paid website builder, your maintenance costs will only be around $20 to $500 per year, essentially the cost of renewing your subscription, maintaining your domain and SSL certificate, as well as any plugin subscriptions. If you’re doing all the site content updates in-house, the cost will be you or your employees’ time.

If you have a custom website, or use a CMS that’s been worked on by web designers, you’ll need to spend around $400-$15,000 per year on updating and improving your website. Costs will vary depending on the scale of work that needs to be done – for example, a full website redesign is work that will take several hours to complete, and so will cost more.

You can find out more about website maintenance costs in our guide.

Hidden Costs When Building a Website

The hidden costs of building a website are essentially easily overlooked expenses, such as content writing, SEO work, and image production.

None of these are strictly necessary, and can be done in-house depending on you and your employees’ set of skills, but they’re worth considering.


Depending on how copy-heavy your website is, you might need to hire freelance copywriters or content strategists to produce ads or articles. Rates vary from $25 to $200 per hour, depending on experience.

SEO Work

You might also want to hire an SEO specialist that can help your website rank higher on search engine results pages, and get it seen by more people. This typically costs $500 to $2,000+ per month for SEO agencies, but you can also choose to hire freelancers for around $100 per hour for a more low-touch approach.

Graphic Design

If you want to populate your website with unique ads or visuals to convey information, and you don’t have someone in-house who can do this, you’ll need to hire a graphic designer. Graphic designers typically charge between $30 and $150 for an hour’s work.

Photography and Images

You’ll probably need to populate your website with images to make it visually appealing. If free stock-images aren’t available via your website builder, or if you’ve made your website with a web designer, you can expect to pay between $1 and $15 per stock image. If you need to use a lot of images, it can be cheaper to subscribe to a stock image service, which costs between $80 to $500 per month.

If you’re selling products online and want them professionally photographed to display on your website, expect to pay $1,000 to $5,000 for a day-long photoshoot, depending on how experienced the photographer is.

Can I Build a Website for Free?

You can build a website for free using a free website builder – popular options include Wix, Square Online, and GoDaddy.

However, there are some downsides to this. Free website builders don’t include a registered domain name, which means that the website builder’s name will appear in your website URL (example: “”).

A website made with a free website builder will also display ads for the website builder, in the form of top banners or footers. This can make your website seem unprofessional to customers, and is not an option I’d recommend for long-term use.

If your budget is tight, you should consider going for the most affordable plan offered by a cheap website builder. GoDaddy’s cheapest plan starts at $10.99 per month for your first year, and IONOS’s cheapest plan starts at $9 per month.

You can find out more about each of these website builders in our GoDaddy Review and IONOS Review.

The advantage of cheap website builder plans is that they’ll get rid of ads, and let you get a custom domain so the website builder’s name no longer appears in your URL. Some also come with basic marketing and analytics tools.

However, if you want more advanced features, such as increased storage space, more design flexibility, or the ability to sell products online, you’ll typically need to upgrade to a more expensive version.

Verdict: How Much Does it Cost to Create a Website?

The cost of creating a website varies widely, from $0 with a free website builder and a DIY approach, to over $24,000 with a professional web designer.

One option isn’t necessarily better than the other, it all depends on your budget, the amount of time you can set aside, and your priorities.

If you’ve got room in your budget, are poor on time, and work in an industry that values trustworthiness and professionalism, I’d recommend hiring a web designer to create your business website.

The best way to gauge costs with a web designer is through individual quotes. That’s why we’ve built a web design service quote-finder for you to use for free. If you register your interest, we’ll arrange for website experts to call you back and discuss business quotes.

If the website you want to build is content-based, such as a blog, news outlet, or review site, I’d recommend going for a CMS platform such as WordPress, bearing in mind that you might need to hire a web designer to personalize your website for you.

If you want to limit spending on your website, and can dedicate some time to creating a website, I’d recommend using a website builder. Looking at our list of the best website builders for US businesses is a good place to start.

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Is it worth it to hire an SEO specialist for a small business website?
Whether it’s worth it to hire an SEO specialist for your small business website depends on your situation. Here are some situations that might warrant hiring one:
  • You’ve seen a significant drop in visitors to your website, or you get none at all
  • You’re planning on completely redesigning your website, or making other major changes
  • You publish a lot of blog or news articles with affiliated links, and rely on clicks as part of your income
How much does a one page website cost with a web designer?
A one page website created with a web designer will cost $1,000 to $5,000 initially, and you should factor in maintenance costs of around $400 to $600 per year after that.
How much do website builders cost per year?
Paid website builders cost $90 to $5,000 per year, when you factor in monthly subscription fees, and annual domain and SSL certificate fees. They can also cost $0 if you’re using a free website builder.
Written by:
Headshot of Expert Market Senior Writer Tatiana Lebtreton
Tatiana is Expert Market's resident payments and online growth expert, specialising in (E)POS and merchant accounts, as well as website builders.
Reviewed by:
Robyn Summers-Emler, Grow Online Editor, Profile Picture
Robyn started working on Expert Market in 2021 as a specialist in business websites and digital marketing. As the Grow Online Editor, she ideates, commissions and optimizes content on Expert Market that helps businesses thrive in online spaces and maximize their ecommerce potential. Covering everything from choosing a website builder to scaling a social media marketing strategy - Robyn uses her expertise to help startups, SMBs, and larger businesses realize digital growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.