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How Much Does a Website Cost?

It’s an interesting phenomenon — websites are everywhere, but figuring out what goes into making them, especially when it comes to cost, remains a confounding mystery. Despite almost everyone Googling “How much does a website cost?” at some point or another, it’s a question you just can’t seem to get a clear answer to on the internet. Part of the reason for this is that it’s not the easiest thing to price — the work is complex and hard to quote, so many companies avoid it altogether, opting for vague hourly rates instead. This way they don’t have to explain what goes into a building a website. The result is that often people end up paying for something they don’t need, want, or understand.

However, we think that our customers deserve a clear answer when it comes to figuring out how much a website costs, so we’ve taken a different approach. For us, transparency is king because when our customers understand exactly where our prices come from and why they are what they are, they’re empowered to make the best decision possible when it comes to building their website — an important decision for a budding business.

Context is Key

The biggest hurdle in communicating website pricing is that understanding it (and the value behind it) hinges on a technical understanding that not everyone has. That means that giving our customers some context is necessary in order to be able to understand the scope of the work, and thus the cost, that goes into building a website.

So, here we go. Creating any website requires these five components:

  • Domain registration. Domain names are basically everything that follows “www.” in your web address. For example, ours is “hellocompass.com.” Domain names have to be registered through a registrar like GoDaddy.com, usually run between $10 and $20 per year, and have to be renewed annually.

  • Hosting. Hosting your website is what takes it from a webpage that lives only on your individual computer to one that exists as a live website on the internet that the world can access. For web hosting, you can expect to pay about $100 to $360 dollars a year.

  • Design and development. This is where costs get tricky. There are so many factors that can vary so widely that costs for development and design can run you anywhere from $500 to $500,000 depending on your needs and goals. This can also depend on things like whether you hire a freelancer, go through a super fancy agency, or any slew of options in between.

  • Updates. Any platform you use to build your website will go through software updates from time to time, so costs crop up here when it comes to making sure that they’re executed successfully (ie, without breaking your site). These costs depend on what platform you use — WordPress, for example, will necessitate a pro managing things for you, and will average about $50-$100 a month. Squarespace, on the other hand, does them automatically, a service that’s included in your monthly subscription fee.

  • Maintenance. It’s almost guaranteed that your website needs will change and develop over time, especially when your traffic begins to grow. This means that eventually you’ll want to add, subtract, or enhance certain features. For these kinds of services, you can expect to pay premium hourly rates or high monthly insurance fees. Compass offers offer la carte website updates with our $20/month support membership. 

As you can see, the hardest place to get a clear answer about the cost of these services is design and development. There are a lot of moving parts nested within a website design project processes that, traditionally, are hard to put a number to, like the planning and project management required throughout. Instead of quoting hourly rates, we’ve taken a different approach: empowerment and transparency throughout, with pricing breakdowns that are about as itemized as it gets.

How Our Pricing Works

Building a website consists of three phases: plan, build, and maintain. In the planning phase, our clients get a dedicated project manager that helps you define the website of your dreams, pick the tools to accomplish it, create a content strategy, collect content for your future site, and communicate your wishes to a vetted web designer in our network.

Once the plan is in place, we move on to building your site. You’ll work 1-on-1 with your designer, collaborating throughout the entire process at predetermined checkpoints. Once the site has been built and launched, we’ll show you how to update the key elements on your own and will stay with you to answer any questions you have in the future. If you decide that you want it, we can assist you with analytics too!

Throughout each phase you’ll be exposed to our a la carte pricing model, an approach designed specifically to provide complete transparency into our work and your website’s cost. The result is not only empowerment for you, but fair compensation for our developers and designers too.

Our a la carte web design pricing is comprised of six core elements:

  • Base price: the website itself, including a homepage.
  • Informational pages: think ‘About’ pages, ‘How it Works’ pages, and the like.
  • Collections: blogs, photo galleries, team member bios, and more.
  • E-commerce functionality: the ability to sell products and receive payments through your website.
  • Integrations: utilizing third party software tools instead of building your own from scratch.
  • Content support: things like copywriting, acquiring stock photography, and blog migrations.

Each element of our process varies based on the content management system (WordPress or Squarespace, for example) you choose, and we provide side-by-side quotes for different CMS platforms to help you decide. Each of our six elements are further broken down into itemized lists for maximum clarity. Take for example this Information page breakdown that compares WordPress and Squarespace:

Compass Pricing Chart

Viola — A Website!

And that’s how it works, friends. We offer completely free consultations so, without cost, you can get all the context you need to understand every element of the process, as well as itemized pricing options so you can confidently decide what’s right for you. This means that you get the website of your dreams without paying an arm and a leg for what you want and paying absolutely nothing for what you don’t need, which is how we think websites should be built.

Image of Matt Wallace

"Hiring someone to build our website was unchartered territory for us, but Compass made the process really easy! We recommend them to everyone that we hear is asking for a website."

Matt Wallace