How much does it cost to make a website?

Max B, CEO
Max B, CEO
Jan 12, 2024
14 minutes
And this is not a joke, not sarcasm or exaggeration. This is reality. Therefore, we will analyze how the cost of a website is formed and what information should be provided to developers if you really want a properly working product, ready for scaling, and not just a website based on a template and on a CMS.

Development stages

Everyone distinguishes the stages of work on a website differently. For example, design and programming. Or design, layout, programming. Evolutionarily, we came to the scheme - wireframes, design and development. The design was divided into two stages: interface design (wireframing) and business analysis, and the design itself. This, of course, increases the cost of work, but in large projects it is simply inevitable. The “layout and programming” stage also looks different for us. Firstly, this is due to the peculiarities of the stack - we work on React and make all sites as SPA. Therefore, we no longer have “layout” and all that remains is programming. And backend and frontend developers simultaneously make some feature. According to the classics, it was: first the website layout, then programming, but this greatly increases the work time. We do it differently: first, for example, authorization/registration, profile type, catalog appear, then filters, cart, ordering, online payment, etc. are added to the catalog. This way, your product develops in stages, and the client sees at the end of each stage a complete functionality that works, and not just some kind of layout or programming.
Now we want to move away from this scheme to ensure that all processes run in parallel. And without waiting for the end of the design, the complete design of the site, development could begin. For example, the designer drew up an authorization, and we immediately move on to development, without waiting for the catalog, etc.

Business analysis

As a result of this stage, both parties must understand how the project will work and anticipate all the subtleties and nuances. See what happens in the end. Interactive prototype of key pages in figma, where you can click and see everything. And also a description in user-story format and how the integration layer with AWS works.
The first stage costs $5,000 and takes 1.5 months. Yes, it may seem expensive and time-consuming. But we must understand that at this stage we are designing an interface, and not just making a picture, but the foundation for future design. The timing greatly depends on the speed of communication with the client.


We calculate according to the rate of a UI specialist (our rate is $45/hr). First we draw and coordinate the main page, then the internal ones. Then we move on to mobile. Then we draw a UI kit, which contains all the states of inputs, input fields, drop-down lists, hover links, etc.
In practice, this stage takes 160-300 hours. We multiply by the rate and get about $10,000 per design.


And this is the most difficult thing to calculate out of the blue. If someone here uses the fixed price system, then most likely he is deceiving either himself or the client. The higher the number, the greater the chance of making a mistake. Conventionally, the project was estimated at 20 hours, budgeted for 25 and received a fork of 20%. In general, this is not a big difference for the client. Imagine if you have 500 hours of development, and you underestimated something... and the development came out to +100 hours. Therefore, very often, the larger the project, the more risks they try to include in it, and the client overpays for them.
That's why I prefer payments based on hours spent. In reality, this ends up being more beneficial for both parties. And let someone be confused: “How am I going to pay for the hours? How will I control the time? What if I’m deceived?” To alleviate these fears, it is enough to contact those who have been on the market for a long time, since they can give a relative assessment of things already sold. Over the past 7 years, we have tested this on ourselves. Well, SCRUM teaches you how to do this - measure everything relative to some things. That is, you look at the past project or decompose it into large blocks and see how long their development took.
For example, the development can be decomposed into: “Authorization/registration”, “catalog”, “filters”, etc. Each stage is estimated in terms of labor costs for frontend and backend developers. The hours are entered, multiplied by the rate (in our case, $45/hr) and the final cost is obtained.

What should you pay attention to?

Firstly, we do not consider the PM’s work separately - it is included in the developers’ ratings.
Secondly, do not underestimate the “Search” feature. Many people treat it as a easy task, but they mean “morphological search taking into account typos”, etc. and so on. And this is kind of difficult. The simplest search is by matching part of a word. But now this does not suit anyone. Therefore, you need to use search engines. For example, everyone’s favorite is Elasticsearch. Everyone, but not us. We don't like how it works out of the box, so we have to customize it, which is a long and laborious process, like search suggestions.
Thirdly, everyone has some distorted ideas about the control panel. Like “Well, admin, what can I get from her?!” And again a misconception. I won’t even mention the CMS. They use a basic set of tools, whatever the software developer included there is fine. People don’t even think about the fact that the admin panel can do much more. When developing from scratch in complex projects, the control panel can take as many hours as the site itself. But it will fully satisfy the client’s needs and solve a bunch of his problems.

What other expense items are there?

Autotests. Refusal of them is a misconception for clients. But, if you are planning the development of your project, you cannot neglect automated tests.
Imagine, you released a project, everything is great, and then a new marketer comes and says: “Listen, let’s display the price after the discount next to the product?” You corrected it in one place, but forgot about this price in checkout, cart, search, etc. Still, one cannot remember, especially with the passage of time. And this is where autotests come to the rescue. They allow you to check the integrity and correct operation of the system.
Documentation is another issue that should be discussed on shore, whether it is needed at all. For example, documentation on the work of the project. It is needed in case a new specialist arrives, so that he understands how it works. There may also be documentation on the content. It is needed if you have outsourced employees who are engaged in filling out the site. This is a purely mechanical job, but it requires precise instructions so that even a low-skilled content manager doesn’t mess up.
Stress testing, monitoring (if you have an exchange with AWS). The latter helps if you need to understand how this exchange went – successfully or not.
The operation of some services on the site in real time, for example, chat, notifications, etc. So that they do not occur when the page is reloaded or not once every 5 seconds, but in real time. So, this is also a plus to the price of the site. Because the project is usually written in PHP, and this feature needs to be done on the backend in Node or Go.
It’s also worth considering integration risks. If you are simply updating balances, then this is, of course, nothing. But, for example, in the Fashion House project, there is a very massive data exchange and it must happen very quickly. Therefore, we laid big risks at this stage. And in general, the number of external systems with which you set up integration on the site greatly affects the cost.
Multilingualism also affects the timing, and therefore the price. Is your entire site bilingual? Then you will have to duplicate each article. Or one in Spanish, the other in English. Or you need an interface for editing static materials.
What is the expected load on the site? Maybe you have an election site, and then at some point a very large number of people may gather there. This needs to be thought through at the time of programming. Here is another expense item.
Will you work with maps and how? Do you need to draw something on the map, combine it into clusters, or stylize it? It’s just that initially, everyone thinks “I want it like Google,” but in the end you get work for several hours. Because “it’s not as beautiful as we thought.”
Web Management. Ensuring a professional and reliable online presence is another crucial aspect. This point encompasses effective web management, guaranteeing continuous updates, security, and compliance with modern standards for your website. Regular maintenance and updates are essential to maintain a professional appearance and instill confidence in the reliability of your online presence.

Summing up

As you can see, it is impossible to give an unambiguous answer to the client’s first request that the site costs 100-200-300. We need input data, we need analysis, we need the experience of developers in order to justify both the price and the results at the pre-sale stage. After all, doing a super-expensive, high-load project that will not bring profit is also not in our interests.
Therefore, we have listed points that are worth thinking about before swearing at a web studio that they cannot tell you the cost. Well, if you are interested in how much it costs to make a mobile application, read our other article