A high-quality business website is essential to standing out in a highly competitive market. Unfortunately, most small business owners struggle to balance having a well-designed professional website with a limited budget. Therefore, finding a reliable, professional designer can be challenging.

Knowing what freelance designers and agencies charge for an average website is the first step to determining how much you can expect to pay in web design costs for a custom website.

Why Having a Good Website Matters

If you run a brick-and-mortar store or rely on word of mouth and social media to get new customers, you may wonder whether setting up a website is worthwhile. For most businesses, especially those based online in web design, it is essential. With the increasing focus on online marketing, now is the perfect time to design your small business website as customers shift to getting more information online.

Your Website Reflects Your Business

The best way to view your business website is as an extension of your existing branding strategy. Having a professional-looking website will show customers you are serious about your business.

A website is also essential for presenting a trustworthy image to potential customers. A recent Digital.com survey showed that 23% of consumers would disregard a business if they couldn’t find it online. The same survey also showed that 68% of consumers are explicitly looking for a website and that simply having a social media presence isn’t enough. While most people will disregard a business because they’re unsure whether it will have what they want, 28% of shoppers feel that a business without a website is untrustworthy.

Your Website Can Drive Local Business

business owner of local business checking order in his laptop

According to HubSpot, approximately 46% of Google searches are for local services and information; of those, 76% of customers went to a store within five miles. Even more exciting for brick-and-mortar shops, 78% of location-based searches resulted in an offline purchase, showcasing the importance of focusing on local growth with a website.

Your Website Can Drive Global Business

Business websites are visible worldwide and can open up many opportunities for small businesses. E-commerce websites, in particular, benefit from international reach, especially if you’re selling niche products. Expanding your market is easy if you have a professional, high-quality site that can target audiences in multiple regions.

A Good Website Is Search Engine Optimization Ready

A great website is the first step in a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. The next step is ensuring that people can find your site, which requires optimizing your search engine results.

A large part of SEO is making your site easy for desktop and mobile customers to navigate. It also needs to be well designed to help Google’s algorithm examine the site during its ranking process. While it’s possible to retroactively make a simple website better, spending the money for a professional website up front can reduce costs and frustration in the future.

How Professional Web Design Services Charge for Website Development

clock on a paper dollar bills

A professional website designer will use one of two website design pricing models. Both of these reflect how much effort the page costs but may affect the final price of the site. Knowing the difference will help you choose the right option.

Flat Rate

A flat rate means you agree on a certain amount for the project and pay it upon completion. Designers will calculate their flat rate depending on the complexity of the job and the designer’s experience.

If your website designer charges a flat rate for your site, get a detailed quote to see what you’re paying for.

Hourly Rates

Some developers charge hourly rates, which gives them the flexibility to handle any changes to the design. Hourly rates may quickly escalate depending on the size of the project, so make sure to get an estimate of the total cost before approving the hourly rate.

How To Estimate the Cost of a Website

web designer estimating the cost of website

Web design costs vary dramatically depending on the labor and expertise involved. A simple site that contains two or three web pages will be significantly cheaper than a full e-commerce website with unique functionality. Understanding these cost factors can help small businesses keep their website dreams under control and within their budget.

Upfront Costs

Initial development costs form the bulk of website design pricing and are what people usually think about when calculating the total cost.


Website design and development can take hundreds of hours, from the first discussion to the final implementation. The more complex the site, the longer the project will take. You can also generally expect that working with freelancers and DIY solutions will take longer than working with a full-fledged web design team with multiple members working together.


Basic websites are relatively affordable to develop. Expect to pay more when adding extra features, each of which comes with a price tag.

Type of Design

Templates can dramatically simplify the web design process, but they can limit your creativity and what you’re able to do. Similarly, flashy sites can be resource-intensive, and you’ll need to spend more time optimizing the site to keep page load speeds down.

Most businesses start using templates on their web pages before transitioning to a more customized site as the company grows and the website becomes an increasingly important marketing resource.

Number of Pages

More pages translate into more time and labor, an inflated upfront cost, and higher monthly maintenance fees. Most designers will charge an additional flat fee for every extra page. A large part of the extra web design cost is to enhance the site’s functionality to meet growing business demands.


Creating content for a full website can become expensive very quickly. Some businesses prefer to work with their marketing departments to create copy for the site. Still, smaller businesses may benefit from the expertise of content creators who understand SEO best practices and can create excellent copy on demand.

Search engine rankings value high-quality content, which is important for creating a strong brand image. Many customers are simply looking for information, and if they land on your site, they will remember your brand even if they don’t buy anything.

Many designers can supply wireframe page templates the business can fill in with its content. You may also consider using content services instead of your web designer to ensure you get the best content to assist with your SEO strategy.

Maintenance Costs

Developing a website represents a large upfront cost, but you must also factor in running costs. These include paying for hosting, SSL certificate renewal, updates, and subscription fees if you’ve chosen the DIY route.

Freelancers vs. Agencies vs. DIY Website Builders

male freelance designer working on project at home

There are plenty of ways to approach website design, and the best approach is one that fits your situation. Sometimes, a freelance designer may be the right option, while other businesses may benefit from using a website builder to create a simple site.


Freelancers work on a contract basis to assist with a single project. A freelance web designer offers the following benefits:

  • Affordable rates: Freelancers often set competitive rates to stand out from the crowd, and they typically have fewer overhead costs that would affect their web design rates.
  • Specialized skill sets: Freelancers are often experienced web designers who focus on one particular aspect of web design, such as graphic design, web development, content, SEO, or IT services. This specialization allows them to fit into an existing design team, or they can recommend other specialists to handle other aspects of website building.
  • Direct communication and collaboration: A freelance web designer will work closely with your business to create the website you want. This collaborative approach prevents misunderstandings and unsatisfactory outcomes.

The main drawbacks of working with freelancers include the following:

  • Limited availability: Since freelancers typically work on their own, they are unable to provide 24/7 customer support. While the best freelancers will have emergency support in place, you will have to wait until business hours for non-urgent queries.
  • Longer timeframes: Freelancers frequently take on multiple clients to guarantee a steady income stream. You may need to wait several weeks for the designer to start on your website, and they may take longer than a professional design agency to complete the job.
  • Multiple freelancers: While some freelancers are good enough to design an entire custom-built website from scratch, most prefer to work within their specialty. If you need a complete website service, you may need to hire multiple freelancers and ensure they work together to produce the results you want.

Freelancers are a good option if you have a small project, such as adding a few pages to an existing site or updating your site’s design. They’re also great for small business owners who want to participate in the web design process but aren’t on a tight schedule.

Website Design Agencies

web design agency brainstorming about new website design project

Professional web design agencies specialize in creating corporate websites according to industry best practices. They usually have a full design team and a project manager who will liaise with the website owner to meet expectations on a tight deadline.

The benefits of working with a web design agency include the following:

  • After-hours support: Agencies often have dedicated support teams available during out-of-business hours. After-hours support means you’ll always have someone to talk to during an emergency, though it’s unlikely that your project manager will also be on call 24/7.
  • Faster project times: Agencies have several teams working on different projects, giving them the capacity to start on a particular project faster than a freelancer. Larger teams also mean that project time frames are smaller, so you’ll get a complete product much faster.
  • Dedicated project management: By assigning project managers to website owners, website design companies create a single point of interaction. Instead of having to wrangle multiple designers yourself, you can rely on your project manager to handle the details while keeping you informed.

Website development companies do have several drawbacks, including:

  • Higher prices: Agencies have higher overhead costs than freelancers, which is reflected in the final website cost.
  • Too many services: Some larger website design companies will offer too much, including website maintenance services, website hosting, and web design. By providing so many services, they may not be able to offer the same level of quality across all of them. Companies may also try to encourage website owners to buy into services they don’t really need.
  • Barriers to collaboration: While working with a single project manager is convenient, it does introduce the potential for errors in translation between the small business owner and the web design team.

Website design companies are generally better for bigger projects that require multiple specialists to create new e-commerce websites, redesign web pages, or build a completely new website for small businesses. They’re also an excellent option for businesses with limited deadlines, as both DIY and freelancer options take significantly longer than an experienced web design team.

Using a Website Builder

graphic design studio using website builder

Many web hosting companies have expanded into offering customers site-building tools. These tools tend to work on a user-friendly interface that doesn’t require extensive coding knowledge to use, making them ideal for small businesses without dedicated IT departments or for owners who want to get a simple page up and running.

Most website builders offer a one-stop solution that handles every aspect of website design, from providing site templates to hosting and security solutions.

The benefits of using a website builder include the following:

  • Low cost: The main appeal of a DIY website designer is the lower cost. You don’t need to pay for professional design teams or freelancers, and most builders will provide reasonable monthly plans. Some site builders will even provide free trials, but these are usually filled with ads or have limited services.
  • Templates: Website templates are great for novice designers who want a tried-and-tested web design without much effort. If you don’t have time to decide on the color scheme of your e-commerce website, these templates are perfect as inspiration and a starting point for your website design.
  • Additional services: The best website builders handle every aspect of web design for you, including ongoing maintenance, website hosting, and SSL certificate renewals. If you don’t have the resources necessary to handle hosting, maintenance, and patching, working with a builder may be a good option.
  • Extensive customer support: Website builders will have FAQs, knowledge bases, and 24/7 customer support for emergencies.

However, as with any web design option, builders do have several drawbacks, including:

  • Limited scope: If you want to create your custom small business website, you may struggle with the limited scope of many builders who use templates to help users get started. Some also limit their add-ons and plug-ins to paid subscribers, which may impact your long-term website costs.
  • Steep learning curve: While most builders market themselves on ease of use, they still require expertise to get results. You will need to put in the time to learn the workflows and systems to get a website design you like.
  • Software as a service: Most builders work on a SaaS model, which means that if you don’t pay your subscription, you lose access to your account. This means that you may not get access to your website design should the company close or if you can’t afford to pay the monthly fee.

A DIY approach is a viable option for companies creating their first business or e-commerce website. However, the restrictions of these programs mean that you will probably need to work with a professional website designer as your small business expands.

How To Avoid Overpaying for Your Website

money in the sink

Most business owners are not IT or marketing professionals, so they may not fully understand how a website works and how it contributes to a larger marketing strategy. This often leads to owners overpaying for services that aren’t necessary for their business niche or experiencing frustration when the site doesn’t perform as expected.

Working with professionals can help alleviate this issue—most freelance web designers and website design agencies will work with their clients to get a clear picture of their needs and expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the hard work yourself. By approaching the design process with a clear vision, you can save money and avoid paying for site functionality you don’t need.

Determine Your Needs

The first step in developing a new website is understanding your needs. Different businesses use websites for different reasons—a retail business will need e-commerce functionality, which isn’t necessary for a service-based company.

Identifying needs can be as easy as figuring out why you want a website. Do you want to improve your business’ visibility, manage customer support, or add a new layer of branding to your existing marketing strategy? These basic questions will help you structure your new website to meet your needs.

Do Your Research

If you decide to work with a freelancer or website design agency, research the company before getting in touch. Start by looking at customer reviews and the web designer’s portfolio to determine service quality and whether the designer’s previous work suits your business style.

Remember To Incorporate Digital Marketing

Getting caught up in making your site flashy and beautiful is easy, but you also need to consider SEO friendliness and marketing capability during website development.

Most search engines base website rankings on user experiences. Fast loading speeds, mobile friendliness, and ease of navigation can all help boost those rankings. Designing a marketing-focused site will create a better online presence for higher-quality leads that are easier to convert.

Get a Detailed Quote

Website design pricing encompasses many aspects, so getting a detailed quote is the best way to know what you’re paying. Designers who charge hourly rates will often estimate how many hours they expect the project to take and can provide a detailed breakdown of how they spend each hour.

The benefit of detailed quotes is that you can see every step of the website design, which lets you discuss particular aspects before they go into production. It also prevents you from overpaying by highlighting any unwanted or unneeded features.

Connective provides the professional, high-quality web design services you’d expect from a large agency while maintaining the personable size of a small team. Feel free to utilize our pricing calculator to see how much a website may cost for you or contact us to learn more about our services.