How Much Does a Website Cost? A Small Business Guide & ROI Calculator

How Much Does a Website Cost? A Small Business Guide & ROI Calculator

As a small business owner, you know you need a website, but how much does a custom website cost? Should you just do it yourself?

Despite the allure of DIY solutions, creating an effective website is complex. Designing a site that not only looks professional but also engages your target audience, enhances your brand, and integrates seamlessly with essential business tools requires expertise.

You may think I’m biased as a web designer, but after overhauling so many DIY sites since 2012, I know that investing in professional help truly pays off.

So I wrote this article to help you understand the costs and benefits of investing in a professional website for your small business, and built an ROI Calculator tool to help.

Why DIY Is a Risk: The High Cost of a Bad Website

A lot of small business owners jump into DIY web design thinking it’s a breeze—just drag and drop, right? But the truth is, creating a truly effective website involves much more than what meets the eye. Here’s why taking the DIY route can be riskier than you might think:

The Risks of a DIY Website

Diving into DIY web design might seem like a good cost-saving measure, but it can cost you a lot. Without professional design, your site might not capture the right attention or work as expected, which can frustrate visitors and make your brand look unprofessional. Technical issues could pop up more often than not, and without robust security, you’re open to risks. Plus, as your business grows, you might find that your DIY site can’t keep up, leading to the need for a costly overhaul sooner than you’d think

The Costs to Your Small Business

  • Revenue Loss: When your site turns potential customers away rather than welcoming them, you’re basically saying goodbye to potential sales.
  • Increased Overheads: Fixing your DIY website is like paying for it twice—first to build it, and again to fix it. Not the bargain you hoped for!
  • Brand Reputation: A clunky, unprofessional site can really make customers second-guess their trust in your brand.
  • Operational Inefficiency: Every minute you’re building or fixing your website is a minute not spent on growing your business.
  • Competitive Disadvantage: An unpolished site implies lower quality, making you seem like the cheaper option next to sleeker competitors.

Investing in Success: Determining Your Website Budget

Budgeting for a professional custom website involves several key considerations.This step-by-step guide will help you to effectively plan and budget for a professionally designed website:

Answering Questionnaire

1. Define your website’s purpose and goals

Consider what specific actions you want your visitors to take on your website. Are you setting up a site to schedule appointments, showcase case studies or a portfolio, collect customer intake information, or provide detailed FAQs? Perhaps your aim is to drive donations for a non-profit, or sign up beta users for a new tech product. Each of these goals can lead to different design choices, functionalities, and levels of complexity, all of which will influence the overall cost of your website. Identifying these goals early will help ensure that your website effectively meets your business needs.

2. Do your research

Get familiar with the essentials of building a website. Explore various platforms like WordPress or Shopify, understand hosting options, and learn about domain names and their impact on SEO. Knowing these basics will help you set realistic expectations, communicate effectively with web professionals, and assess potential costs accurately.

3. Consider your needs

Break down your requirements into must-haves and nice-to-haves. For example:

  • Must haves: Logo, SEO, essential pages, marketing copy, portfolio, domain, and hosting.
  • Nice to haves: Advanced functionalities like payment processors, professional photography or video, newsletter integration, and other marketing integrations.

4. Reach out to professionals

Research web designers and branding experts who have a style and approach that align with your style and vision. Check out their portfolios. Set up meetings to discuss your project and see if there’s a good personal and professional chemistry. Get some ballpark estimates. This process will help you form a picture of who can best meet your requirements and give you an idea of the potential costs involved.

5. Consider the longterm costs

Don’t overlook the ongoing costs of maintaining a website, which include domain renewal, web hosting, SSL certificates, regular updates and backups, content management, and SEO and marketing services. These are essential for keeping your site secure, up-to-date, and performing well in search rankings.

6. Allocate Funds Strategically and Plan for ROI

Allocate your budget strategically, focusing first on essential features. Also, consider how each expenditure will contribute to your business, such as increasing sales or reducing costs, to ensure each investment delivers the best possible return.

ROI Calculator Illustration

Website ROI Calculator

Now that you’ve done your homework, use the Website ROI Calculator below to directly compare the costs and benefits of a professional website. This quick tool will illustrate the real impact on your bottom line.

Step 1 of 2

Input the average $ amount you earn from a new client based on your most popular offering.
Estimate how many new clients per month you might gain through the website. If unsure leave the default.
Input the cost of a professional website based on your research and requirements. As a default, I put in $5500, which is the cost of my Foundational Website package.
Input the number of hours a web designer will need of your time. As a default, I put in the 12 hours I require of your time for the Foundational Website package. This includes 2 hours for the DIG interview, 1 hour for the DIG review, 1 hour for the Kickoff meeting, and 8 hours to collaborate and launch the site.
Enter the amount you charge per hour, or the estimated value of one hour of your time.
Enter the estimated total hours it typically takes to create and launch a DIY website. The default value of 40 hours is based on industry averages for basic websites. Please adjust this number based on your own experience or the complexity of your planned website.

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