8 min read

How much does a website cost?

How much does a website cost madebyshape
Updated on 09 Mar 2024

How much does a website cost?

Back when we were all actually in the studio - pre-Covid (they were the days!), we were able to take calls from people ringing the web design studio and enquiring about new/existing website projects.

With new enquiries, I would say with confidence that 90% would ask for a price to build a website there and then. Now the answer to this isn’t that straightforward. I mean, it can be if you wanted it to be. We could simply say “Yes, by all means, we can register you on Shopify for £21 a month and you can be on your way”. But that’s not how we do business!

There are so many factors to consider when considering how much a website costs. In this article, I am going to run you through some of the main areas we take into consideration for the cost of a website.

The Website Brief

First thing’s first. The website project needs to have a project spec. We need to understand exactly what it is you are looking for. This varies from client to client and will be the driving force behind the entire project, which is why it is so important.

  • Background of your business
  • Who your competitors are
  • Who your target audience is
  • 3 websites you like, and why you like them
  • 3 websites you don’t like, and why you don’t like them

We wrote a separate article on how to create a killer web design brief.

eCommerce Website

Sitting alongside the brief stage of a project, there is, in a sense, quite a simple question to ask. Does your website need to be eCommerce? Do you need to sell products online?

Most eCommerce websites follow a very similar format. This is because there is a standardised process for buying products online. So much so that areas like the checkout and account use the same framework that we have created from the ground up.

It is a similar story for Shopify as well. They are so confident in their checkout process that it is used across all of their websites, and cannot be adjusted.

Additional factors may come into play depending on the type of product the client is looking to sell online. It may be that custom data needs to be stored for each product purchase, or specific shipping rules need to be setup.

All of this will be discovered in the brief stage. And as a quick note at this stage in the article, eCommerce website will generally cost more than a non eCommerce website.

Web Design

Once the brief has been agreed upon, the design is the next phase. The client generally only sees the finished product from this stage, but it is everything before that where the value lies.

The journey of the design phase isn’t always a linear process. The client's feedback can fluctuate this process sizeably. It is common practice for designs to end up with multiple variations. Wireframes, Research, UX, Workshops etc. This all needs to be considered in the budget.

How much do web design agencies cost? We can't give you a day rate that every agency uses. Some are cheaper than others. Some offer better quality than others. So it all depends on what you want / need / can afford. As a guide, you could get somebody to whack out a website for £300 but how good would that solution be?

Would the below be truthful as a guide? I'm not so sure, because we've worked with freelancers in the past who are very talented, and they don't charge £10 per hour. So it all comes down to the quality of work.

Offshore web agency: £10 – £25 per hour

Freelance web designer: £25 – £75 per hour

Small web agency: £50 – £100 per hour

Large web agency: £100 – £300 per hour

If you're looking at these figures and thinking it's expensive, please remember that it's a professional service, a talent if you will - some people have spent 20 years learning their trade and can deliver a great solution in a quicker time than an amateur can deliver. You're paying for the expertise and service, not just the time spent on the project.

Jason going through website wireframes at MadeByShape

Build and Web Functionality

More often than not, the build is the biggest chunk of work. Broken down, this can be split up into three phases. Development, Testing, and Deployment.

The majority of work here, again, isn't seen by the client. But this is where the value of the service is.

During development, the designs that have been signed off by the client will be brought to life. The majority of the time, they will be built around a CMS framework, like Craft CMS. This will allow the client to add all of their own content to the designs. Solidifying their brand and identity into the website.

For websites built around flexible CMS frameworks, development will be completely bespoke per project. This can vary the build time per project greatly.

Frameworks that have restrictions such as Shopify are sometimes a much more time and cost effective route to go down when the client isn't looking for much customisation. Platforms like that usually have a very active and expansive app/plugin store. But it is always worth noting that these are third-party and come with their own rules and restrictions. 

When it comes to testing, there are certain procedures we follow for this. As we have been in this industry for over 10 years, we know exactly what to look for when debugging. Using our own framework which is tweaked and enhanced on a regular basis helps to reduce the amount of testing required also. It is steps like this which can be time and cost effective when using an agency like ourselves, over a freelancer. 

Deployment is the final phase of the build to get a website live. License Fees, SSL Certificates, Domains and Hosting are just the base of costs to consider for deploying a website. Some of which I will go into further detail below...

Jason hard at work

License Fees, Costs and Ongoing Costs

All CMS platforms come with license fees. Below is a general look at some of the pricing tiers that the most common platforms offer.


Craft CMSSoloFree
Craft CMSPro£222 one off
Craft CMSEnterpriseQuote per project
WixFirst Priority£18/month

Plugins and Plugin Costs

As we primarily build our websites around Craft CMS, there are also a number of plugins that we use on 99% of our projects. These plugins can help with aspects of the website, such as the performance through optimising images, to custom form builders.

Below is a list of general plugins that we run on almost all of our websites.

  • Blitz Caching (Site Speed/Performance) - £74
  • Freeform (Form Builder) - £74/£118
  • Retour (Redirects) - £43
  • SEOMatic (SEO Optimisation) - £74
  • Imager X (Image Optimisation) - £36/£74
  • Craft Commerce (eCommerce) - £118/£742
  • Sprout Reports (Custom Reporting) - £74
  • Instant Analytics (Google Analytics Easy Setup) - £43
  • Maps (Map Integration) - Free/£36
  • Icon Picker - £14

Web Hosting Costs

Your website needs a place to be kept so people can access it from anywhere on the internet. These are called servers, and play a pretty big part in a user's experience.

The age-old ‘I just want my website to be like, crazy fast’. Okay, well we can do everything we can to optimise your website and its content. But if you are only paying for ‘bog standard’ hosting, you are not going to be seeing 'crazy fast' speeds any time soon!

There are a few different options for website hosting:

Shared Web Hosting
Does what it says on the tin - where multiple websites are hosted on the same server space. Usually the cheapest, and usually the slowest.

Dedicated Web Hosting
A server space all to yourself. A great option for websites with heavy traffic and large amounts of database activity.

VPS Web Hosting
The middle man between Shared and Dedicated hosting. These act as a dedicated server with your own space but use shared resources.

Cloud Server Hosting
A completely virtual server space, running up in the clouds. A good option for those wanting the option of scalability.

Domain Costs

Domains are used to connect users to the server where your website is stored. Asking how much a domain cost is the equivalent of the classic ‘How long is a piece of string?’

Typically, a new domain can cost between £5 - £15 per year. These prices can drastically differ based on the popularity of the keywords in the domain.

So. You want to buy the domain insurance.com

That would be around £25 million

That piece of string is looking pretty damn long now, isn’t it!

If you wanted to get a leg up on your SEO and buy an aged domain, you'd be paying upwards of £500.

Website Support and Maintenance

Websites are like cars - they need a service and an MOT every now and then. No one can envisage future changes to web technologies. Here at Shape, we offer support plans to our clients once their websites are up and running. This means we would continually update and manage the website on a monthly basis.

Monitoring websites and performing updates are critical for keeping them in line with the latest technologies and keeping them secure.

This is also a great way to consider adding new features to the website. If you are initially on a tight budget, you can always consider looking at rolling certain features out as different phases. Being on a support plan like what we offer can give you this option to roll out further tweaks to functionality after the main launch.

Andy Golpys smiling whilst playing cards with the MadebyShape team

Website Cost Conclusion

You came to this page looking to find out the answer to how much does a website cost? I hope this have given you a bit more of an insight into the cost of a website. There are so many considerations and variables for how much a website costs, to which, being in this industry for so long has given us great experience in. And I hope it is clear to see that the question we initially asked does not have a straight forward answer!

I've been at Shape for around 8 years now. I bagged a couple of weeks of work experience at the end of my first year at Salford Uni and from then on, well what can I say, they couldn't get enough of me.