For most of us, what goes into the making of our bigger purchases is a mystery. You pay for your house, car, or phone and know that the money has contributed to creating a functioning thing…somehow! Under the hood, you may not know exactly what tube goes where, or what it does, but you can see the engine and understand the general contours of how your car gets you from place to place.

A website is both an absolute necessity like any of these tangible things and even more mystifying. One that’s well-designed and fully functional will also be less noticeable than a website with poor aesthetics and functionality.

Good website design doesn’t broadcast its qualities. It manifests itself through deep visitor engagement, a low bounce rate, and navigation options that take a future customer exactly where they’re trying to go.

What your customers won’t know is how much work went into your site, but you can and should know. After all, in the online world, your site’s professional design will lead to your business’s continued growth. If your time has arrived to invest in website development and design, read on to learn about the basic elements and their average cost.

The Basics

Last week, an Australian government minister came under fire for spending over $100,000 of taxpayer money on three department websites. The kicker is that they were WordPress sites, which thousands of users take advantage of for free. As is the case with most stories of comically excessive government spending, your website will cost a small fraction of what that politician paid—most likely between $2,000 and $10,000.

The most important thing to know about website design cost is that there are no hard figures that apply to every business. Just like no two businesses are exactly the same, every site design will have a different price tag. However, here are a few basics that go into every site design, from cheapest to most expensive.

nitty-gritty of website building

The nitty-gritty of website building. Courtesy XModulo / Flickr

Domain Name

domain name country codes

The URL for your business’s website. Something short, memorable, and evocative, that will stick in your customers’ minds and direct them to your site. Though staking out your domain name is the cheapest part, it is arguably the most important. Your domain name is the foundation for your brand identity and credibility.

Price: between $10-$20 per year



Unfortunately, though your site is a series of electrical impulses, it has to pay rent like the rest of us. Though your firm can select a free web host, that’s a highly inadvisable route. Your business is too important to risk frequent outages and down-times, or the very real possibility of your free host folding. Sooner or later, every free host goes the way of Geocities. If your business wants to be eco-friendly, you have the option of hiring a sustainable web host.

Price: between $10-$200 per month

Web Design and Development

Web Design and Development

This is obviously the biggest expense, the meat-and-potatoes of site-building. Design and functionality are of the utmost importance because prospective customers have sky-high expectations. A customer will judge a website’s credibility in less than a second, and expect a page to load in less than three seconds. These are the lowest hurdles your business has to clear.

Web development is the process of building the site from the wireframe prototype stage to the finished version. Developers will be conversant in some combination of HTML, XTML, CSS, WordPress, the Adobe suite, etc. This task will take more or less time depending on the content management system that’s implemented for your site.

The price for design will vary based on whether you use cheap stock images, license high-quality images, or hire a graphic designer for original work. If your firm decides to have a lot of animation, that will require a graphic animator. Whether to go heavy on animation comes with its own questions: since search engines don’t currently index Flash, you’re making a trade-off with more animation.

Price: varies per hour, but expect the site to take 100+ hours from start to finish.



Like the rest of your business, your website’s work is never done. After your site is up and running, it requires maintenance. For basic things like link repair to more complex tasks like SEO audits, you should leave aside an annual maintenance budget for your site.

Price: $250-$1,000 per year

These are just the basics, but they should give you a good general idea of what goes into web development and design. Again, there is no strict template for web design — it is a dialogue between business and designer. For comparison, a big-name website like Facebook easily costs over seven figures.

If you’re interested in a website design or redesign, we know how to do that. Like we said, each business has different needs, and a digital craftsperson tailors a website to these unique requirements. Contact us to see if working together is the right choice for you.