How much should a website cost?

Everything on the Internet is free – right? Why should you pay for anything?

Whether you subscribe to that viewpoint or not, if you decide you or your company needs a website, there’s a good chance you’ll end up baffled as to what a reasonable amount to spend on a website is.

Some companies seem to be offering all the bells and whistles for under £100, while you hear rumours that some of the big brands paid millions for their websites.

As with most things, it mostly comes down to ‘you get what you pay for’ with a little wariness needed in order to avoid getting ripped off. 

Here is our brief guide to what we think is a reasonable charge for web design, from amateur to professional, and why:

Dirt Cheap / Free websites (under £100)

You can get a website dirt cheap or even free. There’s no doubt about it. There are do it yourself sites such as Squarespace and Wordpress which claim that you don’t need any technical expertise, and there are even designers who will promise you a wonderful website for only £100 or even less.

If you really absolutely, genuinely have no money at all, then this is the only option to you, so you must take it, because you have no choice. However, if you are starting a business, then creating a dirt cheap website could actually do the new business harm.

This is because a cheap website usually looks cheap, and the website reflects your business. Potential customers will assume that if your website is shoddy, your services and products will be to.

So why isn’t £100 enough for a decent website? Let’s break it down. A reasonable charge for a skilled professional is about £20 per hour. Let’s say they’re going even lower than that and only charging £15 per hour. That gives them about 6 and a half hours to build your site. And these are the absolute minimum things they need to do:

·         Select and register the domain name
·         Find out what you want
·         Create a design
·         Build the design
·         Insert the content
·         Make any final tweaks
·         Carry out SEO work
·         Launch the site

6 and a half hours only allows about 45 minutes per item on this list, and that’s not including any communication time. What sort of design can anyone do in 45 minutes?
No, unfortunately, anyone building a website for under £100 must be either working at below minimum wage, or cutting corners right left and centre.

Low priced websites (£500 - £1000)

If you’re on a budget, then £500 to a £1000 can buy you enough of a professional’s time to build a fairly decent, simple brochure website. 

This gives the designer time to do proper research and spend time brainstorming a good design that really reflects your vision of the business. They would have time to do the following:

                    Communicate with you throughout the process
                    Research, select and register the domain name
                    Personal consultation to understand your business
                    Research concepts and competitors
                    Create a design
                    Rework design concept to your perfect vision
                    Find or create graphical imagery
                    Build the design
                    Integrate social media
                    Insert interactive widgets
                    Insert the content
                    Do detail adjustment to perfect the content
                    Make any final tweaks
                    Carry out SEO work
                    Launch the site 

This is likely to result in you having an attractive, well-functioning website that gives a good impression to visitors and encourages them to get in contact to find out more about your products and services. You should have enough room to explain what you do in good detail, include enough content to keep customers and Google happy and the resources to create vibrant, high quality imagery to engage your audience.

Medium priced websites £1000 - £10,000

If you have a bit more of a budget available, it means that you can get more expertise involved and create something a little more special. With this kind of budget you can start to include elements that will really lift your site above the competition.

With more time and resources, a web designer or web design team will be able to look at nifty interactive elements and will have the time it takes to ensure they work across all platforms (or degrade elegantly on those that don’t support it).

They will be able to create mobile friendly versions of the design and test responsive designs across a range of platforms to iron out any kinks.
They will probably be able to get more involved in branding and social media, and promotional elements such as photography and web videos.
A basic ecommerce solution is likely to fall into this band, because of the additional technical complexity of running a reliable, robust database. Ecommerce stores also come with a lot of functionality and features, all of which have to be developed and tested. However, if you want something very bespoke for your ecommerce store, you’re probably looking at the next band up.

Enterprise level web design and development: £10,000 – £50,000

If you’re getting into this kind of money you’re probably looking at bespoke web applications and web development. 

A basic text and image based website shouldn’t need to cost this much, no matter how many pages there are  - unless the designer is also supplying the content, or unless a lot of this budget is intended to go on post-launch marketing.

Within this band you could look at getting an interactive site that customers can use for something more than just reading text and may even pay just for the privilege of using. Customers may have their own accounts, which allow them to view and manipulate data.

The reason this band starts to cost a lot more is that for more complicated websites you need software developers as well as web designers. These jobs are more technically skilled and therefore there is a much higher barrier to entry, and this means they command a higher salary. Beware of using cheap developers as they are unlikely to really know what they’re doing (and are quite likely to be self-taught without the fundamental underlying knowledge), and you won’t find that out until you’ve forked out a bunch of money and found yourself left with a spaghetti mess of code that no decent developer will touch with a barge pole. 


Of course you can spend as much as you like when it comes to websites and web applications, and the price will climb the more features and functionality you need to put in. However, once you get into the £50,000+ mark, you’re looking more at bespoke web development than just a simple website – and that’s a whole different article!