Website Design

The Ultimate Website Budgeting Guide

Photo of Michelle Givens Michelle Givens - July 25, 2019

Websites range from being venues for basic information to being the main hub of revenue and lead generation for businesses. Since there is such a broad spectrum when it comes to the purpose of websites, the cost to build one also covers a wide range.

If you have been price shopping to determine your upcoming website project’s budget or are planning to do it soon, then get ready. It’s going to be a roller coaster. The estimates you’ll receive will be all over the place.

If you’re not immersed in the field of web design and development, then how do you know what’s a fair price and what is unreasonable? How do you know what price will actually provide a great experience and an end product that functions properly and drives more conversions?

We hope to help answer these questions and more in this website budget guide. We will explain the different tiers of websites, what they do, plus, the pros and cons of each. Use this guide to determine what you can expect with your web design budget.

Website Design Budget Ranges

Two factors will determine the price of your website. First, who you’re hiring to build your (website agency, freelancer, or yourself) and second, what functionalities your website needs to have.

Pro tip: Be sure you consider these important things before diving too far into the budgeting process.

To best use this guide, let’s determine what category you fall in based on the functionalities you need. Click on the link below that best describes your website needs to go directly to that section in our guide.

  • DIY Builder Website - A website you can build through available online platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, Big Commerce, etc.
  • Standard Website - A templated website that establishes your business’ online presence and provides your web visitors with information about your company and general contact information. This design will not be unique, it would be based solely off of an existing theme that is modified to compliment your brand colors and font.
  • Custom Website - This option is still an information-driven site but it is more tailored towards your company’s goals and is uniquely designed to accentuate your brand and drive more leads from your website.
  • Ecommerce Website - An online storefront that allows you to sell your tangible and digital goods online, monitor inventory, upkeep sales tax obligations, and safely collect credit card and other confidential information from your website visitors. The design can either be templated or unique.
  • Full-Featured Web Application - A unique website that is built around a business model and has the ability for external systems to extend the application to do very specific processes through an API. There isn’t an off-the-shelf solution that fits all of the business’ needs. The website is typically created to provide the user access to the system (examples include Grammarly, Hubspot, Basecamp).

$0 - $300/mo – DIY Builder Website

There are abundant options when it comes to DIY website builders. You can build your own informational site, blog, or ecommerce site. Niche builder-like systems are also coming out that can help you build web applications on your own too.

However, you should be aware of the flipside of this option. It may be the most attractive from a budget standpoint, but it can leave even the most digitally-inclined shaking their laptops or pulling their hair out. So, be sure to consider the time spent trying to DIY and possible freelancer costs to help along the way when budgeting for this option.

Pro of a DIY Builder Website

  • Cost-effective

If your website is mainly informational and you are tech-savvy, this option can be a really great first step for your business website. You can build a professional-looking online presence and provide useful information to your website visitors with sweat equity and a small monthly fee.

Cons of a DIY Builder Website

  • Some technical knowledge required

If you are trying to build your website using a DIY tool, but are not tech-savvy, you may find yourself getting stuck. Most website building tools require interaction with HTML code at some point. This means that basic knowledge in HTML/CSS programming as well as design best practices leads to a better end product.

  • Time-consuming

If you are not familiar with coding and design, the extra time you have to spend learning programming and the website builder tool may take more time away from growing your business than it is worth. Plus, if you get stuck, you may end up having to hire someone to help out which may exceed your planned budget.

$2,000 - $6,500 – Standard Website

This type of website will help your organization establish its online presence. These websites are simple and clean. They get the basic job done by providing information about your services and general contact information. They can be created by hiring a freelance web developer or an agency.

Pro tip: Prices tend to be on the lower end of the range for freelancers and agencies that outsource projects. A price point on the higher end tends to provide a more enjoyable design and development process and a more polished end product.

Pros of a Standard Website

  • Cost-effective

The main upside for a standard website is that they are very cost-effective. Your business can share relevant information for users to find online easily for a decent price.

  • Fewer headaches

Another positive with this option is that you can focus your time on growing your business while you pay for someone experienced to build your site. This means less broken computers and more leads for you!

Cons of a Standard Website

  • Not one-of-a-kind

With a standard website, it will most likely be developed using a template, meaning there are other websites out there that will look similar to yours.

  • Inconsistencies in deliverables

Do not strictly choose a freelancer or agency solely on price. If you do, you will likely regret it. A lot of times the lower quotes mean that the company or freelancer quoting the website project is likely scoping the project incorrectly. This may mean poor communication or underestimating of meeting times, design time, overhead expenses, and other important project scoping.

$7,500 - $50,000+ – Custom Website

A custom website will establish your brand’s online presence in a way that is unique to your brand. The price range of this category varies widely because it depends on what functionalities you are wanting and how elaborate you want the design to be.

Also, a lot of attention will be given to strategy and goal setting to ensure that your website actively works to generate leads and establish your brand through things like professionally-crafted website content, lead-capturing forms, web hierarchy optimization, etc.

Pros of a Custom Website

  • Valuable tool for your business

A custom website can turn your website into a revenue generation source by generating high-quality leads and increasing brand awareness.

  • One-of-a-kind design

Unlike a standard, templated site, with a custom website you will have the freedom to truly express your brand through a uniquely designed web template. However, general web design best practices will be accounted for in the designing process, of course.

  • Endless possibilities

With a custom website, you can do things like integrate with a third-party system like Daxko, Blackbaud, or IDX. You can also add a team member directory, an HR job management system, or a knowledge base.

The only thing that would limit you here is your budget or your agency’s capabilities. With a custom website solution, you can truly obtain a website that ties back directly to your company’s ROI.

Cons of a Custom Website

  • Price can escalate quickly

When building a custom website, there are many factors that can increase the price. For example, short timelines, custom features, and additional content creation are all things that can quickly escalate the price of your website.

  • Inconsistencies in deliverables

It is even more important than the standard website category to not strictly choose a freelancer or agency solely on price. Be sure to get references to several comparable projects the agency or freelancer has delivered on. Discuss the budget and timeframe the deliverable was developed in as well.

$7,500 - $50,000 – Ecommerce Website

Ecommerce websites act as an online storefront, and therefore, are in their own category. A well-executed ecommerce site will have an easy checkout process, a secure payment processing system, a great site structure and design, transactional emails, and more.

Pro tip: Finding a reputable, experienced company to guide you through the process is the key to ending up with a reliable end product that properly protects your customers’ information and decreases your company’s liabilities.

Pros of an Ecommerce Website

  • Easier for your audience to make a transaction

Online shopping is the new normal, so by investing in an ecommerce site you are providing an easy way for your current audience and new prospects to complete a transaction. Plus, it’s open 24/7, unlike a traditional storefront.

  • More information for your audience

In a brick-and-mortar store, you will rarely find printed out descriptions for each item in the store. But with an ecommerce website, it is essential to provide your prospects with more details about the product you are trying to sell. This small factor can help increase sales.

Cons of an Ecommerce Website

  • Can be expensive

Like a traditional store, there are necessary expenses when launching a professionally-developed ecommerce website. For example, to collect online payments a different account is required by most financial institutions. Plus, there are costs for shipping, sales taxes, online security (SSL certificate), insurance, and more.

  • Managing Inventory

A lot of time and headache can be associated with inventory if you sell physical goods. So be sure to consider inventory management when determining your ecommerce system needs.

  • Security Threats

Since you are collecting confidential information like credit card details and addresses, you want to make sure you use a reputable payment processor, obtain a quality SSL certificate, purchase proper insurance, and account for data breach laws.

$30,000 - $100,000+ – Full-Featured Web Application

Full-featured web applications are developed around products and services that need a unique web-based platform for users to access. Plus, these apps also have APIs that allow other systems to access the centralized information source. The possibilities of a web application are endless so the pricing varies for custom web applications.

Pros of a Full-Featured Web Application

  • Can Improve Your Business’ Efficiency

Having a web application specifically developed for your business can help you simplify and improve internal processes that were taking too much time beforehand.

  • Provides Recurring Revenue

You can develop a whole product/service line around a web application. This allows you to use this web-based solution as a recurring revenue source.

  • Integrations to keep everything up-to-date

With a full-featured web app, you would have the ability to integrate external systems to streamline your business processes. An example of this would be syncing internal user accounts to your email marketing and CRM platforms.

With a full-featured application, you would be able to develop and build out a custom API for your business. This would open the door to add mobile apps, tv apps and more to interact with your web app.

Cons of a Full-Featured Web Application

  • High Upfront Costs

Even though the benefits of your custom web application will eventually outweigh the initial cost, it’s still a big starting investment.

  • More Planning and Testing

A full-featured web app requires more planning to ensure all features are planned accordingly. This type of project requires a lot of research, development, and testing to make sure it works correctly.

Additional Website Costs to Consider

Here are some essential things that you don't want forget to include in your web design budget.

Domain name registration

A domain name is what your users will type into their browser to access your website. You will need to purchase your domain and renew it. The price for these can vary significantly with the domain extension explosion.

Typical domains (.com, .org, .biz) are going to range from $0.99 to $50.00 annually. Be sure to check if the agency you are working with will take care of this for you.

Website hosting

You will also need a location for your website to be stored in the “cloud” for people to access when they type in your URL. Like domain registration, it’s a recurring expense, typically annually or monthly. Important factors to consider when choosing a web hosting company are uptime and backups. You’ll want to make sure your web hosting company has reliable uptime so that you don’t ever have to worry about downtime.

Also, your hosting company should perform nightly backups that are stored on redundant hard drives to help reduce the risk of data loss in case of hard drive failure.

Website security (SSL Certificate)

An SSL certificate increases your website security and protects your users’ confidential information by establishing an encrypted connection between your customer’s computer and your website.

Content creation

If you don’t have any content for your website (and don’t know where to start), then you’ll need to factor in the cost of content creation into your web design budget. You will also want to consider budgeting for an ongoing content strategy after you launch your site to help increase your reach and establish a reputable online presence for your business.

Testing and training

Make sure that your web design agency is accounting for the cost of testing your site and training you on how to update your website when they provide you with a quote. If not, be sure to get these priced accordingly.

Search engine optimization

It’s essential to have your website optimized for the search engines so that your business gets noticed. However, in-depth SEO may be an additional cost with your agency. Another thing to consider budget-wise is an ongoing SEO strategy for your website post-launch.


Responsive websites are becoming more of a standard since they are necessary in today’s environment. However, some agencies may tack on an additional charge to make your site mobile-friendly. You’ll want to have some wiggle room in your budget for this necessary feature just in case your agency charges extra for this.

Website updating and maintenance

Don’t forget that technology is everchanging, so your website will need to be updated and maintained on an ongoing basis to protect you and your visitors from malware, breaches, and spam. Be sure to account for this when budgeting.

Ongoing website marketing

To make sure that your website is meeting your business’ goals, like generating leads or closing sales, then you need to invest in marketing for your website. This means you will need to develop strategies for email marketing, social media, and content marketing. Make sure to include a post-launch budget for this to maximize your ROI for your new website.


Hopefully, this guide helped explain to you the different tiers of websites and the prices you should expect to pay for each. As you can see, they each have their pros and cons, so be sure that before you take the next step, you select the right type of website for your business and set a budget that produces a quality investment.

If you are interested in partnering with an experienced, award-winning agency for your website design and development, then click below to fill out our form so we can chat about your business’ needs!