The Cost of Website Development: Your Guide to Price Formation

by Sandra Parker on Nov 9, 2021

The process of developing a website is straightforward, but the way website development costs are calculated is anything but. We wrote a guide to help you derive your estimate and be prepared for conversations with freelancers and website development outsourcing agencies.

Whether you’re running a business or engaged in another worthwhile endeavor, having a website and maintaining an online presence is crucial in our modern digital world. If you don’t have one, it’s quite easy to find a high-profile website development team with a relevant portfolio. However, typically, you won’t find a price list as easily.

It makes you wonder how much does it cost to create a website. After all, another crucial element of business is budgeting.

Well, the quick answer is that it depends on a wide range of factors. Let’s take a closer look at some of those factors, compare the different routes you can take to build a website, and get a few estimates of the website development costs.

What determines how much it will cost to build a website?

Before we look at some of the average estimates of web development costs, let’s first take a look at the price factors that determine the cost of creating a website. These can be grouped into two categories: flat costs and variable costs.

Flat Costs of Website Development

To get your website on the internet, there are a couple of flat costs you’ll have to deal with. These include

  • domain costs;
  • hosting fees; and
  • subscription costs for a website-building tool (optional).

Domain

One of the essential first steps in creating a website is registering a domain name. It is the address that you type into a browser that navigates to a website – google.com is an easy example. 

Domain names have to be unique, so you’ll need to register yours on a domain name registrar. This fee needs to be renewed annually if you want to keep the name. Prices vary between $12 to $60 per year, on average, depending on the provider you register with and your domain level. And if you want to buy an already registered domain from an auction, the price can go well into the thousands range. 

Hosting

Once your website is complete and ready for use, it has to be hosted on a webserver to make your website available to others. Many companies rent out their servers and the prices can range from just a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per month, depending on the size and functionality of your website.

Prices usually start around the $2 mark for a WordPress or single shared hosting service and can go up to $200 for a dedicated server.

SSL Certificate

If your website is going to collect any data from your visitors, you will have to purchase an SSL certificate. Many personal and small-business websites do just fine with a free SSL certificate. However — the more data protection your users expect (and the more data your website handles), the higher the cost of your SSL certificate.

So, how much does it cost to provide peace of mind to your visitors? Somewhere between $0 and $1,000 a year.

Subscriptions

Many website builders provide a quick and easy way to get a website up and running, but they also come with a fee attached – for paid templates or a subscription. The latter usually covers hosting so you don’t have to pay for that separately. And some services even offer free domain names during the first year.

Depending on your needs, you might find these platforms suitable for building a website. Their pricing plans usually range from as little as $6 per month to as much as $50 per month, depending on the number of features and resources you need.

Let’s now look at the variable costs involved in website development.

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Variable Costs of Website Development

The cost of web development can also vary depending on the platform you choose to build your site on. This can be a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builder, such as Wix, or a static website with a static site generator, such as Jekyll or Gatsby. 

If you’re creating a content-based website like a blog or eCommerce site, you can leverage free, open-source content management platforms, such as WordPress and Drupal. Let’s take a closer look at these options and how they impact development costs.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the different platforms you can use when building a website.

PlatformDescriptionPricing
WixVersatile website builder with plenty of tools and features.$14/month to $49/month
SquarespacePopular website builder with stunning design templates.$12/month to $40/month
WeeblyEasy-to-use website builder with affordable plans. $6/month to $25/month
JekyllEasy-to-use JAMstack static website generator.Free
GatsbyScalable static site generator that uses React.js and GraphQL.Free
HugoFast, general-purpose static site generator written in Go.Free
DrupalOpen-source content management system with thousands of third-party themes and extensions.Free
JoomlaOpen-source website builder and CMS. Free
WordPress.orgPopular open-source CMS for creating blogs and other content-based websites.Free
WordPress.comA popular website builder that provides hosting (unlike WordPress.org)Free or starting at $4/month (billed annually)

Paid platforms

A number of website-building tools offer free plans that allow users to create basic websites. However, if you need to create a fully featured site for your business, you’ll often have to upgrade to the premium plans.

Let’s take a look at some of the best premium website builders that can help you create a website quickly. 

  • Wix. Wix is a popular website builder that offers a wide range of tools and features for building a functional website without much hassle. There’s a library of template designs that you can modify to suit your needs, as well as several third-party integrations that you can leverage to add functionality to your site. The Wix price range is from $14/month for the Combo plan to $49/month for the Business VIP plan.  
  • Squarespace. Squarespace is another popular option for building beautiful websites quickly. Its visual editor isn’t the most intuitive option out there and might require some getting used to, but the templates are very well designed and professional-looking. Squarespace’s pricing ranges from $12/month for the Personal plan to $40/month for the Advanced Commerce plan. 
  • Weebly. Weebly is an easy-to-use website builder that is great for building simple websites. While it doesn’t offer as much flexibility as Wix does, it packs a lot of great features and a generous free plan. Its premium plans are also quite affordable, costing just $6, $12, and $25 per month for the Personal, Professional, and Performance plans. 

Self-built platforms

Another way to build websites quickly and with little cost is to use a static site generator. These tools make it easy to generate a website from raw data and templates. Some of the more popular static site generators include Jekyll, Gatsby, and Hugo.

  • Jekyll. Jekyll is an easy-to-use static website generator that is ideal for building different kinds of websites. With only a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, you can put together a static site using Jekyll.
  • Gatsby. Gatsby is another static site generator that uses the JAMstack architecture. It also uses the popular front-end library—React.js—for the front end, and GraphQL for the data access layer. Gatsby is scalable, easy to set up, and free to use. 
  • Hugo. Hugo is a fast static site generator that was written in the Go programming language. It’s very flexible and easy to configure and works well for building blogs and other content-based websites.

Open-source platforms

Open-source software refers to software products that are designed to be used and modified by anyone as they see fit. These products are often developed by communities of programmers and released under an open-source license. 

Currently, there are several open-source website builders that you can use to create a website with reduced costs. Some of the popular options include Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.org.

  • Drupal. Drupal is a free, open-source content management system that you can use to build a website without coding. You can choose from the thousands of free themes available in the Drupal theme directory when building your site and customize them as needed. There are also lots of free modules that allow you to extend the functionality of your site.
  • Joomla. Joomla is another open-source website builder and content management system. You can design your website without knowing HTML and CSS by using Joomla’s WYSIWYG editor. There are also lots of free and paid Joomla templates to choose from. And there are over 6 000 extensions that you can use to add features to your website.
  • WordPress.org. WordPress.org is one of the most popular content management systems in use today. It’s very versatile and can be used to build both simple and more complex websites. There are thousands of free themes on the internet and a lot of premium options too. 

While these open-source website builders are great options for building small-scale personal websites, you’ll still need to hire skilled website developers to create a fully customized website that suits your needs and business objectives. In this case, you’ll need a tech stack.

Let’s now look at how the cost of building a website might vary depending on what tech stack you choose for development. 

Custom Website Development Tech Stack

If you’re planning to build a complex website or web application, you’ll have to select a tech stack, i.e, the different languages and frameworks that you will leverage during the development process. You’ll need to choose solutions for the front end, back end, and database of your application.

Front-end technology

The front end or user interface of your site can be developed using the standard web development languages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Some development teams use additional design frameworks, such as Bootstrap and Tailwind CSS, or advanced front-end frameworks, like Angular, React, Vue.js, and JQuery.  

Back-end technology

When building out the back end for your site, you can either use the traditional server-based approach, which works well for monolithic applications, or utilize the modern serverless approach in conjunction with microservices. You’ll need to select from back-end frameworks such as Node.Js, .NET, and Java, and cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. 

Database technology

In addition to choosing a back-end architecture and framework, you’ll have to select a suitable database for storing your application’s data. Some of the popular relational databases in use today include MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Oracle. If you opt for serverless architecture, options such as Amazon Aurora, DynamoDB, and MongoDB will be more suitable.

Further, you might need to consider other technologies that your web design and development team will use. For example, during development and certainly before deployment, they’ll need to test the website. In terms of QA this includes everything from UI testing to load testing.

Overall, the cost of development will depend on how the technology stacks up. But other factors can also have an impact on the eventual cost of getting your site up and running.

Non-Functional Criteria that Determine Website Costs

Some additional criteria that often play a role in determining website costs include project requirements, future scalability, deadlines, and security level.

Project requirements

When choosing a technology stack for building your website, you’ll need to ensure that the chosen technology is ideal for implementing all the required functionality on your site. The scope of the project requirements and the type of technologies needed for development will impact the overall cost of the website. 

Future scalability

If you’re building a web application that will have to accommodate a growing number of users in the future, you’ll have to set it up for scalability from the start. Doing so will require choosing reliable technologies and implementing a scalable architecture. The kind of architecture you choose will affect your maintenance and server costs in the long run.

Deadline

Another factor that could affect your development costs and choice of technologies is time to market. If you’re a startup looking to release a project as quickly as possible, you’ll need to go for web development technologies that are ideal for rapid application development. You might also need to hire a larger or more experienced development team to get the job done quicker.

Security level

If you’re building a website that requires a high level of security, you’ll need to invest in the necessary tools and frameworks to provide secure authentication to your users. You’ll also need to ensure that your site complies with privacy rules and regulations such as the GDPR policies.

How Do Business Objectives Define the Scope of a Website?

In addition to the aforementioned factors and criteria that determine the cost of setting up and running a website, the objectives of your business will likely play a major role in defining the scope and eventual cost of your website.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of websites based on business objectives and the important factors to consider when evaluating development costs.

Entertainment Websites

Entertainment websites are often designed to keep users engaged with enjoyable content in many multimedia formats. These sites often feature content such as videos, podcasts, music, games, slideshows, and chat forums. Some popular examples of entertainment sites include YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify.

If you’re building an entertainment website, you’ll need to take into account the additional costs that hosting dynamic media content on your site will incur. You might also need to invest in teams of software engineers that have experience working with online multimedia systems. 

eCommerce Websites

If you’re looking to sell your products online, you’ll need to build an eCommerce-focused website. These generally include functionality that allows shoppers to purchase items and pay via different payment methods. They also provide an efficient way for your team to receive and process orders. Some popular examples include Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress.

The cost of integrating eCommerce functionality into your website will vary depending on the size of your product line, the average number of orders over a given period, and the overall size of the business. The larger your business, the higher the costs of building an eCommerce website will be. 

In addition, the approach you take to building an eCommerce site will have an impact on your expenses over time. While WYSIWYG eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and Squarespace are quick to set up and might be cheaper initially, stand-alone eCommerce solutions are usually more affordable in the long term but have a higher upfront cost. 

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Corporate Websites

Corporate websites are designed to serve as marketing tools for the organizations or businesses they represent. These sites are useful tools for providing prospective customers with information about the company and its products or services. Some popular examples include Pixar, Blab Studio, and Apple.

If you run a business, the scope and cost of your corporate website will depend on the size of your business and the range of products and services you provide. Your website will need to be adequately optimized for search engines and well designed to make a good first impression on visitors. 

Thus, you’ll need to ensure that your site has a responsive design i.e., it looks great on any device. It should have proper navigation so that visitors can find information quickly. And it should also be rich in visual content to resonate with a wider audience.

Web Applications

Web applications are software programs that run in a web browser. These applications are invaluable tools for businesses that need to exchange information with their customers and facilitate collaboration. Some examples of popular web applications include Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, and Gmail.

If you need to develop web applications for your business, you’ll have to invest in capable teams of software developers to work on the frontend, backend, and database portions of the apps. Web applications can range in complexity from simple contact forms to large data management portals. The scope and functionality of your application will determine the development costs.

How much does it cost to hire developers?

As we have seen, there are many different factors that determine the cost of developing a website. However, if you’re looking to create a website, it can be helpful to go over estimates of web development costs around the world. Here’s a quick rundown of the hourly cost of hiring web developers around the world. 

RegionOutsourcing rates, $/hourFreelance rates, $/hour
North America$90-$350$65-$70
South America$30-$50$51
Asia$18-$80$49
Europe$65-$170$63
Eastern Europe$20-$150$56
Australia$80-$150$70

While these hourly rates can give you an idea of how much you can expect to spend when hiring web developers, it’s also helpful to know how long the average web development process takes. Let’s take a quick look at the average time it takes to build a website.

How Long Does it Take to Build a Website?

The duration of custom website development will vary depending on several factors including the scope of the project. Nevertheless, it usually takes development teams an average of two to four months to create a standard business website. 

The first week or two is ideally spent evaluating the scope of the project and creating a plan. During this phase, the developers acquire a clear idea of what needs to be built. Over the next few weeks, the web design work is done and detailed mock-ups of the site are created.

Once the website-design stage is completed, the main development begins. This phase can take between one to two months to complete. After development is complete, the website will likely go through a final round of revisions to ensure that the final product meets the specified requirements.

For a quick fix, you can utilize any of the popular website-building tools out there to create a simple website and invest in a more robust custom solution later. However, you might end up needing to build a custom solution from scratch instead of improving what there already is.

What Are the Outsourcing Prices Worldwide?

Depending on your location, outsourcing to onshore, nearshore, or offshore software development companies might be a better solution. It often provides more security and a higher quality of service.

North America

While North America is home to some of the most productive and skilled software developers, especially in the United States, it’s also one of the most expensive outsourcing destinations with average web development rates ranging from $90 to $350 per hour.

South America

Web development rates across South America range from $30 to $50 per hour. Its leading outsourcing hubs include Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia.

Asia

The average web development rates in Asia range from $18 to $80 per hour. India is one of the top outsourcing destinations in Asia due to the low developer rates. China and the Philippines are also popular among those wanting to outsource. 

Europe

Western Europe generally has high software development rates due to the stable economy and high standards of living. Web development rates in countries such as Germany, France, and the Netherlands can range from $65 to $170 per hour.

Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is home to over one million skilled developers. Countries such as Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Romania are major outsourcing hubs, and the average web development rates in these countries range from $20 to $150 per hour. 

Australia

The software development rates in Australia are among some of the highest in the world. Average web development rates range from $80 to $150 per hour. 

What Are the Freelance Rates Worldwide?

If your budget is an issue, while freelance web development is a less secure option, it might be a cheaper investment.

North America

Freelancers in the United States and Canada charge an average of $65 to $70, per hour, for web development. 

South America

Freelance web developers in South America cost an average of $51 per hour. 

Asia

Freelance web development rates in Asia are among the most affordable in the world with an average cost of $49 per hour.

Europe

Freelance web developers in Western Europe charge an average of $63 per hour. 

Eastern Europe

The cost of web developers in Eastern Europe is generally lower than their western counterparts and the same holds true in the freelance space. Freelance web developers in Eastern Europe cost an average of $56 per hour. 

Australia

Freelance web development rates in Australia are among the most expensive on the global market at an average of $70 per hour.

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Conclusion

The shortcut to creating a great business website that fulfills its purpose and your requirements is to hire professionals. But the cost of building a website doesn’t stop at hiring a web developer or a full-stack team.

The overall price depends on the type of platform you choose for building the website, technologies for the frontend, backend, database, and QA, as well as some nonfunctional criteria, such as scalability and security requirements.
If you want a more detailed scope of expenses, it’s best to discuss your requirements with a web developer and get a quote.

Sandra Parker

Written by

Sandra Parker

Head of BizDev at QArea

Chief Business Development Officer. Sandra has more than 10 years of experience in IT. She is a real technology geek, obsessed with coding and managing projects. As a CBDO, Sandra’s main focus is to help companies accelerate their businesses through digital transformation with custom software development and latest quality assurance practices. Sandra loves writing about the latest technological trends and sharing her experience with the community.

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