Estimating the cost to build a website is like asking how much it costs to construct a building. The obvious answer is, "It depends on what you want to do with the building."
For small businesses, the answer depends on the main purpose of your website: Is your website solely for marketing purposes? Or do you plan to sell goods and services on it? While one site can certainly do both, its main purpose should guide your selection as to which hosting platform and design software are best suited for your business.
Common issues to consider
Every website needs a domain name and a web hosting service. The domain name is often the name of the business followed by a period and top-level domain (TLD) like .com, .org, or any of the hundreds of specialty TLDs available.
Almost all hosting companies offer services that let you search for a domain name that fits your business and bundle hosting services into a single purchase. You'll find offers ranging from $1 for the domain name and another $60 or so for the hosting. These are yearly charges, and special offers usually expire after the first year, so shop carefully.
Bottom line: Domain name and hosting can cost as little as $60 per year, but, ultimately, the best value depends on the choices you make in selecting your domain name, hosting provider and options. Options can include backup services that save your website's files, SSL certificates and lots of other helpful tools. Some hosting services offer these options at no extra charge for the first year, or even for multiple years. Others charge right from the start. A good estimate is to budget $200 for the domain name and hosting for your first year.
Domain name and hosting
Small business sites can be accommodated easily by any one of the following well-rated services:
Call them brochure sites, vanity pages or squeeze pages – these sites are designed to simplify the user experience by eliminating menus and any other types of navigation. They are also simple to create and maintain because everything is on one page. Carrd.co offers a free version that includes basic hosting or multiple single-page sites for less than $10 per year.
More standard websites start around $60 per year, but can reach hundreds of dollars per year as you add features. These providers include:
And if your primary intent is selling, consider:
Designing your site is the wild card. Almost every hosting service offers simplified designs that can be modified by non-programmers. But customization and adding features invariably require adding prebuilt programs that are billed on a monthly or yearly basis, or hiring an expert to design them for you.
Prebuilt add-ons can cost anywhere from $60 to a few hundred dollars per year depending on the complexity of the feature and your website. Expert help can range from just a few dollars to thousands. For help locating a web designer, look at Fiverr.com.
What will it cost?
Start with an initial budget of $200 for the first year, but add another $200 for additional features and programming. Once you have some experience with your site, you'll be in a better position to decide where to take it and what features to add.