How Much Does a Small Business Website Cost

small business website

We all want to know the price of the things we’re considering purchasing reasonably early in the decision-making process because the cost factors into our choice. If you’ve been asking yourself, “How much does a small business website cost?” you probably know how irritating it is to get a straight answer to that question.

I will answer the question in this blog post, but I’m also going to share some insight into why the question is so hard to answer. The reason brings up some critical points about websites that will help you build a better one.

How much does a meal cost? How long is a piece of string?

Imagine if I asked you how much a meal costs. Would you be able to answer me? Or would you need more information first?

Asking “how much does a meal cost?” is pretty much identical to asking “how much does a small business website cost?” You need a bunch more details before you can even begin to give an estimate.

What do you like to eat? Where are you? Are you looking for lunch at home, dinner at McDonald’s or brunch at the Fairmont? Is it just you or your whole family? Will you be preparing any part of it yourself, or do you just want to sit down and be served?

You can’t predict the cost of a meal until you determine what qualities you want the meal to have. Websites are no different.

So How Much Does a Website Cost for a Small Business?

Here are some questions we ask you if you ask us what we charge for a small business website.

           1. What do you want your website to do for you? 

Is it a store? Will customers need to register or fill out an application to work with you? Does the site collect private information? Do you have other means of attracting people to your business, or is the site doing it all? Are you good with technology, or will you need someone else to make essential updates like holiday hours and blog posts?

When I first started building websites for people, I didn’t give much thought to the differences between different sites. I quoted my first client, who needed an eCommerce site with a secure payment gateway, the same price I charged for information-based websites. Oops. I didn’t factor in how much more work it is to create a web store that tracks inventory, takes payments securely and is easy for the client to update themselves when they want to add new merchandise. Needless to say, that first client got a SWEET deal, and I got a bunch of tuition value that I’ve used ever since.

           2. Have you created your “visual brand” yet?

I’ve written in the past about some of the limitations that arise from hiring a developer to build your website vs. a marketing professional or designer. Developers who work outside a full-service marketing agency are talented professionals in building sites, but they may be missing other skills you need for a successful website. Here’s what I mean.

For your small business’s website to be effective, you need a bunch of ingredients. One of these ingredients is your visual brand: your logo, your colours, your brand fonts, etc. This “visual brand” is the Target bullseye and the Telus cute animals. It’s the Home Depot shade of orange and the unmistakable Disney typeface.

One hundred percent consistency in these areas is fundamental to your brand’s credibility. Our brains get confused when this consistency is absent, even if we consciously don’t notice. If you already have a logo, defined colours and fonts, your web designer will incorporate them into your new site.

If you haven’t yet chosen brand colours and fonts and you don’t have design expertise on your team, you need a design and marketing expert to help you define them. This process will have an impact on the cost of your site.

3. What Do You Want Your Website Visitors to Do? 

I see a lot of backwards marketing. People begin building a website (or social media profiles, or signage or brochures or or or…), and they want the thing they’re building to dictate what the customer should do next. You’re basically wishing on a star that potential customers will somehow find themselves on your site, learn what you offer and decide they’re into it.

That’s backwards. Don’t wish for an outcome; consciously work toward it.

Your client and their needs should always come first. Before you ever write a line of code, it’s crucial to determine what your audience even wants from your site. Then build it to serve that need or desire.

This strategy instinctively makes sense to many entrepreneurs: you stand a much better chance of persuading clients if your clients’ specific preferences are the top priority.

Websites Are Like Relationships

Here’s another way to look at it. If you wanted to ask someone out, what would work better? To come up with a self-introduction speech and deliver it verbatim to everyone you meet till someone falls in love with you? Or do you try to meet as many attractive people as you can, get a sense of what they’re into, then make your pitch to the one who interests you most? (Or to more than one. You do you.)

Marketing is so similar to dating in so many ways. People who go out there focused on themselves and what they have to offer are not as successful as people who demonstrate a genuine interest in others and put in the effort to make authentic connections.

Or as my mom used to tell me when I was a teenager: “It’s not all about you, you know.”

Building a website this way involves determining your goals, assessing your audience and then using that information to write out the consistent messages you will use to draw this audience into your world. It’s a herculean marketing and copywriting task, and it’s what we cover during the Whole Team Marketing process.

Basically, you can build a website, but what will you put on it? You need someone to write the content. Someone has to design and create the visuals, and someone has to actually build the site. If you aren’t into doing any of these tasks yourself, you need to hire these people. Or you can choose a full-service agency with expertise in all three areas and save yourself some money. Either way, the answer to “How Much Does a Website Cost for a Small Business?” depends heavily on whether you need content or just a container for existing content.

4. Are you ready to project-manage a website build? So we’ve established that there are many moving parts to any website build. How will you ensure everything gets done? Someone needs to make sure the developers have the content they need for the site, that the photographers have the technical, colour and creative direction for the shoot, and that everyone on your team has submitted a bio. How long should the team bios be? Should they be written in the first person or third person? Formal or casual?

Someone needs to make these decisions, share the requirements with everyone and most importantly, follow up to make sure everything gets turned in. If this person is you, great! You’re a bawse if you can juggle running a small business while managing this major project. However, if you don’t have the time, interest or capacity to look after hundreds of details, who will?

Suppose you need someone else to be responsible for chasing down graphics, photos and copy, finding relevant user reviews, or uploading all the site content to the online collaboration portal. In that case, you can expect to pay extra because this type of project management work is often out-of-scope for web developers.

Managing your website build is another task that saves you money if you hire a full-service agency. They’ll look after the avalanche of little details, and you’ll only have to sign off on each phase of the project as the build team completes it.

So FFS, How Much Does It Cost to Build a Small Business Website?

Okay, okay, here’s our answer. It will probably cost you between $5 000 and $10 000 dollars. Hopefully, the questions I mention above can help you determine whether you’re closer to the five grand or the ten grand.

At Create That, we like to think of ourselves as the general contractor of your marketing efforts. Our team of experienced professionals combines our superpowers to build custom WordPress sites for our clients. Just like home renovation contractors, we specialize in collaborating with outside professionals. That could mean existing team members or other contractors you work with. (Someday, I’ll write about why I don’t believe in competitors, just similarly-skilled potential collaborators.) We also incorporate any existing marketing and brand materials you want to keep, so the money you’ve already spent doesn’t go to waste. After that, we fill in any gaps:

  • Copywriting;
  • Video and photography;
  • Glowing user reviews;
  • Visual brand design/ graphic design;
  • Brand messaging that you can use in any marketing endeavour;
  • Custom WordPress-based website creation;
  • Technical and on-page SEO; and,
  • Paid and organic traffic. 

The more features you require, the more expensive your website will be, so good marketers don’t have one-price-fits-all menus. If you meet a web designer who charges everyone the same price, you can expect that designer to build everyone basically the same site.

We believe you deserve better. If you want to see our rate card to get detailed pricing information, fill out our client intake form.

Picture of author, Bridget Brown