How much does it cost to build a website for your small business? Find out with our step-by-step guide.
Website Costs for Small Businesses
So, you started your own business, and through hard work and determination, you’ve finally built your small business up to the point where it is now turning a profit. Despite all of the things you have accomplished thus far, you know that your company needs a website, because you know that 46% of businesses nationwide don’t have a website for their company, which ultimately means that an online presence could be just what your business needs to expand. So, like many small business owners, you open a website pricing calculator and try to answer the question “how much does it cost to build a website for a small business?”
The costs associated with building a website are always dependent on the complexity of the website you want to build and the features that your website needs to have in order to effectively reach potential customers. Keep in mind, just because a website is complex or offers a host of different features, that doesn’t mean it is effective. The most successful and most effective websites are designed to serve the needs of the user, which is why both basic and complex websites can be used to drive customers to a business when they are built with the needs of the business’ potential customers in mind.
As such, the first thing you need to do is determine what the purpose of your website is. This information will allow you to choose how large your website needs to be and the amount of features your website should have. As a general matter, websites can be divided into three categories: general, enhanced, and custom.
General Website Costs for Small Businesses
General websites are perfect for contractors, plumbers, construction companies, and other small businesses that require a website that allows customers to obtain information about the services you offer, submit a sales inquiry, and entice the user to contact your business. General websites typically cost anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000, depending on the amount of and the complexity of the content you need to effectively communicate your business’ message. This type of website generally includes all of the following:
It is important to understand that every feature on a website should be designed to serve potential customers, help your website rank well on search engines, and allow website users to contact your business.
So, when a web designer says that they specialize in contractor web design or web design techniques for some other specific industry, the designer is indicating that they build websites to specifically target that class of customers while incorporating features that exploit the three fundamental design characteristics each feature on a website should have. As such, any general website you purchase should be built by a web designer that serves small businesses in your industry to ensure that your website is both affordable and effective.
Enhanced Website Costs for Small Businesses
Enhanced websites take the features included in a general website a step further and can typically cost $5,000-$7,000. This class of websites not only offer an extensive amount of content, but also, features that allow your website’s visitors to interact and engage with your website. When a user interacts with your website, it increases the likelihood that your company’s website will rank well with major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and it increases your company’s overall exposure when a user does things such as comment on a video or post about your website on social media. Typically, an enhanced website will include:
Every feature listed above once again serves to obtain information about the services you offer, submit a sales inquiry, and entice the user to contact your business, but these features also encourage website visitors to spend more time on your website overall, analyze the myriad of information being given to them, and share any information they find interesting with other users.
Moreover, giving the user access to an extensive amount of information about the services you offer can allow you to increase the value of each customer’s purchase. If you own a home remodeling business, a customer might have originally been interested in having some tile installed, but after viewing the work you have performed in the past installing countertops, the customer decides to hire you for both services. In other words, more content gives your customers the information needed to choose all of the services they want to hire your company to perform.
Custom Website Costs for Small Businesses
When you view a website that has been custom made for a company, you naturally spend more time on it due to the website’s overall presentation. Icons with special effects, video backgrounds, and custom designs are created, so a user almost subconsciously spends more time engaging and exploring a website. Why? Because custom websites are built to be malleable, and they are often used to transform a website into something beyond a tool for selling a product.
Custom websites allow a business to become an authoritative source of information for customers, other website owners, and other professionals within your industry. Moreover, by owning a website that is utilized for a dual purpose, it allows you to dominate the online segment of your industry and experience an unprecedented amount of business growth from online customers.
The reason why custom websites can cost more overall than a general or enhanced websites is, custom websites are built from the ground up by a web designer who writes the code for the website, creates the website’s structure from scratch, and inputs custom features that can only be implemented by someone with a background in computer coding.
Typically, web designers charge $125 per hour for custom programming and the overall price of a custom website will depend on how extensive your website needs to be. You can expect to have a higher upfront cost with custom websites, but they also typically offer a higher ROI in the long-run.
How to Calculate a Website’s ROI
and Payback Period
As a small business owner, you should always calculate the estimated return on your investment, and the amount of time it will take for your company to recoup the upfront costs associated with any business venture, which is also known as the payback period. A website is no exception to this rule, regardless of what type of website you decide to have built.
Generally, the average payback period for a website should be between six months and two years after the website is built, depending on the total upfront cost of building the website in the beginning, but well designed websites can actually start yielding a return in a year and a half. The best way to calculate your payback period is by determining, on average, how much profit each successful sale generates for your small business.
This information can then be used when calculating your payback period. For example, if a website costs $5,000 and each customer purchase generates $500 in profit on average, your website needs to be responsible for successfully attracting 10 customers, who make a purchase, for you to recoup the upfront costs associated with building the website. After attracting 20 customers who make a purchase, your website has generated a 100% return on investment.
Moreover, you will also want to project how many customers you believe your website should attract each month and develop a system to determine how your customers are learning about your business. As you calculate the overall cost of your website, the payback period, and an estimated ROI, it is pretty clear that a website is probably one of the easiest investments you will ever make.
Small Business Website Checklist
Before you jump into creating your small business website, make
sure you have answers to the following questions.
What’s your website’s purpose?
- To explain what your services are?
- To sell products or services (e-commerce)?
- To showcase content you’ve created or curated?
What’s your budget?
Be prepared to pay these mandatory costs up front:
- Hosting your website
- Domain name
- Secure socket layer (SSL) certificate
- Content management system (CMS)
Save room in your budget if you want:
- Custom/premium design
- Functionality features
- Professional search engine optimization assistance
- Professional copywriting/content marketing assistance
How simple or complex of a website do you actually need?
Both basic and complex websites can drive customers to a business.
Just because a website is complex or offers a host of different features, that doesn’t mean it’s effective.
Every component of your website should serve some type of value to your users, such as:
- Serving potential customers
- Helping your website rank well on search engines
- Allowing website users to contact your business
Frequently Asked Questions About Small Business Web Design
While many of the answers to these questions can be found elsewhere in this article, we wanted to make a comprehensive list of the most frequently asked web design questions — and answers — for our clients.