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You have a concrete idea of what your website should look like, but estimating the costs of creating your website can be a challenge. Friends and acquaintances in your professional network may offer some suggestions but their answers on hosting and domain costs will likely vary. Some spent very little while others invested five-figure sums to create a professional online presence.
In this article, we provide an overview of realistic website costs, depending on the type of website you plan to create and how much time and expertise you can bring to the table.
- Website costs: the type of website is a decisive factor
- More than just website costs: what amount of effort should be planned for?
- What solutions are the right fit for your online project?
- How much does a website cost? Factors that need to be included
- Website costs: a comparison of implementation options
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Website costs: the type of website is a decisive factor
Online stores, blogs, landing pages – websites can be categorized in many different ways. What type of website is right for you depends on the goals of your business or project. Websites differ not only in terms of design, but also the technical effort that is required to develop and maintain them. These factors affect the budget you should account for in your project.
The diagram below shows the respective degrees of difficulty when it comes to technical implementation:
1. Landing page: Creating a single-page website does not require any programming know-how. Whether you’re creating a simple sales page or an information-rich homepage, the costs associated and technologies required are typically low. A website building service will usually suffice. As long as you interface an email marketing system, you can also collect email addresses of visitors directly from the landing page. In this way, you can generate sales by encouraging visitors to access your online store.
Level of difficulty: easy
2. Portfolio: If you want to showcase your creative work online, website-building kits may not suffice. Portfolios usually call for a more customized design or the addition of special content that can be updated regularly. In this case, you can use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or TYPO3, which produce professional results without much difficulty, even for beginners.
Level of difficulty: easy
3. Blog/Magazine: Anyone looking to publish new content on their website regularly, update the creative design, collect user/reader email addresses, or sell individual products will not be satisfied with a modular system. A CMS is the better choice here. However, even with a CMS you will most likely want to individualize parts of your site, which will then require programming knowledge.
Level of difficulty: moderate
4. Microsite: For more creative and interactive websites with dynamic responses, you will require some knowledge of website development or will need to work with a web developer. Microsites are usually programmed individually, or at least in part individually. As a non-developer, you will need freelance or agency support.
Level of difficulty: moderate
5. Corporate Website: You can create a simple company website with a modular system without having to touch a line of code. However, if you have higher demands for your website, asking a developer or agency is a good idea. When it comes to multilingual websites, pages with dynamic content, and integrated applications, the difficulty of implementation increases.
Level of difficulty: easy to high
6. Online store: A simple online store can be implemented using a modular system. Larger online stores with greater assortments are technically demanding projects due to the order and payment processes which must be implemented. In addition, you should consider the cost of payment solutions and shipping options.
Level of difficulty: medium to high
7. Web app: Online applications require an advanced understanding of web development. Depending on the range of functions, website creation costs can range up to six-figures for web apps. These projects can only be managed in collaboration with an agency or a competent freelance team, provided that they have their own project management skills.
Level of difficulty: high
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More than just website costs: what amount of effort should be planned for?
In addition to deciding on your preferred type of website, there are three other factors that need to be considered: time, money, and know-how.
This figure shows that the more money you have at your disposal, the less know-how and time you will need to create your website. In other words, knowledge deficits and time constraints can be easily compensated for if you have the necessary financial resources.
However, if you want to develop a website and keep website creation costs as low as possible, you have two other ways to go about this. Either you invest more time in the project to acquire the necessary knowledge, and you take on as many tasks as possible yourself; or you are already bringing a lot of knowledge to the table, so you have to spend less money for expert support.
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What solutions are the right fit for your online project?
Above, we have already briefly mentioned the technical options for implementing a website:
- A modular system
- Content management system (CMS)
- Individual programming
- Web design service
With the first two options, you can create a website as a non-developer while the last two options require you to work with agencies or service providers.
To make it easier for you to decide on one or the other approach, here is an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the respective solutions.
Modular website kits
For many simple websites, a kit is sufficient. Blogs, portfolios, small company websites – all of these can be realized quickly, without having to recruit third-party developers.
There are various vendors on the market, but the principle of a modular system is always the same: The user can choose from different design templates, customize page elements, and insert their own content using a WYSIWYG editor. Depending on which plan you select, you will have more or fewer customization options. In most cases, search engine optimization functions are integrated or can be easily booked.
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Many providers also offer hosting and domain registration, and registration of a dedicated email address, so you won’t have to worry about small technical details.
The level of quality of these modular systems varies greatly, especially in terms of the usability and adaptability of templates and customer support. You can take advantage of the free trial periods that most companies offer to check for yourself whether you can handle the application easily and whether it will be enough to implement your ideas. The IONOS website builder can be used for up to six months free of charge.
Undertaking an accurate price-performance comparison in advance is worthwhile. Depending on the provider, modular website kits cost up to $40 per month. You won’t find lower website costs with any of the other methods we describe here.
|Professional results for simple websites and online stores||Limited design adaptability / standard optics|
|Quick website creation using templates||Advanced functions often not possible|
|No programming skills required||Unsuitable for complex websites|
Content Management System (CMS)
Many users will make the switch from modular systems to CMS after a while. An overview of the major CMS providers can be found in our CMS comparison.
CMS also offer a graphical interface with various templates. There are plugins for nearly every application, so those without extensive IT skills can make do without requiring external assistance. Even simple online stores can be launched without the need for additional support. However, there is one major drawback: Plugins can incur high one-off or continuous running costs, and can sometimes have a negative impact on website performance.
For larger customizations or help with the initial setup, it’s worth working with a developer who can write changes into your code permanently. This type of programming is exactly what is missing from modular website construction kits.
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Another advantage of using a CMS is that it is more suitable for projects that need to be scalable where requirements and traffic might increase rapidly.
Those who choose a CMS for their website should seek the assistance of an IT service provider, since they will have to implement their website themselves. Additional costs for technical and maintenance issues should be budgeted for.
You will also need to take care of hosting and domain registration yourself. Monthly fees are usually required for this. For hosting a site with relatively low traffic, it is reasonable to budget at least $40 a year, and for domain registration you should plan on an additional $20 a year. You will not incur any additional charges for the CMS itself if you use an open source solution like WordPress or TYPO3.
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|Higher level of customization||No support|
|Costs can be customized||Induction necessary for beginners|
|Free choice of hosting providers||Technical know-how is required, as well as collaboration with service providers|
|CMS is easily scalable for business requirements|
Web design agencies & freelancers
This is probably the most convenient solution: Your website is developed by professionals according to your specification. However, this is also the most expensive choice. For complex online stores or web apps, it is the only suitable professional approach.
If you want to create a website and save costs, you will have the option to work with individual service providers including a designer for the creation of the interface and a programmer for designing your website’s functionalities. In this case it can be helpful to have some experience of project management or knowledge of usability and user experience yourself to ensure that your website is both highly functional and enticing to visitors. Many developers program according to customer specifications, but you remain responsible for the strategic considerations.
If you want more advice, you are better off using an agency. Designers, programmers, and project managers usually work together to fulfill a client brief. They consider their client’s requirements, provide an overview of possibilities, functionalities, and coordinate individual project steps to fulfill the brief. How much does a website designed by professionals cost? The investment can quickly rise into the five-figure range. Therefore, you should be sure that your website is being created based on precise market analysis and stands a good chance of success.
Are you planning to develop a web app? Then the website price might end up rising into the six-figure range. You should only make this kind of investment after a thorough examination of your website’s economic viability, detailed financial planning, and a critical selection of service providers.
There are also additional running costs for domain and hosting, as well as website development. If you want to host a website using a virtual private server, you will need to plan for around $50 per month.
|Highly individual results can be achieved||Higher costs|
|Fast rates of success for the website|
Web design service
In addition to web design agencies, some hosting providers may also offer a design service. In this instance, hosting providers work with experts to help achieve individual client needs. The big advantage with this option is that the design and hosting (often including domain registration and SSL certificate) come from the same provider. This can be particularly helpful when it comes to maintenance and support.
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With a web design service, you can decide on a mixture of individual advice and a website building kit. You can count on expert assistance and achieve a great result without having to invest a lot of time or money into the design concept. You simply choose your design from a variety of templates and have them adapted by the experts as needed. This makes it possible to get professional help, but still pay just a fraction of the price of a website design agency.
|Expert advice||Slightly higher costs compared to modular systems and CMS|
|Often available in combination with hosting packages||Not entirely customizable|
|Variety of design templates|
How much does a website cost? Factors that need to be included
There is no single answer to this question. Website costs can range from $10 to $100,000. Our overview might have given you an impression of what kind of budget you should plan for your individual project, or which technical solutions will fit within your allocated budget.
When considering financial planning, you should also bear in mind that additional indirect website creation costs will be incurred if you want to run a successful website. For example, does your company have a corporate identity? If you cannot create your own logo, for example, you’ll end up incurring a design fee.
Once your website is online, it should be regularly serviced. Updates must be installed, security vulnerabilities must be patched, and new legal requirements should be implemented in time. You should plan for these follow-up costs. If this service is not integrated into your modular system, you should take service provider costs in consideration.
Last but not least, you should create a website marketing plan. Depending on your strategy, there may be costs associated with advertising (for example, Google Ads and social media ads), technical and content search engine optimization, newsletter marketing. If you are short on time, you can use an online marketing service from a service provider.
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Website costs: a comparison of implementation options
The cost of a website depends on your requirements and what level of dynamic capabilities your website requires. The more time and expertise you can contribute yourself, the lower the website creation costs will be.
|Level of difficulty||Advantages||Disadvantages||Website price range|
|Self-programming||Hard||- total control- individual adaptation- no design cots||- requires previous expertise- hosting, domain and SSL certificate must be obtained additionally||From $10-15 per month|
|Content management system||Medium to hard||- a lot of control- often open source- hardly any HTML or CSS knowledge required||- not fully customizable- hosting, domain and SSL certificate must be obtained additionally||From approx. $10-15 per month (premium plugins incur additional fees)|
|Modular website building kit||Easy to medium||-no programming knowledge required- quick implementation-hosting, domain and SSL certificate often included||- hardly any technical control- not fully customizable||From approx. $10-15 per month|
|Web design agency/freelancers||Easy||- can be perfectly customized- no previous knowledge necessary- advice from experts||- very high costs- only suitable for professional, large projects- changes made later are limited and cost-intensive||From approx. $5,000-10,000 one-off fee, additional maintenance costs|
|Web design service||Easy||- lots of individualization possible- quick to implement- often available including hosting, domain and SSL certificate- also useful for small projects- advice from experts is available||- relatively high costs compared to modular systems and CMS- later changes are only possible to a limited extent||From approx. $50 per month|