How Much Does a Website Cost in 2019?
Gone are the days where you could build a website and wait for the money to roll in. In 2019, there’s no guarantee a new website will be visited. In 2012 (when there were only half a billion websites) a well-coded website might naturally attract 10 visitors per day. Now with over 1.5 billion sites, without advertising, you’re lucky to get 1 or 2 visits per day.
Here is an overview of typical prices. I’ve asumed a basic 10-15 page website with a couple of forms.
- Your Domain Name (A$15-$25pa)
- Website Hosting (A$50-$1,000pa)
- Website Build (A$500-$15,000)
- Custom Website Build ($10,000+) CSS/Js/HTML
- Ecommerce Website Build (A$2,500-$30,000)
- Ecommerce Maintenance & Plugins (A$100-$1,000/mo)
- Search Engine Optimisation (once-off A$500-$3000)
- Search Engine Optimisation (ongoing A$100-$2500/mo)
- Website Maintenance (A$30-$100/mo)
- Facebook & Google Advertising (A$1-$100/day)
- Content, Product and Other Updates ($200-$2000/mo)
What about a website rebuild?
Unfortunately nobody is going to give you a discount on a website rebuild. New tech comes out almost every month. Plus those lovely big images you uploaded to the site back in 2012 are now too small for modern browsers and websites. Also your old site was coded by… who knows, right? And who knows how good they were? Did it every work properly on mobile?
It’s doubtful that your previous designers were using best practice techniques. Just wading through old code takes hours. That time could be spent building a skeletal framework using new code. In two years, your site will ook dated and the code behind it may not even work any more.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the car mechanic who had to take a whole engine out because the previous mechanic used the wrong gasket. Well, that happens on every “website rebuild”. If it’s older than 2 years, your site will probably cost 1.5X that of a new website in terms of time.
It’s ALWAYS cheaper to build a brand new website.
The main issue is never website design or redesign. Web designs, WordPress themes and layouts are two a penny. Wix websites are free (and they use new layouts/designs).
Having a website does not take the place of advertising. If you just leave a site – as is – it will slowly get eaten in search by better-coded (SEO) sites with fresh content (Content Marketing). Getting found is the main issue. I’m working on a new company website right now. After paying close to $10,000 (for a site I would have built for less than half that price) only 30 people have seen the site in the last three months! My job is to get the site onto Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). SEO, Good Website Maintenance and some Online Marketing are mandatory if you want to be seen.
But let’s just talk about your potential and who you might hire…
Who will host my website?
Back in 2012, I saw a 1000% increase in traffic the week I moved this site from Hostgator to A2Hosting.com. Investing in a fast host pays off. Sometimes you can get great deals. If you’re paying $100 per year for hosting, my bet is that you’re not really giving your site the best chance. Faster speed, robust 100% uptime servers and good server support is hard to find.
Hosting fees are pure profit for web developers. Whatever you pay per month – or per year – goes right into the pocket of your web host. For A$500pa, you can run a shared server with over 100 websites on it. The charge for “hosting” is up to the provider. People rarely bother the hosting provider. When you need their help, it’s usually an emergency. Good luck contacting Godaddy or Hostgator with a serious issue.
Who will maintain my website?
If you think that’s going to be you – think again.
Rather than hosting, think about how your site is maintained. Website Maintenance (sometimes called “Managed Hosting”) means keeping the back end of your website healthy, secure and up to date. The website maintenance packages we offer include some SEO. if you are running WordPress, Joomla, Magento or Drupal, professional and regular website maintenance is mandatory if you don’t want to lose your site to hackers.
We don’t charge for hosting. While hosting is free on our fast a2hosting.com servers – but your site NEEDS to be managed by a professional. One hacked site on shared server can affect other websites on the same server.
Who will build my website?
How much you pay is largely determined by who you choose to build your website and how many bells and whistles you require. Each choice has its own particular advantages and disadvantages.
Your choice is, roughly between;
- DIY website ($free)
- Out-sourcing to India or Philippines (A$500-$1,500 for a basic site)
- Relative, friend or student (A$1,000-$3,000)
- Graphic, Design or Print Company (A$2,000-$6,000)
- Freelance Web Developer (From A$2,500)
- Web Firm, Web Developer, Collective or Company (From A$3,500)
- Communications Company or Advertising Agency (From A$10,000)
Obviously, if you want quote estimations or an online shopping cart or some other specific functionality, you’ll pay more. But those figures are roughly in the ballpark.
Want more detail and reasoning? Keep reading…
Let’s start at the very beginning…
Do-It-Yourself Website (FREE)
I’ll do it my way, thanks
I have several clients who originally built websites themselves (using a free service) and eventually turned to us to oversee, maintain, and tweak code as needed (we did Website Maintenance). We look after each of our sites on a tailor-made website maintenance plan).
If you are on a tight (or $zero) budget, you’re probably starting in the right place. Running your own website for a year gives you a clear sense of what’s involved and how your business translates online. Over a year, your company will change direction depending on the demand for certain goods or services. You will serve or sell to one particular product more than another and your business plan will transmogrify into what’s possible, rather than what you perceived to be possible.
In two years you will give a web firm or someone like me a call, but for now – just do it. Get started. Our favourite clients are the ones who’ve done it themselves, but now need a little professional help. Use a free service such as Weebly or Wix and build your own website.
If you enjoy getting your hands dirty with HTML and CSS and fancy yourself as a bit of a code tinkerer, Wix and Weebly are great. Things get fiddly when you need to point your domain name to the server or set up a new form. I’ve updated Weebly sites for clients (there’s a code window and a WYSIWYG window).
Attention coders: Check out these light CSS frameworks. One is unbelievably fast at less than 1KB! Great for site-speed & SEO.
Knowing HTML with a smattering of CSS (you can learn this stuff for free at www.w3schools.com) will help you understand the web design concept of separation between content and style (HTML & CSS). If you’re not keen on mark-up, you can build websites easily on free platforms without learning a single HTML tag. You won’t be on a fast server and you will probably have to put up with a few ads at the bottom of your website, but at least you’ll have a web address for your business card.
Professional code-tweaking will set you back hundreds of dollars (independents charge around A$120/hr and in 2019 it’s not unusual for Australian companies to charge upwards of A$200 per hour.
If you have time, the DIY free website solution is a great idea. Get an independent web developer like me to tweak it and save yourself $ by doing the grunt work yourself.
NB: If you’re a person who likes to delegate and hates fiddling with code, DO NOT get a free website. A poorly maintained or designed website will do more damage to your reputation than not having a website at all.
Successful FREE Websites
About 15 years ago, I found an awful-looking website run by a lady selling (what looked to me like) pieces of paper. It was an online scrap-booking company, and it was a shocking looking website. She approached me to redesign the site, but when I delved deeper, it turned out she was making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. I decided not to go ahead with a re-design. I didn’t want the responsibility of chasing away customers who equated poor design with value for money. Who knows what part design, sluggish speed or clunky navigation played in her website’s success?
In my experience, anyone who has gone through the trouble of setting up their own website understands what it is I do. My favourite clients are always the ones who have run a website and (usually by osmosis) know a bit of code. They understand just a smatter of my complex world.
FREE website creation online
Below is a list of places where you can set up websites for free. I’d try the Google My Business option first because I know it will instantly help with SEO, Google Maps and Search. You will need a Google Account (a Gmail address means you already have one) to get started.
As long as you keep content up to date regularly, there’s no reason a Google, Weebly or Wix website can’t successfully compete with a more expensive, custom-built site in terms of search engine ranking, sales leads and trust factors.
Content is King
Google rewards websites which are “a going concern,” and that means having great content.
Content is King in 2019. It’s a simple matter of putting in the effort. Updating your site with a blog post, a new product or even a (relevant) funny video you found on YouTube helps Google index your site. Writing a blog post is an idea that stops people in their tracks. Remember what your English teacher used to say about your writing? She was wrong. Most people are good writers – they just don’t have the confidence.
Examples of Content
- Building Homes with SIPs
- Keeping Your Boat Engine Cool
- This one hardly has any written content, but it’s a joy to hear.
Piano Recital at Marble Bar (Poet Down Uder)
I wrote (and recorded) the above as part of a Content Marketing Plan. If you add enough text to your website, it’s more likely to get found. We grew one company grew from $300k per annum to $10 million per annum over 18 months using this technique.
People buy from people. People trust people. Your website has to look and feel as if there are busy, friendly people behind it – ready to attend your every whim.
With a DIY site, you are limited to the skills you possess and the time you have at your disposal.
Wix website tutorial
(for those that want to do it their way)
How to Set up a (free) Wix website
The Professional Option
Going with a professional web developer is a better option in terms of getting a site up that looks the part, is built on a future-proof theme or CSS framework (for speed), is built in a timely manner (I typically take between 3 and 4 weeks depending on complexity and other time commitments) with an online strategy behind it. Naturally, I’m biased. But I still believe that some experience running a DIY website will set you apart from the pack when you eventually go pro.
Bedroom Designers ($1,000-$2,500)
Your website designing nephew or friend
Your nephew or neice is studying web design at school or university. He has offered to build you a website (and broaden his portfolio/start one). Maybe for $1,000. Or even a few hundred. Perhaps you could give money or a solid Birthday present.
I’ve rebuilt MANY nephew sites. The nephew moves on, loses interest, changes career or bails.
My clients fall into one of two groups.
- Those who were paying too much and getting no service or
- Those who built their own sites, understood the effort involved, gave up and thought, “I need a professional to worry about all this.”
The only drawback with a relative or friend, is reliability.
Some people are naturally reliable. But not most.
If your site was/is built for free, watch for these sticking points;
- Your designer gets paying clients and your site is demoted to backburner status (or worse – “albatross” status).
- Your website may not be maintained properly (opening the door to hackers and crashes)
- Your web site lacks security (again, leading to hacks and crashes. We rescue such sites every month.)
- Your website may get forgotten
- Your wannabe designer changes career (web design was too boring, time to be a pilot)
Having said all this – if you factor in the usual Murphy-like catastrophes, it may not be a bad experiment. See how it goes. If you expect to pick up some of the pieces down the track, do it. Email me when it goes belly up. I might be able to help.
The “Passive Income” Brigade
Some people still think that getting a website (or building an app) is a key to passive income. You can pay thousands to marketing gurus and in return get a step by step PDF on what to do.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Those opportunities are looooong gone.
It never was the case if you read about how quadrillion dollar websites get started in the first place.
On this note, you might find these links interesting:
Freelance Web Developer ($1,500-$12,000 max)
That’s me and people like me
All Geoffrey Multimedia sites are updated and maintained regularly. I spent many years building beautiful sites for small audiences. I’d tell people to keep their sites up to dte and even gave them instructions on how to maintain their websites but only about 5% of people did.
I now offer three professional website plans. All sites can be upgraded as new technologies come available.
- No Frills ($1,495+)
- Small Business Site ($4,495+)
- E-commerce Site ($7,495+)
Clients can pay outright or monthly.
The plus additional functionality you may require beyond the basic design/what is listed on this page.
Websites with a CMS need to be maintained or they will crash, get hacked or eventually cripple a server with unchecked security issues.
Security is big these days. As part of what I do, I add, maintain and tweak security behind all client websites on a monthly basis. Sometimes more often. For this, clients pay a yearly fee from between $349 and $749 (including hosting). Site security and SEO issues make up around 80% of my workload.
I allow people to pay on a monthly basis until the full amount is paid. I add 10% to the overall cost.
Naturally, you might go with another freelancer or web development company, but check the fine print first, or read the reviews. It’s agood idea to get in touch with someone on their testimonials list. I know you’ll find Geoffrey Multimedia best value for money.
All websites these days need to be maintained, so make sure your host includes this somewhere. I can’t tell you how many sites I’ve rescued from oblivion because they weren’t maintained or secured correctly.
Hosting is not maintenance
Hosting is 95% profit and it’s how most web companies stay afloat. There’s, literally, nothing to do except sell server space and (in the best cases) keep the server up to date.
Sites I run are no more than 1 month out of date at any time because I’ve seen what happens to poorly maintained sites and sites completely invisible to search engines.
Graphic or Print Company ($2,500-$7,000)
Logos, Print & Signage
Graphic and print design firms have moved into web design. But be wary. Print Design and Graphic Design look the same, but they are worlds apart.
There’s a LOT more to a website than pretty pictures. Yes, you can build a website using Photoshop. I wouldn’t. I consider actual design about 10% of what I actually do when I build your website. Moreso with expensive sites.
Security work is closer to 10% and (ethical) SEO can take up nearly half the time on a search-engine-focussed eCommerce site. What’s under your website bonnet counts for a lot. Just getting found is a big deal. You are competing with over 1.5 billion websites (half that in 2012). Search Engine Optimisation is huge. Optimising your site so that search engines can find it is an entire industry. Get that wrong and nobody sees your site at all.
Ask your graphic design agency the following;
- What is the plan for Search Engine Optimisation (beyond basic metatags)?
- What Content Management Systems (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento etc.) will be used and who will maintain it?
- What kind of server will I be on? A fast one sing PHP, MySQL?
- What will my site look like on tablets, phones, other devices?
- Will my site be affected by “The Google Dance.”*
- Do you work with a qualified web developer?
*The Google Dance refers to Google’s ever-changing search engine algorithm. Google releases updates every few months. The updates determine where you appear on a search result pages (SERPs). Will you be at the top of Page 1, or will you be at the bottom of Page 3?
If your web designer doesn’t know what these things are you can end up spending a lot of money on a beautiful, but entirely invisible website.
Make sure someone is coding up the design properly and not just outputting images from Photoshop using “Save as HTML” (on this note I just did a site for a guy who’d hit “Save As HTML” on a series of Word documents – the code was unbelievable clean).
Photoshop skills cover between 2% and 5% of what web design and development really is in 2019.
Nice pictures and nice code are very different beasties.
You will need a Content Management System
Gone are the days of getting your web developer to update your website. You should be able to do that yourself.
No. Just . . . no. For the most part, Flash websites are 100% invisible to search engines. I avoid Flash entirely because it’s no longer supported. It simply doesn’t work at all on Apple devices – a huge part of the web viewing platform.
In 2015 made a cartoon for ABC TV here in Australia using Flash (see it below) but I’d never build a website in Flash. We used to do that in the early 2000s. Flash was borne on the web but has found its home in cartoons for television.
Too many tablets and phones don’t use Flash and Google has too many issues reading the content of a Flash site. They try, God Bless ’em, but it’s not worth the risk. I did a site in Flash and got phone calls. “Why isn’t my site showing?” The browser needed a plugin.
If your print company has a professional web developer, these differences may not be an issue. A background in advertising and graphics could even be an advantage with a real developer at the helm. Ask the questions above. Too many pretty websites never get found and it’s a shame.
Website Company or Firm (about $7,000+)
These guys pay staff and overheads
If you are into Risk Managment, you will be dealing with a Pty. Ltd. Company. If you want a lot of very specific (custom) functionality, you will pay more than $7,000 for your website. If you want to present a unique experience you have never ever seen on another website, you will pay more again.
I’ve worked behind the scenes as Project Manager for these companies and working with a team of 5 people on a $200,000 website was routine. I need not tell you that companies are in the business of making a profit (and retaining good staff). This will interfere with their ethics charter as it often means taking on work they’d rather not do. They can’t afford to be picky.
As a freelancer, my personal aim is to make a comfortable living doing what I love and serve my clients loyally. It’s my way of making the world a better place and a very different volition. For those $200,000+ websites, I would have costed them at around $20K max. Including hiring external staff for the job.
I left the company because I was underpaid and their clients weren’t happy with the work.
Nearly half of all my clients have come to me after having bad or below-par experiences with larger web companies. It’s generally because they are spending too much on their website.
The Biggest Problem
Big clients get the most attention.
Big clients pay staff wages. Small sites might mean the difference between profit and loss during a thin work month, but weathering long periods of inactivity is difficult for larger firms. And often that means doing horrible things like cold-calling or taking on jobs which might have been better left to little businesses like mine.
Just on that. My site may not look so, ;) but I’m a cottage industry web developer who prides himself on solid, personal service. If I need help, I call a specialist friend (because thy are friends I do not take a cut and just add thier bit to the bill). But in most cases, I can handle large jobs myself and so, perhaps sadly, I find myself working aone *sniff*.
But YOU benefit… *Yay!*
Communication Company or Ad Agency ($15k+)
The big end of town
What do we get for the big money? In many cases a lot less. These companies hire people like me. I’m working for about 5 such webfirms right now. I mainly do website security and maintenance.
Communications companies don’t build websites, they outsource them and front the whole process with young men (if the client is female) or leggy blondes (if the client is male). I’ve had heaps of work from large companies in the past, but choose not to work with them too closely because… everyone gets hurt by the final bill.
I like to be transparent about costs.
Bit of gossip for you…
A friend of a friend (let’s call her Maria) runs a big (local) Perth Web Design company. One communications company approached Maria and asked her for something quite specific. Something that her Web Company never does. So Maria put out the feelers and found a programmer (let’s call him John) who wrote the kind of functional specific code that the client wanted. Maria ball-parked the job at around $30,000 – but when the programmer did it for under $10,000, Maria couldn’t go back on her word. She did very well out of the deal but felt really guilty as she’d simply outsourced the work and hadn’t added any value herself. John happily did the job and was very happy with his $10K.
Maria later discovered that the Communications Company had charged the client $150,000. Had the client known John in the first place, the company could have saved literally $140,000. Maria and the Communications Company added nothing to the project. As the project also needed maintaining, John did all the modifications without letting the client know he even existed.
I’m like John.
I have certainly had this very experience working on websites for various Government Departments.
These days I prefer to deal with the client directly. It’s way more interesting and I get to meet other people.
This story isn’t unique to web design as I’m sure you know, loyal reader. :)
In short, Communications Companies are more expensive. They outsource everything because a good web developer costs arounf $130K to employ. If you are visited by a well-dressed man or a leggy blonde firing off questions about your website – move your wallet to your front pocket. Chances are that this person will know nothing at all about web design and the sheet of notes will, most likely, be passed on to a me-like person.
To be fair, Communications Companies do also look after the marketing and brand awareness of your business including; logo, colours, tv advertising, company, style-guide and other marketing aspects of your transmitted image. This holistic approach may be what your company needs.
Larger Companies sometimes work closely with external web development teams (like me and my friends) to create a uniform look and feel of the brand or product throughout all associated marketing materials including the website.
“Brand Message” is what they are about.
My rule of thumb is this: when your T-shirts start to walk out the door, I’m doing my job.
Beware of Paying Too Much
Does the CEO have a Masters in Marketing
Does the CEO have a Masters in Marketing
The person building your website will have a computer science background.
While I reject Communication Company work (because I can’t help but feel that everyone is getting ripped-off and feeling angry) this is actually how the web world often is. Suffice it to say, if all you need is a stock-standard website with a bit of added functionality and creative pizazz avoid Communications Companies. Their aim is to find out how much you have and then take it while off-siting a small percentage to actual coders like me.
In my humble opinion, communications companies are a left over idea from the heady 80s and 90s, where clients were charged $100 to hot-link text to another web page (A hot-link is an expensive way to say “link” but they are exactly the same thing. A straight “hot-link” takes less than 1 second to code).
If you want “hot links” go to a Communication Company.
Online Web Development ($250+)
Off-shore web development
Oh my. Where do I start?
You can approach an overseas company or an online website template service to have your site built if you want. Better still – why not just trawl through your spam folder and answer one of the thousand emails criticizing your existing website? You’d be doing the 3rd world a big favour and it will be like you have a whole company dedicated to just your one website. Can you se where I’m going with this?
The code is awful and the distance is great.
A few clients have come to me after experiencing Philippines-based or Indian web design company services. While their prices may initially look attractive, there are many hidden charges and additional extras not clearly outlined in the pitch. They get away with advertising for things that are not covered by law here in Australia and you are often left holding the baby when it comes to website support and maintenance.
I know of one person who fully paid for an off-shore website which, when it was delivered, was just the first page. All the links to other pages didn’t work. “I’m afraid that will cost extra, kind Sir.”
I was doing routine updates on another guy’s site when I realised he’d had it totally re-built. “Sorry Ed, you were a bit expensive so I got these other guys to do it.”
Okay. All’s fair in business.
One week later he’d fallen off Google Search. His site was penalised for spamming Google. We’d spent years getting him to number one on Google. When I looked at the code, all I could see was backlinks to cigarette companies and sex sites. Nice. Needless to say, fixing his site would cost me more than doing a completly new site from scratch.
In short – DON’T DO IT.
Getting what you pay for
I advise anyone who has a website to make sure it’s comes with some kind of maintainence plan. If it doesn’t, your site will get hacked or used as a spam farm and then you will need expensive support.
I use open-source software which allows anybody to expand or update their website over time without having to pay me a dollar.
I charge between $349pa and $749pa maintenance to clients (free hosting on a very fast server) which allows me to keep all software up-to-the-minute up to date, functioning correctly, healthy and secure from attack. If a site is attacked, I resurrect or rebuild the site from a recent backup. But most of all. I keep sites up to date.
Read more about my maintenance and support plans here.
You can pay what you like for a website. Some companies will take what they can get.
There are too many middle men in this industry and it pays to be aware of that. No many people actually know what they are talking about so you should ask them questions directly.
This industry has almost no rules. The internet is borderless, which means that every man and his dog can set themselves up as a web designer for very little cost or outlay.
From where I sit, I see the web as a kind of Wild West. Everybody has a gun and there is no Sheriff.
The websites I build are usually for small businesses with some staff. I find building really massive websites painfully boring and tend to shy away from bigger jobs which take me away from smaller, challenging, fun projects. The boss on those bigger jobs is invariably a confused board of people clinging to old ideas, each board member with a different favourite colour and naturally, because we’re “living the democratic dream” everyone gets a say. Which means your website will look as if it were designed by committee.
While the money is great, working on big projects feels like I’ve sold my soul and invariably I return to smaller clients and small businesses.
Take your online web presence, production and design seriously. If you are investing other people’ money, don’t spend $2,000 on your website. Wear a suit that will give any groom a run for his money. Most potential clients will see your website once. Three seconds is a typical page browse time. You need people to stay longer than that and then come back again later. And you need to have something there for them to come back to.
Final Website Developer Thoughts
Another thing worth noting is that the success of your website solely depends on YOU, not the person building your site. How much time you are able to allocate to the upkeep of your site (adding articles, news, new images and timely content)? Who will write your content?
I’m going out on a limb here, but it’s a good idea to treat your website as if it’s even more important than your actual business. More people can visit your site in one day than you can actually fit in your shop.
Your website essentially IS your business as far as thousands of mobile device users are concerned. You need to get your head around that. Most businesses have it the other way around. Entrepreneurs put the business first and think of the website as an advert.
Your website can do a lot more than your physical business, but it must generate trust and you need to do that quickly. You have less than one minute to make an impression.
Your time starts NOW
NB: This article was originally written in March 2012, Rewritten in May 2013, December 2013, April 2014, October 2014, January 2015, some time in 2017 and now this version August 22nd 2019.
If you liked it, please leave a comment.
Article ©Copyright Geoffrey Multimedia 2012-2019. All rights reserved.
Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jump Jet) text adventure computer program in 1982 during the Falklands War. He now builds websites utilising best practice, future-proof web development, marketing & SEO. He lectured for 15yrs+ at Curtin Uni where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best out of 2,500+ university lecturers in Australia. Now he wants to share what he knows.