Websites have become a vital component to small business success. Nearly half, or 46% to be exact, of all Google searches are local searches (meaning people are looking to find businesses and service providers near them), and nearly one-third of local searches lead to purchases. And yet, 36% of small businesses don’t have a website, according to the SBA. Websites are easier—and cheaper—than ever to build, so there’s no excuse to not have one.
Pro tip: You don’t have to spend a fortune on hiring a web designer, nor do you have to know code to build your own professional website. Professionally designed sites no longer come with a jaw-dropping price tag. Instead, it’s possible to get one for as low as a few hundred dollars. If that wasn’t affordable enough, you can also easily build your own site for $12 per month with a site builder like Squarespace or Wix, or even for as little as $3 per month with WordPress.
Website Costs by Development Type
Website costs vary greatly, largely based on the type of site you need and how you choose to develop it. For example, the cheapest option is to build it yourself either with WordPress (as low as $5 per month for web hosting) or a site builder such as Squarespace ($12 per month). The most expensive option is to outsource to a marketing agency or web design firm, which ranges from as low as a few hundred dollars to over ten thousand.
Here are the three main ways to build a website:
- Option 1: Build it yourself using WordPress
- Option 2: Build it yourself using an all-in-one site builder
- Option 3: Hire a professional web designer
Interested in learning more about what you’ll need to build your own website, including web design, platforms, and step-by-step instructions? Learn how to build your small business website.
Website Costs Compared
Build It Yourself With WordPress
Build It Yourself With an All-in-One
Hire a Professional
All-in-one site builders (e.g., Squarespace)
WordPress, created by a professional web designer or firm
Who It's Right For
Businesses with some technical aptitude looking to build a highly customizable site
Those who want to easily build and maintain a site in-house
Businesses with complex site needs which require coding
Cost to Build (Approx.)
~$0 - $100
$500 - $10,000+
Cost per Month (Ongoing Cost)
~$3 - $20/month
~12 - $18/month
~$3 - $500
Same as a standard website using free plugins
~$23 to $26/month
On the higher end of average costs
Option 1: Build Your Own WordPress Website (Least Expensive)
WordPress is one of the most popular platforms due to its low cost, extensive features, and vast customization capabilities. WordPress is free to use, though there are costs involved with building and maintaining one. These include buying a domain name and web hosting as well as optional extras such as premium themes and plugins. In total, building your own WordPress site can cost under $100 and only around $3 to $10 per month in ongoing costs for web hosting.
WordPress Costs at a Glance
You can get a domain from a domain name registrar or free through a web hosting plan
Web hosting ranges widely
WordPress comes with a steep learning curve, so consider what your time is worth
Premium Theme (Optional)
Using a premium theme will likely save you time, but it’s not mandatory
Premium Plugins (Optional)
Keep in mind that most plugins offer a free version, so you may not need premium versions
Pros & Cons
WordPress comes with a lot of pros, including being an affordable open-source platform that’s highly customizable and generally built for good search engine optimization (SEO), though it’s not without its downsides. For example, it can be a difficult platform to build a site with, it may be more vulnerable to security breaches as it is an open-source platform, and frequent updates are required.
Can be difficult to use
Vulnerable to security issues
Good for SEO
Frequent updates required
How to Build a WordPress Site
Follow along with the step-by-step instructions on how to make a WordPress website.
Who Should Use WordPress
WordPress is the world’s leading CMS with over 75 million sites worldwide. Businesses of all sizes across all industries use WordPress because it’s incredibly customizable and flexible. It’s best for those who are building a site with unique features as well as those who have the time to invest in learning the platform upfront in order to have a very low ongoing cost.
Pro tip: Save money by getting web hosting first. Many of the top web hosting providers, such as Bluehost, offer a free domain, a free SSL, and free business email as part of their plans for as little as $2.95 per month. Doing so will also spare you the headache of having to manually connect your domain name and web hosting to WordPress by using the one-click WordPress installation.
Option 2: Build Your Own Using a Site Builder
There are a number of all-in-one site builders available that make it easy for anyone to build a site on their own—no technical expertise or coding knowledge required. These site builders include everything needed to build a site, including a domain name, web hosting, templates, and user-friendly, drag-and-drop editing interfaces. The leading site builders include Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and GoDaddy, which all cost around $12 to $15 per month.
Site Builders: Costs & Inclusions
Design freedom and flexibility
Designed for online stores
Best built-in online booking platform
Starting Price for Business Plans
$12 per month
$13 per month
$12 per month
$10 per month
Starting price for e-commerce plans
$26 per month
$23 per month
$26 per month
$25 per month
Web Hosting Included
Drag-and-Drop Site Editor
Free with annual plans
Free with annual plans
Not Sure Which Site Builder Is Right for You? Take the Quiz!
Answer a few questions about your business and we'll give you personalized product match
Pros & Cons
The main benefit of using a site builder is that they make building a professional-looking site incredibly easy and at an affordable price. The drag-and-drop editing interfaces are generally very intuitive, requiring little to no learning curve and enabling anyone to build a site quickly. The downsides are that site builders aren’t as customizable as WordPress, may not be as good for SEO, and ecommerce plans can get expensive.
Ultra-easy to use
May lack customization capabilities
Everything is included
SEO tools may be insufficient
Build a professional site quickly
Ecommerce plans can be costly
How to Build a Site Using a Site Builder
Follow the step-by-step instructions by platform:
Who Should Use a Site Builder
All-in-one site builders are a good choice for most small businesses that want to build and manage their site in-house easily and affordably. This is because site builders make it easy to quickly build a professional site without any technical expertise or coding knowledge. You can also save money by using a site builder that includes a free domain name and SSL certificate, such as Squarespace.
Option 3: Hire a Professional (Most Expensive)
Not everyone wants to build their own website, and it can be worth leaving it to the experts. Depending on how you go about hiring a pro and the requirements of your site, the cost will range from $300 to over $10,000. Another cost is ongoing maintenance, which varies from as little as $5 per month for web hosting to hundreds if you hired an agency that is going to provide monthly website management services.
Here are the three most common ways to get a professionally built website:
- Full-service marketing agency
- Web design firm
- Freelance web designer
Web Design Firm
Cheapest ---------------------------------------------------- Most Expensive
Cost to Build
$300 to $5,500
$300 to $5,500
$3,000 to $10,000+
Cost to Maintain
$5 to $25/month
$5 to $500/month*
$5 to $200/month*
Simple, informational websites
Building a site designed to get found in search
Sites with unique functionalities
*Note: The cost to maintain varies greatly for marketing agencies and web design firms based on whether your ongoing cost involves web hosting costs only or if it includes ongoing professional website management services.
Pros & Cons
First and foremost, it will most likely be the most expensive way to get a site, and it will also take the longest and give you the least control over your site. However, it will save you time and help ensure your site is high-quality and built to get found in search.
Get a professionally built site
Can be expensive
Everything is included
Little to no design control
Built to get found in search
Often takes a lot of time
Who Should Use a Professional Web Designer
Hiring a web designer is best for those who aren’t confident in their web design skills and would prefer the job to be handled by a website professional. It’s also best for those who lack time, need a highly customized site, or have the budget and want the peace of mind of having a professionally built site.
It’s possible to get a professionally built website at an affordable price through providers such as Hibu. Website costs vary based on your individual needs, but pricing starts as little as $99. Visit Hibu today to learn more about what they can do for you.
7 Money-saving Website Tools
Website building tools are designed to make site building and maintenance as easy as possible. From SEO tools to image sourcing and graphic design tools, there are many that help non-tech-savvy users create a robust, successful web presence.
Here are the seven best website building tools to save you money:
- Canva: This is a free and easy-to-use, drag-and-drop graphic design tool that does not require graphic design knowledge.
- Pixabay: Use this site to find free stock photos that you can use on your website.
- Google Analytics: Track your site’s traffic and visitor engagement with this robust analytics tool.
- Google Keyword Planner Tool: Research keywords to find those with high search volume and traffic, which you can use within your website’s copy to help improve its search ranking.
- Ubersuggest: Similar to the Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool. Where it differs is that it’s much more user-friendly and geared toward helping users build a site for SEO.
- Pingdom: Test your website’s speed to ensure your pages are loading quickly and troubleshoot if your site is loading slowly.
- Fiverr: In case you’re in need of a helping hand, consider Fiverr. There, you can find freelancers for one-off tasks for anything from designing a logo to installing your WordPress theme or writing custom code for as little as $5.
There are all sorts of free and low-cost tools that can help save you money and build a better website. Chances are that no matter what you need, there’s a tool or resource to help you, so it’s worth taking the time to research and find these tools.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I get a free domain name?
There are two legit ways to get a free domain name. The first is through a web hosting plan, such as with Bluehost for just $2.95 per month, and the second is with a site builder plan, such as Squarespace for just $12 per month. Get all of the details on how to get a free domain name.
What are the best WordPress themes?
The best WordPress theme will depend on what type of website you need and the aesthetic you want. Choose the theme that comes with the features and design that you need to ensure minimal customization. Learn more about WordPress themes and how to install one.
How much does it cost to build an ecommerce site?
Like any website, the cost to build an ecommerce site can vary greatly from $0 to over $10,000. The largest factor in how affordable or expensive your ecommerce site is to build is whether you build it yourself using a site builder or WordPress, or if you outsource it to a web development team. If you’re interested in building your own, check out the best ecommerce website builders.
Which is better: Squarespace vs WordPress?
Squarespace and WordPress are both top website builders, and for good reason. Generally, Squarespace is much more user-friendly as it includes everything a business needs to build and launch a site, from a free domain and web hosting to a drag-and-drop site editor for just $12 per month. WordPress offers more customization capabilities and may be better for SEO, but it requires some technical skills. Get the full breakdown of Squarespace vs WordPress.