If you’re looking to build or revamp a WordPress website, you can find an option for every budget nowadays. With so many choices, it can be tough to know where to start. Here’s a list of the most common choices.
In this article, I left out domain and hosting costs intentionally so we can focus exclusively on design and development costs.
This post also assumes that you don’t have experience in building websites and you’re not sure how much it could cost; the goal of this article is to give you an overview of the possibilities.
Pricing websites isn’t an exact science, and what I wrote here is my point of view. I’m a web developer that sometimes, hires other freelancers and devs.
$0 – $1000: Premium theme, plugins and DIY
You can download and use a free theme and free plugins right from the WordPress repository. The only expense would be for domain and hosting. You may get a premium theme with a slightly more customized look and some specific features to build something more unique.
- You will save a significant amount of money/budget.
- There’s no need to choose a developer: if you don’t need to hire one, you don’t risk hiring the wrong one.
- Be prepared to invest a significant amount of hours every week. Possibly for several months, depending on the complexity of the website and your level of experience.
- You’ll encounter many obstacles, and a lot of frustration.
- Sooner or later, a bunch of problems will emerge on your site that can cause a decrease in traffic, conversions, and revenue. Due to a lack of specific skills or knowledge, you may not even realize that there is a problem. For example, something on your site may be compromising your conversion rate, and as a result, you could be losing (some) revenue every month.
This option is ideal if you don’t have capital and you want to test an idea. Sure, do not expect a high quality website if this is your first one, however it may be a way to start. Starting without web designers and developers is an option.
In my experience I saw some DIY websites starting from zero and then getting to $15,000 to $30,000 of MRR. You always have the chance of building a website on your own, and then hiring an expert to improve conversions or build something more custom when your business is more established.
Questions to ask yourself
- How much is an hour worth to you? How many hours are you willing to invest in this?
- What has more value to you now? Time or money?
- If you’re building something more than a basic website, get ready for stress and complexity. Do you have enough time and energy to dedicate to this project?
$1,000 – $5,000: simple websites and productized services
You don’t want to invest time in something you don’t know how to do, but at the same time don’t want to spend too much. At this budget, you can find a low-tier productized service that sells semi-custom websites. These services are typically lower quality and have less features than a custom-made website, but they’re generally cheaper. You could also hire a freelancer or a small web agency (in some countries).
They usually show you a catalog of websites, you’ll choose the one you like best, and they’ll build a semi-clone of your chosen website.
You may also find agencies or freelancers that will claim to build you a 100% bespoke website within this budget. And this is usually where problems start, but more on that later.
- Save time.
- Save money, and with some compromises you will still get a website that works and is ready to generate revenue.
- It’s close to impossible to find a serious business that will build a complex website or web app for this price. So if you need to build something more complex than a basic website or ecommerce store, this option isn’t for you.
- You will need to choose a developer. Either an agency or a freelancer, or a productized service. It can be a complex choice. The market space for websites at this price range is full of wannabe developers and terrible web agencies.
- The final website will probably have page load speed problems or some other problem. It will probably not pass Google Core Web Vitals.
Typical Scenario(s) – and some warnings
The range between $1,000 and $5,000 is the most complex one to deal with, in my opinion. So we need to dive deeper into this option and discuss three different sub-options.
Writing this part was difficult. Because there are so many disclaimers and warnings to add, that I could probably write a book about this part alone. Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions!
In some (relatively poor) European countries, this is the amount small businesses spend with a web agency to get a basic website up and running. Small businesses operating offline usually don’t care about their website at all; they just want “to be online” with the hope of getting a couple of extra leads per year via their site.
Of course, usually these businesses have a poor or non-existing online presence because they aren’t online businesses. In fact, they might not even need a website!
If you’re based in the U.S. I doubt that you will find web agencies selling websites at this price in your country. But you may find (good) US-based productized services.
Agencies/studios that sell their work for these amounts, are a risky choice if you care about your website, or if it’s the core of your business. They may abuse page builders and plugins to cut development time at the expense of quality and performance, and even worse, sometimes the employee working on your website isn’t even a developer! This same risk is valid for freelancers as well, especially on freelancing platforms that allow anyone to register without any form of vetting process.
Productized Services – the safest option within this range
This isn’t a typical agency or studio. With productized services, I mean businesses that have a semi-automated process to generate your website.
I think that at this price range, a productized service will (often, not always) be the best choice for you. Your website will be less tailored to your business needs, but you will have higher chances of not encountering extra problems or unanticipated costs during the project.
Some productized services have processes that allow them to quickly build decent and fast websites. So where’s the catch? Your website will not be unique and there will be less brand differentiation. And you may need to renounce some custom features your business may benefit from.
If you haven’t read it already, check out my guide on how to hire freelance developers, it may help you. At this price range you may find good or decent freelancers that will build a semi-custom website for you. The risk is the same as with regular agencies: you might find bad professionals or wannabe developers.
Freelancers may also sell productized services, so you may find experts that will sell you a pre-built website with some customization.
One advantage of working with freelancers is that usually they have fewer clients to manage at the same time. They will be (probably) more focused on your project.
I highly suggest to avoid websites like Upwork, or Fiverr, or ANY freelancing platform that doesn’t select their talent with a rigorous interview process.
If you want to use a platform, ensure that they have a hiring/selection process. Or use the best freelancing platforms I know: Google and LinkedIn. 🙂
I’m a freelancer myself, and I’ve rarely done full site build projects within the 1,000 – $5,000 range. Usually these projects were simple landing pages, or an imported demo of a premium WordPress theme with some minor customization.
Of course, there are always exceptions. With some (or a lot of?) luck, you may find a great developer at this price range, even on the worst freelancing platform.
But is it worth it to risk losing time and money and starting all over again if something compromises the project? This isn’t always a rhetorical question (here on WordPress Advisor I like to question everything).
Now, let’s examine the typical problems with this price range. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it will give you an idea.
⚠️ The neverending story
I can share with you a typical scenario with low/cheap web projects.
- Client tries to save as much money as possible.
- Of course, the client ends up on UpWork or Fiverr, or similar platforms.
- They hire a developer or an agency, and spend something within 1,000 – $5,000.
- The “professional” starts to deliver. The client is extremely unsatisfied with the current product, citing delays, poor quality of work, broken promises, and deviation from the original scope of work. The product is so bad that it can’t even be considered a product, because it’s unusable.
- Months passed. Time and money got wasted.
- Clients who don’t invest enough from the start often have to “save” the project later by hiring a more qualified freelancer or agency. So at this stage the client will either invest a considerable amount to save the website or just start the project from scratch with a different professional.
⚠️ A big warning, valid for ALL the options above
The market at this price range, like I mentioned, is full of shady practices. One thing that I personally hate, are agencies or freelancers that register YOUR domain with their business name, host your website on their server, and then force you to pay for an extra charge every month.
Make sure that YOU own your domain and that YOU own the server or hosting plan where YOUR website is stored. Invest some time to make sure that you have full control over what they built for you.
Some professionals or agencies operate on a pseudo subscription model; they first attract you with a cheap price, charge you monthly, and as soon as you stop paying for the website, they will block it. Some of them will not allow you to migrate the website elsewhere.
This, of course, means that you need to pay for your website on delivery or before the project starts.
⚠️ Another warning – maintenance
If you buy a website at this price range, the website should never be too complex. This also means that maintenance will probably be useless or close to useless. You probably don’t need to pay for monthly maintenance at this stage.
❔ When should you select this option?
There isn’t one single definitive answer.
If your budget is $5,000 or less, and you need to build a complete WordPress website, I would suggest choosing a productized service in most cases. And I suggest some clients to avoid investing less than $5,000. They can either stay within the $0 – $1,000 range or save and then invest more when they’re ready.
I purposely don’t include references to productized services in this article, because I think it wouldn’t be 100% honest. But feel free to contact me if you want an extra opinion on your choice.
Questions to ask yourself
- Can I risk having a more mediocre website for the moment, if I have a chance of saving a lot of time and budget?
- Do I really need a new website now? What would be the real business goal of this project? Increasing revenue? Decreasing costs? Something else?
$5,000 – $20,000: your first custom website
Within this range, you can hire developers and designers to create something unique, more tailored to your business needs. It’s the typical cost to get a decent website (not too complex) in 2022.
From this price range, I suggest including a discovery phase. Starting to build the website without a clear blueprint or roadmap for the project will likely cause problems, delays, and added costs later on during the project.
- Save time.
- More chances of getting more concrete business benefits from your website.
- You will need to choose a developer. Either an agency or a freelancer. It can be a complex choice.
- The final website will probably have page load speed problems or some other problem, especially if the project cost is under $10,000 USD. Yes, this may happen even at this price range. The website may not pass Google Core Web Vitals.
- You may still encounter mediocre businesses and professionals. The good news is that the probability is probably lower.
What type of client usually buys at this price range? Here are some examples. Of course, this isn’t a complete list.
Bootstrapped business with DIY website
A successful business invests to redesign and revamp their website for the first time. The founder or a friend of the founder built a DIY website a few years ago to test a business idea, which worked.
Sometimes they hired a freelance developer or a designer to help with some smaller tasks and edits, but they never did a full redesign project.
Now this business’ yearly revenue is somewhere between $200,000 to $1,000,000. The founder usually wants to improve their website to grow their revenue.
When the brand outgrown the website
A business grew in the last few years and their brand evolved. They now offer new products, and their current website doesn’t represent them properly anymore. Maybe they even need to improve the site to attract new investors. So at this point they decide to invest in a new website.
Established business wants to launch a new product
A successful business wants to build a new website, maybe for a specific target market, to launch a new product.
$20,000- $150,000+: advanced web apps or websites
These websites, usually, solve a crucial problem for the client’s business. By complex website or web app, I don’t mean necessarily complex features or customization, I mean complex business problems. The website may be a part of a bigger plan to achieve a bigger goal.
With these budgets, usually you can involve different experts for each specific aspect of your project: front-end and backend developers, a UX researcher, UI/UX designers, a speed optimization specialist, SEO experts, etc.
If you don’t want to leave nothing to chance, this is a realistic cost.
Maximize chances of:
- Brand differentiation
- Increase revenue
- Improve operational efficiency
- Decrease operational expenses
- Building exactly what you want, without compromises on features or quality.
- You will need to choose a developer. Either an agency or a freelancer. It can be a complex choice.
- Only established businesses or funded startups can usually afford this range.
Website or web app complexity
The project is so complex that the business can’t find any developer or agency willing to do it for less than these amounts.
A business that can’t afford to take risks
A medium or large corporation needs to stay competitive, and can’t afford losing customers to the competition. In some scenarios, investing $100,000 to stay competitive will be cheaper than losing customers.
Or maybe they are ready to start competing against bigger, more well-established businesses.
Talking about prices and costs in web design and development, it’s complex. These price ranges, come from my experience and are specific to the WordPress industry. Depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the project, a WordPress website can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to six figures.
This article was written in July 2022; of course these prices will change over time. Something that will never change are the factors influencing the final price of the project:
- The authority of the professional you decide to involve.
- How many experts you need to involve.
- What kind of problem you’re trying to solve and how much it’s relevant to your business.
Who’s behind WordPress Advisor?
Hi! I’m Matt Bonacini. Nice seeing you here! I’m a web developer and UI designer. My mission is to help online businesses built with WordPress to increase revenue and grow profits.
I dedicated my entire career to WordPress websites. I use this CMS since 2007, and over the years, I’ve worked with companies of all sizes.
I’m also a member of Codeable, a top-class platform built exclusively for WordPress-related projects. Only the top 2.8% of candidates are accepted on the platform.
You can check my public Codeable profile, which includes reviews from my past clients, here.
Any burning questions? Send me a question here.