Author: Matt Hartley

How Much Does A Website Cost?

Why do some websites cost £100,000, and some cost £3?

Around a year ago, a client approached us with a website brief for a bespoke web application project. The client had been quoted over £100,000 for the project by a large Manchester based digital agency.

On the other hand, the online website building service provides a basic website service at just £3 per month. This allows you to create your own small website and publish it online, using your own domain name.

Quite a difference, so how do you judge the value? How do you know how much a website should cost?

Here’s 10 things you should consider…

1. Professional website design is a service, not a product.

If you’re obtaining quotes from website design companies, the chances are you will be provided with a design and development service – not an off the shelf product.

A DIY website builder like Wix or 1&1 will offer their website ‘products’ on a monthly basis, and are usually based on pre-defined and somewhat limited template designs (more on this below).

Commissioning a digital agency to create your new website usually means that they will go through a creative process to produce a unique website tailored to your business needs and clients. There is no exact price comparison available on any given website project, because simply put every website is different. Approaches to this website design and development process can vary hugely from agency to agency.

2. Quotes are subjective.

All digital agencies will employ a different creative process to achieve their end result. Some will draw from and tweak pre-prepared templates to produce a good-looking front end small business website. Others will go through a lengthy and consultative design process.

For larger websites, the design of the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) can be a relatively drawn-out process that may require market research, unique design skills, and past experience on similar sized projects.

An agency will value their services differently from the next, and draw from their thoughts on the website brief and past experience to help price up a project.

How Much Does A Website Cost?

3. The different types of website designers and digital agencies.

  1. DIY Website builder (Wix, 1&1, Squarespace) – Large companies offering high volume, low cost solutions. These are great for bedroom bloggers, sole traders, or consumers putting lowest cost as their highest priority.
  2. Freelance Developer – a sole trader working ad-hoc. A good freelancer can be hard to find, but they can be great for sole traders or small businesses who require a bit more of a personal service, aren’t especially reliant on their web presence, or who don’t have the time/ability to have a go themselves.
  3. Small digital agency – most cost effective option for a professional service, but potentially limited in overall design and technical ability. On the plus side, even a small agency will have numerous professionals on hand that will usually employ a more bespoke approach to website design and development.
  4. Medium sized agency (i.e. Pixel Kicks) – typically well established and experienced with the knowledge and the portfolio to back it up. You’ll be paying more for expertise, consultation, a proven design methodology, and a high-end bespoke end product. With a breadth of ability and experience, they are perfect for businesses of all sizes and sectors.
  5. Large agency – very well experienced and knowledgeable, potentially diluted client experience. Excellent for larger companies looking to invest heavily in digital strategy. Large overheads typically mean large costs, but you’ll have an entire team of experts working on your project.
  6. Enterprise level – typically only work with large corporations with very large budgets. Global agencies can help with corporation-wide digital transformation strategy, with the client facing website being a relatively small part of the overall brief.

The different types of website designers and digital agencies

4. The different types of website

  1. Basic website (template) – Templates are ‘one-size-fits-all’ predesigned websites that already have a layout and structure to all of their pages. Users will add their own pictures, text, make other layout tweaks, and setup basic contact forms etc.
  2. Small business ‘brochure’ website – A low cost custom website that showcases your products and services to potential customers. Usually limited in terms of search engine visibility and ease of management. Usually up to around 10 pages.
  3. Medium business ‘brochure’ website – A more substantial information resource, with a unique design and list of features based around the company needs. Usually containing blog section, case studies, various customised contact forms, and so on. Typically around 10-50 pages.
  4. Large business website – A high-end showpiece for large digitally focused brands. Usually containing large amounts of content, bespoke calls-to-action and user journeys, and a completely customised back-end CMS. Usually 50+ pages, potentially over 1000 depending on content databases etc.
  5. Small E-commerce website – An online shop selling around 100 products or less in low-medium volume. Usually built around a user friendly system such as WordPress/WooCommerce, or more of a templated approach such as Shopify.
  6. Large E-commerce website – An e-commerce site selling hundreds or thousands of products in high volume. Often integrated with stock controls systems, order management systems, and various online marketplaces. Typically built using a more powerful e-commerce CMS such as Magento.
  7. Web Application – (e.g. a social network, dating website, company intranet) A dynamic website that works by users inputting data, and involves varying degrees of user engagement. Usually relying on audience interaction or content contribution to add value. Web applications usually use programming languages to develop large back-end databases. Due to the bespoke nature and complexity of web applications, they can often require a very significant up-front investment depending on project scope. Ongoing user experience improvements and feature updates are often required if the platform starts to gain popularity.

“A unique and custom-built WordPress site will require extensive work from a developer. Costs for this can be in the region of £4,000 – £10,000 depending on the design.”

“A standard custom WordPress theme alone can cost you up to $5,000. More robust WordPress sites with specific custom features can cost up to $15,000 or even higher.”

5. Specification is king.

A website brief (also known as a website specification) is always an important starting point to any bespoke website project. Specifications can vary a lot – some can be many pages long and describe every single area of the website in detail. Other website briefs will focus on the overall business objectives of the website – the client often wants their chosen developers to take care of all the details so their energy can be spent in other areas of the business. This is where using a well experienced agency rather than a freelancer might prove important.

You can read our guide here on How To Write The Perfect Website Brief. Things to include:

  • About Your Business
  • Target audience & users
  • Goals of the New Site
  • Competitors or sites you Like
  • Look & feel
  • Technical features & requirements
  • In-house requirements
  • Content
  • Hosting, support & maintenance
  • Online marketing & SEO
  • Deadline
  • The future – measuring your success
  • Budget

A note on scope creep
‘Scope creep’ is an industry term used to describe the uncontrolled growth or changes to a project, after it has already begun (and costs signed off). Scope creep is especially prevalent with web applications and larger websites. This is another reason why a properly defined website brief or specification is important from the beginning.

Client Brief vs Client Budget

Be realistic with your budgets…

6. The design and development journey

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”
Arthur Ashe

Often there is a tendency to look at comparable or competitor websites/branding and judge the attached cost as completely out of proportion with the clean and beautifully presented outcome. The behind-the-scenes work to achieve the end result obviously isn’t seen by your average consumer, and often within this process where the value lies.

It’s not uncommon for websites to go through up to 4 or 5 different design variations, with continuous tweaks and updates based on client feedback and best digital practices. Throw in input from directors, marketing, and sales departments, and the design process can become very drawn out, and thus considerably eat into budgets.

Typically, a new website project will go through the following stages:

  • Wireframe & Concepts
  • Branding & Design
  • Development
  • Testing & Improvements
  • Deployment

Multiple different team members will work on the project throughout the above stages, with a Project Manager keeping everything on track.

The design and development journey

7. Value-based pricing vs Time spent pricing

A ‘time spent’ approach to a website project can throw up a number of problems. This method rewards quantity over quality, and can often spark debates between both parties in analysing the fees against their perceived expectations. It can also create the perception that an agency charging by the hour is of lesser value.

Most reputable digital agencies will adopt a value-based pricing approach. This will be a subjective quote based on the clients perceived value of the service, their brief & budgets, whilst also considering internal costs (increasing in line with size of agency).

“Value-based pricing: Basing a product or service’s price on how much the target consumers believes it is worth.”
Source: Price Intelligently Dictionary

Website hosting & ecommerce. WordPress and Magento

8. Hosting and support

“Facebook spent $860 million to deliver and distribute its products last year”

Hosting is where your website is stored, so that users can access it over the internet. These typically high powered computers (servers) are the hardware which securely holds (hosts) all of your websites files and data for 24/7 access.

There are various types of hosting available, simplified as the following:

  • Shared hosting (most popular) where multiple sites are hosted on one server to share the cost.
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting which splits up one physical server into individual ‘virtual’ servers, each with its own dedicated resources.
  • Cloud Server hosting which is a virtual server that runs across one or more physical servers for worry free maintenance and easy scalability.
  • Dedicated hosting, where one site has a complete physical server to itself. Perfect for web applications where there is masses of database activity.

Most digital agencies will combine hosting and website support costs in a single monthly payment. For website support, there will usually be an agreement with your digital agency that gives you allotted support time per month. This can be used for helping you with updates and changes. Your CMS and any plugins should also be kept up-to-date under the support package.

9. Marketing.

Separate to your website costs, marketing budgets should be considered. This is especially important for newly launched or e-commerce websites. A whole range of activities fall under the umbrella of ‘Digital Marketing’ such as; SEO, social media, content creation, PPC management, mailing lists, conversion rate optimisation, and so on.

When a brand new website is launched, don’t expect any visits whatsoever without some form of marketing whether that be online or offline.

“Marketing is one of the most important things a business can do. Not only does marketing build brand awareness but it can also increase sales, grow businesses and engage customers. There are so many core business functions that stem from a good marketing plan that any SMB would be silly not to give it a shot.”

One of the most important parts of digital marketing is Search Engine Optimisation. New to SEO? You can read all about it here: How to Increase Google Rankings

SEO Manchester

10. Actual costs – an estimated guide.

Our current educated guesstimates go something like this:

DIYFreelancerSmall AgencyMedium AgencyLarge AgencyEnterprise Level
Basic Template Website£3/month
Small Business Website£8.50/month
Medium Business Website£18/month
Large Business WebsiteN/A£3000-£10,000£4000-£10,000£15,000-£50,000£50,000+£50,000+
Small E-Commerce Website£63/month
Large E-Commerce Website£237+/month
Bespoke Web Application (dependent on scope)N/A£5000+£5000+£20,000-£100,000£50,000+£100,000+
Remember, your website costs will all depend on your website brief or specification. Why not try completing our website brief form here, so Pixel Kicks can get in touch with more accurate estimates.

Here’s a useful video from Antoine Dupont. It’s in $USD, but you get the idea!

How To Write The Perfect Website Brief

You want a new website – and you want to know how much it will cost. In order to even get estimates, any decent digital agency will ask to see your project brief. The website brief is an absolutely essential starting point that will guide the entire creative process from then on in.

There is no industry standard methodology of writing a website brief – some will focus on the overall business philosophy and values, whilst others will drill into explicit detail of what they want every single button on every single page to do.

It can be difficult to judge how much technical or creative detail to provide in your website brief, and to know what an agency will require so that they can give you an accurate quote. More importantly, what’s written in your brief will directly affect the outcome of the entire project.

Whether you’ve managed a digital project before or not, the following steps should help you and your chosen agency build the best possible website for your budget.

Here are 13 points a good website brief should incorporate:

1. About Your Business

Company information is often overlooked in website briefs – but we need to know all about your business! Info about company history, brand, size, staff and locations will all help us understand what you’re all about. Include a summary on the services or products you provide. Describe to us the very DNA,values and company mission.

Also include any plans for future growth that might be important for us to be aware of.

2. Target audience & users

Try your best to describe the type of people that the website is targeted at. Describe what your ideal client looks like. This will help us design a site geared towards those exact people.

You could even expand upon this with some market research from your existing customers. What do they want to see? What will help you to help them?

Website target audience

3. Goals of the New Site

What are the overall aims of the new site? Most often we’ll see a mix of the following:

  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Improve online presence with a modern, and mobile responsive website design.
  • Increase online exposure through natural and paid listings.
  • Increase sales.
  • Generate leads and enquiries.
  • Improved source of information through e-learning or blogs.
  • Bespoke requirements for clients i.e. bespoke platforms or services.

If you think it will be important – include a section about your old site. What works, what doesn’t, things to lose, things to retain, what you don’t like about it.

4. Competitors or sites you Like

Who are your main competitors? We can look at what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Some may have particular areas of interest i.e. key functionality. Which sites have great designs that you like? Take a look at things like layout, colour schemes, typography, photography, and unique tools or features.

Try providing a list of links with reference notes for each of them.

5. Look & feel

Following on from looking at your competitors, or pages that you like – try and describe the ‘look & feel’ of the new site.

For example:

“The website is aimed at athletes so we want a clean, modern, and sporting look. A red/white/blue colour scheme like would work well and we think this will give a really fresh feel to the site. Cool fonts like the ones on might look good. The whole website just needs to ooze sports, fitness, and wellbeing.”

Pay attention to any nice user interface features you like. Do you like lifestyle photography or illustrations? How much of a free reign do you want our designers to have?

web design brief

6. Technical features & requirements

This section is very important for larger projects. In order to avoid scope creep later into the project (and additional costs) be as thorough as you can here.

  • Does the site feature user logins? How will registrations be handled, authorised, and managed? What will be on the user dashboard? Describe every single bespoke feature that will be required.
  • Is the site e-commerce? If so, describe product categories and variations, payment/checkout methods required, shipping cost calculations, shipping tracking, discount codes, any referral discounts etc
  • API Integration – Will the site need to integrate with any external feeds or APIs – if so, we’ll need thorough detail and actual examples of these.
  • User profiles – What data will be included? What search criteria?
  • Established institutions may have in-house coding guidelines – we’ll need to see these.

Also list the general areas of the site that will be required such as:

  • News/Blog
  • Social media feeds
  • Discussion Forum
  • Interactive Map
  • Events section
  • Online Bookings
  • Portfolio Section
  • Team Page

7. In-house requirements

Describe how the site will be managed on a day-to-day basis. How regularly will you be updating and adding content? Will any form of data export be required from the site? Other than standard Google Analytics, do you need to gather any more on-going data from the site?

8. Content

Will you be providing new content for the site? If so, it will be a good idea at this point to plot a rough sitemap in your brief. How many pages will there be in total?

Be clear on who makes up the team for producing this content, and what the approval process is. Supply of content is very often a sticking point in delaying website launches, so start considering this from day 1.

What photography, illustrations or graphics are currently available?

Web design colours branding and illustrations

9. Hosting, support & maintenance

Typically you’ll want your chosen agency to host the site for you, alternatively you may have other hosting arrangements – please detail these. How much on-going support do you think will be required for the site? What might you need help with moving forward?

Any modern hosting setup should be secure, provide regular backups, and most of all provide a website that is fast.

10. Online marketing & SEO

So you finally set your amazing new website live, and you don’t get a single visit all year – because nobody knows it’s there. Digital marketing is absolutely vital to the success of your new website. If you already have marketing plans in place, it can be helpful to summarise them.

There’s nothing worse than investing a lot in your brand new website, but then forgetting that you’ll actually need to drive visitors to it. SEO (search engine optimisation), pay-per-click, social media & email marketing have never been more powerful, and any new website requires a well thought out and planned online strategy. Also don’t forget traditional forms of advertising such as print, and definitely don’t forget word of mouth.

11. Deadline

Sometimes a timescale might not be of importance – and the project can take as much time as it needs to get right. In other cases, there might be an absolutely vital deadline.

Letting an agency know your timescales will help them better plan resources and run a smoother project from day one.

12. The future – measuring your success

How will you judge the success of the new website? Do you have sales or visitor targets? A good agency might be able to offer tips and services to help achieve these.

Think of some goals for the first and second year that you’d like to hit.

13. Budget

Yes, your budget! Why do we need to know this?

How to budget for a website

Firstly, we find that many people are uneducated when it comes to digital agency costs. If your budget is a few hundred pounds, we would invite you to visit a DIY website builder like WIX or Shopify. Remember that you’re paying for a service as well as a product. Your brief needs to include guideline budgets so that agencies can best plan how your money can be spent to achieve your website goals.

An agency will know that with a higher budget, they can spend more time on UX design, or a thorough digital marketing campaign. If the budget is lower, an agency will know what core services are required to achieve a successful V1 of the site. Specifying a price range, however vague, is the best way to summarise this i.e. £7,500-£10,000 ex VAT.

When you’ve invested some time and thought into your brief, not only will you have a much clearer picture of what you want your end goal to be, but you’ll also be able to send that brief to an agency, knowing that you should receive a clear costings, timescales, and intentions from them to move your project forward.

If you’re looking to get a website quote directly from us, you can go here to complete an online version of this brief.

The Pixel Kicks Experience

Laptop on sofa

Laptop on sofa


Do you fancy having a chat with someone about getting your business online but don’t know where to start? Pixel Kicks are here to help.

We’re friendly, straight talking people who won’t baffle you with techno jargon. We take pride in our work and are very transparent with our clients, and we don’t believe in pushy sales tactics. Indeed, none of us consider ourselves ‘salespeople’ in the classic sense of the word.

Our small but experienced team here have over 30 years of web design and development experience combined. Chris and Matt will be your friendly point of contact and discussion. Our Digital Marketing Executives Emma and Jamie will be working in the background ensuring your SEO campaigns and online marketing is on point, and our designer/developers Erik and Dominic will turn your dreams into pixelated reality.

If you are serious about getting a new website underway, we would invite you to come and visit us here at The Sharp Project. The Sharp Project is home to over 60 digital entrepreneurs and production companies specialising in digital content production, digital media and TV and film production. Many clients are amazed at the campus vibe of The Sharp Project, some comparing us to Facebook or Google HQ. You’ll find Pixel Kicks situated in the heart of the Gold campus.

The Sharp Project campus The Pixel Kicks Experience The Pixel Kicks window TV The rear car park at The Sharp Project

We will sit down with you, have an informal chat and identify exactly what your requirements are. We are honest about our capabilities and availability, and if your project is something we feel we couldn’t take on – we’ll probably know someone who can.

The door is always open, and we invite clients in for meetings throughout development or upon completion of their new websites or apps. Our best form of advertising is the work we do for our customers, the better the work we do with you the more our reputation grows as one of the best in Manchester.

We have some stunning projects in the pipeline, but feel free to take a look at some of our recently live websites here.

Interested in coming to see what all the fuss is about? Please contact Matt or Chris on 0161 713 1700.


“Pixel Kicks are a fantastic agency to work with, there’s a positivity in the way they work that can be really felt client side. Both friendly and professional, their approach enables rapport and trust to be built very quickly, saving time and supporting efficient project delivery. They are also patient and take the time to explain the detail where necessary – as none web experts, this was really valued. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Pixel Kicks and we would definitely work with them again.”
Lucy Wallace – Brighter Sound

“We are delighted with the results and would recommend Pixel Kicks to anyone needing a web presence that enhances and reflects their brand.”
Paul Beattie – Inner Circle Training Ltd

“I would not hesitate to recommend Pixel Kicks to anybody who is looking for a team of experts who will help you navigate internet jargon and deliver a website that works for your business.”
Colin Boulter – Neilson Reeves Photography

“If you are looking to have a mobile app developed for your business, I can recommend the team at Pixel Kicks without hesitation.”
Darren Ratcliffe – RedStar Creative

“Pixel Kicks have not only built a stunning website for me but also helped me define my brand through this development. My clients often comment on my website and say it was one of the deciding factors in picking up the phone to call me.”
Doggy Doos Grooming