The cost of building a website depends on how the website is set up. For example, a website costs between $50 and $250 per year with a DIY platform like WordPress or Weebly. Professional designers cost around $500 to $1,000 or more if they’re designing the website from scratch instead of using an existing template or theme. Completely custom website development can cost $2,000 to $10,000 or higher.
In this article, we’re going to discuss each of these routes. The least expensive option is Bluehost, which you can use to both create and host a WordPress website. If you don’t have a lot of technical expertise, you can use our free WordPress themes, designed specifically to be a user-friendly option for our readers. Bluehost starts at $7.99/month, but right now, Fit Small Business readers can click here to get a domain, hosting, and website builder for just $2.95/month.
DIY Website Costs
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There are three main options when it comes to building your own website:
- Free website builder: WordPress and Weebly and other free hosting services let you build a website at no cost. There is always a catch, however, like limited storage or bandwidth, no custom domains or nonremovable ads on the site footer. A free web builder can be suitable for a personal website but is not recommended for professional use.
- WordPress: WordPress is the most popular and proven website platform. It can accommodate just about any industry or website use-case but can be a little difficult for beginners.
- Visual website builders (Weebly, Wix, Squarespace): This newer generation of website builders is the easiest to use but costs a little more than WordPress and has limited integrations with other systems.
Now, let’s dive into the two best options for professional business websites: WordPress and visual website builders like Weebly.
DIY Option #1: WordPress ($36 to $150 per year)
WordPress is the reliable giant in the business world, accounting for almost 30% of websites on the entire Internet. The reason for its success is mainly three factors:
- You don’t need to know any programming to set it up.
- There’s a huge community of developers adding features for just about every kind of business.
- The platform is free to use. You just have to pay for hosting, which costs between $36 and 100 per year.
The WordPress editor is designed for beginners: You don’t need to use any programming or even have that much design experience. Simply enter information in the left column, and your website will automatically update to the right.
The design process starts with choosing a WordPress theme, which is basically a website template you customize with your own photos and text. As an open source platform, there’s a huge range of community-developed themes to choose from as well as plug-ins and integrations, which add extra functionality to the site. For example, if your business uses an appointment-booking system or an email marketing program, there’s often a way to add these tools to your website.
On the surface, WordPress is the least expensive do-it-yourself option. You only have to pay for hosting, which costs $2.95 per month with Bluehost (or $7.99/month without our exclusive Bluehost discount). You’ll also need to pay for a domain name (around $12 per year) unless you go with Bluehost, which offers the first year of hosting free.
Other potential WordPress costs include the cost of premium themes ($10 to $100) and the cost of plug-ins ($5 to $100). Both of these are optional since many themes and plug-ins are free. For example, we designed three free themes here at FitSmallBusiness specifically for our small business readers, including a restaurant theme, salon theme, and business theme. However, in other cases, you may pay to access a particular tool or integration.
Learn more by reading our full guide to WordPress pricing.
How to Set Up WordPress
The first step to set up a WordPress website is to choose a domain name. You can use the tool below to browse for available .com domains. If you aren’t sure yet, follow this link to sign up for hosting on Bluehost and choose your domain later.
The next step is to choose a hosting plan. In particular, pay attention to your allotted bandwidth. This is the amount of data you’re allowed to transmit in a given month, so the higher the bandwidth, the more visitors you can accommodate. Fortunately, Bluehost provides unlimited bandwidth on all its plans.
Once you’re in WordPress, the next step is to choose a WordPress theme. If you want a fairly simple business website design, I recommend checking out our free business themes: Fit Web Themes Business Edition, Restaurant Edition and Salon Edition. We designed these specifically for our readers as a way of creating a slick and modern business website without requiring too much time or technical experience.
Alternatively, you can browse the official WordPress theme database here.
The rest of the design process will depend largely on the theme you select, so it’s best to follow instructions from your theme provider. You can also check out our full guide on how to set up a WordPress website for additional tips and tricks,
DIY Option #2: Weebly ($96 to $300 per year)
Weebly is part of a new class of website builders that are easier to use than WordPress. Just like creating a PowerPoint slideshow presentation, you drag and drop photos, text boxes, photos and shapes to design your site. Then, simply click to edit, resize or reposition them.
You don’t have to deal with installing themes or plug-ins, which makes it quite a bit easier than WordPress. On the other hand, there aren’t as many tools or integrations available. If you wanted to add, for example, an appointment-booking system or set up an online store with many different products, you’ll have a harder time doing this with Weebly.
Weebly is also more expensive than WordPress, starting at $8 per month (or $96 per year) for a basic website or $25 per month ($300 per year) for a professional e-commerce store. However, there is a benefit to Weebly in that you won’t pay extra for a website theme or template as WordPress users sometimes do.
Weebly is also less expensive than other visual web builders like Squarespace or Wix. These competitors are very similar to Weebly but with slight differences to its template styles and editing tools. Generally, we’ve found Weebly to be the easiest to use, along with it being the best value.
How to Set Up Weebly
To get started on Weebly, follow the link to sign up for a free account. The setup process is very easy since Weebly provides everything all-in-one. After choosing a website plan, you’ll be prompted to select a template, and then begin editing your website. For tips and a visual aid as you work through the process, check out our full guide to setting up a Weebly website.
Website Costs When Hiring Professionals
The next option is to hire a professional to design the website for you. This can be a big timesaver compared to building a website yourself and allows you to go much further in branding and customizing your website design.
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Now, let’s explore these three options in more detail:
Professional Option #1: Designer Sets Up Website on DIY Platform ($500 to $1,000)
If you’re looking for a pretty straightforward business website but don’t have time to set it up yourself, you can hire a professional to build it on WordPress, Weebly or Squarespace. This is much less expensive than building it from scratch, and it’s easier to log in and make changes yourself down the line.
On Upwork, you can find web design experts starting at $40 per hour. Simply follow the link and enter “WordPress” or “Weebly” into the search bar. This should amount to roughly $500 to $1,000 for the whole project, depending on how much back and forth it requires and if you need advanced features like an online store.
Bear in mind, however, that the designer will be using the same tools and templates you would use if you designed the website yourself. While you can absolutely get a slick professional website this way, it won’t be quite as unique as a custom-developed site.
Professional Option #2: Use 99designs to Get a Custom WordPress Theme ($1,000 to $4,000)
If you’re concerned about representing your brand in a unique way, you can hire a designer to build a WordPress theme from scratch. A custom theme gives you full control over colors, fonts, shapes and formatting. So, rather than alter an existing template, you can get exactly what you need from the start.
If this sounds like your situation, we recommend checking out 99designs. It’s a design platform where many different professionals pitch ideas for your website. As long as you have a good idea what you’re looking for and are able to describe it well in the design brief, you’ll get a number of unique and on-brand submissions to decide between.
The cost of the web design is $600 to $2,500 depending on how many pages you want to be designed and how many graphic designers you want to be able to consider.
After you have chosen the winning design, you will need to find someone to code the design for your website. 99designs has coding partners that will be able to do this for you and who have experience working with templates from 99designs. Typically the cost to code one responsive page (a page that also works on mobile) is $300 and each inner page (all pages other than the homepage) costs around $150.
Option #3: Hire a Web Design Company ($2,000 to $10,000-plus)
For those who want something unique but aren’t sure exactly how to describe it, a traditional web design company can be the best option. There is a bit more hand holding as the agency will set up meetings and get to know your company before pitching examples. You can have a closer one-on-one relationship, potentially even meeting in person to discuss design edits.
Of course, there are many unaccredited individuals out there calling themselves web design “experts,” so finding a company to work with does take some caution. Ask colleagues or other businesses with good websites who they worked with. Also check Yelp, the Better Business Bureau and other local search engines for reviews before proceeding.
Also, if you decide to go with this option, we highly recommend that the design company builds your website on WordPress. Because there are thousands of web developers who know the ends and outs of WordPress and you decide to leave the firm that built your site for any reason, you will be able to find someone else to take over its design and be able to update it. You will also have more control over making edits to your site if it’s built on WordPress.
The Bottom Line
Websites are essential to your business’ presence online, but you don’t need to pay an outrageous amount for a nice looking website. If you’re a small business owner who needs a basic website with information about your company and wants to know how much does a website cost and how to manage those costs, consider using a DIY website builder like WordPress or Weebly.
We designed three free WordPress themes here at FitSmallBusiness specifically for small businesses that want a slick website without a big investment — both in time and money. Check out examples here, or head to our full guide on how to set up a WordPress website up in less than an hour.