Today there are almost 2 billion websites that are globally accessible on the internet. Websites have become mainstream for promoting businesses, social networking, publishing, entertainment and so much more. To be precise, there’s a website for everything and there are websites (search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.) to help you find websites for other things. If you’re thinking about launching your own ship into the sea, the first thing that crossed your mind should’ve been “how much is it going to cost?”. I mean that’s why you’re here, right?

Missing the Real Question

The question regarding how much a website costs can have many answers that vary greatly, just like with the price of different consumer items. Obviously, it depends upon who you’re asking. Let’s suppose you’re a person who has the least knowledge regarding clothing or fashion and your mom has brought you clothes your whole life. Then suddenly you’re living on your own because of studies or a job. Now all your clothes are worn out or don’t fit and you can’t bother your mom who’s living on a different continent.

You have to buy clothes for yourself the very first time so you ask a colleague or friend that how much will half a dozen new shirts and a pair of jeans or two cost. He or she may give you an answer based on their personal experience. Maybe your colleague shops at the most expensive designer boutiques that does not correspond with what your mom used to buy for you.

On the other hand, a close friend may give you an estimate by judging the kind of clothes they’ve always seen you in. Ultimately, it depends on what you want; maybe you like the lifestyle your mom chose for you or maybe you want to change things and express your true personality. If you ask someone who doesn’t know you that well, they shall demand specifics. For example, when talking about a shirt they might want to know what style, material and/or brand you are looking for.  

Therefore, before worrying about the cost, you need to understand and be able to elaborate the kind of website you wish to bring to the table. If you’re a developer or designer yourself, you might have a clear-cut or fairly good idea about achieving your concept. On the contrary, having no experience or information concerning website development leaves you clueless. The real question: Can you list the elements of your desired website?

You Have Options

You may or may not have to hire a professional, depending on the nature of your website. Usually, small-scale personal websites can be created practically free via drag & drop website builders like Wix and Weebly. You can get some advanced features like a private domain name, extended capacity and ad-free hosting by paying as low as $5 per month; bigger and better features will add to the expenses, but normally no more than $50 per month.

Simple websites mainly include personal blogging or portfolios. These kind of platforms are commonly targeted at a limited audience and generally don’t need to be anything extraordinary. Nonetheless, there are always exceptions; many people want to create dynamic and unique sites for their own reasons. These people are usually willing to pay for the luxuries they desire even if it costs them thousands of dollars.

Bigger websites like social networks, enterprise level businesses or online stores selling thousands of products are much complex to develop. In any case, you can make one of them on your own if you’re willing to invest time (and probably some money) to learn coding, WordPress or any web framework. Building a website from scratch is a technical process that only a skilled programmer can execute. On the other hand building a website with WordPress is easier and can be done with the help of online tutorials.

The look of a website matters, but there are numerous background details and functions that are far more important. Drag and Drop website builders offer no or minimum customization; Squarespace is a platform that allows you to make adjustments in the design code, starting from $12 per month. You can even hire a graphic designer for tweaking the design provided on such platforms as no coding knowledge is required. A freelancer or beginner would demand less than $500 if you’re lucky.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or availing the services of a professional, self-hosted websites with multiple pages and complicated functions will come with maintenance costs. With drag and drop websites, you don’t have to worry about back-end maintenance costs because it is a third party server that replenishes by itself.

If you want a professional to handle all details of your website starting from set-up to maintenance, you must be ready to invest thousands of dollars. The most basic website will cost you about $5000 if you hire a freelancer or beginner-level developer. A professional or certified agency may charge as much as $8000 to $10,000. If you outsource to a company situated in an under-developed/developing country, the pricing will lean towards the lower end.

As you add more features, content and pages to your website, the price naturally goes up. High-end & responsive designs, world-class CMS, premium SEO, big Database Integration, Pro-level Ecommerce functionality and other similar advanced characteristics can add up to more than $100,000. Additional fees of updates, maintenance, hosting etc. will altogether cost you another $1000 per month on average.

The Latte Metaphor

Drag & Drop website builders such as WIx and Weebly are like instant packaged Latte. You pour the ingredients of a sachet into the cup, add some hot water and voila! The process is simple and requires minimum effort + time. It may cost you hardly 50 cents but the results are standard – nothing extraordinary about that Latte.

Then there’s the more convenient shortcut of going out and getting a Latte from Starbucks. This would cost you almost 10 times more, but it’s probably worth it. It obviously looks and tastes way better than any cheap instant kind.

Last but not least, is the home-made Latte. It requires the most effort because you need to get all the ingredients (ground coffee, milk, cream, sugar etc.) and maybe look up a good recipe. Then you have to make it yourself – just like building your own website. The ingredients are the tools or frameworks that you select. The end results can vary as it depends upon your skill and the ingredients you chose to put in. Also, you may or may not use mechanical instruments to grind or beat the coffee, whip the cream etc. to speed up the process; this can be perceived as partial assistance, i.e. professionals you hire to take care of certain aspects of your project. Nonetheless, it is the longest route to attaining that Latte you craved. It will definitely cost more than the instant kind, but lesser than Starbucks; you never know, it could turn out better than both.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it’s really up to you and the scope of your website. It depends on how much money you have, how much you are willing or believe is practical to invest (time & money), how big is your project, what features are mandatory and the range of your audience. If you can learn or already know how to create and manage a website even partially, you can drastically curtail the total bill.  

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