How Much Does a Small Business Website Cost?

A woman using a calculator to crunch numbers and figure out how much a website should cost

Website Strategy

As a small business owner, you know the importance of having a website. Any serious businesses these days has at least some sort of web presence outside of social media. A website is one of your most cost-effective marketing options and can be customized to meet you needs exactly… for a price.

A question I’m asked often when talking with prospective clients is ‘What will this cost?‘. My answer is usually… it depends.

A website can cost you anywhere from $500-15,000+.

Just like when you’re building a home  where many different factors go into the cost such as: How many rooms, what kind of finishes, etc, a website is the same. It’s your online home for your business.

We’ll break down some of the key areas below that factor into the price of a website when hiring a small web agency to plan out the strategy, design, implementation, and future roadmap.

Website Layout or Theme

You want to make certain that your website matches the branding and vibe of your business. You wouldn’t want to have a trendy coffeeshop with a very corporate looking website, nor would you want your law office to look like a preschool website. You need to ensure that your colours, fonts, imagery, logo, etc are all represented throughout your website and reflect your business. This is represented through the layout or theme of your small business website.

Custom Website Themes/Layouts

When working with a web design agency, you should expect to get a bespoke website, unique to you and your business.  A custom-built website provides flexibility as your business grows and your needs evolve. There’s more time, research, and design that goes into a custom project.

Expect to spend $2,500

Pre-made Themes

Pre-made themes are available, but they typically don’t encompass your company 100% and can be limiting when trying to add new features or functionality. You get a nice looking website, usually fully responsive so it works across computers, tablets, and mobile devices. There’s usually a number of features built into them that the developers think you might need, but more often than not, they just add extra bloat to your website, which can slow down load time (Google doesn’t like slow websites).

They are, however, perfect when working with a small budget or timeframe and you need something to get you started.

Expect to spend $50-150+ for the theme itself

Size of the Website

A typical, small business website is around 7-10 pages. For example: Home, About, Services (plus a page for each core service you offer), Contact. You might also have Frequently Asked Questions, Newsletter sign up page, Company History on your site.

For larger websites, you would typically add $100-150 per page, excluding any website copywriting

Additional Functionality

Websites require at least some sort of additional functionality to meet your business needs. Some examples include:

  • Blog/articles/resources section – a great way to establish your authority and educate your potential customers
  • Photo gallery – used to showcase your work or portfolio
  • Staff or business directory – show off your team and quickly provide contact details
  • Online forms – examples include project inquiry form, request a quote, a feedback form for testimonials
  • Mailing list integrations – MailerLite, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, etc
  • Multi-lingual – offer your website in multiple languages without relying on Google Translate
  • or other custom functionality. 

Expect to pay between $250-1,500+ per feature, depending on the complexity. 3rd Party Software Licensing fees may also apply.

eCommerce Functionality

eCommerce websites can be really simple with a single Buy Now button, but most are a little more complex. When thinking about creating an eCommerce website, you need to think about:

  • Number and Complexity of your Products
    Are you adding 100 products or 10,000 products. Are your products simple such as a green 6″ bowl or can users choose the size and colour of the bowl and the price is dependent on their choices.
  • Tax calculation
    Do you need to charge taxes, and which taxes are applicable. We recommend talking to your accountant to find out what taxes you need to be charging your customers when selling online.
  • Shipping (the most complex portion of all)
    Are you offering local delivery, local pickup, Canada Post, FedEx. Do we need integration for shipping labels, tracking.
  • Online Payment Gateways
    I typically recommend using Stripe for online payments but other options such as Moneris and PayPal are available.
  • Additional 3rd Party Integrations
    These can include inventory management, drop-shipping integration, CRM/mailing list integration, etc

For e-Commerce websites, expect to add on $3,500-7,500+ depending on complexity

Content Development

Content is key on any website and writing good content isn’t easy. Sure, you know your business best but do you know how to write for your website audience? Bringing in a copywriter to help develop the core pages of your website is crucial to any project. They’ll help make your website look more professional and can help convert visitors into clients through content optimization.

Expect to spend around $1,500-3,000+ to have content written for your Home, About, and core services pages.

Website Strategy

A visually pleasing website might look fantastic but the key component of any website is whether or not it converts website visitors into potential leads or customers.

Developing a website strategy on how users will navigate through the website (customer journey), page structure/hierarchy (usability and Search Engine Optimization), clear Call to Actions (CTAs), Social Proof (testimonials) to provide credibility, and email marketing funnels to turn curious visitors into warm leads.

Expect to pay $1,000-2,500

Search Engine Optimization

A website that cannot be found in the search engines is not a very effective website. There’s a few main types of Search Engine Optimization that you can look into.

Technical SEO

These are proper use of heading tags (H1-H6), title tags, urls, alt text on images. A properly set up website not only helps with the search engines, but also helps with how accessible your website is for people using screen readers. 

Technical SEO set up should be included within a custom build but we’ve come across many sites that don’t employ these tactics.

If you need to add this in, expect to spent $750-1,500+

On-Page SEO

This builds into the Technical SEO where researched keywords are used within urls, headings, alt tags, link text, as well as the body copy. This should be done while developing the page content initially or existing pages can be re-worked to include these tactics.

Expect to pay $1,500-3,000+ to optimize your key website pages.

Off-Page SEO

This can include backlinks, Google Ads, Facebook Ads and other marketing off of your website to help drive traffic to your website. We recommend hiring a company that specializes in off-page SEO for these services.

Expect to pay $500-1,000+/month

Other Costs to Consider

  • Domain Registration (~$20CAD/year): I recommend NameCheap. It has great prices, can be shared with your developer without giving out your password, and offer free WHOIS privacy on eligible domains to help reduce the number of spam calls you’ll receive after registering a domain.
  • Hosting ($20-100/month): Inexpensive hosting causes more problems than they’re worth. We recommend investing in a good hosting provider to ensure your website is running optimally.
  • Professional Email ($8-15/month/users): Professional email addresses, using your domain name are key. I recommend using Google Workspace for your emails. You get professional, cloud-based email and online storage, fantastic spam filtering, easy set up, as well as a ton of tools that integrate right into it. Another option is Microsoft’s Office 365.
  • Privacy Policy (~$130CAD/year): Privacy policies are key these days. They let users know what data you collect from them and how it’s used. If you’re running Google Analytics or even have a Contact Form then a privacy policy is a must. Free generators are available, but then you need to keep up with changes in the laws and they don’t always cover Canadian Privacy Policy requirements, most are US based. I recommend using Termageddeon to generate your privacy policies.
  • SSL Certificate (Free with most hosts): A secure website is no longer an option, thankfully most good hosting providers offer up free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt with your hosting. If your hosting provider does not provide free SSL certificates, we recommend changing hosting providers to one who does.
  • Stock Photos (Free to $30+ per image): Taking your own photos is always the best option, but sometimes that’s just not possible and that’s where stock photos come in. Check out my post on Royalty-Free Stock Photo Resources.

Website Updates and Maintenance

Websites, like a house, require on-going maintenance to ensure they’re running smoothly. For websites running WordPress, you’ll want to ensure that updates are done regularly to all the plugins and themes to fix bugs/security issues and integrate in new features. We talk about some of this in my post How (and Why) to Keep Your WordPress Website Updated

Expect to pay $100-250+ per month to have someone take care of this for you as part of a website care plan

To recap: How much does it cost to build a website?

It depends, but expect to spend a few thousand on a website and setting aside a month or annual budget to cover any on-going costs involved with the website.

About Leanne Mitton

Leanne helps small businesses get more people to their websites, then turn those people into new email subscribers, clients, and customers through copywriting and content marketing. If you need help writing your website content or publishing new blog posts that drive results, we should talk.

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