Website Design Cost Factors

Whether you’re figuring out how to make your own website or you’re planning to hire a professional, there’s a good chance that your site won’t be completely cost-free. Even after you factor in hosting and domain name reservation fees, you’ll probably spend at least a little bit on the web design itself. How much you’ll spend depends on the complexity of your site, the kind of functionality you need, and your own skills. Here’s a look at some of the factors and site creation strategies that can affect the cost of your web design.

Free Templates and Site Generators

Free software is obviously the least expensive option for prospective webmasters. There are a number of free site generators online, including built-in site construction programs from some of the major webhosts. These are suitable for building a very plain, simple site on your own, but their low cost comes with some significant disadvantages. Most free programs lock you into just a few designs and offer relatively little customization, especially if you’re new to web design.


WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get,” and refers to a range of HTML and CSS editing programs that show you the site as you build it. These come in a wide range of prices and functionality, but you can generally expect to get what you pay for. Professional site builders include Adobe Dreamweaver, priced at around $400 new, as well as Microsoft Expression, which retails for $350 to $500. Free, open source options include Amaya and Kompozer, but these are lighter-weight and don’t offer the support you can expect from a commercial product.

Content Management Systems

If you’re at least a little coding-savvy and you need a slightly more complicated website than a WYSIWYG or free editor can provide, you may need a content management system. This software is meant to be installed on your server and usually offers a range of modules and templates that make site design less difficult. Costs vary signficantly depending on the CMS you choose. Drupal and Joomla! Are free and open source. WordPress is free to download, but you may need to pay for upgrades such as a custom design and domain mapping if you choose to use its hosting. Commercial software, such as Microsoft Sharepount, can be extremely costly.

Professional Web Designers

If you don’t know how to make your own website with these tools or you need something that you don’t think they can provide, it may be time to talk to a professional. Hiring a designer to customize a template costs about $200, while hiring a local designer to provide you with a small, simple site should cost between $500 and $1,500. For more complicated sites, you should expect to pay up to $5,000 or so. This may seem daunting, but it’s often worth it if you really need a complex website.