How much does a website cost in 2023?

Vicki Nichols - Thumbnail

Vicki Nichols

Digital Marketing Lead

How much does it cost to make a website?

Ok, first of all, yes we’re a web design company, but this isn’t a sales pitch. Hopefully, you’ll be able to compare the different approaches and you’ll be able to decide which is right for you.

We’re based in the UK with an office in Swansea, South Wales, where our web designers, web developers and digital marketing team are based. We also have an office in Mansfield, Notts, that we use for meeting our clients for face to face bits of the project, if that’s more convenient for them, or we need more than a video call.

The cost of a website comes down to the company you use

My view is that there’s a few different types of people that can help design and build a new website.

  • Freelancer
  • One Person Company
  • Small Agency
  • Large Agency

Plus of course, you’ve got the DIY online website builders, that’s another article, but honestly, if you go down that route, go with either Shopify or SquareSpace.

I’ve got no affiliation with them, but when I have private digital marketing consultancy clients, some have come to me with existing websites on these platforms and they do a pretty good job, much better than others out there.

Custom Website Design and Builds

Sometimes we’ll get enquiries from companies that come with a very detailed web design brief, so we can itemise and cost quite easily. Other times, it’s a good quality conversation, and we develop the brief. Then you get the “I need a website, how much is it please?”.

Websites shouldn’t be a tick-in-the-box exercise for your company, they should be the heart of your marketing and a core investment.

But anyway, the cost of websites…

Let’s look at a brochure website, say a few pages, for a typical small business, Plumber, Solicitor, Financial Adviser, or Physiotherapist, you get the idea. Home, Services, About, Blog, Contact.

Let’s go back to the different companies, and go into more depth, looking at the cost and differences.

Just as a side note, I started as a freelancer, grew into a One Person Company, now run a Small Agency and as a digital consultant. I have also worked with Large Digital Agencies. This gives me a pretty good idea of the differences from first-hand experience.

Freelancer built websites

We’re talking here about someone remote, maybe based in the UK, or overseas, they cost for the project, do it and that’s the end.

I believe this is the cheapest option, and for our example project, you might pay anything between £3,000 and £4,000, probably no VAT either. The positive is that it’s cheap. The negative is the quality and aftercare.

Think about it, if they charge £350 a day, they’re going to spend 3 to 10 days on the project, it’s going to be a quick turnaround. Your brief needs to be good and you need to be a good project manager to ensure you get what you want.

Once the project is done, they’re onto the next, so you’re not going to get much ongoing support. This is where Copper Bay started before realising we could offer more to our clients by getting a little bigger.

One Person Companies

This is someone who’s taking things a little more seriously, probably a freelancer who’s trying to grow the business. I believe you’ll get better aftercare here.

But again, it’s someone who moves from project to project, when they’re done with your website, they’re onto the next. However, they’re more likely to give you some support, but they’re on their own, so there’s only so much time they can offer.

Costs, well you’re going to be spending a little more here, but still cheap, somewhere between £3,000 and £6,000, again, probably no VAT.

We were here for around 4 years, before needing to grow the team to offer a better service to our customers with a more specialist team.

Small Digital Agency

Ok, this is Copper Bay now. We’ve got a small team of employed professionals. We’ve got overheads, paid holidays, pensions, you know the score, plus we have to charge VAT.

That’s not too much of an issue as our customers are VAT registered too, but you do get this stage, particularly in the early days, where you deal with customers who are a mix of non-VAT and VAT registered.

The reason for growing to this stage was because as a One Person Company, Copper Bay had a great reputation, but that created demand. To meet this demand we needed people to help deliver the level of service that was important to us.

The biggest benefit at this stage is “big enough to cope, small enough to care”.

We’ve got enough people here to cope with concurrent projects, ongoing support and holidays. But we’re still small enough to be flexible, cope with the people that have a detailed brief, and those that need hand-holding.

Once the website is built, that’s not the end, it needs support. The customer will forget how to change something via the CMS, they’ll get a new phone and need help getting emails working, and there could be some bugs as that’s the nature of software.

Costs do start to go up here, you’ll be paying anything from £8,000 – £25,000 + VAT for our example website. I’ll happily tell you, we’d probably charge around £12,000 +VAT.

Probably, because it does depend on the customer’s circumstance. For example, how much help is needed with content, but we’d go over that in an initial free meeting and confirm a FIXED price for the project, before commitment.

Large Digital Agency

This is not us, and we have no ambition to grow too big to lose that connection with our clients. In terms of costs for our example website, you’d be looking at £85,000 + VAT upwards quite easily.

I’ve worked with some on behalf of my private digital consultancy clients and I feel it becomes a bit rigid. Large teams need detailed processes and procedures, flexibility is removed somewhat.

One client I’ve got at the moment uses a large national agency. Recently we needed a change to the website taking maybe 3 development days…

  • there needs to be a client-produced detailed brief, which took us about 2 hours
  • a project manager reviews the brief and turns it into a specification, taking 2 weeks, costing around £800 + VAT
  • costs are confirmed for the change, £4500 + VAT, plus the spec costs
  • project is scheduled in, waiting 3 weeks, and done to the letter, taking 4 weeks
  • change is reviewed on a test environment, bugs fixed, 3 weeks turnaround
  • any variation, a new change process is started

I do understand that in some situations, a process like this needs to be followed. But for us, a Small Agency, you’d be looking at £10,000 + VAT and a couple of months in total. We’d also help create the specification via conversation or email and we’d allow minor changes because these things happen, that’s life.

So what does a new website cost?

Well, for a simple brochure website – anything between £10,000 – £30,000 + VAT.

You need to decide what your budget is and weigh up the pros and cons of ongoing care.

That would be my biggest difference, aftercare, and ongoing support. A website can’t just be built and left, and that’s why after trading since 2008 we have settled at the size we are now. A small but impactful web design agency.

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