Having a website that you’re proud of and which accurately reflects your brand is one of the most important aspects of any business. Research has even suggested that having a website can increase turnover by around 45%. Despite this, it is estimated that around two million UK businesses still don’t have one.
There is still a lot of confusion over how much 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 gives conflicting results.
We’ve explored all the costs involved in setting up and maintaining websites of all different sizes to give you a clearer idea.
Website design costs summary
There are several different types of websites, but for the purpose of this article we have broken them down into four different categories:
|Type of site||Features||Ideal for||Design cost|
One to five pages and a landing page
Responsive, with a contact page
Small businesses in traditional industries
Best for those who do not need to update their content regularly
|£200 - 500|
|Small business||‘Brochure’ style|
Responsive design and CMS
Social media integration
'Google my business’
Google analytics and maps
Best for those who need to update their content regularly
|£500 - 1,000|
|Ecommerce||All the features of a ‘small business website’, plus:|
Order management system
Delivery tracking functionality
|Any business looking to sell online||£1,000 - 2,500|
|Bespoke||Database driven websites |
Unlimited sub pages
|Business requiring complex functionality |
eg. financial services, recruitment or property companies, health and fitness businesses, architects etc
|£2,500 - 10,000|
Of course, the cheapest option for building and maintaining a website is the DIY option. There are several website builders on the market which allow you to create a website from scratch, for free, with no technical experience. Website builders are great for creating a simple site that can fit into a pre-designed template (e.g. restaurant, 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?
Build your own website
If you are 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, without knowing how to code.
Another key benefit to using website builders is their low cost. Nearly all our recommended website builders offer a free version of their product, which will allow you to create basic websites with some functionality. For £10 - £20 a month you can upgrade to a paid plan, which offers greater customisation and specifications.
Note that creating a website this way means you will be kept within the constraints of the web builder itself. For more powerful, complex or unique websites, we recommend hiring a web designer.
|Website Builder||Best For||Cost||Star Rating|
|Weebly||Ease of Use||Free version|
|1&1||Choice of Templates||£6.99/month|
|Sitebuilder.com||Keeping it Simple||Free version|
|Site123||Speedy Set-up||Free version|
Cost of a basic website
A basic website is made up of one to five pages, and requires only very simple functionality. They are ‘brochure style’ websites. In addition to the core pages, they will have a contact and landing page. They should also 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
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. Check out our round-up of the best website builders for small businesses.
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. Agencies provide a quote for the project as a whole, making it really easy to compare offers.
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 (£15 - £75). This can make it hard to predict the total cost.
Offshore web company
Using an offshore web company is definitely one of the cheapest options (£5 - £20 per hour). However, they are often a lot less reliable than the other options. 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 are planning to expand your company, or predict future surges in the number of visitors, mention this when requesting quotes to ensure you get a website that is future-proof.
The cost of a basic website will roughly be:
|Cost of a Basic Website|
|Design||£200 to £500|
|Domain||£2.99 to £100 / year|
|Total Upfront Cost||£202.99 to £600|
|Hosting||£3 to £45 / month|
|Content Updates||£0 to £10 / month|
|Total Ongoing Costs||£3 to £55 / 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 costly amendments further down the line.
Cost of a small business website
A small business website is the perfect size for a business that requires a little more than just a very basic website, or one which is looking to upgrade from their existing basic website. ‘Small Business Websites’ are also brochure style, but are far more feature-rich. Such features may include: integrating social media, responsive design, a content management system, google analytics and google maps, ‘google my business’ capability. They will also have more pages than a basic website, and again will be designed to be mobile responsive.
Small business websites are perfect for businesses that are likely to update their content regularly. This makes them the perfect choice for startups, freelancers or any growing organisation.
The cost of a small business website will roughly be:
|Cost of a Small Business Website|
|Design||£500 to £1,000|
|Domain||£2.99 to £100 / year|
|Total Upfront Cost||£502.99 to £1,100|
|Hosting||£3 to £45 / month|
|Content Updates||£0 to £30 / month|
|Total Ongoing Costs||£3 to £75 / 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 to your site. Allotting a monthly budget of time and money can be a great way to ensure that this doesn’t get 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 features that won’t actually offer you any real benefit.
Again, website builders are a great option for creating your small business website. Wix categorise their templates by industry, making it really easy to find the one that’s right for you.
Cost of an ecommerce website
The cost of ecommerce websites can vary massively. The price is impacted by the number of items you want to stock, and the number of varieties of each item that are available. It will also, of course, depend on the number of additional features that you want to incorporate. You can expect an ecommerce web design to include an order management system, delivery tracking functionality and a live chat facility, in addition to the features included in a small business website.
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?
|Cost of an ecommerce website|
|Design||£1,000 to £2,500|
|Domain||£2.99 to £100 / year|
|SSL certificate||£15 to £250 / year|
|Total Upfront Cost||£1,017.99 to £2,850|
|Hosting||£10 to £350 / month|
|Content Updates||£0 to £60 / month|
|Total Ongoing Costs||£10 to £410 / 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 increasingly seeing sites move towards. An SSL certificate also means you have a padlock icon in the address bar. It means your customers will take your website seriously, and so will Google. You should check that your web designer will include this as part of the package.
Again, being as specific as you can about your requirements will help you 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. You can fill in this short form to get personalised quotes from Expert Market-approved agencies.
Cost of a bespoke website
Bespoke websites are great for larger companies requiring more functionality, with a higher number of visitors or with more information to share. I 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 for your business. 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). They will almost always be required by businesses in certain industries, including financial services, recruitment or property companies, health and fitness businesses, and architects. 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.
When requesting a bespoke website, it is highly beneficial to work with a dedicated partner. Unless you have a strong relationship with a talented freelancer, we would definitely recommend looking for an agency to work with. This ensures you are getting the best possible service and that they understand your business and what you are trying to achieve. It’s even more vital that you get a quote for the project as a whole, rather than a ‘per hour’ rate. This is because larger projects have the potential to produce time consuming problems that are out of your control as a customer.
|Cost of a Bespoke Website|
|Design||£2,500 to £10,000|
|Domain||£2.99 to £100 / year|
|Total Upfront Cost||£2,507.99 to £10,100|
|Hosting||£10 to £350 / month|
|Content Updates||£0 to £60 / month|
|Total Ongoing Costs||£10 to £410 / 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 which you are working with at the moment, but 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, then this short form and we can get in touch to talk through your requirements and match you up with suitable agencies.
Other than design costs, the main upfront cost you will encounter is purchasing a domain name (if you don’t already have one).
A domain name is the unique ‘address’ of a website. For example, the Expert Market domain name is ‘expertmarket.co.uk’.
|Domain type||Minimum cost|
Once you’ve found a domain name which 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: .co.uk domains cost as little as £4.99 per year, and .com domains will be around £9.99 upwards per year. The most desirable site names cost tens of thousands of pounds per year, so check out a few combinations before settling on one. For this article, we’ve set the upper limit for a domain name at £100 per year.
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 hosting||Typical cost|
|Shared hosting||£3 - £10/month|
|Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting||£10 - £45/month|
|Cloud based web hosting||£10 - £350/month|
|Dedicated hosting||£65 - £200/month|
Shared hosting is the cheapest form of web hosting. You share your hosting platform with a number of other sites, therefore sharing the cost too. The downside is that you also share the bandwidth. So, in effect, you fight for server space with other sites. Shared hosting can be a great low-cost option for basic or new sites which don’t yet get many visitors.
Prices range from £3 - £10 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 but allocates multiple, separate servers to its sites. This way you avoid the problems associated with shared hosting.
Prices range from £10 - £45 a month.
Cloud Based Web Hosting
With cloud based web hosting, your website is hosted on a virtual server. This is a popular option for a number of reasons. Firstly, cloud hosting plans can accommodate unusually large surges in traffic. Secondly, it’s easy to adapt cloud based hosting to your changing needs. And thirdly, with cloud based web hosting plans, you pay only for what you have used. This is a logical next step for a website that might have started on a shared hosting plan but has started see a large volume of traffic.
Prices range from £10 - £350 a month.
With this option, you 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 is also the best option for websites with a high and steady amount of traffic. Not sharing a server with other websites has its advantages, namely that you do not have to compete for bandwidth. This is reflected in the higher price.
Prices range from £65 - £200 a month.
Top Tip: Websites such as 1and1,123reg and GoDaddy regularly offer package deals for domain names and web hosting.
In addition to hosting costs, you will 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 that your website is never really ‘finished’, even when you are happy with how it looks and works. Make sure that you update it in some form or another on a regular basis, in order to keep your audience interested and to appear on google searches. We’ve allowed up to £60 a month for content updates.
Aside from the costs we have already mentioned, there are some additional services that you should consider:
1. Content production
Producing written content is something that you can do yourself to keep costs down. However, it can be worth getting a freelancer or agency to help. Expect to pay between £10 and £50 per hour for content generation.
Hiring a photographer to collect a bank of images for your brand or product is always advisable for creating 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 / marketing
Let’s say you own a cupcake shop in Manchester. Googling ‘cupcake Manchester’ produces around four million results. So how do you make sure that your business appears near the top? Well, a lot of it has to do with how relevant your business is, how up-to-date the content on your site is, and how many visitors you get coming in from other areas, eg. social media. However there are also some additional steps you can take to make sure you’re securing the best position possible.
That’s where SEO comes in. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the process of making a site the best that it can be in terms of search engines. Search engines give preference to sites that load fast and offer the information that 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 the package. 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 ensure that it remains well-optimised.
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?
It should come as no surprise that the answer 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 could 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. You can read about the different stages of the web design process or watch this video:
Kieron Woodhouse, head of UX for a major UK tech company, breaks down the web design process.
10 Questions to ask your web designer
Communication is the key to making the web design process as streamlined as possible. You 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 to ask your designer:
- Do you arrange buying the domain name and hosting for the site, and is this included in your quote?
- 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?
- Will there be any ongoing costs for general site maintenance?
- Will you optimise the website for search engines?
- Will the site be mobile responsive?
- If I am unhappy with the finished design of my site, can it be amended and is there a cost associated with this?
- Will you provide content and imagery for the site, or should I provide it?
- What is the scope for future development of the website? Is it built to grow quickly?
- How much will future amendments to the site cost?
- 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 and £50,000 for the same project. This goes back to web design being 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 one - 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 26% of the entire web.
Although WordPress is free to download and install, there are some costs involved which can be broken down as follows:
- Themes / Custom design
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 £3 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 - £10,000 depending on the design.
Even with a guide to help, trying to work out the exact cost of a website without a background in design is really tricky. Fill in this short form to receive custom quotes for your business from Expert Market-approved suppliers.
Or, now that you have a better idea of how much your website might cost, familiarise yourself with the people who will build it in our Expert Market guide to web developers, software engineers and computer programmers.