How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website for a Small Business

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website for a Small Business

Opening up a small business can be a terrifying experience at first. There are so many things to do that are necessary to make sure that you have a chance at being successful and everything has a cost associated with it.

Because of the market we live in today, one of the most necessary items to build or buy is a website. A small business website ensures that people from all over the world have access to your business and an insight into how you operate. This is an especially important thing if you run a business that runs on e-commerce. People trust the internet to lead them to the best services and businesses for their needs, whether through a search engine or through good old fashioned networking.

But, like anything good that comes with a business, a good website has an operating and start-up cost. The biggest question that is on a business owner’s mind is often what does a website cost to build and maintain? How do I calculate this cost and the way it affects my company and bottom line?

Luckily, there are a few ways to explain this.

Determining the Cost of A Website

Before you invest in a website, there are a few things that you need to understand. The cost of setting up a small business website is controlled by a variety of factors. The most important of these factors are:

  • The amount of time your business has before the website needs to launch
  • How much graphic design work is required to specialize the website to your business expectations and model
  • The pieces of technology and software that need to be integrated to meet the needs of your business
  • How much money you can simply budget for the website

In a perfect commerce-driven world, a small business’  associated cost is where all of these factors meet and make the customer happy. You want to achieve fast set-up with maximum return on investment that also has a superior design from your competitors…and you want this at the lowest possible cost.

The truth is that this is almost impossible for a small business owner to achieve. Websites need to be maintained and provide for an extra cost when it comes to keeping it running. Websites can crash and need a constant team monitoring it to make sure they know why the technology isn’t working. Throw into this any of the licenses you needed to purchase to make your website run perfectly and those need to be renewed every so often. Costs for a website are a constant small business necessity.

How Much Should A Website Cost

Luckily, there are some guidelines out there for the small business that wants to set up a website. Let’s look at the numbers. On average, a small business website can range from about $60 a year (for a maintenance only website), to upwards of $30,000 a year for a highly professional, customized website that is engineered for high conversion and returns. There are services out there that measure your SEO (search engine optimization), that maintain the website, and even services that can process sales for you.

No matter your budget, there is something that will fit you available.

For those who have never set up a website before, it is important to understand where all of the cost is coming from. Let’s look at some of the more unknown costs that are associated with a website.

Domain Name

A domain name is something that is a must. While you can utilize a free website builder that will help you to create a site underneath their domain name (think WordPress or Storenvy), having your own unique domain names helps customers to find you. These names have to be purchased and, depending on who holds the rights to the domain, the price can fluctuate. Even still, a custom domain name is a must to allow customers to find and recognize you on the web. Normally, the cost to keep this domain name is a yearly cost.

SSL Certificate

You might say, “A what?” An SSL is something that you might see pop up when you are browsing the web. This is also known as a security certificate. An SSL keeps your website secure and is important, especially if your website deals with monetary transactions. There is a yearly fee associated with an SSL certificate.

Website Hosting

Most websites are hosted on a server that is outside the company’s control. This is worthwhile as most network hosts have the capacity to maintain a larger website and number of visitors than most small businesses do. It’s actually more cost-effective to hire an external host than to try and host the website on your own server. The cost will depend on your hosting service. It could be a yearly cost or a monthly cost.

CMS (Content Management Systems)

Content management systems provide a customized ability to update your website and provide the best user experience. You can use a CMS that has already been created….or you can pay for a customized CMS. Either way, there is normally a set-up cost and operational cost. This is generally worth it to provide your consumers with a better experience.

Web Design/Redesign

Customized websites are eye catching and make customers take notice. Unfortunately, there is a cost associated with every step of this. First, there are costs like image creation, theme development, plug-in developments (Flash), licenses, and more. Then, you have to look at what this is going to cost if you decide to redesign the website later. Some web designs change frequently, which will affect the cost.

Digital Marketing

Most business owners want to market their company in some manner. There are several ways that you can do this and they all have an associated cost. There are SEO, PPC, and content creation. No matter how you choose to market your site, you need to promote yourself to drive online customer traffic to your small business website. Like with any business, marketing can eat a large portion of your costs.


Maintenance is one of the last things that business owners think of. Unfortunately, every website has associated maintenance. Software updates are made. Licenses need to be renewed. Sometimes, websites just crash and we need someone to troubleshoot them that knows what they’re doing. Updated websites have the largest chance of being seen high in the search results on a search engine, making this more important than ever.

Due to all of these associated costs, it should be clear that you will need to set aside some money just for your web commerce.

Does This Mean My Website Can’t Be Cost-Effective?

After reading all of the costs associated with a website, you might be panicking a little bit. That’s OK and it’s completely normal. You’re probably asking whether you can even make a small business have a cost-effective website. The short answer is, “yes”. It can be possible to create a cost-effective web address. No matter your budget, you can get and maintain a website. While what you spend on the website does have a small effect on its performance, until your business grows, you may not need to be able to sustain a transaction system that allows for two million people to check out at once. You may not need to host it on the server that can allow for fifteen million viewers in an hour.

It is OK to make these determinations of what you can and cannot spend reasonably. Because every small business has a differing budget, you will be happy to know that you can create a website on almost anything. There are a few different tiers of websites that you may want to consider as you go searching for a site.

Websites for FREE

You can get a website for free. There are so many platforms that allow you to create a website and host your site for you! They include several features and can help you design your website to look professional. Most of them allow you to simply drag and drop components into your site in website builder platforms with little to no coding.

Free sites are great for personal use and blogging…and they can also be used for a small business website. The only downside to this is that you will have to have the time to maintain everything yourself and you will have to promote the website yourself. It can be incredibly difficult for you to get good results as a business with this kind of site without promotion.

There are a couple of other downsides to this. First, you don’t get a custom domain name. You will always be associated with the host website. Second, your page will always feature advertising that you can’t control. There’s also a limited bandwidth, which affects how many people can look at your site at once. It also can be difficult to customize your site without spending any money at all.

Websites For Less Than $5,000

A basic, professional website can be on the pricer side. A fully customized and designed website can run you about $5000. However, there are options that you can purchase for a lesser price! These sites are still professionally made, however, they have limited customization and graphics which will limit the look of your site. You will also have limited content updates, which can make your site and maintenance quicker. This will, however, often add an SEO strategy to your site, which is incredibly helpful in the long run so that you can be seen quickly on search engines.

This is a great option for a small business that is looking to reach out to their local community. It is also a good option for those who have a limited budget for the upkeep and maintenance of their website. You will get a basic internet and search engine presence, which is generally all a small business is looking for when they are just starting.

The Golden Tier: $5,000 to $15,000

Sorry to startle you! But, the “gold tier” is where most commerce and business websites fall into. These websites and services offer you a higher level of customization in design and themes. They are also more interactive for your customer base and often include customized photography, better and more frequent content upgrades, as well as more freedom for different marketing strategies and outreach (think better SEO reach!). If you’re just starting out, it is perfectly reasonable to not have this budget yet!

This is great for a small business that wants to focus on driving more online traffic and commerce to their website. This is great if you are looking to expand into different markets and areas, such as an international market. These sites can handle the traffic that is associated with larger transactions.

Platinum Tier: >$15,000

Large websites look at this price range. Most small businesses don’t expand into this price range, but it has the best amount of options. Many companies that offer this quality of service will research your competitors, offer you unique themes for your site, design you a personalized website, and allow for a larger budget for marketing. This is great for a small business that wants to establish their online presence quickly. It’s a great way for an e-commerce business to gain a larger following and to get the suitable bandwidth that they would need to complete hundreds of transactions a day.

A website with this budget would allow for several interactive features and is user-friendly and functional. If your company allows for this kind of budget, this fit is the best buy-in ideal.

No matter your budget or the kind of site you need to design, hiring a professional design service is better for you in the long run. This will help you to establish a larger web presence and to create a more user-friendly experience that will help you to drive more customers to your business. A good website is a great way to help drive commerce and to help you get the most out of your marketing experience.