How much does a website cost?

This is a question I hear all the time! Whether you're a business owner, startup entrepreneur, big-thinker, friend or family, the answer is simple.

It depends.

The cost of a website relies on the requirements of the project, how the site will scale in size in the future, and how robust the site needs to be. It’s similar to comparing vehicles. You can buy a Honda, or you can buy a Porsche. Both will get you from point A to point B, both are reliable vehicles, and both have terrific reputations. But the Porsche could cost you five times (or more!) than the price of the Honda.

Not every business needs a Porsche for a website. Usually, small businesses only require a basic marketing website, comparable to a clickable brochure with a 'Contact Us' feature. Most times a junior-level Web designer/developer can put together a brochure site using a Drupal content management system (CMS) in about 40 hours (spread out over a month or two).

But what happens when you need your website to share information with your customer relationship management system like xTuple’s CRM? Or what if you need all the email newsletter sign ups to go to automatically drop into your third-party email marketing client, such as MailChimp? What happens when your customers need to log into the system so they can manage purchase orders, and your customers have a variety of different levels of permissions based on their customer type? Or what if you need to control three separate websites with one database of content?

Now we are talking about Porsche-powered performance that may require 150+ hours of work.

Cost is completely subjective. Pricing is based on requirements.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine what your website should (or could) cost:

What, exactly, do I need?

Will a five-page website with a 'Contact Us' form be sufficient? Or do you have specific needs, such as allowing your customer to log into your system to manage information, or allowing customers to subscribe to a service with a recurring monthly payment.

What is my timeline?

If you have a small project, small budget, and a loose timeline, then you’ll probably get lower pricing. If you have a big project, and you need it in two weeks, you’re either willing to pay a small fortune, or you’ll try to find a good deal by hiring a less-than-knowledgeable developer (and suffer less-than-desirable results).

How (and who) will maintain my website?

Today, every website should be built with a content management system (CMS). There is no reason you should be stuck with a website that you cannot manage yourself. You should be able to enter and edit text, upload pictures, create contact forms, and update homepage elements. If this isn’t included in your agreement, RUN, don't walk, away. If your developer attempts to charge you extra for a CMS, be very wary. It’s like paying extra for wheels when you are buying a car.

Where will my website domain be registered and hosted?

Usually hosting and domain registration (your Web address) are the last things that business owners think about, but you should start here.

Make sure that you are the 100% domain owner, to avoid complications later. You can purchase domains through sites such as, or (to name a few of the more popular ones). Domain names are relatively inexpensive, only costing about $10-20 per year. (Note: buy your domain in .com, .net, .org, etc., extensions as well, for your protection) Good hosting equals speed, robustness, reliability, great customer service, and security. Poor hosting services equal slow sites, lack of reliability, and terrible customer service. At xTuple, we use Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Digital Ocean for all of our hosting needs. Most small business owners don’t need everything these platforms have to offer, so a shared hosting platform, such as Bluehost may be sufficient.

How will my Email be setup?

Speaking of domain registration and hosting, email should be considered along with these subjects. Be sure your website developer can setup your mail exchanger (MX) record for your domain, to ensure your email works correctly. And, you’ll need a place to host your email. To make it easy, use a Gmail Business Account. It’s inexpensive, easy to set up, and comes with an incredible array of features.

How will my website be found in Search Engines?

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — There seems to be an almost 'magical' requirement to understand SEO. I know SEO firms that have made just a few tweaks to websites and suddenly the traffic triples. I’ve worked with others that talk big, yet don't deliver results. Don’t expect your developer to implement the 'perfect' SEO strategy; it doesn't exist. SEO is an on-going, constant war between websites and search engines. The algorithms are always a step ahead of marketers, and if you don't keep up, your site's battle to be found on the World Wide Web (aka Wild Wild West) will be lost. Web developers are not SEO experts, they typically add the basics to a site, such as title tags to webpages, updated descriptions, and keywords. To win the current state of SEO warfare, you need a modern website with quality content, no keyword stuffing, a domain with longevity, lack of duplicate content, a well-ordered sitemap and more. Really, today's website has become more about just building a great site with great (and focused) content.

2. Google Analytics — For Web developers, setting up immensely valuable Google Analytics is easy to do and should only take about one hour. Be absolutely sure that your developer does this for you, and that you have access to the reports. Or, another option is to set up your Google Analytics account yourself and provide the information your developer needs.

3. Google Webmaster Tools — You need data and diagnostics about your site, to monitor things such as speed, how searchable it is, how people are finding your site, etc. It takes a bit longer to set up, and really only technical people will fully understand it, but we suggest that Google Webmaster Tools  be setup for your site.

So modernize your website now and prepare for tomorrow's business, today. Contact us for help at xTuple’s Web Services Group.

Photo credit: My daughter, Avia Fischer. Just because.

Josh Fischer

Product Manager — xTupleCommerce, December 2013 - October 2018

xTuple’s Josh Fischer is passionate about launching successful Web projects — from online retailers and distributors to manufacturers big and small — to improve customer conversions (and bottom line profits!). As product manager of xTupleCommerce, Josh is developing revolutionary B2B eCommerce Web portals — integrated with open source xTuple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) — to solve productivity and customer relationship issues for every business type and size. Josh writes and teaches about innovative strategy and technologies to build Web-based brands, launching startups, productivity and leadership, online presence and growth-hacking. Josh is a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a B.S. in Visual Arts & New Media.