Getting started

How much does a website cost?

A hand dropping coins into a browser window displaying a non-descript website on a peach background

You need a website. Maybe you run a business that’s gotten by on in-person sales but now you’re ready to take the next step and start selling online. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur and it’s time to turn your idea into reality. Maybe you’re a student about to enter the workforce and you want to put your résumé online.

Whatever your reasons are, once you know you need a website, the next question you’ll ask yourself is probably: how much does a website cost?

Let’s take a look.

What is a website?

To start answering the question of how much a website costs, we need to define what a website is. Specifically, we have to talk about all the different components of a website, which can be bought together, or can be bought separately.

To get a website online, you’ll need all of the following:

  • A domain name
  • DNS
  • A way to build your website
  • Web hosting

To this list, we’ll just add that you will probably also need a way for people to reach you.

Each of these components potentially has a cost associated with it.

It’s also important to note that most of these components are not just one-time purchases but recurring, subscription services.

How much does a domain name cost?

Lots of factors impact the cost of a domain name, including which domain ending you choose, whether the domain ending is on promotion, and whether or not the domain name is premium.

Prices of different domain endings

On the low end, a .za normally costs $9.68 per year at Gandi, a .rodeo is $9.85 per year, a .uk is $9.88, and a .icu is normally $9.90 per year.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a .th domain name costs $5,500 a year!

That’s quite a range.

Domains in most domain name endings, though, cost somewhere between $10 and $30 per year.

Promotions

On top of the base price, many registries often offer promotions on your first year of registration. These promotions can sometimes bring the price of buying a domain name down as low as 99¢.

Remember, though: you will have to pay the regular price for your domain name after one year.

Promotions are a good way to save money on the first year of your domain registration, but they don’t last after that.

Premium domains

Finally, if you choose a highly sought after domain name, the registry for that domain ending might charge you a lot more if they have pre-designated it as a “premium” domain name.

Domain name cost

The cost of a domain name is generally between $10–$30 per year. You might be able to save money on the first year by buying a domain on promo. Or you might have to pay more if you need a premium domain name, or a domain in a specialized, costly domain ending.

How much does DNS cost?

DNS service is the service of making your domain name resolvable to a particular address, whether that’s a web address or, in the classic case, an IP address. DNS is essential for linking your domain name to a website, and also for connecting it to email, getting an SSL/TLS certificate, and more.

Each domain name has a DNS “zone file,” which is just a file that stores the information about all of the subdomains of a domain name, as well as the domain name itself. Specifically, it contains the location — either as another domain name or an IP address — of services used with a domain name. Those services include email and website hosting.

Basic DNS service for a domain name consists of hosting a “zone,” on a DNS server, and then providing the answers to specific “queries” performed by other computers looking to access a service connected to a domain name.

This basic service shouldn’t cost you anything.

And at Gandi, we provide our powerful, Anycast DNS service LiveDNS with every domain name registered with Gandi.

But you might also want to use a third-party DNS service, that might be bundled with other services, like Cloudflare or Amazon’s Route 53. These services will cost slightly more than nothing.

With Amazon’s Route 53, for example, a hosted zone costs 50¢ per month per zone (i.e. per domain name). If you have more than 25 hosted zones, you can host any DNS zone beyond that for 10¢ per month per domain.

Amazon also charges 4¢ per 100,000 queries per month. That means if you get 100,000 website visitors + emails per month, that will cost you 4¢.

Assuming the low end of this scale, for a single domain name, you would pay at least around $6.50 per year.

As for Cloudflare, even at the free level, their DNS services comes bundled with other add-on services such as DDoS mitigation and their world class Content Distribution Network, which aren’t strictly necessary for operating your website.

From there, the higher the service level, the more the add-ons, and the more the cost. Beyond free, Cloudflare has the “Pro” plan, listed as for websites that are not business critical. This service costs $20 per month. The next tier up is the $200 per month Business plan. Another important difference between their plans is the level of service provided. The Free plan comes with no support, the Pro level comes with email only support, and the Business level comes with email and chat support. Phone support and 24/7 support is only available at custom, unlisted “Enterprise” rates.

That means that for DNS services at Cloudflare, depending on what other services you want to bundle with it, can cost you anywhere $0 per year, $240 per year, $2,400 per year, or more.

What does it cost to build a website?

Creating a website doesn’t just mean buying a domain name, and the services needed to host your website on the domain name. It also means building the website — both in terms of its design and in terms of its technical implementation.

The price you pay for this will vary wildly based on your skill level, the level of professionalism you want your website to have, and the flexibility you want to have to be able to customize and manage your website.

Given these constraints, there are a few options you have:

1. Design your own, build your own

This is by far the cheapest option for building your website, though it might also be the most personally time consuming option as well, or you may find yourself in over your head.

You don’t necessarily need to build everything from scratch. For example, you can build your own website using free software. The best option for this is to use WordPress [ link to: www.wordpress.org ]. You can even use free website templates that come with WordPress or are available to download online if you want to get your website up and running quickly.

Of course, it costs nothing to build your own website with your own skills, and tools available for free online.

You might still want to use WordPress but instead of using a free template, purchase one from a site like ThemeForest [ link to: https://themeforest.net/ ]. Themes on ThemeForest range anywhere from $13 to $10,000 to purchase, and can offer you a higher quality design and aesthetic than what you’d get for free.

For various reasons, though, building your own website may not be the most practical or most desirable option.

2. Use a graphical website builder

If you want to create a website without hiring a website designer but still want it to have a professional aesthetic, a graphical website builder is a great alternative.

This type of website builder enables you to arrange elements and adjust stylistic settings like color, background images, the size of text blocks, the font, etc. of your website’s pages using a web-based graphical editor.

Most commonly, the result is a static website that is paired with the hosting for that website.

This is the type of website builder offered by Squarespace , Wix , Webnode, and Weebly, among others.

It’s important to note that these website builders also offer hosting (more on that later) as part of the bundle of services they offer. Generally, they have a few pricing tiers based on the level of service provided. Higher pricing tiers might unlock more features in the site builder itself, increase the number of pages you can create for your site, or they might correspond to a higher level of service in terms of hosting resources.

For example at Squarespce, the cost of access to the website builder and hosting that goes along with it, is $12 per month for the lowest, “Personal” tier, $18 per month for the next tier up — “Business” — $26 per month for the “Basic Commerce” tier and $40 per month for the “Advanced Commerce” tier. As the tiers go up, you gain more users able to log in, features related to being able to use your site for e-commerce, and some marketing tools.

So at Squarespace, depending on how many users need to be able to edit your site, and how much you need to use your site for e-commerce, you’ll pay anywhere between $144 and $480 per year.

At Wix, it’s $14 per month for the lowest “Combo” tier, $18 per month, for the next tier up, $23 per month for “Pro,” and $39 per month for the highest, “VIP” tier. As the tiers go up, you gain more storage space, and some marketing tools. Similarly to Squarespace, depending on how much data storage you need and how much access to marketing tools you need, you’ll pay anywhere between $168 and $468 per year.

At Webnode, you can pay less. The tiers are $3.90 per month, $7.50 per month, $12.90 per month, and $22.90 per month. As the tiers go up, you can add more fields to web forms you include, you get more storage space and bandwidth, you get access to website statistics tools, and the ability for users to create accounts. This translates to anywhere between $46.80 and $274.80 per year, depending on your needs.

Weebly is the only of these four that has a free tier. The tiers beyond that are $6 per month, $12 per month, and $26 per month. The free tier is extremely limited and doesn’t even allow you to connect your website to your domain name. The next tier up offers that ability, while the next two tiers provide unlimited storage space, site statistics, and e-commerce and marketing features. That translates to anywhere between $0 and $312 per year. With a domain name, however, a Weebly site will cost you at least $72 per year.

That means that designing and hosting your website using an online website builder costs between $46.80 and $468 per year, but on average around $210 per year.

You don’t have opt for a service like Squarespace, Wix, Webnode, and Weebly if you want to use a graphic interface to design your website.

You can also build your website within WordPress, using the Divi theme, which is also a virtual page builder, or a plugin and theme builder like Elementor.

In these cases, Divi will cost you $89 per year, and Elementor will cost you $49 per year.

That’s in addition to the cost of hosting (more on that below).

3. Hire a website designer and developer

The most expensive option on the table is to hire a web designer/developer to design and implement your website.

Ultimately, the cost of hiring a designer and/or developer to build your website comes down to the amount of hours working on the design and the development and implementation of the website, which can come at a premium.

Here you have two options. You can go with an agency, or you can hire a freelancer.

There are many, many web design agencies you can choose from, and if you want to go this route, the best is to shop around and find the one that works best for you.

However, the pricing of web design agencies usually runs between $50 per hour on the low end, to $200 per hour. You may find extremely high-end web design agencies for more than $200 per hour, but if they don’t offer other services in addition to design and implementation (such as helping with your UX, your web strategy, etc.) then above $200 per hour is a fairly steep price.

You should expect it to take 40 hours at the very least to design and build your website with an agency, unless you have an extremely simple website, in which case hiring an agency is probably overkill. However, it may take upwards of 100 or more hours.

That means, you can expect the price range for a website designed and implemented by a web agency to run you at least $2,000, possibly upwards of $20,000, and on average between $5,000 and $10,000.

A freelancer might be advantageous because they may not have as much overhead as a business. On the flip side, they may not have the economies of scale to bring down their rates to be competitive with an agency as well. Again, it’s important to shop around.

A freelancer should charge slightly more than what a web designer + developer would make at an agency.

On average, in 2020, freelance web developers charge about $60 per hour, according to Career Karma. That’s comparable to going with a web agency, but again it depends on the size and complexity of your website. On average, though, that means a freelancer-designed website would cost you around $6,000–$9,000.

In both of these cases, it’s important to note that this is a one-time shot. If you need to make any changes months or years down the line, if something breaks, or if you want to rebrand yourself in a few years, you’ll need to contract someone again.

To better compare to your other options, consider that most companies redesign their websites every 2 to 5 years. That means if you pay an average price of around $7,500 to design and implement your website and you keep it for an average length of time of 3.5 years, that’s equivalent to around $1,000 per year.

How much does it cost to host a website?

In addition to your domain name, any DNS costs, and the design and development costs of your website, you’ll also need to host your website.

Simply put, you host your website on servers (internet-connected computers for storing and “serving” websites and applications to internet users). Without some kind of web hosting, no one will see your website.

There are a few ways you can tackle this requirement, some of which we’ve already touched on.

Hosting with your website builder

When we discussed using a website builder to design and develop your website above, we also mentioned that these services include hosting. If you go with a service like Squarespace, Wix, WebNode, or Weebly, you can expect no additional cost for hosting your website from what we cited above.

Hosting a CMS

If you, or the web design agency or freelancer you hired use a CMS — like WordPress, Prestashop, or Joomla — to build your website, you’ll need to host that CMS using a web hosting platform.

Typically, you would want to use a hosting platform that provides a the necessary infrastructure to be able to run your CMS as part of the service, although it’s also possible to host your website using a hosting service that only provides the basic server infrastructure, without providing the platform to run applications like a CMS on.

The type of hosting that provides this platform, though, is referred to as PaaS, or Platform-as-a-Service.

This type of plan is most often referred to as web hosting, and there are a number of different providers. To get a sense of how much this service will cost you, we’ll look at a few of common options.

Most hosting providers have different tiers of service and different types of hosting that they offer. For basic website hosting, generally what’s referred to as “Shared hosting” is the best option for hosting a website using a CMS like WordPress. This means if you use this type of hosting, many websites share the same server as your website.

It’s also important to note that most hosting providers will have different pricing if you commit to a longer term subscription (usually one or more years), and will offer an introductory rate. We’ll look at the rates with and without this introductory rate and with or without commitment.

HostGator

HostGator has several different services that fit this category of hosting, some of them more specialized for specific uses than others, which they divide into “Web Hosting,” and “Cloud hosting.”

The most basic service is “Web Hosting,” which is a “Shared hosting” option.

HostGator’s “Web Hosting” provides one-click WordPress installation, and free SSL certificates.

While there’s no charge for using bandwidth and disk space (i.e. for spikes in traffic), since this category of hosting is “shared,” using too much disk space or bandwidth results in less availability for other users of the same server. Likewise, if someone on your server uses too much bandwidth and disk space, your site could be impacted. As such, they contractually restrict the degree to which you can overstep these bounds.

The three price tiers for HostGator’s “Web Hosting” service — Hatchling, Baby, and Business plan, normally cost $10.95 per month, $11.95 per month, and $16.95 per month. With a 12-month commitment, that decreases to $8.95 per month, $11.95 per month, and $16.95 per month. However, you can get the first year of each, with a 12-month commitment for an introductory rate of $3.95 per month, $5.00 per month, or $16.95 per month.

The pricing tiers differ in the number of domain names you can link to them (only one for Hatchling), and whether they have a dedicated IP address (only Business does).

That means you can expect to pay between $107.40 and $203.40 per year for this type of hosting, though you could get your first year for as little as $47.40.

bluehost

At bluehost, there are four pricing tiers for shared hosting — Basic which is $10.99 per month, Plus, which is $16.99 per month, Choice plus, which is $20.99 per month, or Pro, which is $32.99 per month.

A 12-month commitment will get you a discount down to $9.99 per month and $13.99 per month on the Basic and Plus tiers, while the introductory offer brings Basic down to $2.95 per month, Plus and Choice plus to $5.45 per month, and Pro down to $13.95 per month for the first year only.

In terms of the differences between the tiers, only the “Basic” rate limits the number of websites (to only one) and the data storage space (to 50 GB). Above Basic these are unlimited.

The Plus tier also adds Office 365, while the Choice Plus tier adds WHOIS obfuscation and free backups. The Pro tier additionally adds a dedicated IP address and more CPU resources for higher traffic.

Depending on your exact needs, then, you can normally expect to pay between $119.88 and $395.88 per year for hosting your website at bluehost. However, you may be able to get your hosting for the first year for as little as $35.40 per year.

Dreamhost

At Dreamhost, there are two shared hosting pricing tiers: Shared starter and Shared unlimited. A Shared starter pack is normally $7.99 per month and a Shared unlimited pack is $13.99 per month. With an introductory offer, you get the first three months for $4.95 and $8.95 per month.

With a 12-month commitment, these prices come down to $6.99 and $12.99 per month respectively, and with the introductory offer, they’re each $2.95 per month for the first year.

The difference between the two packs is that the “Starter” pack only allows a single website, and email costs an additional $1.67 per month, while with the “Unlimited” pack, you have unlimited websites and email.

All told, you can expect hosting at Dreamcast to cost between $95.88 per year (or $83.88 with a 12-month commitment) and $167.88 per year.

Gandi

At Gandi, we don’t quite use the same structure as the shared hosting examples above, but instead provide comparable hosting services with dedicated resources that you don’t have to share with other Gandi customers.

Our pricing tiers are S+ (starter), M (Basic), L (Pro), and XXL (Business). The S+ pack costs $7.50 per month, M costs $10 per month, L costs $20 per month, and XXL costs $40 per month.

We don’t offer any additional discount for a commitment or an introductory offer. However, right now, the first 1,000 customers who sign up can get the first 6 months of their hosting at 85% off. That means a size S+ for $1.12 per month, M for $1.50 per month, L for $3.00 per month, and XXL for $6.00 per month.

An S+ pack is ideal for small websites and has enough resources for 2 sites or 300,000 monthly page views, with 1 CPU. Size M is ideal for hosting a CMS or a blog and up to 5 sites or 600,000 monthly page views, with 2 CPUs. Size L is more for e-commerce or up to 10 sites, with 3 CPUs, while a size XXL pack is for any kind of site with intensive traffic (in the area of 5,000,000 monthly page views or more) with 8 CPUs.

At Gandi, you can expect to pay between $90 and $480 per year. If you take advantage of our special November 2021 exclusive offer, you can get the first year for as little as $51.72.

Comparative table

Here’s how much you can expect to pay per year at each of these hosting providers:

Hostgator $107.40 $143.40 $203.40  
bluehost $119.88 $203.88 $203.88 $395.88
Dreamhost $95.88 $167.88    
Gandi $90.00 $120.00 $240.00 $480.00

Summary of costs

Your website is not just a one-time expense, but an ongoing cost. While there will likely be unexpected expenses along the way, you can predict more or less what your website will cost to design, build, and put online.

Over the three year standard lifespan of a website, you can expect to pay somewhere between $330 and $22,310 total. That’s quite a range, but the cost is going to vary wildly based on how much of a professional design you need, and how much traffic your website will have (and hence how much resources your hosting pack needs).

Here’s a summary of what those costs are and how much you can expect to pay depending on your choices:

Domain name:

  • $10–$30 per year

DNS:

  • $0–$240 per year

Website design and development:

  • DIY: $0–$20
  • Website builder: $50–$150 per year
  • WordPress page builder plugins: $50–$100 per year
  • Hire a professional: $5,000–$10,000

Hosting:

  • $100–$500 per year