Website development

How much does website development cost?

by Arso and Ilona
5 min
23. Nov 2021.

Whenever someone asked me how much a site costs, I would jokingly answer "how much does a car cost?". This article explains the various factors that affect the price of website development and how to calculate the cost of your website.

In a land not so far away, there was a carpenter. He had a small workshop in the cellar with various tools and machinery. Custom-made tables, chairs, wardrobe, beds, kitchen, windows, and doors - there was nothing he could not do. One day, a client approached him and asked for his services: How much does making a kitchen like this cost? - the client showed the picture of the kitchen he wanted. €1000. - the carpenter answered. That much? How much did you think it would cost? €500 tops.  The carpenter decided he'd play a game. It's not the first time he's having a conversation like this.  For €500 I invite you to do it yourself. - he answered. I would, but I don't know-how. - the client replied.  Ok, I'll teach you for €400, so you still save some money. For a second, the client just stood there pensive and then decided to accept the offer.

  • You'll at least need to use a circular saw, hammer, nails, glue, and wood varnish - said the carpenter. 

  • But I don't have those tools right now. 

  • I'll borrow mine for €200, so you can still do it yourself. 

  • Deal.

  • Perfect! I expect you here on Friday. 

  • But I don't have time on Friday. I can do it only today.

  • There is not enough time today to teach you everything. Plus, you still need to buy raw materials for the kitchen.

  • Even that. And I'll lose quite some time driving to the market. You have everything we need, can you sell it to me?

  • I can, but that will cost you €200 extra. Now that you got everything, I expect you to start your business tomorrow at 5 o'clock here with me. Please come on time - said the carpenter. 

  • That's so early - the client yammered. You know what? It's better if I pay €1000. I calculated everything, and it would cost me a lot more if I did it myself.

If you’re reading this, it means you are at a specific stage. You have a business idea, or you may have even started a business. You are selling a product or a service. And - you are thinking about your website. Now, let me tell you right at the beginning - you need a website, and it’s not a ‘maybe’ situation.  There has never been a better or more critical time to invest in a website for your business. Here’s why:

  • It makes you look professional.

  • It attracts customers and showcases your product or service.

  • It is an integral part of marketing, promotion, and your business strategy.

We hope we have cleared that out. The only important question left is: How much does it REALLY cost to build a website? Building a website is like fixing a car. Or building a house.  How much does it cost to fix a car depends on the model, malfunction, or the quality of the parts?  How much a house cost depends on the house’s size, the number of rooms, and the materials you will use. And that’s just the beginning. Just like that, it is impossible to have one fixed price for the websites. It depends on so many things: type of the website, number of pages, quality of design, specific features such as web hosting, hosting providers, etc. So let’s start with the most affordable option.

The cheapest way for a website development

If you are a business beginner and your budget is thin, try to cut the expenses.  You are probably wondering how to create a website for free or create a website from scratch?  The cheapest way to build a website is through a website builder.  Many owners decide to make this step. Various website builders are on the market today, mostly affordable and easy to comprehend with good possibilities. Good, but not great. The biggest con when using a website builder is the website's appearance and user experience. You must be satisfied with the prepared themes, template design, and functionalities that sometimes don't fit your business. WordPress site is definitely one of the most popular sites with all prepared features. And having a good-looking website with great UX is equally important as creating the website itself. If the UI/UX is not good, there will be no use in having it. Why's that? Every research tells that the average human being has an attention span of 8 seconds, and you have exactly that much time to leave the best impression and intrigue him to stay on your web. The second problem might be time. Remember the story of our carpenter and client from the beginning? The client had to invest a reasonable amount of time to make a desirable kitchen to save some money. Creating a website through a website builder is similar, and it requires some knowledge and a lot of time. The amount of cash you will spare equals the time you will spend on doing everything by yourself. And possibly tons of nerves. When talking about money, you'll need from $10 to a maximum of $350 in total to build your website by yourself. That includes the domain name, web hosting, free or paid theme for your website (depending on what you need), as well as free or paid plugins to keep your website functional. Some features like extra security, excellent SEO, or content options might add some additional cost. Our advice is to buy them. It's almost impossible for non-technical people to develop these features alone, so buying them saves time and is worth it. In the end, you only have to ask yourself: do you want a website built by yourself? Are you ready to learn? Or you'll leave it to the carpenter. Pardon, people are good at building websites.  Our next paragraph is all about the cost of building a website with developers. Beware, it's going to be a long one.

How much does it cost to hire web developers?

Prior to what we said before, there are obvious advantages of hiring a developer.

  • They save time.

  • They can make unique, modern designs making them visually pleasing to others and distinguished from other websites.

  • They provide you with the latest technology and easy to maintain the system to benefit from it as much as possible.

  • They can help with any problem you are stuck with.

The first thing people experience when visiting a website is the user interface (UI). The speed of loading is probably the second thing. Believe it or not, but engaging UI isn’t only pretty and modern. It has the task of making a product or service more trustworthy for users. There is a whole science of what needs to stand where and why.

This is not praising to web developers. We are aware every developer is different, and some are awesome, and others are irresponsible and do a lousy job. There are beginners and more experienced ones and cheaper and more expensive developers, and they have qualities pretty much the same as all business owners. And as with all other businesses, their prices vary. There are three main factors when talking about website developers’ costs.

  • Experience level

  • Country of origin

  • Requirements, therefore, the technology used in developing.

Experience level

Generally, a more experienced developer is more expensive. It’s a no-brainer. You’ll usually see triple classification when talking about a developer’s rank. Juniors, mediators, and seniors. The first is great for more straightforward projects, for example, a one-pager or landing page for your offer. They probably aren’t the best choice for complicated e-commerce websites. Mediators already have some finished projects under the belt, hence the remarkable experience you need for your website. Seniors are self-explanatory. They know how to handle advanced and complex stuff, they are usually faster, and most business owners choose them because of the certainty that they will do the job.

Technology

The demand for different languages and frameworks varies, meaning there’s a difference in price for the developers that know them. For creating a visible part of your website, layouts, animations, and connecting all that to a server, you need a frontend developer. They use a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and help users see and interact with the end product seamlessly. A backend developer is responsible for server-side web application logic and integration of frontend developers’ work.  You’ll see them use JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, Git, and some other tools. Here are just some of the languages and frameworks frontend and backend developers use.

Location

Prices vary based on where your developer is located, and someone from India will charge less than someone in the US relatively - but you have to consider purchasing power as well. All these things influence the hourly rate. The total cost of your website is the multiplication of the hourly rate and the number of hours it will take to finish the job. The length of the project will vary based on how complex your site is and how efficient your developer is. There are also other variables like do you want in-house developers, outsourcing companies, and freelance websites. Each option has its pros and cons, such as communication barriers, possible deadline failure (freelance), different time zones and limited involvement (outsourcing), or high rates and additional spending (in-house developers).

Before defining their price, every serious developer will first ask for the exact scope of the website. Is it just a single page with minimal content, a website that you intend to update without experience of any simple coding, or one from which you expect to run a business? Secondly, he will ask about materials - do business owners provide any assets and other design aspects for the website? Does a developer start from scratch? Complexity + Workload + Time is the basic calculation when developing websites. If you understand the web and know exactly what you want, you can hire a  developer to implement what you need. The fees change depending on experience; you can find ranges from $5/hour to $60/hour or maybe more. Full-stack developers are the ones that charge a bit more, but they are worth it as they can take care of the backend (functionality) and frontend (visible part and user interaction). When talking about some agencies, they may charge between $30 to $150 per hour. There are also global networks of freelancers like Toptal or Upwork with hourly rates ranging from $60 - $210you require. On the other hand, pricing depends on what kind of website you need. Is it personal, for small businesses, online stores if you want to sell products, etc.? Here are some examples of pricing for different types of websites.

Pricing for an One-page website

The cheapest website builder in this category is Weebly; site-building offers many free versions.

Pricing for a portfolio website

When it comes to Portfolio, web design is the most important thing. So you should rethink do you want to invest less.

Pricing for a business website

As you can see, Jimdo and Wix websites range from free up to $24 per month. For example, the most popular Wix website builder costs $12.

Pricing for an eCommerce website

The price range for eCommerce is much more comprehensive. As one of the leader eCommerce platforms, Shopify charges up to $229 monthly for website creation.

Here, you can see pricing differences between Traditional and Headless CMS.

The answer to the ultimate question - why are developers so damn expensive

Remember our carpenter from the beginning of the story? As you can see, there is no universal answer on how much a website costs. It depends on so many things. Yes, with all of them, more or less expensive, you’ll probably get a website. But will that website have a good and intuitive user experience? Will it have a striking design (as 75% of users judge company credibility by its web design) or standard and generic? What about SSL certificates, SEO possibilities, security? Will it be accessible for mobiles and other devices, or will it cut the most important letters from the content?

Web development involves more than just coding and uploading a site to some web host. Web development consists of making the right decisions in terms of UI and UX to make the site attractive to your users and has a strategy for SEO/SEM. At first glance, one developer may seem more expensive than the other just to find out later that it was the opposite. For example, a cheaper developer can be a beginner who doesn’t know how to handle complex things you need on your website, so it lasts longer than expected with many things that need to be fixed.  The moral lesson in the story from the beginning and the whole of this article is this. You are not paying just for the job that needs to be done; you are also paying for:

  • knowledge (an all the learning time spent)

  • experience

  • tools or software one may use in the process

  • service

  • accuracy, reliability, responsibility

Keep all that in mind the next time you require costs depending on the house’s size and website development.