The Cost of Building a Website from Scratch

The Cost of Building a Website from Scratch

This article looks at the costs of getting a customized website built by a web development company. The big benefit of building a 100% customized website is you should get exactly what you want it. The downside is it costs a lot more than using a ready-to-go managed service like SubHub.

Pros of a customized build:

  • If you have a clear idea of what you want, you should get a website that does exactly what you need
  • A customized solution should mean all the features and functionality work well together
  • The web developer should be able to help and advise you about all aspects of getting your business online

Cons of a customized build:

  • Customized design is very expensive compared to other solutions
  • Its time consuming and takes a long time
  • Unless you are technical you will have no idea what the developers are doing under the hood. The code they are writing could be riddled with bugs, poorly noted and hard for anyone else to take over
  • All the costs are upfront when cash flow is often at it’s tightest
  • All add-ons will consist of customized development and billed accordingly, ensuring your costs don’t stop when you launch

If you go down his path, make sure you create a detailed specification brief of what you want and agree it with the developer before you start. Expect to pay extra for anything not in the specification document and be aware that seemingly small changes to a finished platform can become big projects.

Most development companies will be happy to provide a fixed quote and timetable. Some will try to give you a per hour cost with an estimate of the number of hours the project will take.

ALWAYS go with a fixed quote and pre-agreed delivering schedule.

Estimated Costs

Costs vary hugely between developers, but these estimates should give you a rough idea. If quotes are way under be suspicious about the quality. If they are way over walk away.

  • Number of Pages – Expect to spend $50-$200 per page for your site build
  • Number of Pages Designed – How many pages actually need their own design? Most content sites use a “Home page” design and an “Internal page” design. The “Internal page” design is the fixed template for all content pages. Other pages that may need a special design include a forum, photo gallery and an integrated store. Expect each additional design to cost 10% of your initial design fee.
  • Number of Design Mockups – Some designers provide two or three layout mockups within their design fee. Others will charge for each design they create. Additional mockups can cost 25-75 percent of the original design fee.
  • Template or “From Scratch” Design – Today you find excellent templates you can buy for less than $100. A designer should be able to customize a template for your site for between $100-$400. A “from scratch” design will cost between $1,000 and $5,000. [Beware: some unscrupulous designers provide templates as original designs and charge accordingly]
  • Flash – Flash is what’s used to create sophisticated animations and moving images on a website. Flash instantly increases the cost of your site between several hundred to several thousand dollars. Flash templates are available from $100 – but they’ll need to be customized with your content by someone who understands flash.
  • Added Functionality – Functionality like a photo gallery, database, online shop and forum will cost extra. If the functionality can be found as third party software expect to pay $100 – $300 for integration. If the functionality needs to be built from scratch the cost will $1,000 – $10,000.
  • Email Newsletter Service – Most websites (and all Funnel of Trust sites) have an email newsletter. This needs special functionality which collects visitor email addresses in a database where they can be sorted and added to the newsletter mailing list. It is wise to use a specialist newsletter tool on your site which may need a customised sign up form which should cost $100 – $200. The email newsletter service will start from $15-$50 per month for 5,000-10,000 emails and go from there.
  • Maintenance Fees – There are various additional costs
  1. Hosting  – around $10-$100/month
  2. Domain name – $5-$25/year
  3. SSL certificate – only needed if you have an online store – $20-$100/year
  4. Payment Gateway – $20-$40/month plus transaction fees.
  5. Upgrades and Enhancements – You should budget 10-25% of your original website budget annually for software upgrades, new features and consulting.


When you add these figures up the final number can look scary, but it is critical you understand all the costs before you get started.

A customized website will give you greater flexibility both in terms of design and functionality. However this comes at a cost.

In my experience most customized websites take twice as long as planned and cost twice as much as budgeted. Make an allowance in your business plan for this potential scenario or you could find yourself in trouble before you even launch.

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