How Much Should a New Website Cost?

Your company or organization website is vital tool for growth and engagement, not to mention for many of our clients it is the vehicle they deliver their services through. So when it comes time to redesign it, update the content, or modernize the platform it runs on, the partner you choose, process they use, and platform they specialize in are some of most important decisions you can make. And one of the critical elements is – how much should it cost? If I spend too little, do I put my initiatives at risk? What if I overpay for something that doesn’t meet my needs?

To give some insight toward this, let’s look at cost vs value. This post won’t go deep into the different kinds of processes and platforms, but it will provide some insights into cost considerations and how they translate to long-term benefits.

Choosing a Platform

The cost of building a website varies widely, influenced by factors like design, functionality, and platform choice. WordPress, known for its ease of use, can dramatically reduce long-term costs. It is XO’s opinion that WordPress is well suited for most client needs. It is flexible, cost effective, and can support any level of enterprise integration. That’s a big part of why W3Techs reports that WordPress powers over 40% of all websites, indicating its widespread acceptance and reliability. The platform is free, and the developer community is the largest of any platform. In contrast, advanced platforms like AEM and Sitecore offer sophisticated features but at a significantly higher cost, both in terms of initial setup and ongoing maintenance. One of our preferred Sitecore partners states the approximate cost of a Sitecore project can span between 350k-800k, while the average XO Spark WordPress site comes in between 25-50k. That cost difference isn’t because the features are robust on one and sparse on the other, it comes down to the cost of licenses you don’t need to pay with WordPress, and the efficiencies in development that it affords.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer on platforms generally, but there is a right answer for you. Closed ecosystem models are appropriate for some client needs, but you may be surprised what WordPress can replicate at a fraction of the cost. We can support building on either type of platform, but we want to make sure it’s the right platform for your needs.

It is XO’s opinion that WordPress is well suited for most client needs. It is flexible, cost effective, and can support any level of enterprise integration.

  • 40% of all websites are WordPress based. 40% 40%

Agency vs. Internal Development

Another cost is who does the work. Choosing between agency development and in-house creation is a strategic decision. Agencies, while potentially more expensive, bring specialized expertise. For instance, our XO Spark framework and design system is continuously refined with each project, meaning it’s best-in-class from the start. Simply starting from scratch or building on top of your existing site means you’ll be recreating work that’s already done. So in-house development may be easier to start, but may not save any money over the long run. Find a partner that specializes in the solution you need, and benefit from the efficiencies their experience offers.

Agency Cost Comparison

Our experience is that agency pricing can vary widely. We can break it down into three main categories, and what you should think about, when you’re comparing bids. The pricing below is typical for a ‘brochure’ style site based on a platform like WordPress, Wix, Weblow, or Drupal. They are focused on communicating brand positioning, with some basic integrations like a CRM, event calendar, or other off-the-shelf features.

Agency Site Pricing

Agency Tier Common Fees Pros Cons
I – Consultant/Individual 5k-15k If they have a good focus and specialty, this is the highest value tier. Dedicated personnel, deep understanding of your needs, and may be able to get a very senior level team for a value price. A good amount of XO clients are looking for site builds to redo what they got from this tier. It is very difficult to put together real value as an individual for a site design and build. It is by nature cross-discipline. Be skeptical of bids this low. You may end up redoing it.
II – Specialized/single-team 25k-100k If they have a good focus and specialty, this is the highest value tier. Dedicated personnel, deep understanding of your needs, and may be able to get a very senior level team for a value price. Make sure agencies of this size have the appropriate focus. Some agencies are tech focused. Some are creative focused, others are sales/marketing focused. Make sure they can provide the full scope of your needs.
III – Mid-size/multi-team 75k-300k Typically these agencies have well rounded teams with many disciplines.  Sometimes a midsize agency was great when they were small, and quality suffers as they grow. It’s a common business problem called “crossing the chasm”. Make sure you’re really getting access to their best talent, and not inheriting their “B” team.
IV – Large/conglomerate 250k + Often these agencies do digital work because it is an extension of a brand relationship. Keeping everything in one house can help with continuity. There’s really no digital benefit to paying this much for a website of this type. The technology and process doesn’t usually warrant it. It can simply come down to safety. No one gets fired for hiring a big name agency. But that’s not the same as getting real value from it.

Budgeting for Your Website over the Long Term

Balancing quality and budget is a common challenge especially for midsize companies. It’s not just about the initial cost but the total cost of ownership. The burden of maintaining the site often lands on the internal company team, not the agency. These are costs that continue perpetually, so finding an agency that designs the site with the marketer or the content editor in mind as one of the main users, not just visitors, is key to controlling long-term costs. Beware of hard-coded or template site approaches that do not offer the flexibility your organization needs.

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Wrap it up already

A company’s website is a crucial investment that can significantly impact market presence and operational efficiency. We believe there is a sweet spot of senior-level agency talent, a product-style approach, and with value pricing, that is achieved through the XO Spark framework. But there are many other approaches to building a site, so make sure when seeking an agency partner you’re getting the most value for your dollar, not just in the build, but over the long run of maintaining the site.

By Scott Donnell | Managing Director

Scott brings an inspired approach to design strategy as the Managing Director and Head of Design at XO Agency – unifying the strategic elements of the design process with the refined intuition of a veteran creative. His diverse leadership experience ranges from launching global enterprise digital experiences, to internal cultural storytelling, developing new brands, and creating omni-channel campaigns.