How Much Does It Cost to Build a Small Business Website?
In this age of digital transformation, you may be surprised to find that more than a third of small businesses still don't have a website. That's partially because social media serves a similar purpose, but more than a quarter of small business owners cited cost as the primary consideration in a recent survey.
So, how much does it cost to build a small business website?
The answer is that it depends on several factors. Paying a web design firm to build a custom site could run you into the five figures. If you go the do-it-yourself route, the cost could be as little as free.
We'll review your options, describe each facet of the finished product and estimate the cost based on hiring expert designers versus taking the DIY approach using content management platforms such as Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.
Register a Domain Name
One of the first things you're going to need is a domain name. These days there are many top-level domains (the part after the "dot") and they may relate directly to your business — think .green, .organic, or .pink — so consider all the different options.
The cost for domain names is usually nominal, costing less than that salad you bought for lunch, depending on the extension chosen. Domains are registered on a per year basis and you can purchase up to 10 years at a time or just one if you're not ready to commit.
Choose a Website Builder
The hardest decision you will make is whether to choose a custom site built by a professional or to build it yourself. Consider these questions:
How much can you afford? The smaller your budget, the fewer your choices.
Do you really need a custom site? A designed-from-scratch website can cost you anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour and can take 40 hours or more to build once you factor in design revisions. If you agree on a project price, plan to spend anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand.
What features do you need? Websites today offer many bells and whistles, but, likely, you won't need more than the basics, at least to start with:
- High-quality images
- Contact form
- SSL certificate for security purposes (i.e., HTTPS)
- Social media integration
- Interactive map showing your location
- Shopping cart (if you have an e-commerce site).
Live chat is another useful feature and so is an email newsletter sign-up form. You can add other elements as your site grows and business needs evolve.
When You're Hiring a Designer
It's reasonable to expect freelancers to be less expensive than professional firms, but that does not mean their work is any less good.
Look at their portfolio and read customer reviews and ratings. You may find just the right balance of expertise and value.
When You Go DIY on Web Design
A wide variety of site-building platforms are available that a) make the process reasonably simple and b) don't cost very much. Most come with pre-made design templates and a drag-and-drop editor, so you won't need knowledge of HTML (although it doesn't hurt).
Here are three of the more popular:
- Wix comes with all the features listed above and more, including hosting. Monthly costs range from $13 for a basic plan to $39, which includes priority support.
- Squarespace is a "hipper" website builder used by artists, musicians, and other members of the creative set. That doesn't mean small businesses can't use it just as well, however. Costs start at $16 per month for a "personal" site to $26 for "business." E-commerce sites come in at $30 and $46 per month.
- WordPress. It is estimated that 30 percent of the world's websites live on the WordPress platform, including everything from personal blogs to big brands like Huffington Post, The New Yorker and Disney, so it is worthy of serious consideration. WordPress comes in two forms: dot org and dot com. The major difference between the two has to do with hosting. With the dot org version, you own the site, which requires downloading the software and choosing a hosting solution. Costs will vary based on your choices. The dot com version of WordPress is like Wix and Squarespace in that it comes with hosting and you don't have to download the software. Many design templates are available, which you can customize to your brand. Several thousands of free and premium WordPress themes are available, so your selection isn't limited to what WordPress.com offers.
Monthly costs (billed yearly) range from free to $25 for a small business site and $45 for an e-commerce site.
Hosting — the server where your site lives — is included on the DIY platforms listed above as part of the monthly package. If you opt for a custom site, your designer may also offer hosting. If not, many such services exist, some of which specialize in WordPress, while others are not platform-specific.
If you do your research, you can find good deals. Just make sure it's a reputable service. You'll often find promotions, some starting as low as $2.74 per month. Even without such offers, you can find hosting plans for as little as five dollars per month.
Go the Registrar Route
If you plan to create the website on your own, you may find it easier to get everything in one place — domain name, website builder and hosting. That's where domain name registrars can help. Many offer a full slate of services that include all the above (and more), and you can often take advantage of promotions when adding these services during the domain purchase process.
A registrar may offer domains for as little as $4.99 per year and hosting for $1.00 per month. Another offers free domain name registration with certain hosting plans and yet another will give you the website builder free with a domain purchase.
Let's put it this way, if price is the primary obstacle between you and a website, going the registrar route is clearly the solution.
A lot goes into getting a small business website up and running, but the benefits are numerous, not the least of which is that you "own" your presence on the web rather than "rent" it via a social network.
Building a small business website can be cost-effective, especially if you choose one of the site building platforms or domain name registry services. Monthly costs can run you from a few dollars to not more than $50. If your needs dictate it or you don't have the time or inclination to do the work yourself, plan to spend more.