How To Budget For Website Development

Price will vary by the choices you make and your specific business needs. But, for the sake of simplifying it, we will categorize organizations like this: Non-Profit/Start Ups, Small Businesses and Mid-Sized Businesses and above. Here are the 4 phases of website development and a guide to help you  understanding why a great website costs money and where you can cut corners if resources are tight.


Strategy is the big difference between working with a freelance web developer and an agency. Of course nobody is good at EVERYTHING, so most one person development teams focus on the mechanics of building a website and not so much on how well it will sell products, build communities, get donations or generate leads.

The key components of Strategy are the Competitive Analysis and Messaging. The way this works is an organization identifies who their competitors are.  Be careful, the big mistake many organizations make is that it’s not about who YOU think your competitors are, but who your CUSTOMERS think your competitors are.

Then once you have identified your competitors, you need to look at their strengths and weaknesses, then create messaging for your website that communicates what it is that you do differently and more importantly BETTER than your competitors.

Non-Profit/Start Ups: $0 – $2500

Small Businesses: $2,500 – $9,500

Mid-Sized Businesses and above: $10,000 +

Design and Content Creation

Design has several components. The first thing people think of with design is the look and feel of the website. This is VERY important because your website is the first point of contact people have with your business. Nobody comes down to your office, attends an event, or buys a product without visiting your website first.

Equally important is Content Creation. This is comes in 2 forms. Imagery and text. One big mistake many inexperienced designers make is they use images to explain. The purpose of the imagery is to get people’s attention and the text is for explaining. Both are vital to a successful website. Often Creative Directors and Copywriters are the highest paid people in an agency because great content makes big money.

Then there is what goes on behind the scenes. UX/UI. These words stand for User Experience Design (UX) and User Interface Design (UI). Web Design is how pretty the website looks. This of course is VERY important, but even more important is how the website performs and how much money it makes. UX and UI Design factors in elements like Call To Action (CTA), Buttons, Pop-ups, Bounce rate, Time on page, Color Theory, Gamification and much more.

Non-Profit/Start Ups: $0. – $2,500

Small Businesses: $2,500 – $12,000

Mid-Sized Businesses and above: $12,000+


The two parts of the coding process are Front-end Development and Back-end Development.

Front-end Development is where we make the website look like your designs. It involves everything website visitors see and interact with. It starts as soon as the design is ready and often requires QA testing to ensure the quality of the product. The main factors influencing the front-end cost are website responsiveness, how it displays or adapts to tablets and mobile devices and the complexity of the design and animations.

Back-end Development or server-side is the heart of your website that makes all the main features work. Back-end comes into a play – for example – when users click a button to finalize their registration and returns completed or failed registration attempt. That form is really just a bunch of code that’s visualized by browsers and not able to perform the end function. If you want a website that’s something more than just a group of great looking pages, the back-end will take a great portion of the final website creation cost.

Content management systems like Shopify, WordPress, Drupal, etc. can reduce development hours and reduce the required cost to build a website.

Non-Profit/Start Ups: $1500 – $9,500

Small Businesses: $2,500 – $14,000

Mid-Sized Businesses and above: $15,000+.

Marketing, SEO and Maintenance

This is the most overlooked part of the development process. Once the website is launched many people feel like they are finished. But without marketing and SEO to drive traffic, having a great looking website like buying a brand new Armani suit and sitting alone in your bedroom on Friday night.

Website maintenance is VERY important too. This is the act of regularly checking your website for issues and mistakes and keeping it updated and fresh. This needs to be done on a consistent basis in order to keep your website healthy, encourage continued traffic growth, and strengthen your SEO and Google rankings.

It’s easy for small businesses, non-profits and startups with limited budgets to cut corners and let a few tasks slide. Website maintenance can easily become one of those things as it doesn’t always present immediate issues. However, just like your health can fall apart if you go too long without a regular check up, so can the health of your website.

Non-Profit/Start Ups: $99 – $1,500 per month

Small Businesses: $1,500 – $30,000 per month

Mid-Sized Businesses and above: $15,000+