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With a website builder, you can set up a professional-looking website for free, with paid plans starting from as little as £3/month.
Or, if you want something truly unique, advanced, and made to your exact specifications, you could hire a web designer, costing you anything from hundreds to thousands of pounds in upfront costs, or use a CMS like WordPress for around £30 – £1,000 a year.
Ideally, you would want to spend as little as possible when setting up your website, particularly during the current cost of living crisis when reducing overheads is a priority. We can help you with this via our free comparison quiz, which will help you work out which approach is right for you and which option will be the most cost-effective.
Throughout this article, we’ll explain the average prices of the best value website builders, like the ever-popular Wix, break down the cost of professional web design, and tell you how much you can expect to pay for a WordPress website.
If you’re after a slick website that will impress your customers and build trust in your business, then paying thousands of pounds to a website developer isn’t necessary. Thanks to modern, professional-looking website templates, you can create one of your own in under an hour, and the ongoing costs are remarkably low – typically under £100 per year.
At Startups.co.uk, we test and rate website builder tools, and we’ve identified Wix as one of the best you can choose for creating a business site. Wix even has a selection of custom website templates designed specifically for small businesses – you simply drop your own company information, wording and preferred imagery into your chosen template. Better still, it’s completely free to try for yourself.
Before we go any further, let’s see how the costs of these three different options stack up against each other. The table below shows the costs involved with website builders, web designers, and WordPress side by side.
Why does it cost thousands to work with a website designer when you can use a website builder for a small monthly cost, or even for free?
When you use a web designer, you get a bespoke creation, one that’s specifically designed to meet your needs, and crafted to your exact specifications. Basically, what you’re paying for is the time and expertise of a talented professional. As they’re not bound by the limitations of a website builder, they can create the website of your dreams, but doing so takes time and money.
One of the biggest factors in the price of your website is whether or not you want to sell online.
As you’ll see below, ecommerce website builder plans are generally more expensive than regular ones and, if you do want to hire a web designer, ecommerce web design is always going to cost more than conventional web design.
To see how our top-rated ecommerce platforms could help your business and compare top providers, head to our breakdown of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses.
Of course, any additional expense has to be balanced against the potential revenue you could make from selling through your website. A successful online store will more than pay for itself in the long run.
You can create and launch a Wix website like this one for free
A website builder is software that allows you to create a website without having to manually edit code. Instead, you can choose from a range of pre-existing templates, and then add and arrange elements in a visual editing interface. It’s a cheap and easy way to create a website, but your creative freedom is always limited by the options available.
The table below shows the price ranges from the most basic to the most advanced plans for the top website builders on the market.
As you can see, even for our top ranked builders, you’re not going to spend more than £35/month for a fully functional ecommerce site using the likes of Wix or Squarespace. Both offer great value for money, with sophisticated features and professional-looking templates at affordable prices.
For a much better idea of how this works in practice, check out our dedicated Wix pricing page – which breaks down what each plan offers and the types of businesses they are suited to.
Shopify and BigCommerce are ecommerce specific website builders. Their higher tier plans have very advanced sales features for large, scaling online retailers. These are great options to have if you’ve got grand ambitions, but most smaller businesses won’t need them.
Our in-depth Shopify pricing page includes lots more info on these features, as well as which features come with which plans.
Best all-round website builder for small businesses
Design flexibility & businesses looking to scale
Best for dedicated sales features when selling online
Ease of use and simplicity
Value for money
Creating a website in under an hour (thanks to its ADI platform)
£7.50-£27 per month
£12-£35 per month
Use code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans
$5 – $2,000 per month
(approximately £5 – £1650 per month)
£4.99-£13.99 per month (first term discounts available)
£0-£28 per month
Up to 71% discounted with code STARTUPS!
£0-£39 per month
Ecommerce website builders
All-round ecommerce platform for small businesses
Best range of apps and extensions
Best for ease of use and great design
Best value – start selling for free
Best sales features
Creating a simple online store
£15-£27 per month
£19 – £259 per month
£17-£35 per month
Use code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans
£0-£54 per month
£22-£216 per month
£13.99 per month (first term savings available)
Website builder plans can range in price from £3/month for the most basic plans to more than £240/month for the most advanced ecommerce plans.
The advertised prices for website builder plans are paid for on an annual subscription basis, so you’ll pay for a year in full when you sign up. You can also usually choose to pay monthly, but this will cost you more overall.
What’s great about website builders from a budgeting perspective is that, in almost all cases, the pricing is very transparent. Unlike, for example, hosting providers, there are no massively discounted introductory prices, which are then ramped up considerably after the first year. What you see is what you pay.
Our guide to the top website builders for small businesses gives a good idea of how much different web builders cost, and what you get for your money.
There’s only one thing you really need to watch out for and that’s domain name renewal. All major web builders include a free domain name for the first year, which then renews at the standard rate.
For example, Squarespace’s domain name renewal starts from around £16.50 per year, and can reach up to £57.50 per year depending on the top-level domain you use (e.g. .com, .org, .net, .co.uk etc.). Wix renewals start from around £12, while GoDaddy’s start from around £15 for a .com domain.
You can save money by using a low-cost website builder, but just how much will you miss out on?
Find out how a budget builder stack ups against our top-rated web builder on our Zyro vs Wix comparison page.
It’s increasingly rare for small businesses to use a web designer. But, if your business has bespoke needs and a bigger budget, then working with a designer is the best way to build a truly unique website that perfectly suits the way your business works.
Bur what exactly is the cost of web design in the UK? Let’s break it down.
Web design agencies typically charge you on an hourly basis. Chameleon Studios, a Cambridge-based marketing agency, gave us insight on a rough price list for web design depending on what type of agency you use:
Based on insights from a number of developers, we’re going to accept that an average small business website takes around 12 weeks to build. We’ll also assume the agency is devoting seven hours a day to your project.
That means you’re looking at a total price of £4,200 – £63,000 for the development of your business website.
Of course, there are a lot of hypotheticals here, and a number of variables we haven’t factored into our estimates – namely the size and complexity of the website you’re trying to build. The more pages and functionality your website has, the longer it will take and the more it will cost.
But, based on our extensive research, the above is a useful estimate for anyone intending to work with a web design agency.
There are also some running costs you’ll need to factor into your website budget. These include:
Tip: If you’d like pricing quotes for web design services that are tailored to your needs, use our handy web design company comparison tool. It’s a free service that takes around 2 minutes to use.
You need to register the domain name of your website for a small ongoing cost to secure the online address of your website. The more desirable your domain name, the more expensive it will be. Many hosting providers include a free domain for the first year, which then renews at an increased rate.
To learn more, about how domain pricing works and the hidden costs you need to watch out for, check out our in-depth guide to domain name costs.
You need to pay for your website to be stored on a server. This is done on a subscription basis. The more space your website takes up, the more it costs to store. As with domain names, hosting plans always renew at an increased rate after the first year.
Get the lowdown on how hosting prices are calculate with our comprehensive guide to website hosting costs.
Many hosting plans come with a free SSL certificate, which encrypts sensitive information and authenticates the identity of your website. However, you may want to enhance your protection with additional paid for security features.
This covers everything from making edits and fixing bugs to adding pages and redesigning. You’ll almost certainly need to do some or all of these things in any given year. If you don’t have the resources to hire a team member to be responsible for these tasks full time, then you can hire the services of a freelance developer or use the web design agency who built your website.
The above is a pretty rough breakdown of the estimated costs of creating and running a small business website. As you can see, costs can vary hugely depending on who you use, how big your site is, and how complicated it is.
If you can afford it, working with a web designer to build a website crafted to your exact needs and specifications is a great investment that’s sure to pay dividends in the long run. If you do go down this route, make sure you shop around for quotes from various agencies before choosing one that suits your needs and budget. Don’t just choose the cheapest option, but examine agencies’ previous work, testimonials and think about how well their skills and expertise fit with how you want your website to look and work.
Our guide to finding a web designer includes more top tips on locating the web design agency that will bring your dreams to life and supercharge your business.
If using a web designer is something you’re considering, we’d highly recommend you use our questionnaire-style comparison tool to shop around web design services and find a budget-friendly match in just two minutes… for free!
A third option is to use a WordPress site. This is a usually a lot cheaper than using a web designer, but gives you more control than using a web builder.
Basically, WordPress is a free, open-source CMS. As with a website builder, you can create a decent website without having to learn code. You can then customise your website using thousands of themes and plugins and add all sorts of additional features like an online store.
Open source means anyone is free to download and use the software.
So what are you paying for?
Well, as with when you have your website designed, you’ll have to pay for your own hosting and domain name. These are the only guaranteed monthly costs. The others are optional, depending on your requirements.
For example, you’ll want to improve the functionality of your website using WordPress’s extensive library of apps and plugins, which includes things like SEO, ecommerce, and social media. Many of these are free, but you might want to fork out for premium add ons if you’re after something more particular.
Likewise, WordPress has some existing themes that you can use to base your website around. Some are free, some are not.
And, although it’s entirely possible to maintain your own WordPress site, you may end up relying on support from a developer for any complicated technical issues that arise.
A small business website can cost as much or as little as you want it to. You can set up a website for free using a website builder, or you could spend thousands on creating a truly unique, bespoke site.
For most small businesses, we’d recommend signing up for a paid plan with a top website builder like Wix, Squarespace or GoDaddy. For around £10/month, you can enjoy a professional-looking business website, and it’s easy to upgrade your plan when your requirements change. Or, if you want to launch a high-powered online store, then you can get started on specialist ecommerce platform Shopify for £20 a month.
That said, if you have the budget, working with a web designer to create the website of your dreams is a great investment.
Or, if you’re after flexibility and affordability, why not use a CMS like WordPress?
To work out which option is best for you and be matched with top providers, just check out our quick comparison quiz.
There are plenty of options to suit different budgets, and countless ways to create a website that will help your business succeed. With a little research, you’re bound to find the right choice for your business.
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Henry has been writing for Startups.co.uk since 2015, covering everything from business finance and web builders to tax and red tape. He’s also acted as project lead on many of our industry-renowned annual indexes, including Startups 100 and Business Ideas, and created a number of the site’s popular how to guides.
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