How much will it cost to build and maintain a website?
A quick Google search will show several articles that estimate the cost of a new website build. In summary, a minimalist do-it-yourself blog using a website builder could cost only a few dollars per month. If you own churchofjesuschrist.org, you’d be spending tens of millions of dollars on your website and hosting over time.
What’s the difference? Both websites have pages and posts, so why such a big difference in price? There are three main ways to build a website:
- Entirely built from scratch using custom code (most expensive, most customizable)
- Website builder using a template that was used to simply insert content (least expensive, least customizable)
- CMS platform providing a hybrid of page builder, plugins, and custom code (most popular option—moderately expensive, very customizable)
The vast majority of the internet is powered by the third option, for a good reason. This article will explore the costs associated with using a Content Management System (CMS)—specifically WordPress. We will describe, on a high level, everything that it takes to build and maintain a website. Understanding each of these components will help you anticipate up-front and recurring costs.
Websites vs. Cars
If you want to build your own website with a simple builder, you can probably get away with spending around $150/year. But if you’re looking for a professional website to help you run a business or cause, expect the website to cost the same as a car. You can get a car for $500-$1000, but don’t expect much. Same with a website.
Cars and websites are very similar in costs, both upfront and over time. Cars and websites both require maintenance. Some mechanics will take advantage of their customers and overcharge or underdeliver, as will some web developers. Websites and cars can both be optimized, making them perform better even though they look the same on the outside.
Websites and cars are both extremely complicated. A modern car has approximately 30,000 parts. Websites can have many thousands—sometimes millions—of files that all work together to create an online experience for your viewers. Major website and car repairs can cost about the same. Cars can get totaled, and so can websites if you aren’t careful.
Website builders (i.e. Google Sites, Weebly, Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace) have been designed to power simple websites for those who need an online presence without complexity or the need for much customization. Think of these site builders as mopeds. They’re useful for basic transportation over short distances… but not much more than that.
In our experience, an average new website build goes for between $3,000-$8,000. You can get a pretty basic website for less than $3,000, and complicated websites can cost much, much more than $5,000-8,000.