How Much Should a Website Cost?

The Question Clients Are Always Itching to Ask a Web Designer!

If there is a one question that people are always itching to ask me at a web consultation it's this... "How much does it cost to build a website?" Well, it's kind of complicated but here is the answer.

How Much Should a Website Cost?

I have been working online and building websites for around 15 years. And at Custom Fit we track out time using a web-based timekeeping system. We have built several 100's of websites. So I have a pretty good idea of the time it takes to develop various web products.

So What Does Building a Website Involve?

In my humble opinion there are several steps required to build a website "right". These include the following:

Business Assessment

What's the business? The brand? Target markets? Business history? Marketing plan & budgets? How does the website fit into the overall business? etc, etc. Integrate other marketing channels such as social media, e-mail marketing, off-line advertising, etc.

Keyword Development

Thinking of the business and the website structure. What keywords should be used to structure the site for users, the company and search engines? Research using tools such as Google AdWords, WordTracker, SEMrush, etc and scour web / digital analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Site Catalyst.


Build a sitemap showing the site structure. Built keeping in mind user experience, product / selling features, search engine optimization, etc. A good site layout makes it easy for website visitors to get where they need to be and makes it easy for search engines to index and 'understand' your website.

Wireframe - Page Layout

These are sketches / designs showing how pages will be laid out. For example, where should the logo and main navigation go, how does the home page layout compare to content pages, blog pages, the events calendar and forms. Ideally, each type of page have a layout unique to the page type.

Graphic Design - Template Layout

Create the graphical interface using wireframe / page layout guides. Colours, imagery, branding look & feel, messaging, site functionality, user experience, etc all influence the sites design.

HTML - Website Format

The graphical design files get 'cut up' and assembled using HTML (for page formatting) and CSS (for styling) that build the templates or shell of the site. Good HTML / website formatting is a result of efficient programming that evokes the website quickly and consistently across a variety of web browsers.

Add Content - Complete Page Layout

Write / edit, re-edit and check the text unique to each page. Rinse and repeat. Select and include images and rich media such a video. Layout the page so that it looks attractive and provides a great user experience. Write for website visitors first, but also for search engine optimization.

Add Search Engine Optimization Programming

Add page META information such as page title tags (very important), page descriptions, keywords (not important for SEO but often helpful for a website's internal search engine), format site structure for both internal and external links. Build to maximize the ability for search engines to index the sites and pages. Use best practices to eliminate obstacles for search engines and users!

Domain Registration, Web & Email Hosting

Register domains (kind of like leasing or renting a domain), setting up the domain for SEO using technical stuff like canonical programming, set-up and optimize web hosting and often configure email accounts.

Digital / Web Analytics

Set-up and implement measurement tools. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs), dashboard reporting, etc. Provide access and training to client.

Web Marketing, SEO & Maintenance

Optionally establish ongoing SEO, web marketing and maintenance. You typically can't just set-up a website and leave it along these days and expect to get any real results!

Phew! That's a lot of work to do it right.

OK Then, SO... What Does it Cost Then?

If one follows the steps listed above here are some ranges of how much it would typically cost for various types of designers / developers to build a website the "right way" from A to Z. (Prices listed in Canadian dollars)

Type / RateKid Next DoorFreelancersSmall AgencyLarge Agency
Hourly Rate $25 $85 to 110 $90 to 125 $125+
10-page website Use your hot tub $1 to 3K $2.5 to 4K Do they do this?
20-page website  with CMS Use your hot tub, drink your booze $1.5 to 5K $4 to 7K $7 to 10K+
20-page website with third party ecommerce plug-in Use your hot tub, drink you booze, borrow your car for the weekend  $3 to 6K+ $6 to 10K+ $10K+
20-page website  with custom-built ecommerce  Say whaaat? Hmmm! $10 to 20K+ Do you really
want to know?

When you are considering a new website think about the old saying "you get what you pay for".

How Much Should a Website Cost? Click her to learn more!

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Is a developer who is offering a "low ball" costs really taking the time to build a website properly so that it addresses the various necessary work noted above to really make your website work? And if you are dealing with a bigger agency are you paying for their expensive overhead or the outsourcing and associated mark-up costs that often takes place?

What Do You Think Is a Reasonable Price for a Website?

Feel free to check out the Custom Fit Online portfolio to view some of our website design and development work.

We would love to read what you have to say. Please leave your comments below. Let us know if you think we are right or way out in left-field. We'll gladly add our '2-cents' for any and all comments left!

Roy McClean
May 03, 2012
By Roy McClean

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