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Imagine entering a hotel where the front desk is messy, there’s no reception staff, the lobby is garish, and no clear signage directing you to your rooms.

What a nightmare! Now imagine you walk in, and your eyes are immediately drawn to where you need to go, the lobby feels warm and inviting, and a skilled concierge is there to provide helpful information, answer questions, and ensure a seamless experience.

Your website is either the first hotel or the second. Your website should be an online concierge that guides visitors, makes information easy to find, and enables them to engage with your content to meet their needs.

And that’s where website design comes in.

You probably think that for your website to create the desired experience, you’ll have to invest a lot of money. But do you? Let’s find out!

This article will break down the average cost of website design, how to do it yourself or hire an agency, and how to budget for a website that converts.

That said, you don’t want to focus too much on design. If you have a small budget, focus more on the buyer journey and treat your website as a growth funnel. If it looks good but functions poorly, you have a pretty website just taking up real estate.

The Basics of Website Design Costs

Various factors influence website design costs:

  1. The type of design: Would you prefer a simple, clean design or something more intricate and customized? A complex and tailored design will cost more.
  2. Functionality and features: Will your website have an e-commerce component, a blog, or other interactive elements? Adding these features will likely increase the price.
  3. Content creation: Do you plan to write the content and supply the images or videos for your website, or do you need a professional to do that? It will cost more to outsource content creation.
  4. Ongoing maintenance and updates: Having a website isn’t something you can simply set and forget. Regularly updating and maintaining your site is essential for keeping it secure and up-to-date.

Website complexity plays a significant role in driving up costs. And for some companies, it’s not necessary. More complex sites can be a drain on resources. Do you need custom designs, advanced features and functionality, and intricate user interfaces?

You have several options for outsourcing web design. First, you could choose a freelancer. Freelancers specialize in many niches, including design, development, and copywriting. It’s often a cost-effective option - but do your diligence. Be sure to verify the expertise of Independent contractors and freelancers to ensure you’ll be happy with their results. Asking for testimonials from past clients or their portfolios is a great way to do this.

Alternatively, you could work with an outsourced or hybrid growth team. For example, at Lean Labs, we offer web design as part of your included service. We aim to turn your website into a high-converting funnel that drives leads, making the most of your budget, and delivering rapid results.

DIY vs. Professional Website Design

DIY Website Design

DIY website design is more popular than ever, with platforms like Wix and Squarespace offering various templates and drag-and-drop functionality. WordPress is slightly more advanced and allows for more customization, especially if you want to use plug-ins.

On the plus side, DIY website design is generally less expensive as you’ll pay for the website builder and hosting fees. In addition, website builders are easy to use, don’t require coding ability, and use visual editors that let you customize your site to how you want it. Most people can create a DIY design using templates, instructions, and Google or YouTube to fill in any gaps.

However, many DIY website builders don’t offer the same customization or functionality as a professionally-designed site. This can impact the positive user experience you’re trying to create. It can also be a lengthy process, and if you lack an eye for design, will it accurately represent your brand?

Professional Website Design

Professional designers have the skills, knowledge, and experience to create a polished website. You get time back to focus on other aspects of your business, and with the right information, a designer can create a site that matches your vision and needs.

Of course, it can be more expensive to hire a professional. Freelancers will charge what they think they’re worth and look at market conditions and the project's scope. Estimated costs vary between $200 and $2,500.

Web design agencies also vary in price depending on the project’s scope (though they generally have higher baseline costs due to what they offer) and can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $75,000. Again, your estimate or project will depend on your budget,  the nature of your site and how customized you want it, and which website design agency you choose.

Remember: many agencies have large teams working together to create a cohesive website. So, you’ll need to factor strategy, design, development, and site maintenance into ongoing costs.

Breaking Down the Average Cost of Website Design

Before we get into factors that affect website design cost, there are details you must remember to take care of. For example, you’ll need to:

  • Register your domain: Domain registration usually incurs an annual cost of anywhere from $10 to $50 per year, depending on the registrar and the top-level domain (TLD) you choose.

  • Find a web hosting provider: You can access your website’s files online by hosting them on a server. Costs vary depending on the hosting plan you choose. Shared hosting is the most affordable option, starting at $3 a month. Dedicated and virtual private servers are more expensive but provide better performance and security.

Other ongoing costs (outside of design) include maintenance and technical support.

5 Factors That Influence Website Design Costs

As you budget for a new or upgraded website, here are five key aspects to remember.

Project Scope

The more pages you need, the more time and effort it takes to design, develop, and optimize them. First, you might only need a basic website with a select number of key pages.

A killer homepage is critical. It will include your unique value proposition, navigation, social proof, and more. It should tell users that you can solve their problem, how you do it, and what steps they need to take next.

Then you’ll have content pillar pages that attract organic traffic and broadly cover popular topics in your industry, with links to other content on your site. These pages aim to educate and build trust with your audience, positioning yourself as an authority.

Other pages include conversion pages (landing, schedule, and pricing) and case studies.

The project scope also includes custom functionalities and integrations. You’ll increase development costs if you want to add third-party tools, such as email marketing software and booking systems.

Design Complexity

Will you want a custom design, or will templates do? Pre-built templates will save money because your site will need less design and development time. The same goes for modular website builders. But a custom layout will add to the costs if you want a unique and tailored design.

Many web design services charge by the hour. A simple design build might take 20 hours, but a complex website could take 100 hours or more.

You’ll also need to factor in the user experience. For example, mobile responsiveness is vital. You’ll need additional design work and testing to ensure your website is accessible to every user on any device to reach your target audience best.

Lastly, a well-designed website should have an intuitive interface. Investing in UX/UI design, such as creating wireframes, mockups, and user flow diagrams, can improve your website’s usability and customer satisfaction. However, it will also increase costs.

Content Creation

Imagine you bought a beautiful Mustang, but nothing was under the hood. A website that looks good without key pages and relevant and helpful content is the same. Compelling content that speaks to your ideal customer is essential.

Will you hire a professional to write your copy and content? A website design agency could have an in-house team and include it as part of the project scope. Whatever the case, don’t skimp on content – it might be the key to helping users convert.

Other design elements like custom photography, illustrations, and videos are often outside the scope of written content, piling on costs. You could also outsource video creation. You’ll have killer videos on your website but invest a hefty chunk of your budget to get results.

SEO and Marketing

Part of writing killer content is ensuring it’s optimized for SEO. If you want your content to rank on search engines, you’ll need to consider the key elements of on-page SEO, like:

  • Identify the right keywords for your target audience and create content matching user intent.

  • Use meta descriptions that provide information about your web pages to search engines.

  • Incorporate appropriate heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to help search engines understand your content’s structure and relevance, making it more likely to rank higher in search results.

  • Ensure your images have alt tags and are compressed so they don’t affect page load times.

  • Use internal linking to improve user navigation and send potential customers to more relevant content and conversion pages.

Related: SEO and Content Marketing: A Match Made In Heaven (And How to Do It Correctly)

You must also consider off-page SEO, including gaining high-quality backlinks and managing your online reputation. Investing in SEO is a surefire way to gain visibility and build your brand.

Lastly, tracking and analyzing website performance data with tools like Google Analytics is essential for understanding user behavior and optimizing your website. However, configuring analytics and implementing tracking codes may incur additional costs.

Ongoing Maintenance and Support

Websites need regular updates. You’ll have a lot of software, plug-ins, and security measures to think about, and if you don’t stay on top of it all, you’ll have performance issues and might even suffer from cyber attacks.

Even with the best planning and maintenance, technical issues will crop up. It’s essential to have a plan for dealing with these problems to maintain your site’s performance and functionality. You may need to hire a web developer or designate someone on your team with the technical skills to handle any issues.

Are backups included in your hosting plan? You must regularly back up your website to protect data and content in case you get hacked or the server crashes.

Budgeting for Website Design

Creating a stunning website for your small business doesn’t need to break the bank. 

Whatever your budget, you have options for building a website your customers will love. To determine your budget, prioritize your needs first. Then, think about the buyer journey and the must-have elements to help you convert visitors into leads and customers.

Plan for ongoing costs like website maintenance, hosting fees, and security updates, and allocate a portion of your budget to SEO efforts. Remember, a great user experience and relevant content will help drive traffic to your website.

We recommend starting with HubSpot’s free CMS tools. You can build and manage your website using templates and themes without spending a fortune. Sprocket Rocket Free is a tool designed specifically for the HubSpoot CMS and will help you design a website without touching a line of code.

The Average Cost of Website Design for Small Business: Go Forth and Design

If you’re on a budget, prioritize features that will benefit your business the most. 

Mobile responsiveness, easy navigation, fast-loading pages, and strong calls to action are key. In addition, investing in professional copywriting and visuals and SEO to help potential customers find your site is crucial.

You can do it independently. However, consider themes and templates easily edited by you–or an outsourced web design team– are best. You want a website that scales with you and can support your growth, even as you need more help to get there! 

Finally, You must convert visitors to customers to get the most out of your website. So more than custom website design – you need a growth partner. Lean Labs will help you create stunning, high-conversion websites and marketing campaigns that deliver results and ROI. You can schedule a growth mapping session with us today to get started or check out our free resource, the Website Transformation Toolkit. 

Shaun Samonini
Post by Shaun Samonini
Jul 04, 2023
Shaun is a Growth Marketer at Lean Labs, working with deserving brands to create, implement, and optimize proven growth strategies.