Average Cost of Website Development — What You Should Know

Curious How Much to Create a Website?

We discuss how the price of a website can fall into the $5,000 or even $30,000 range and what the main pitfalls are that you’ll want to avoid.

Is your small business struggling to establish a lucrative online presence? You’re not alone. Not only do more than one-third of small businesses do not have a basic website, but almost a quarter of existing small business websites aren’t developed and designed to be mobile-friendly.

If 2020 has revealed anything for companies, the ability to adapt an online presence for your customers and employees is critical to staying afloat. Physical stores, restaurants, and other businesses that are shuttered during quarantine are scrambling to establish websites, ordering systems, and other digital avenues to engage customers.

If you are looking into setting up a website for your small business in 2020, don’t miss this essential cost-benefit website development and design guide:

Website Development Wireframing

What are the Benefits of Websites for Small Businesses?

What is influencing your decision to get a website in 2020? Your small business’ bottom line? It’s easy to think of a website as another cost associated with business overhead, but the truth is, it can’t be siloed into the same funds you use to keep the lights on. Almost two decades into the new millennium and it is clearer than ever before — a website is necessary to a company’s survival.

In addition to ushering your small business into the digital era, a great website helps to:

  • Establish consumer trust and increase the credibility of your company
  • Relay accurate and up-to-date information about your company
  • Convey relatability to online customers and funnel new leads
  • Highlight your company’s relevance in the digital age
  • Set the foundation for an online ecosystem including social media, blog content, etc.
  • Open the door to networking opportunities with other companies

If you think a web presence is superfluous because your business processes all transactions through brick-and-mortar stores, think again. A new study reveals the significant impact online research has on purchase decisions made in-store. The ROBO (research online, buy offline) trend is gaining ground highlighted by new data that finds over 80% of smartphone users search online prior to making an in-store purchase.

So why do so many small businesses shy away from getting a website? In addition to simply thinking they don’t need one to be successful or that a website isn’t relevant to their business, many companies assume the average cost of website development is so high they couldn’t even consider it.

Average Cost for Building a Website

Like with most any business investment, the complexity around your needs and goals for a website will largely drive the website development price associated with creating it. For example, if you are looking for a simple portfolio or brochure website that shares your business hours, location, team info, etc., a do-it-yourself website service like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace could be the solution for you.

If you are looking for more custom features, however, like specialty design work, eCommerce functionality, interactive applications, and/or integration with another online service, you may want higher caliber website-building expertise (which can affect the cost to build an eCommerce website) as you find with custom web development agencies or a highly skilled freelancer.

These factors widen the range of the average website price from potentially a few thousand dollars for minimal barebones sites to $5,000 or even $30,000 for custom, feature-rich and responsive web applications.

Industry experts recommend that small businesses conduct a business analysis (looking at price, ROI, business goals etc.) before they dive into building a website. Not only can a little research upfront help inform your decision about how much you “need” to build and budget for your website, but it will also paint a clearer picture of how the investment can help your business accomplish its goals in the long-term. A business analysis will define the exact scope of the project, including the features and functionality your website will have, as well as take into consideration how the website can be utilized as a marketing tool and lead-generator.

How Much Does a Mobile Website Add to Costs?

The average cost of building a website in 2020 will additionally be influenced by the demand for mobile-friendly functionality. The Pew Research Center found that 83% of Americans use the internet at least occasionally from their smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices. Building a website that is not mobile-friendly is, well, practically pointless in 2020 and to make matters worse, it can negatively impact search engine ranking and limit the amount of traffic your website receives.

Online users expect websites to look and behave seamlessly across devices no matter their screen size, operating system, or browser. Incorporating mobile-responsive design and development into your website budget will be one of the most important things you do for your small business.

Depending on the costs of your “desktop design”, you can add around 50% more to your budget for additional mobile and tablet designs. This means that if you design your homepage and it costs $1,000 for just the design of the header, footer and content in between, you can look to increase the price another 50% (or $500) for the mobile and tablet designs. So you have about $1,500 in costs for just the homepage designs for desktop, tablet, and mobile.

On top of that, you can add another 35–50% for the additional frontend software work (HTML, CSS and Javascript work) that will go into developing the mobile-friendly version of your site. You will also want to budget for an additional 15% — 25% of costs for the quality assurance testing services to make sure the site works on all screen sizes, operating systems, and browsers.

What Are Typical Website Costs?

A myriad of factors contributes to the average website build cost. Primarily, before anything is actually built, you need to purchase a domain and find an online vendor to host it for you. From there you will want to plan for:

  • Business analysis costs
  • Initial website build (both frontend and backend software development work)
  • Adding new features and applications
  • Quality control and quality assurance
  • Coordinating documentation around code and website architecture
  • Testing the website for performance, functionality and user experience (i.e. bug testing and fixing)
  • Project management costs
  • SEO costs
  • Copywriting costs
  • Ongoing maintenance once the website is live
  • Hosting
  • Training administrators to use and support the website

Beyond those basic items, small businesses may also want to lay out what the phases of the website creation will be, allocate additional funds towards marketing the website (upwards of 50% of the initial budget), and set up analytics to track (Google Analytics is a good start) specific “goals” like number of monthly visitors, and “funnels” like the number of leads who fill out contact form, etc.

When choosing a professional web development agency to bring your responsive website to life, you’ll most likely have to select between individual freelancers, small local agencies in your area, or larger international digital agencies. No matter which path you take, experienced web engineers and designers should know how to help you plan for your future and understand the critical nature of not just building a great user interface (UI) but establishing strong SEO, site mapping, features, testing protocols, CMS, engaging content, and more.

Typical Pitfalls and Best Practices When Creating a Website

Do small businesses launch websites every day without the knowledge and wherewithal to truly make them work for their business? Sure. Do you need to fall into that same trap? Not at all. Keep these common pitfalls and best practices in mind when building your new small business website:


  • Under- valuing experience. When it comes to crafting a niche website for your business, tapping into tech talent with hands-on experience in your industry could pay off much more than scrapping together a drag-and-drop website yourself.
  • Not doing a business analysis. Don’t miss the opportunity to assemble a cost and ROI analysis to fully understand website benefits and return. The best engineers will accurately estimate a project by seeing all the details around it. The ones who estimate without knowing all the details are not the ones you want to work with even if they have the lowest prices (ie. trying to win your business) or say that everything is possible.
  • Underestimating key website components. The importance of website pillars like mobile responsiveness, SEO, content, site-mapping, and robust feature sets can’t be overstated enough. Instead of asking a web development agency, “How much to create a website for me?”, ask “How much to create a great website for me?”.
  • Over-complicating the code. Building something that is difficult to maintain for a non-technical business owner may require additional monthly fees that you have to pay to an agency or freelancer that does it for you. Make sure the web development engineer is also documenting their code so future engineers know what it is all doing.
  • Missing the bigger picture. Not discussing an overall strategy for your company’s entire online presence as it pertains to your website can be an equally missed opportunity. Same goes for having an engineer build your software or website in a certain way that will make it harder for you to add new features or add more users in the future. Discuss big picture items like setting up a website email capture for e-marketing, integrating social media platforms, curating a blog, adding more complex features etc.

Best practices:

  • Do your own research. As a small business owner, you don’t have to become an online expert, but a little knowledge goes a long way especially when it comes to understanding SEO, building up site content before you start your designs, site structures, and how different software engineers or agencies plan to build your responsive website.

  • Find the balance between value and experience. Don’t just go with cheap churn-and-burn agencies who offer big promises and little return. Balance your resources with short and long-term goals to find a website solution you feel good about. And make sure your developers know at least 95% of what you want to build before they do any actual coding and design work.

  • Think mobile-first. Before you ever request price bids and mock-ups for what your website will look like on a laptop or desktop computer, ask what it will look like on a smartphone and a tablet.

  • Remember, content is key. Rich content not only helps with SEO but conveys your company’s brand promise and personality and can help drive growth. Combine great copywriting with keyword research so you get the benefits of search engine optimization from an agency.

  • Focus on usability and site performance. A beautiful, sleek website is worthless if it takes forever to load, is hard to navigate, and makes it difficult for a user to consume content efficiently. Search engines simply won’t send you traffic if they know you have a suboptimal performing site where users click back immediately or struggle to engage with your content.


If you’re asking yourself how much does it cost for a website, you should also be asking what the cost is of not having a website. Building a website takes time. There’s no set time for how long should it take to build a website. Take your time to decide on how to build it, how many pages you need, and what functions and customizations you may require. While typically harder to measure, the hidden costs of not having a website have never been clearer – missing potential customer leads, forgoing potential sales revenue, preventing effective social engagement, and losing visibility during a time when people are practically living online. Customers are searching for a business like yours online now more than ever. Isn’t it time they found you

Want to build a custom e‑commerce website?

Spiral Scout has an expert team of e-commerce designers and developers who can help!
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