How Much Does A Custom Website Cost?


If you've ever shopped for web design and development services, you know costs can vary significantly. There are inexpensive options, but how much does it cost to build a custom website that will work for you now and scale with your business over time?

In this article, we take a look at different types of websites and what you can reasonably expect to pay for each. But first, we provide you with an overview of the 8 essential ingredients for every website project no matter what your budget is.

8 essential ingredients for every website project

1) Brand Development

Before you can start building your website, you will need to deeply understand your brand. If you have not formalized your brand strategy then we highly recommend that you do.

During this portion of the project, you'll work with your marketing agency to define your brand vision, mission, and values. You will also define your ideal client and the unique value your company has to offer. You will develop your branding guidelines, including logo design, colors and other visuals plus your brand personality and tone of voice. These brand elements will be translated into all of your marketing efforts down the road.

2) Strategy and Documentation

Before you begin working on the details of your website, it's important that you document its purpose. Defining the project goals and site objectives at the onset will set you and your web developer up for success.

This is when you will take the time to think about what you want to present on your website. How will you attract potential customers? What benefits will you offer visitors so your site stands out from your competitors?

This process usually begins with a questionnaire or a discovery meeting through which you and your web agency dive into your needs. During this meeting, you should discuss the following questions:

  • Who are the users of your website, and what do they care about?
  • What are your competitors doing online? What's working for them and what isn't?
  • What are the most meaningful conversions (clicks, purchases, sign-ups, etc.) that you want to track?
  • Functionally, what should the website do? What do your end users need the site to do?
  • How will the website content be managed? Do you want to manage it? Do you want your agency to manage it?

Answers to those questions should be documented so all parties involved share an understanding of the project objectives and needs.

See our website questionnaire.

3) Sitemap

Now that you know what you want your site to do, how will it be organized?

Today’s consumers are looking for detailed information that is easy to find and answers their questions. Potential clients may be turned away from your site if they can’t find what they are looking for, or your website is full of irrelevant details.

Your sitemap is a chart that clearly shows how the information on your site is organized. Your sitemap shows the pages that will be created at your website’s launch and in the future. This diagram will help your website designer determine how large your website will be and how the content should be structured to provide a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate experience.

4) Content Development

As you are working on the site design, you should also be working on your content. This phase of a web project can be time-consuming and is often underestimated, but it is an important part of developing a successful website.

Copy: Just as your website design should follow the visual identity of your brand, all your web copy should align with your written identity. Before you begin copywriting, define your brand's voice. Is it calm and nurturing; energized and empowering; sarcastic and questioning?

After you've defined your voice, begin writing copy for the pages in your site map. This stage of the process is often overwhelming and you may want to consider hiring a professional copywriter to help you.

Commercial Photography: Quality photography is critical to a quality website. Your website could fall flat and seem amateurish if you use low-quality images or rely too heavily on stock photography. If you can, have an experienced commercial photographer take photos for your site.

Video Production: Video can be a very powerful web tool. It tells a story in a more captivating way than just words and images. However, it can be costly. Consider where to best utilize video as you're planning your site budget. There are many ways you can effectively use video on your website including:

  • Explainer Videos - Shows who you are and what you do
  • Virtual Tours - Let visitors see what your physical location is like
  • Product Videos - Demonstrate how to use or set up your product
  • Education Videos - In-depth information related to your industry
  • Testimonial Videos - Customers talking about your business

Content that Educates: Think about a problem you wanted to solve. Did you turn to the internet for an answer? E-Books, how-to articles, and white papers show your website visitors that you understand their problem and highlight your company’s expertise.

5) Design

For larger websites, this phase usually begins with wireframing–the process of creating a bare bones website structure complete with a working menu system–which gives you a clear picture of how your website will work and how people will navigate through it.

After wireframing, visual design begins. During this phase, your web design team will leverage the brand guidelines defined earlier in the project and design all the pages listed in your sitemap.

6) Development

Professional custom website designers start with a framework and write much of the code from scratch. Extensive testing ensures that your website behaves properly across all modern browsers and devices, including mobile phones and tablets.

Development costs can vary significantly depending on the functionalities you choose. It's important at this stage that you don't make assumptions about costs. Things that seem simple on the surface may not be simple at all. Custom functionality like integration with your CRM or ecommerce can require more time and resources than you might anticipate. When you're putting together your budget, reach out to your website partner early to assess the size and scope of the development efforts you'll need.

7) Analytics Dashboard

Building your analytics dashboard will help you track the success of your website. While most people are familiar with Google Analytics, a free service, our experience shows that they don’t use it because the amount of data it offers is completely overwhelming.

At Diggles Creative, we create custom marketing dashboards that focus on the metrics our clients want to keep track of. Our starter dashboards also include social and email analytics so you can analyze all of your marketing metrics in one place.

8) Managed Hosting

You'll have ongoing costs for hosting, website security, and other recurring site fees. If your company has an internal IT department then you may want to handle these services in house. If you do not have an IT staff then we recommend working with a company that offers managed web hosting services. Your web agency should be able to give you an annual total cost for these fees so you can plan for them.

List of custom website types that we produce with estimated costs

A professionally built, custom website will afford you a lot more opportunity to effectively grow and improve your web presence in the future.

So the question remains—how much does a custom website cost?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer. Every business has different goals, different needs and different strategies. What you need in a custom-built website may be completely different than another business.

To answer the question, we describe custom website types that we produce and provide estimated costs below.

Is your budget less than $5,000?

It is possible to develop an effective business website with this budget, but many custom features are not available at this price point. If you are just starting out, instead of a one-size-fits-all solution, we recommend building a website that can grow with your business. Over time, you will learn more about what your customers want, which will help you decide how to best expand your website in the future.

If you're just looking for a way to get a website at the lowest possible cost, then a DIY, drag-and-drop website builder like Wix or Squarespace may be what you are looking for. While this might seem like a cost-effective and viable option, you should know that utilizing template sites for your business is not the best long-term solution. As your business grows, you may find that you have to completely redo your website. Learn more about the Pros and Cons of DIY vs. Professionally Developed Websites.

Informational Websites

An informational or brochure website is the most common type of business website. A smaller business will need about 6 to 12 pages where a medium-sized business with multiple departments will need 24 or more pages. The types of pages you will commonly see on these sites are:

  • Homepage
  • About Us
  • History
  • Mission and Vision
  • Team
  • Products and Services
  • Case Studies
  • Testimonials
  • Press
  • Blog
  • News
  • Contact

The focus of an informational website is primarily to promote your brand by creating a professional online presence and providing information about the products and services you offer.

An informational website is a great starting point for your online marketing foundation. As your needs grow, you will want to add functionality that will automate tasks and save you time.

We develop informational websites using Joomla! as the framework. The design and features are customized based on your needs. Costs for this type of website can range from $5,000 to $15,000+ depending on the scope of your project.

Functional Websites

Similar in structure to the informational websites mentioned above, these websites include special functionality and/or additional content pages. Examples of these additional features could include:

  • Resource libraries with searchable and downloadable content.
  • Online memberships with user account logins.
  • Custom store locators.
  • Products and services that can be searched or filtered requiring many sub-pages of content.
  • Listings with location maps, driving directions, and downloadable brochures.
  • Event calendars with integrated payments.
  • Marketing automation including A/B testing, goals and events, landing pages, calls-to-action, lead generation forms, and educational content.

Depending on the scope of your project and using Joomla! as the framework, we charge $7,500 to $25,000+ for functional websites.

Ecommerce Websites

We recommend using an online shopping cart like BigCommerce or Shopify for your ecommerce store. These platforms are highly customizable, offer affordable monthly plans, and include a wide range of features that will take care of most online stores.

We match your ecommerce store to your website so your visitors have a seamless experience when going from one to the other. Costs to customize the design and shopping experience for an ecommerce website can range from $5,000 to $15,000+ depending on the scope of your project.

Here’s the gist of it

Every website project and process is different. Hopefully this article will help you understand what investment is required to build an effective business website that fits your needs.

The websites we develop use Joomla! CMS which is a flexible enterprise level framework. We have chosen this platform because it is user-friendly enough to build starter websites and powerful enough to scale with your business as it grows to any size.

If you are looking for a full-service marketing agency that can help you accomplish all of this, contact Diggles Creative to request a meeting or get started right away by filling out our website questionnaire You can read more about our website design and development and maintenace services here.

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Diggles Creative, LLC

1296 Main Street, Unit B
Windsor, CO 80550

(970) 744-3611
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