How Much of a Marketing Budget is Website Design Cost?

website design cost

Your business website is a critical part of your digital presence – the image your business presents to your potential and current customers. It’s an absolute must to have a well-designed, attractive, easy-to-navigate website for any business that wants to succeed. But it can be difficult to figure out how much you should pay for your website. So, what does website design cost, on average, for businesses like yours?

What Does Good Website Design Achieve?

Have you been wondering how much should you pay for a website?

Calculating that cost is about more than just how many hours it will take to build the elements of your site. It’s about what kind of return you are looking to get on your investment in your website.

This is because your business website is the driver for much, or most, of your sales (and we cannot stress this enough).

Your website is likely:

  • where your ads drive your prospects
  • where your organic traffic lands
  • how your potential customers learn more about what you offer and decide if you’re a trustworthy business

It’s the lynchpin of your digital marketing strategy.

Optimizing your website for inviting your prospects in the door and convincing them to make a purchase decision can boost your bottom line significantly. So, when you’re looking for pricing on a website design and build, remember to look beyond what amount of time the build will take, and check out your estimated ROI instead.

Elements of Website Design Cost

The general cost for website design varies depending on what you are comfortable choosing for your business. You can build a site cheaply yourself for under $300, outsource it to a low-cost freelancer, or hire professional website designers and developers to create a custom design.

However, there are several costs that you will incur no matter how high-end or low-budget you decide to go with your website design, as these are the minimum costs of running your site.

Your Domain Name

The first element of your website creation is purchasing your domain name.

This is the address of your website, and you will have to purchase it from a company that sells domains. Usually, a .com is more expensive than a .net or other less-common domain.

If your desired website name is popular, you may have to pay more or buy it from a domain broker. Domain names start around $1/year and go up to around $15/year. You will need to pay each year to keep your domain current, so factor this in as a recurring cost for your website.

Website Hosting

Next, you will need to pay for a service to host your website on the internet. Website hosting is how your business shares your website on the web so your customers can find it, and there are a variety of companies who offer web hosting.

  • You can opt for shared hosting, which is an affordable and basic way to share a server with other business if your website doesn’t get major traffic yet.
  • Virtual private server hosting is still a shared server, but it mimics having your own server which is great for growing websites.
  • You can opt to have a dedicated server if your website gets a huge amount of traffic, which is very pricey but offers lots of capacity and control.
  • And finally, cloud-based hosting lets you share several servers and expand easily when you need it as your traffic grows.

Website hosting can cost between $50-$10,000 yearly – it’s a big price range, but the cost will depend on what your business needs.

Basic Website Design Cost: Do It Yourself

Getting a basic website up and running yourself is easier than ever today, with several options to choose. You don’t need to be a website designer or developer to create a website on website builders like Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix. The cost will be very low, and the result will look great because that’s how these basic sites are designed.

For very small businesses establishing a web presence for the first time, and with a tiny marketing budget, this might be good enough to start.


This is absolutely the lowest-cost option. It’s also quite fast to get a basic website set up – it could take you just one full day or less, depending on how many pages you add to your site. Wix and Squarespace make creating a simple, visually appealing website easy and cheap.


With the price savings come real downsides for businesses. Your basic website will look great, but it won’t be designed to be as user-friendly. This will make it much less effective as a way to drive sales and convert customers, which should be the cornerstone of your business website’s existence.

A basic website will also lack features that help you get traffic and make sales, like ecommerce features and SEO features.

Additionally, basic website builds can cause serious issues once your business grows and your website needs to be updated or expanded. You may have to hire a freelancer or an agency to redesign or move your site onto a new CMS (content management system) that will allow you to grow, which is expensive.

Advanced Website Design Cost: Hire a Freelancer 

If you’re looking to go beyond a basic website and create a site that gives you more features and room for growth, but your marketing budget is pretty limited, you can hire a freelancer to create a custom website for you.

WordPress is a popular free website platform for businesses, but designing a beautiful and functional site on it is challenging for someone without website design experience.

Hiring a freelance website designer can bridge that gap – you get a great website for your business, with lower costs than hiring a full agency. These days, it’s easy to find freelancers on sites like UpWork and Fiverr, or you can ask fellow business owners who have great sites who they recommend.


This is a mid-priced option that gets you much more functionality than building a basic site yourself. You will also have the option to customize your site more, and to add in features on WordPress that enhance the user experience and functionality of your website. Building your site on WordPress makes it easier to expand in the future once your business grows.


When you hire freelancers, you need to be very careful to choose someone who is experienced and reliable – not just the person with the lowest rate.

You should also think about website maintenance for the long-term. If you’re hiring a freelance web designer, they are likely just going to build your website for you only once. Then you’re on your own if anything breaks, or you want to change something, or just for regular updates.

And all this is fine if you have some CMS knowledge, but as a business owner, you’ve already got a lot on your plate.

Expert Website Design Cost: Hire a Design Agency

For the maximum functionality and aesthetic appeal for your website, you will want to hire a website design agency or digital marketing company. They will have multiple website designers and developers to build you a completely customized, optimized site with every feature your business could need.

If you hire a digital marketing agency or many website agencies, they will likely also take on the maintenance and updates of your website for you. That means you don’t have to worry about making regular behind-the-scenes updates or fixing major issues on your own – which means no lost revenue due to website downtime.

All of this expertise comes at a cost, of course. The more features your website has, the more expensive building and maintaining it will be. But if your business is large or well-established, investing in an agency-designed site could yield increased returns well beyond the upfront costs of creating your site.


The convenience of having a team of professionals build a website to your exact specifications and needs is hugely valuable for businesses. They can also take the work of optimizing and maintaining your website off your hands.

Agencies also will have professionals on staff who can make your website as compelling as possible for your prospects, instead of having to hire multiple freelancers or doing it all yourself.

And here are more reasons to choose a professional digital agency for a business website; having a:

  • copywriter to ensure your website content drives action to your target audience
  • website designer to create a visually appealing site
  • website developer to make sure everything works perfectly behind the scenes


All this quality and convenience comes with a hefty price tag. Very small businesses may not have the marketing budget to invest in a site built by an agency, no matter how many benefits it offers.

Also, while many agencies offer exceptional value, some are lower-quality, so be sure to vet any potential partnerships carefully and read your contract to be sure you understand what they will do or not do for you.

Know Your Marketing Priorities 

Marketing budgets are all about priorities.

What will make the biggest impact for your bottom line right now – and a year from now? What do you need to help your business succeed and grow sustainably?

Those questions form the basis of your digital marketing strategy, which informs your marketing budget.

Watch our video here if you are looking for more in-depth info about how to create your marketing budget.

There’s no one correct answer for what you should spend on building and designing a website, since every business has different needs, and different priorities. But if you’re spending thousands of dollars a month on paid ads or other lead generators, and your website is outdated and difficult to use, you’re losing revenue by losing conversions.

Hence, if investing in a great website, by hiring a freelancer or an agency, means you need to pull back on ads for a few months to afford the site, that’s probably a good call in the long term. Your website will still be increasing your leads, conversions, and sales a year from now, maximizing your investments in paid ads, SEO, and more.


Three Basics of Good Web Design

Whether you’re creating a site yourself using a free website builder or hiring someone, or a team, to help you, your website should follow the basic principles of good website design for businesses.

1. Customer-Focused Content

Is your website currently just a showcase for how great your business and your products/services are? That’s a common mistake – because it’s not really what a website is for.

You should create all your website content with your customer in mind, by always asking- what’s in it for them? How does your company improve their lives, address their fears, or fulfill their desires?

Think of it this way: we’ve all been stuck next to that guy at a cocktail party or business event who won’t stop talking about himself and how great or innovative or successful he is. After a few minutes of this, we just want to tune them out and move on. If that’s what your website is doing, your prospects will feel the same way pretty quickly.

What does draw them in and get them to make a purchase decision or ask for more info is a strong focus on their needs and experience. Make them feel seen and understood, and they will stick around, absorb your content, and become a customer.

2. Optimize for SEO

There are many, many elements that go into optimizing search engine traffic to your website. Some of it is from your on-page content, like your blog posts and website copy, and some of it is from backlinks on other websites.

But a fair portion of it is from the setup of your website itself – known as technical SEO.

Whichever website creation option you use should have options to help your website be found and understood by search engine algorithms.

That means being able to add:

  • meta descriptions and alt text to your posts and pages
  • a mapped site structure that makes sense to search engines
  • keywords and track progress

On most basic free website builders, this is not an option, so you should consider the cost of missing out on those sustained leads over time.

3. Designed for the User

Don’t ignore the user experience of your website. This is distinct from talking to your customer’s needs – this is about how usable your website is for them to navigate and find what they’re looking for.

As your site grows over time, your navigation structure might become unwieldy – it shouldn’t take more than three clicks to get to any one page of your site.

  • Can your users find a way to contact you easily?
  • Can they find your products easily, and make a purchase quickly if you sell things directly on your site?
  • Is your site full of dead links?
  • Do your web pages take forever to load?

These issues will quickly frustrate site visitors, and they will leave without making a purchase.

Get a Website Design Cost Estimate 

Is your website due for not only a new look, but a way to attract leads and keep customers? Check out how you score with a free website audit to see what looks good, what needs work.

If you’re looking for an effective, efficient digital marketing agency that works with your business and your budget, get in touch with ContentFirst Marketing.

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How Much of a Marketing Budget Should Be Website Design Cost?
A marketing budget is part of every business' projected expenses. And the cornerstone of it should be the investment in website design cost.

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