There are many different ways to build a website these days. There’s the timeless method of building your site code in Adobe Dreamweaver and exporting it to the web.
You can build a site in WordPress with a bit of CSS knowledge, or you can just outsource everything to a website design agency. Then there’s also the option of using a website builder, which is perhaps the easiest solution of all.
“Website builders are a popular way for people to easily and quickly set up a website with as little hassle as possible.”
They’re great for small retail businesses, whether you’re selling handmade crafts or drop shipping products from Amazon, but larger companies can effectively use website builders as well. They certainly aren’t for everyone, but let’s take a look at whether or not investing in a website builder is the right choice for you.
How much do website builders actually cost?
Website builders are always going to be cheaper than custom website design, and to an extent WordPress, but there are some variables. The thing is that some people (design agencies) like to point out that website builders cost a little more in things like domain hosting, SSL certificates, and other little monthly fees, compared to DIY hosting or a WordPress domain host.
So it becomes a question of upfront costs versus long-term costs in monthly fees, but there are several catches people don’t like to mention. Let me try to explain it succinctly.
Cost of a website builder
If you use a website builder to create, for example, a small eCommerce website. You’re probably going to pay around $200 ~ $500 upfront. This will include your domain name, any premium themes and add-ons (like a shopping cart module), and monthly hosting (which you’ll probably pay as an annual subscription upfront). It’s kind of like an “all-inclusive” vacation package, where everything is included in the total upfront cost.
So you’ll pay a small upfront fee which is mostly the annual hosting subscription, followed by monthly fees for the additional customizations you add to your website. Hosting plans on website builder platforms average around $9 to $75 per month, depending on your plan.
Again, it really depends on your plan, as website builders aren’t just for eCommerce websites. For example, there are a number of platforms which are built for specific industries, such as real estate, as this guide describes. Ultimately if you are going to use a website builder, it’s best to find one that is best suited to the industry you are operating in.
Cost of a WordPress website
If you use WordPress, you can expect to pay around $500 – $1,000 upfront for a similar small eCommerce website, with lower monthly fees. This is because you can shop around for a domain name and domain hosting from sites like HostGator, BlueHost, etc. to get the best subscription-based pricing available, but you’ll also be paying additionally for WordPress themes, mobile design plug-ins, shopping cart plug-ins, etc.
Using the vacation package analogy again, WordPress is like you’re paying for your own drinks, meals, and WiFi access at the resort.
This means that you’ll be spending a bit more upfront on piecing together the different elements of your website, but you’ll pay on average around $11 – $40 per month for domain hosting. Of course, you could also pay monthly for plug-in subscriptions, website maintenance, etc.
Cost of custom website design
So in the vacation package analogy, custom website design is like flying first-class to a resort, and you own the resort. Custom website design is going to cost a minimum of around $5,000 and could go much higher, depending on your web project.
“Website designers are paid around $50 – $100 per hour, and custom website design takes around 14 weeks on average, from beginning to launch.”
Now some website design agencies are going to be mad at me for saying this, but when they like to point out the “higher monthly costs” of a website builder, take a look at their fine print. Many website design agencies can lock you into monthly maintenance contracts, which can range from an additional $500 up to $3,000 per month or more, depending on the size of your site.
It’s kind of like if you have a contract with a car mechanic to inflate your tires and change your oil every month, except they keep billing you for a clutch assembly replacement. I’m not saying that website design agencies are dishonest, but you do need to be aware of what kind of monthly maintenance your website actually needs.
When we compare all three options (website builder, WordPress, and custom website design), it’s quite clear that website builders are the most affordable option. However, you’ll also be limited in customization options with a website builder, as you’re really piecing together templates and blocks, so you won’t get the exclusive customization and brand appeal you would with custom web design or a WordPress website. So you’ll have to consider what’s best for your long-term business plan.
Also, Read Tips to Automate Your Ecommerce