How Much Does Web Design Cost [Updated 2020]

How much does web design cost?

I know you can see it coming a mile away. But… It depends. It had to be said.

That’s a loaded question with some nuance to unpack. So let's get started.

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Web design pricing can vary drastically from one freelance designer or agency to the next. If you're looking to spend as little as possible, you can get quotes from contractors on Fiverr or Upwork for as little as $10/hr (or less) for hourly work if hiring outside of the US. Which can translate into snagging a website for just a few hundred bucks for a small site.

No matter who builds your website, hourly and project-based pricing are two of the most common pricing models, with project-based pricing giving the client the greatest price certainty.

As a general rule, a website with 5 or fewer pages and no advanced functionality will cost less than a site with more pages and/or advanced functionality. By advanced functionality, I mean any website component that “does stuff” beyond the complexity of a simple contact form. This could be scheduling/managing bookings, handling eCommerce, running online courses, memberships, etc.). You know. Advanced stuff. As page number and functionality increases, so does the price.

How much does a website cost?

Since two significant factors influencing web design pricing are the number of pages and functionality, an obvious money-saver is “launching lean.” That means launching with a Minimally Viable Product (MVP). The product being your website.

Minimizing page count and functionality are surefire ways to help keep costs down on any web design project. This MVP approach focuses on launching with what's absolutely necessary for the website to perform the most basic functions. Anything that isn't required at launch can be added later.

MVP websites may not have every page and bit of functionality you've ever dreamed of. But it will have the capacity to do what you need it to do at launch without the added costs of things that are nice to have but not critical to essential functionality (i.e., fluff).

What's the cheapest way to get a website?

If cheap pricing is what you're after, the contracting platforms are for you. These platforms are competitive, and there's always someone willing to do the job for cheaper than everyone else. So if the price out the door is your main concern, those places can be great for finding someone who will race to the bottom and give you the lowest price.

Just keep in mind…

The Lowest Priced Web Design Comes at a Cost

That's right. Inexpensive web design services aren't cheap. (whaaaatttt?)

Now I'm not talking about the money that comes out of your pocket when you hire cheap help. I'm talking about the hidden costs that you often end up paying after the fact. As the saying goes, “Hire cheap, hire twice.” You might make the mistake of hiring cheap help once. And hopefully no more frequently than that.

When you hire cheap work, it doesn't always get done right. So you may find yourself having to play clean up behind a sloppy contractor who collected their money, quickly threw something together, and vanished. That means you eat the costs of that lousy deal and try to fix things yourself or hire help. Again.

Whether you hire cheap help to build your site or bootstrap it yourself, you take on a great deal of risk. I'm all for getting a website off the ground for as little money down as possible. That's what I did with my first website. But it came at a high hidden cost of risk. The same perils exist for anyone DIY'ing their website.

When you hire a professional web designer, you offload the risks of lost time, missed opportunity cost, and slower time-to-launch.

Hear me out. I fully respect anyone's wishes to handle their website project themselves. I just want you to be aware of the risks involved in going that route. Been there. Banged my head on the keyboard over that.

If you weigh those costs and determine it's worth it to you, I wish you the best (and your sanity) in getting the job done!

How much does local freelance web design cost?

Depending on your geographical location, you can expect to pay a green/ relatively unexperienced freelancer anywhere from $500-$1,000 to build a basic brochure website.

If a freelancer is still building their portfolio, you can usually get this kind of pricing. But once a freelancer has honed their skills and established themselves, they generally start to price themselves out of work in that price range.

Find an up and coming web designer before they get expensive and you just might snag a sweet deal! If you live in an area where students are learning web design in school, you might get lucky and get an excellent site for a great price. But remember, if you sign up to be someone’s web design guinea pig – you might get guinea pig-level work.

Agency Web Design Pricing vs. Freelancer Web Design Pricing

Web design pricing varies from one freelancer to the next. And from one agency to the next, regardless of the size of the agency. Why? Because there are different types of freelancers and agencies.

Freelancers and agencies will inevitably vary by levels of experience (green vs. professional), competency (learning on the fly or operating from experience), and access to resources. Those factors, among others, influence how much either can charge for their services. Similarly-skilled agencies and freelancers may have very competitive pricing. But…

If an agency employs some of the world's best talent, you better believe their prices are going to be higher than those of your Brother in law's Nephew's cousin who picked up web design from YouTube.

There’s grey area here. But I know of some agencies that don’t take any web design work for less than a base price of $5,000-$10,000. Depending on the size or notoriety of the agency, base pricing can be multiples of that.

Can freelancers charge those kinds of rates? Absolutely. If the project warrants it. As a general rule, agencies are going to be more expensive than freelancers. But that's not always the case.

Agency vs. Freelancer/Contractor Web Design Pricing Differences

I can't say choosing either a freelancer or agency is better or worse in any given situation. But when making your hiring decision for your project, it's helpful to consider that not all agencies are great at what they do.

Similarly, not all freelancers and contractors are great at what they do.

I firmly believe you get what you pay for. The price you pay out the door for web design isn't always correlated to the quality of deliverables and the level of service rendered.

I've seen my fair share of 5-figure agency-built websites that aren't worth the cost of the hosting they're on. And I know of many sites built for less than $5k which blow those agency sites out of the water.

But generally speaking, agencies tend to charge more and get paid more for their sites, whether the value is actual or merely perceived by the client. But we can talk about that in another post.

How much does Matchless Web charge for web design?

You want numbers? I'll give you my numbers.

All of my projects start at a base rate of $1,500. Even single page sites begin there. As pages and functionality are added, the price scales accordingly.

A 5-page or less brochure-style site that simply lists information about the business and has a form or two will likely stay in the base pricing ballpark.

More complex sites that handle eCommerce, a Learning Management System (LMS), or Membership functionality start at $5,500 and can readily end up costing multiples of that when all is said and done.

Mind you, these are base prices that do not include add-on services like copywriting, on-going Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services, marketing consultation or done for you SEO and marketing.

How much does on-going professional website maintenance cost?

Of course, that’s silly. Everyone values their time. But if you’ve never put a dollar amount on your time, it’s a worthwhile exercise. Run the math on how long it usually takes you to tend to your website. Or try to learn it on the fly. And you’ll realize how quickly DIY site maintenance becomes more expensive than hiring help.

My WordPress Care Plans are detailed here, with basic brochure site maintenance starting at $50/month or $500/yr if billed annually.

When I build or redesign sites for clients, we tend to get along great. I don’t work with people I don’t get along with, so that helps. So when it comes to the long term care of their website(s), if they’re not planning on doing it themselves, they prefer to entrust that care to the person who already knows the site inside and out (i.e., me).

But you can find cheaper WordPress maintenance services elsewhere. FocusWP, for example, offers a basic maintenance plan starting at $34/month. And I’d trust them with any of my sites.

How much does on-going website strategy cost?

I'm wholly uninterested in producing websites that just sit and look nice. I want my clients to make more money and grow their businesses through their websites. There is work to be done beyond merely launching a brochure site that acts as a billboard. That's a start. If you expect your business to grow because of your website, your website needs to be doing things to make that happen.

A website is a tool for business growth. Name one tool that does anything by sitting on the tool bench. I'll wait.

Just kidding. Moving on.

Your website needs to be put to work. It only does what it's set up to do. If a website is set up to be a glorified online billboard, that's all you'll get out of it. Which isn't much. Maybe someone will call you? Maybe.

Long term, on-going content marketing strategy and SEO need to be part of your business' game plan for growth. And yes. If we get on a call, I plan on encouraging you to invest in one or more of those services. Even if you insist that you “just need a website” for now. That's my unapologetic fair warning.

I've listed my base prices for website projects above. But that doesn't include the additional content marketing and SEO services that do the leg work of making website magic happen for any business.

I'm making it abundantly clear that launching a static brochure website won't send dollar bills flooding down from the heavens.

There's more to a successful website than that.

When done right, SEO and content marketing can turn your website into an automated marketing machine that brings you leads and nurtures them towards becoming paying customers. It's like having a high-tech robo-salesperson on-call 24/7.

But for that to happen, you have to play the long game. And you'd do well to invest in SEO and content marketing services. No, you don't have to hire me for those things (but you can). For SEO and content marketing services, I highly recommend you check out Jammy Digital. They've literally just written the book on this stuff.

This may not the most detailed web design pricing overview you've ever come across, but hopefully, you have an idea of where I come in price-wise depending on a web design project's scope.

How much should you expect to pay for web design?

If you don't mind paying more for what can't be guaranteed to be higher quality deliverables or better long term outcomes for your website's performance, consider hiring an agency!

But if you want the most bang for your web design bucks, consider finding yourself a professional freelancer with a proven track record of delivering great sites that are beautiful, fast, easy to edit, and rank well in Google search. If only there were a sign that could point you to such a freelancer…

Jon Phillips Matchless Web Studio

^ That's me. This is a sign.

And wouldn't it be great if that freelancer had a deep understanding of SEO, Facebook Ads, and email marketing so he could help you in your long-term marketing efforts and business growth? (Again, me above.)

If only…

I wish you luck in your search for your very own website/marketing unicorn. Do your due diligence. Shop around. And when you're ready to chat about your project, you can get in touch with me here.

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