How Much Does a Custom Website Design Cost?


You probably came here in the process of doing research. Are you a small business looking to build a website? Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, looking to redesign your website in order to more effectively communicate your mission? Or, are you an executive from an organization looking to improve customer relations and increase traffic to your website?

We work with all of the above, helping to build websites and implement online marketing plans for organizations of all sizes. We’ve been professionally developing websites for over a decade and we love to educate others about what it takes to build a website and, perhaps most importantly…

Websites are not all created equal. Websites serve various purposes, feature different technology and therefore they can vary greatly in cost as the level of design and functionality increases and becomes more complex to suit your company’s needs. In this article, you will learn about how web companies charge for their services. We’ll also dig into what are the various levels of websites costs and typical costs for website features and services. We’ll explain how to prepare for an efficient, cost-effective website development process. Keep in mind that this article is based on over eighteen years of experience in Information Technology.

Website design cost – What’s included in the price of a website?

This is the standard industry formula used to charge for a website development project: you establish a cost for your service and then mark it up to a price the market can afford. This is similar to how other professionals change, whether a lawyer, doctor, plumber, etc. Our business is based in California so we have a certain labor costs for each team member as well as typical business overhead such as office expenses, rent, insurance, bookkeeping, taxes, etc. Based on that, our hourly rate (as of January 2016) is $80 for most services. Web agencies that use offshore staff have lower costs and so their hourly rate may be lower. Freelancers, one-person shops and website brokers can also be more competitive on price but may have other challenges such as communication, reliability and quality. When a client brings their project to us, we determine how many hours it will take and charge accordingly. So if a website takes 75 hours to build, that translates to a billbable cost of $6,000. If the project requirements change during the project we create a change order and work with the client on a revised budget.

Some web companies may promote website costs in “package prices” such as $995 for website “Package A”, $1,950 for the “Pro Package”, etc. This is an effective way to sell websites but we advise you to scrutinize the fine print of what is included. In order to sell a package website and make a profit, the scope or limitations have to be very restrictive. That may not be readily apparent when you scan the list of “included” features. Also, these types of website deals are often “managed” by the company, so there is the potential for them to overcharge you on other basic services like hosting, SEO, maintenance, etc. These solutions tend to be very templated so your website and online brand probably won’t stand out. It will end up resembling every other website that company produces.

What are the various levels or types of websites and what do they cost?

When we estimate website cost, we look at the potential complexity in order to calculate the number of predicted required hours. Although every website is different (different brand, different design, different content, etc.), there are certain levels of effort required for certain types of websites. Here are some common website scenarios we often encounter and the associated average market pricing based on our research.

Note: All of our websites are mobile-friendly and have Google Analytics installed. Most of our websites come with a content management systems (CMS) so that the clients can update their content themselves. Cost include strategy, original design, programming, testing, SEO optimized and client training included.



DO it yourself: Free: Cost: $50/month

With advances in business models, content management systems, and software there are now some amazing tools online some include,, WordPress, among many. These tools are amazing.

However, it’s important to note – these tools are often complicated and our potential clients are still not comfortable learning and using these tools. Similar to the above – these sites are highly configurable, but still require some coding, graphic design, and other knowledge to cull out of them a custom, attractive look. However, these are excellent resources and I’d recommend these services for any business looking to do it themselves.

Simple, Informational, Business Website (no E-commerce, marketing-focus): Cost: $7,000 – $10,000

These types of websites are among the simplest in our repertoire and typically include the following specifications:

  • Client provides logo and text content and possibly some photos
  • Website consists of approximately 4-6 pages
  • Other features we can include:
    1. Social Media links and feeds
    2. Blog
    3. Email newsletter signup
    4. Other minor features: calendar, gallery, slideshow, etc.

Mid-size, Informational, Business Website (no E-commerce, marketing-focus): Cost: $11,000 – $20,000

These types of websites are primarily informational and have all the components of the simple website option above but with additional sub-pages and options. These websites typically include following specifications:

  • Client provides logo and text content and possibly some photos
  • Website consists of approximately 10-20 pages
  • Other features we can include:
    1. Social Media links and feeds
    2. Blog
    3. Email newsletter signup
    4. Other minor features: Calendar, gallery, slideshow, etc.

Simple, E-commerce, Business Website: Cost: $8,000 – $15,000

These types of websites typically include the following specifications:

  • Client provides logo and text content, product info and photos
  • Website consists of approximately 4-6 pages
  • Website has a shopping cart with 1-100 products
  • Other features we can include:
    1. Social Media links and feeds
    2. Blog
    3. Email newsletter signup
    4. Other minor features: Calendar, gallery, slideshow, etc.

Mid-size, E-Commerce Website: Cost: $16,000 – $40,000

These types of websites include all the components of the simple E-commerce website option above, but with additional sub-pages and options. These websites typically include the following specifications:

  • Client provides logo and text content, product info and photos
  • Website consists of approximately 10-20 pages
  • Website has a shopping cart with 100 – 500 products
  • Other features we can include:
    1. Social Media links and feeds
    2. Blog
    3. Email newsletter signup
  • Other minor features: Calendar, gallery, slideshow, etc.

Other common options that can be added and increase these budgets are:

  • Customer account dashboards: + $2,000 – $5,000
  • Integration with clients back-office systems: + $1,000 – $10,000
  • Custom product configurations: + $5,000 – $20,000
  • Membership: + $2,500 – $5,000
  • Multi-language features: + $2,000
  • Private, secure client areas: + $2,000 – $5,000
  • Distributor databases or directories: + $1,000 – $3,000
  • Extensive company team bios: + $1,000 – $2,000
  • Data migration, database configuration -$TBD
  • Customized e-commerce features & functionality  -$TBD
  • Additional optimization for social media (e-commerce / non-e-commerce) -$TBD
  • Marketing services – $TBD

When you are working with a Fortune 500 company you can bet they don’t have a $30,000 website. They probably pay that in monthly hosting services alone. Over the years we have worked on many projects ranging from $2,500 to $50,000., just for example (Not our client), cost hundreds of thousands to create and over $5 million annually to maintain and manage, BUT since they earn $100 million in annual sales, the expense is easily justified. The higher budget websites are usually e-commerce with extensive customization, back-office systems and reporting.It’s also quite expensive to design, develop and maintain websites that manage large numbers of members with various levels of permissions  and offer online services.

5 things that can increase the budget of any website development project:
  1. Content entry and migration: If you have a lot of content like blog articles, PDF files, products, even a customer list, this qualifies as content that needs to be entered into the website somehow. If the content already exists in a database, it may be possible to migrate it within an hour or so. But if the content needs to be manually entered and checked for accuracy, this would count as additional effort. In cases like these, we can train the client to do the content entry themselves or we do it at an additional cost.
  2. Custom features or functions: There are literally thousands of “features” such as photo galleries, video players, online directories, forums, social media marketing, E-commerce, etc. These features are encapsulated in plugins, modules, and extensions that can be purchased or licensed, and these can be added to your website.
    The issues occur when you want to modify or customize the custom feature and/or the plug-ins don’t work well together and break the website. It’s easy enough to install an out-of-the-box plug-in BUT modifying it can be time intensive, also some plugins are not compatible with other web applications so they often require more testing and troubleshooting which also requires additional time. Down the line, they also require maintenance in terms of upgrading to newer versions over the lifespan of the website.
  3. Additional creative exploration: We typically provide 5-10 website design options to our clients so they can choose a design direction. Some clients have a difficult time deciding and request additional design work. Some clients point to websites that they want to emulate without realizing that those example websites have spent thousands of dollars (up to six figures or more, depending on the brand) on custom animations and infographics.  Within our budgets, we have to set expectations with clients that what we’re building won’t be a copy of a website that was built for over $100,000. Our clients budget dictates a finite number of hours for our creative design phase. If the client can’t decide or if they have intricate design goals, then we may need to increase the time allocated for that effort. In all cases, we try to be as creative and accommodating as possible within the allocated budget.
  4. Integration with an existing client database or software application: This scenario is typical of building a new e-commerce site to replace an existing site. We may be required to connect the website with some other third-party online solution that’s in place. It could be a database of customers, products, custom shipping rules, inventory systems, accounting software, marketing systems, etc. For many of the major software solutions, there are known methods to connect them with a website but many times this is more complex than anticipated and can spin into many hours of additional effort.
  5. Client does not have content ready: If the client doesn’t have the contents ready on time it pushes behind the project deadlines. The client needs to be proactive sending us the contents to avoid any delays in the project.

So what are next steps?

You are probably a business or organization seeking to redesign an existing website or planning to develop a new website. The most important next step is to define what it is you want to build. If you don’t have set specifications or requirements that clearly outline what you want, it is very difficult to get an accurate estimate from any web agency. You will need to provide an overview of your company, goals, products/services, brand goals, features you want, etc. There are many ways to get your website requirements together. Below we have a link to our website development questionnaire form, which we recommend you to fill out to get a free 30 minute consultation from our digital marketing consultants.

  1. Client Website Design Questionnaire Form: Click the link and fill out the form and our digital marketing consultant will contact you.
  2. Next step click here to schedule an appointment online.

We are always happy to respond to any inquiries so feel free to call us at 916-572-8444

The bottom line is, like in many industries web design and development is definitely an area where you get what you pay for.


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