I get this question all the time when people find out I’m a professional web developer. I, of course, have to always answer with “It depends on what kind of site you want.”

You can break down the costs of a site into four things:

  1. Domain name
  2. Hosting
  3. Design
  4. Functionality

UPDATE: My prices have changed since I posted this. See this article for my new prices.

Domain Name

A lot of times when people ask about getting a website up they already have a domain name registered. But not always. The actual registration cost is only about $11/yr. But if you don’t have a domain name and are really intent on getting a specific one you may have to fork out some money if someone else has already registered it.

My family had a video store a while ago and when we decided to build a website for it we wanted the domain name movietown.com. No one was using it, but it had been registered and was for sale. The price for movietown.com was $50,000. We opted for a different domain name.

Hopefully you are not in that situation. Like I said the cost to register a domain name is about $11/yr. if you go through a place like domain.com or name.com. Some other places charge $25-$50/yr. for a .com.


Most likely you will not need any serious hosting account for your new site. Most places that offer domain registration also offer hosting. Most shared hosting services work great. But I have run into a couple that ran into problems just running a basic site.

Some great hosting companies that I like to use are BlueHost.com and MediaTemple.com. They are not as cheap as some, but if you have a problem you can call them and get help right away. I have used some companies where that is not an option, and it can cause problems when you need some immediate attention. BlueHost.com has an introductory price of $6.95 per month for the first year, and then it goes up to $8.95 per month (these prices are based on paying for hosting for one year at a time). MediaTemple.com has a basic plan for $20 per month, and then more powerful options for those that need more.

Generally I don’t offer hosting, but for clients who don’t feel comfortable or would rather not bother, I will purchase their hosting for them and be their agent when dealing with hosting companies.

Design & Functionality

Design and functionality can be chunked together or be separate cost. I have worked on projects where there was a separate designer and developer. The designer builds a mockup for the client and then the developer takes the design and builds the site/theme for the design.

Most of the time I do both. I’ll build mockups for clients always keeping in mind how it will function once it’s done. Then build the site or theme from the mockup we liked best.

Generally for a well developed custom theme for WordPress I charge $400. This includes installing and building all needed admin tools for you to manage your site’s content and elements.

There are other options as well. Many times there is a free or paid theme you like, but it just needs some alterations to work for your site. For such cases I charge $40/hr, and give you an estimate beforehand so we both know what to expect.

More complex sites I approach on a case by case basis. Generally for Drupal sites I start out at around $1,000 because they are usually more complex than wordpress sites. I have only mentioned WordPress and Drupal in this post, but I have worked with many other systems. If you need design or development on a specific system you can contact me to get an idea of what it will cost.

After the site is up

I didn’t mention copy. I haven’t worked with a group where they outsourced the text content of the site to a writer so I’m not sure what the cost with that would be. Generally speaking I have found I am able to build and set up a site in less time than it takes for the owner to come up with what content they want on the site. So make sure you put serious effort into that, and pay attention to other sites’ layouts and flow. I try to guide my clients the best I can to make sites as user friendly as possible, but you know your customers better than I do.

Entering products in a site can be quite the chore as well. Generally I add a few products to work with while I refine the design. Then I’ll give my clients instructions on how to add more products, or if they prefer, I charge $40/hr for adding and maintaining the content of the site.

Another thing to consider when having a new site built is the maintenance of the site. Such as keeping it backed-up and updated with the latest security updates. Complex sites with user generated content will probably require more work to maintain than a simple blog.

Hopefully I have answered any questions you had. If you have more questions please leave a comment or contact me.

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