As eCommerce has been more and more popular, merchants have an increasing demand to switch from brick-and-mortar stores to online ones. In the age of technological transformation, building a website has never been easier, however, a third of small businesses have not launched online stores yet. The cost of building a website seems to be a big consideration for merchants when deciding whether to base their stores on an eCommerce platform.
Therefore, in this article, we are going to answer one of the most difficult questions when running an online business: how much does it cost to build a website for a small business?
Overall, the cost of building a website will largely depend on the complexity, the size of your business, and especially, the way you choose to create your website.
Two approaches for creating a website
Since how you build your website makes up a high percentage of the expenditure on it, we’ll give you a wider picture of website cost estimates based on whether you choose to hire a developer or to build manually.
1. Hiring a developer
Building a fully functional website seems to be a complicated task for people having little technical knowledge and web design skills. Therefore, if you don’t want to spend much time and effort in creating a website, let’s leave the work to a professional developer! It’s worth investing money in a highly customized and professionally built site.
If you decide to hire a developer, there exist three ways with 3 different pricing options:
- Freelance web designer
- Full-service marketing agency
- Web design firm
Hiring a freelance designer is the most money-saving choice with the cost ranges from $300 to $5,500. You are supposed to spend the same amount of money for a marketing agency, nevertheless, you have to pay the marketing agency a higher maintenance cost. While freelance designers charge you from $5 to $25 per month, you will have to spend $5 to $500/month for the marketing agency.
A web design firm can provide you a much more professional service with higher commitment and satisfaction. Unfortunately, this option seems to be unaffordable for a small business as hiring a web design firm will cost you $300 to $10,000.
2. Building manually
If you are confident about your technical skills, you can obviously create a website yourself to pinch pennies. You can fully control the design and budget, however, it requires considerable time and effort.
3. Using eCommerce solutions
Before starting your brand-new website, you need to figure out which platform would be the best fit for you. You have two solutions to base your website on: Hosted and open-source framework.
Let’s dive deeper into these two methods!
Build a website for a small business with a hosted platform
Hosted platforms generally refer to SaaS (Software as a Service) meaning that you are leasing the software at a monthly cost from the manufacturers of the software. You don’t need to worry about coding or programming the back-end of your website because most of the necessary features are already built-in.
All hosted eCommerce platforms offer users pricing plans with a wide range of features that can suit the requirements of store owners. In general, users will have to pay a monthly subscription fee, from $20 to over $2000.
Apart from a monthly subscription fee, the cost of building a website on a hosted platform also includes these following things:
When you start building a website, a domain name is the very first thing you need. A web browser needs a domain name to direct users to a website. Your domain name is your website address which people will type into their browser to access your site.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend money on a domain name when launching a website on a hosted platform because it is already provided. However, if you want to own a unique and professional domain name which also improves your SEO capabilities, you can buy one within those platforms. For instance, if you use Shopify, a new domain name with .com extension will cost you about $14/year.
Themes and designs
As your website appearance plays a substantial role in boosting your sales, every store owner should seriously take designing an impressive visual Shopify storefront into consideration.
Luckily, with user-friendly interfaces and a wide range of pre-designed themes, hosted eCommerce solutions lend users a helping hand to create their store in a very quick and easy way.
Every open-source platform provides you with a myriad of both free and paid themes. For instance, Shopify offers users 9 free and 64 paid themes, BigCommerce offers 12 free and 149 paid themes. The cost of a paid theme will range from $60 to $300.
No matter how robust the platform is, users will need apps to extend its functionalities. As mentioned before, hosted platforms limit the access of users to their back-end. Therefore, users have to rely on apps provided by the manufacturers of these eCommerce frameworks or a third party.
E-merchants can benefit from some free apps. However, most third-party apps charge you a certain amount of fee. It is difficult to estimate the cost of installing these extensions. It depends on which platform you choose and how many apps you need. Typically, the cost of a paid app on a hosted eCommerce platform starts from about $9 to $500/month for subscription-based apps and from $99 for one time paid apps. The more additional functions you wish, the higher the bill will be.
If you choose payment methods from a third-party provider other than those provided by the platform, it will cost you additional fees per transaction. For example, if you decide not to use Shopify Payment, apart from a fee you have to pay for a third-party provider, Shopify will charge you an additional transaction fee of up to 2% for every purchase.
Plus, if you’ve been looking around for a perfect hosted eCommerce platform for your business, we’d like to recommend Shopify. This video will guide you through primary steps to create a Shopify store from scratch:
How much does it cost to build a website for a small business with an open-source platform?
Open-source eCommerce platforms are eCommerce website builders that allow the original source code to be freely available for anyone to view, modify and contribute. You can get endless customization possibilities over the design or functionality of your website thanks to the open-source nature.
Most open-source eCommerce platforms are totally free to download and install. You’re also able to upgrade your website without worrying about any monthly or annual fees. This can keep your store’s initial investment cost low.
However, there are 5 non-negotiable things you need to spend money on when building a website on an open-source platform:
Domain extension and domain register are two things that determine the cost of a domain name. Typically, you will have to spend between $0.99 and $6.62 to get a common domain extension like .com, .net, .org, .co.
However, this is just the first-time registration fee, users will have to pay a yearly renewal fee. Because of the fact that you can not buy a domain name permanently, you have to pay money to keep your ownership of a domain name for a particular period of time. The renewal fee for a common domain extension is around $8.38 to $20.75. Therefore, normally, a domain will cost from $10 to $27 per year.
When choosing a domain name for your business, the domain name should match your store name. For example, yourcompanyname.com. Besides, .com, .net or .org are Google’s prefered extensions.
You can choose from a variety of web hosting options with different variations. Generally, there are five most popular types of website hostings as listed below:
- Shared hosting: $2.49 – $15 per month
- VPS hosting: $20 – $80 per month.
- Dedicated hosting: $80 – $300 per month.
- Cloud hosting: $4.50 – $240 per month
- WordPress hosting: $4.99 – $830 per month
The optimal web hosting option for a small business is shared hosting or WordPress hosting because it can satisfy you in terms of both affordability and needs.
Wanna be a part of the biggest CMS – WordPress with your e-store? Check out this video to build your very first WooCommer store from scratch:
Themes and designs
As open-source platforms allow you to freely custom code, you can design your own website themes to save some money. However, you have another option that is to select a pre-designed template. Open-source solutions also provide users a plethora of free and paid themes. Overall, a paid theme will cost you from $39 to $299.
No matter what platform you choose, you will need to install plugins to optimize your website. There are thousands of both free and paid add-ons available for open-source platforms that you can use. Pricing for paid add-ons start from $19 and can go as high as $799.
Extra help from the professionals
Apart from infrastructures and features available on the platforms, you can hire a developer to make designs, plugins or any features that suit your needs. It could cost you anywhere from $500 to $10,000 USD depending on how much work is required or the rates of the developer you hire for the job.
Since users are free to download, install and develop their open-source website on their own, those frameworks offer little to no official support. When problems arise, e-merchants on open-source platforms will have to seek help from their community or other online resources. For instance, as WooCommerce does not give users general support, you can only find solutions for problems of your websites in its documentary resources or the WordPress.com forum.
If you look for an expert to untie the knot, it will cost from around $65 to $185/hour. Plus, some open-source solutions offer support plans tailored to your needs with prices ranging within $300 to $1,600 for a certain period of time.
To sum up, we have answered the question “how much does it cost to build a website for a small business?” from our objective perspective.
If you are willing to invest money in a professional and highly customized website, hiring a developer is the optimal choice.
Otherwise, if budget is the primary concern, and you want to have full control over the building process, you can consider creating your website manually using a hosted or an open-source solution. We’d like to recommend you make a list of features and infrastructures you need to build on your website to accurately estimate the cost and control the budget.
In case you want to migrate data from your current website to a new one, LitExtension is always willing to give a hand with your migration process. Therefore, don’t hesitate to contact our support team! or join our Facebook Community!