Many of the world’s biggest brands base their websites on WordPress. This is a testament to the platform’s versatility and shows that a seemingly simple blogging application can turn out incredible results when it’s in the hands of professionals. It also shows that a custom WordPress website can act as a basis for an incredibly lucrative business.
More than a few entrepreneurs are inspired by success stories and try to start their own online ventures using WordPress. Still, many don’t really go very far, and it’s often because they fail to consider one crucial aspect – the costs associated with building a stylish, fast, and secure WordPress website.
But how much should a custom WordPress website cost?
To be honest, accurately determining the costs can be quite difficult. There are just too many variables, like the requirements of your particular project and the cost of development work in your country.
Let’s see what they are.
What do you need to build a WordPress website?
The first step in building a website is finding a web hosting provider and choosing the type of hosting you’re going to use. The most affordable shared plans may seem like the obvious choice for a project that has yet to take off the ground. But before you make a final decision, you should also consider the disadvantages this setup offers. Once you’ve got your hosting account ready, you need to think about the theme and the plugins you’ll need for your WordPress website.
Most of WP’s versatility comes from the templates and add-ons you can install, with plenty of free options to go around. In reality, however, those free themes and plugins can rarely offer the design freedom and functionality that comes with a premium or custom choice. What’s more, somewhat understandably, their creators don’t offer any additional support, security vulnerabilities often remain unpatched, and there can be no guarantees everything will work with WordPress’s future versions.
That’s why your best bet is to go with a premium theme and set aside a budget for some paid plugins that will bring extra speed, functionality, and security.
From then on, pretty much all your expenses will depend on the requirements of your website and your level of technical expertise and dedication. But even then, the premium theme might not be completely in line with your vision of how the website looks and behaves. In most cases, this means custom development work.
If you can do it yourself, this aspect won’t have any impact on the budget. If, however, you lack the skills to do all the custom work, you will be forced to hire a professional web developer, which means additional costs.
How to estimate the real cost of making a WordPress website?
Now that you have an idea of what you need for your WordPress website, it’s time to start calculating the actual costs.
Hosting services start from as little as a few dollars per month, and many providers are willing to throw in a free domain name for the first year, even with entry-level plans. Before you jump in and get the cheapest package, however, you should probably consider the alternatives as well.
At ScalaHosting, you can get a managed VPS solution with a dedicated IP and guaranteed system resources for just $9.95/mo, a price comparable to many shared hosting deals. The infinitely better security and additional performance boost might just be enough to tip the scales in the VPS’s favor.
Paid plugins are often subscription-based, so you might want to keep an eye on recurring costs, though in most cases, the price isn’t that high. When it comes to themes, though, things are a bit different.
Premium WordPress themes start from as little as $10, but you can find prices much higher than that. At the far end of the spectrum, you could be looking at three-figure sums for an annual subscription.
The higher the price, the more customization options, and the greater the chance of creating something truly unique. With the more expensive themes, you’re more likely to get close to your website’s intended design without the need to hire a developer.
Still, if hiring outside help is really necessary, the costs could go much higher. Rates depend on many things, including how experienced the developer is and where they’re based. Whatever the case, customizing an existing theme could end up costing many times the price of the theme itself. So, before work starts, make sure that the developer knows exactly what needs to be done.
If your WordPress theme has to be built from scratch, the costs could go well into the four or even five-figure range.
What’s the cost of a low-budget WordPress website?
You probably have a specific design in your head, but budget restrictions often get in the way, especially in the early stages. If that’s the case, you’re probably better off making a few compromises for the greater good of the project’s future.
Even the less expensive WordPress themes give you plenty of customization options, so you needn’t worry about your website looking as if it’s still the early 2000s. You can create a pleasant experience while keeping the costs down for starters, and when the project starts earning you money, you can still invest into realizing your initial plan.
What’s the cost of a WordPress website with more features?
If you want to go all-guns-blazing from the very start, you need to be financially prepared for the WordPress website cost. The custom theme alone could set you back anything between $1,000 and $10,000. If you really want to add more features and plugins, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars for the development work alone.
If you’re willing to pour that sort of money into a website, you are probably expecting it to become popular from the get-go. If that’s the case, you might want to choose a hosting plan that can support a lot of traffic. The price for a powerful VPS or dedicated server depends on the hardware resources it offers, but you’re usually looking at a few hundred dollars per month. Note that you might need some expert help setting everything up, so a managed hosting solution might be your best bet.
What’s the cost of building a small business website with WordPress?
In addition to all the factors we’ve already mentioned, you need to think about an SSL certificate. For small personal websites and blogs, the free SSL certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt do a perfect job, but they might be insufficient for business organizations. If you apply for an Organization Validation (OV) certificate, the authority will only issue it after it performs a few background checks on your business and is confident that everything looks fine.
The certificate still encrypts the connection and enables the green padlock in the address bar. The difference is that when the visitor clicks on it, they will see that your company is fully legitimate, hence why they will be more likely to do business with you.
OV certificates typically cost between $100 and $500 per year and can be obtained from most leading SSL providers.
What’s the cost of building an ecommerce website with WordPress?
If you plan to sell goods and services through your new WordPress website, you are best off going for an Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate. If you do, the Certificate Authority will do an extensive background check on your business, and will only issue the certificate if it’s sure that it’s dealing with a legitimate organization. There have been some changes to the visual indicators, but EV certificates still display your brand’s name in the user’s browser.
EV certificates start from a few hundred dollars per year, but if you want them to protect multiple subdomains, you could be looking at an annual bill of over $1,000.
Improving website speeds – How much should it cost?
We all know how important website speed is, and that it depends on many different factors. Your hosting plan, for example, plays a major role. The more hardware resources you have at your disposal – the better the performance. Shared hosting packages can’t always meet the demands of your website. The services offered by virtual private servers and dedicated servers are infinitely more reliable and could be well worth considering, especially in the long run.
By storing static files in multiple locations all around the world, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will also help improve the website loading times. Cloudflare offers the service free of charge, but there are also quite a few premium packages that come with additional features.
WordPress caching plugins can help improve your website’s speed as well. You have plenty of premium and free options, with the paid ones often offering more features and an easier setup.
Improving security – How much should it cost?
Security doesn’t need to cost a fortune. If you don’t have the budget for a premium SSL certificate, for example, you can get a free one, which, from a technical standpoint, will do the same job. Improving your password management habits won’t cost you anything either, and the same goes for keeping WordPress and all your themes and plugins up-to-date.
It pays to have a look at the security features your hosting provider offers and check whether there are any extra charges associated with them.
How to avoid overpaying and cut down on the expenses
Launching and running a custom WordPress website can be a pricey endeavor, and you have to be aware of all the expenses associated with it. Optimizing the costs is probably high on your priority list, and the only way to do that is by doing a fair share of research and compare a lot of prices.
If you’re on a tight budget, you will inevitably need to make expense reductions, but you need to be careful which ones you compromise with. You can’t skimp on things like the speed or security of your website, that should be a given.
Saying how much creating a custom WordPress website might cost in general is not really possible. There are far too many variables, and the expenses differ from project to project. Before you start, you need to do your research and pick a budget based on it. Ideally, you need to be aware of how much money you have at any given time and plan ahead to ensure there won’t be any nasty surprises.
Q: Can I launch a WordPress website without any custom development work?
A: You certainly can. Even out of the box, most premium themes help you create your own look and feel for the website. What’s more, because the customization options are usually available in WordPress’s backend, you don’t need to write or edit any code.
The only reasons for considering a fully custom theme or the modification of an existing one should be if you have a specific design in mind or some unique functionality that can’t be created with ready-made products.
Q: Is custom development work expensive?
A: In short, yes, it is. The rates vary wildly, and so does the quality of the work. The price even depends on whether you’re hiring a design and development studio or a freelancer.
Whatever your strategy, look through as many portfolios as you can before you make a final decision. And after you do, make sure that the goals of the task are properly communicated.
Q: Can I start with a simpler website and develop it as I go along?
A: Many would say that this is the better strategy, though sometimes, it’s not applicable. If, for example, your idea requires website functionality that simply can’t be achieved with out-of-the-box plugins and themes, then you’ll need to customize the website before you even launch it. In all other cases, it’s more logical to let the project grow first and then improve its design and functionality.
Q: Is WordPress the best platform to customize?
A: Some of you may be thinking that given the entire hassle and the money involved, you might be better off simply hiring someone to write the entire website from scratch. That’s not really the case.
WordPress is a powerful platform and can be extremely flexible thanks to its ecosystem of themes and plugins. The work that needs to be done to customize it is usually infinitely less compared to the creation of an entire website from scratch. That’s why so many global brands like BBC, MTV, Bloomberg, and Sony Music use custom WordPress websites.
ScalaHosting – How Much Should a Custom WordPress Website Cost?