Web Design Costs: Everything You Need To Know

When you’re building an online presence, web design costs can add up quickly. While you can limp along with just a free social media account, you should also have a website to establish your brand.

Depending on the scope of your company (larger e-commerce sites will be more expensive) and what automation requirements are needed (think online tax calculators), costs will vary considerably. It’s also worth mentioning that you can either build it yourself or hire a team of professionals to help you hit the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) out of the park.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves—let’s first investigate what you’ll need to start.

Web Design Essentials

There are a number of basic requirements that need to be met when setting up a website. These include registering a domain name, finding a website hosting company, locating a professional designer to build the website, or doing it yourself with a website building platform. You may also need to obtain an SSL certificate if it’s not included with one of these services, in addition to other add-ons you might require, such as an e-commerce portal.

When building a website, you can DIY with websites providing free templates. That being said, there is a learning curve that can be steep. In the modern world, investing time in a skill that you won’t be able to utilize at a later stage can be a costly exercise.

Domain Name

Securing the right domain name is vital, especially if you’re looking for a .com URL or prized Top-Level Domain (TLD). Registering usually entails an annual subscription from a domain registrar, ranging from anywhere between $12 to $60 a year.

If you’re utilizing a website builder service, they sometimes include this as a free bonus for the first year. With services such as WordPress, it’s an extra fee.


With drag-and-drop website building sites, this is usually included in their annual subscription fee. But if you’re building the pages yourself or using WordPress, you will be required to subscribe to a website hosting service provider.

Once again, these subscription fees vary from around $100 to $500 per year. If you have a lot of web traffic to your website, it’s better to invest in a more robust web hosting plan to ensure that your site doesn’t crash. A high volume of traffic is considered to be more than 100,000 visitors a month.

At a later stage, you could invest in your own servers and ensure that all the information is kept in-house. Generally, most smaller companies don’t need to go this route.

DIY Website Builder or Professional Designer

We’ve mentioned website builders and their inclusive packages. If you are on a tight budget, using these packages to design a site yourself can save you a wad of cash.

But to access premium features such as unique themes, you will need to pay higher subscription fees. Costs vary depending on the platform you subscribe to and the plan you choose, and can run anywhere between $100 and $500 a year.

As a rule of thumb, customization for website builder sites is limited compared to WordPress or building your site from scratch. If you want to tap into that unique design aesthetic, you will need a graphic designer familiar with HTML coding.

Designers can charge per hour or a flat rate for the allotted project. But you’ll want someone who has a strong portfolio, as there will be fewer design reverts and you’re more likely to get what you envisioned for your website. Costs can vary widely depending on experience and the needs of the project, but it’s not uncommon to get quotes between $30 and $100+ an hour.


Many small businesses don’t realize how important it is to sign up for a secure sockets layer (SSL) service provider. SSL certification means that your visitors are protected from unwanted cyberattacks. Some browsers will divert users away from websites without SSL certification with the message, “This site may not be secure.” For most visitors, this is enough to deter them from clicking through to the site.

SSL also helps with SEO and the flow of data to and from the site. Fees for SSL vary from free to around $249 a year. Some website builders include this certificate at no additional cost, so consider that a valuable perk if you see it offered.

Additional Costs To Consider

As with everything in life, there are always extras to consider before hitting upload on the back end of your website. Here are some of the most common.

Add-Ons and Plugins

Whether you’ve subscribed to a website building site, using WordPress or looking to venture into e-commerce, you will likely need add-ons. These plugins can enable features such as on-page testimonials, contact forms and newsletter subscriptions, just to name a few.

There are loads of free versions as well as paid plugins. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what features are worth spending money on. Depending on the new function you want, it could be free or an annual subscription fee of $100+ per year.

Hiring a Content Manager

If you are planning on rolling out a large website, you may need to consider hiring a content manager.

This individual will upload and update content on the website, and they can also handle social media channels which will drive traffic to it. It may be an expensive monthly cost, but an outdated website can keep potential customers from conducting business with your company.


Your website needs to rank well on Google. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just happen by chance. It takes work.

If you’re looking at ranking your website on the first page of SERPs, you may need to hire a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist.

This individual will assist in recommending content and what keywords you want to rank for and providing monthly reports of how the strategy is working. If you’re using WordPress to host your content, you’ll get far more flexibility but, also, WordPress sites generally rank better on Google.

Another benefit of hiring an SEO specialist is that they should inform you whether any of your site’s pages are experiencing issues like a 404 code (“Page Not Found”).

Images and Design

Another cost associated with creating a website is the artwork. Whether it’s your company’s corporate image, product shots or lifestyle shots, these assets can add up quickly. While you can tap into royalty-free images, they won’t separate your business from the competition.

If you’re able, it is always worth your time to hire a photographer to take images of your offerings, hire a graphic designer or subscribe to an extensive stock library like Shutterstock. As a rule of thumb, make sure that the professionals you hire to assist you with your website know what they are doing. A simple mistake can shut down your website and, in turn, lose you revenue.

Bottom Line

Depending on the project’s scope, whether you require updates and need unique functionality, the costs of a website can vary widely. If you’re willing to invest the time to learn new skills, it accomplished cheaply and fairly easily with an all-in-one website builder. But if you want professional assistance or lots of extra functionality, the costs can add up quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between web design and development?

Web design is focused on how the website will look and feel to browsers. This means they’ll need to be able to produce work that is easy to understand, eye-catching and unique. Web development involves implementing these designs on the website’s backend and managing the site’s structure.

If you recruit an experienced designer, these two roles can potentially both be filled by the same candidate.

Should my website be responsive?

Responsively designed websites are mobile-friendly. This means while you design your site on a desktop or laptop, if it’s found by someone using a mobile device, the site doesn’t cut off elements or have broken functionality.

In a world that’s progressively using mobile devices to search the web, it is critical to ensure your site is mobile-friendly.

What is a wireframe?

Before any design can occur, it is always best practice to review a wireframe design for your website. A wireframe gives you an idea of how pages will look, how much space elements will take up and what navigation should be in place. It’s a very basic way to show what a final product will look like before in-depth work begins.

What are carousel and hero images?

When referring to a carousel, web designers are talking about a slide show on the landing page of your website. Carousels help to reduce clutter on the page and allow you to display multiple messages about different offerings.

With regard to a hero image, this is a large image placed on the top of the page, which usually extends the width of the page.

What is UX?

UX, or user experience, is the process where the designer focuses on providing users with the best experience. If done correctly, users will find navigating the site easy, enjoyable and relevant to them. Ensuring your site’s UX is top-notch will encourage users to explore more of it.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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