What we will cover
How much does a WordPress site cost? Three key factors
If you are planning on setting up a website using WordPress, there are three factors that will have the biggest impact on the budget you will need.
The more complex a website is to build, the more development time will be needed. There is a huge difference in scope between a basic brochure website and an enterprise-level ecommerce site, and that will be reflected in your quote.
The scope of your project is first to identify all the content you need for your website and bracket it up into individual templates. Ie. Homepage, category page, product page, information page & contact page.
Creating a sitemap can help identify the templates and pages required for a website
This structure could serve a website of 5 pages or 500, if nothing else it helps you identify what you need and gives a clear brief for your agency. Agencies can add a huge amount of value to this process by helping you “discover” what’s possible, which is why most projects we work on have some time built in to workshop these potentials.
Design and function
It’s not all about size. Even a simple website might still have a high-end design or need advanced features. The overall look of a WordPress website is determined by its ‘theme’ files.
It’s really important to understand themes and question your WordPress agency on them, as it is a clear indicator of the level of expertise they have.
Themes can be downloaded from WordPress or a third party, and they include both free and paid options. Generally paid themes will cost around £50 and give you lots of whizzy interactive elements to choose from and some even some advanced functionality.
WordPress now powers over 40% of the internet
However, these themes have tonnes of code in them as they preload all these options, this slows the site down and impacts your Google rankings.
This is often used as a get-out-of-jail-free card for design focussed agencies who don’t want to code. You may find yourself asking them to build something outside of the remit of the theme and needing a whole new website.
Themes can also be custom-built, either from scratch or by tweaking an existing theme. Meaning you can include just the whizzy scripts you need and keep the code bloat down. This is our approach.
Then there is the functionality – the things the website needs to do.
Most businesses will want to include several features on their website. For example, they might need a contact form, social media share buttons, picture galleries, etc.
These can be built using code or added through a WordPress archive called ‘plugins’. Again, there are many free and paid options to choose from. And it could be the difference between the website just having a contact form, being e-commerce or becoming a booking site.
A word of warning again. Like themes, these plugins bring their own code to party, and in order to work with all the various potential themes, they can be quite bloated compared to an experienced developer adding a snippet to a template.
Be wary if an agency doesn’t want to pick at the functionality you’re describing and fully scope out its purpose. If we know what the website needs to do then we can more accurately price for it by either building the functionality or finding the appropriate plugin.
Developer skill and expertise
Whatever type of WordPress site you need for your business, someone is going to have to build it. You really have three options for that:
- Hire a freelancer
- Hire an agency
Regarding the question, ‘How much does a WordPress site cost?’, self-building will cost you the least in terms of capital outlay, but you (or your team) will have to spend time on the site. Unless you have development skills, that time won’t be as efficiently spent as hiring a developer or agency.
We have heard so many stories of the amount of time spent learning how to do it, to produce something subpar and be asked to finish it off. The reality in many of these instances is that we may as well start from scratch as so many of the best practices have been missed along the way.
Hiring a freelancer is going to be the most cost-efficient way to build your WordPress site. Generally, they will have a smaller hourly rate than an agency, and be competent in either design or development. Here is the key differentiator, if you go down this route consider which skillset you are about to employ:
Will be very keen to meet the aesthetic needs of your brief, and may gloss over some of the detail in the functional requirements. They will likely use a paid theme and lots of plugins, making a gorgeous (but slow) website.
They will likely have a limited concern for Security after the launch, and further down the line you may need to entirely rebuild the site in a lightweight theme.
The developer will capture the need for your website and be keen to ensure it is functional, they may kick back on unnecessary embellishments through the process and keep it simple. Security and hosting will be an important part of the conversation and the site will be beautifully coded under the hood and likely as quick as a whippet.
Choosing an agency
We may be biased, but we think that hiring a digital marketing agency is the best option because your site will benefit from the attention of specialists across different areas (front-end development, back-end development, graphic design, etc).
The conversation will start from a marketing perspective rather than a design or functional one. Ie what are the goals your website is trying to achieve? More enquiries? Sales? Operational system? Showcase? And where does this fit with your business and budgets?
They will blend the creative flair of the designer through the design phase, and detailed developer throughout the build phase, managed by a project/account manager through the journey.
Ongoing costs: hosting and maintaining your WordPress site
The three factors above all affect the initial build cost of your WordPress website. However, there are several ongoing fees that apply in most cases.
In common with all websites, WordPress sites need to be hosted on specialised computers known as servers. How this is done will likely depend on your choice above but here is basically how it works.
Shared hosting platform
If your website is built by a freelancer they likely don’t have the clientele to justify the expense of their own managed server or the expertise to keep it up to date. Which means they will sign up to a 3rd party “shared” hosting platform.
Your website is a bunch of text and image files, saved on supercomputer somewhere
This means when they set up a hosting profile on this portal they can’t see what else may be on the server and have no control over the security of those other sites. If one gets hacked, has a traffic surge it could bring down the whole server.
Alternatively, your agency may have a dedicated server or a managed hosting service. This means the server will be more secure, have higher performance and a limited (and known) number of services running on it. You can even choose to run your website on 100% renewable energy. The flipside to these benefits is cost.
A shared server can cost £15 per month or less, our website hosting packages start at £25/month.
Domain name registration
Your domain name is the address of your website on the internet (e.g., ours is vuonline.co.uk) You will need to register one (or more) for your business before you go live.
Domain names are usually very reasonable (less than £15 per year) although ‘dot com’ addresses tend to be a little more expensive.
Most domain name registrars offer really attractive deals to new account holders, and you could end up bagging your first year’s registration for free. The biggest challenge is often finding a suitable domain name that has not already been taken.
Domain registrars like godaddy, ionos, wix etc… will also try and upsell hosting, website bundles and sometimes emails at discounted rates. Much like hosting above, be wary of the quality of these as it will be shared hosting environments, offer poorer performance as well as a basic page builder website which will offer limited functionality.
Consider who will routinely maintain the website after launch
Security and site performance (speed, responsiveness, etc.) are critical when it comes to running a website. Promptly applying the latest WordPress updates, plus updates to themes and plug-ins, will keep your site safe from most cyber attacks and ensure your site runs quickly and everything works as expected.
You should take time to regularly review the WordPress core files, themes and plugins for updates, there’s a handy guide here. Many businesses opt to pay someone like us for monthly website maintenance to delegate this responsibility to a third party.
While many plug-ins and themes are free, it can be beneficial to upgrade to licensed versions to unlock additional features. Licenses are usually renewable annually and can cost anything from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds or more.
What you WON’T pay for with a WordPress site
Although common in the early days of the web when websites and emails were bundled on the same server. Nowadays the operational demand for email should not be slowing down your website performance and should be considered a completely different service.
Google & Office 365 battle it out for your monthly subscription for emails and bundle in all sorts of basic office staples to make this a no-brainer.
Do I pay for the WordPress platform?
The most important fact to know about WordPress is that the platform itself is free, both in terms of cost and usage rights.
You or your chosen developer/agency are entitled to download the core WordPress files and edit them to your heart’s content without paying a penny. There are no paywalls, no license fees and no restrictions on legitimate commercial use.
If you decide you want to work with a different developer in the future, you can simply give them access to your files, and you can even take your files and host them elsewhere.
Important note: If you are self-building, please don’t make the mistake of visiting wordpress.com and signing up for a plan, this is similar to a shared hosting environment above and you find limitations on editing the server-side code.
You need to download the free WordPress software either via wordpress.org or via your web host’s dashboard/cpanel.
Promoting your new website
Just before we go, it’s worth a quick note that there are roughly 200 million active websites at the time of writing. The assumption might be that you will appear on Google when someone types in your products or services. The reality is, if that will make you money, someone else is probably already doing it.
Considering how you will market your new website may make you think completely differently about the website you are about to build. Book a marketing planning workshop to build a plan and avoid disappointment after the launch.
Ready for a conversation with Devon’s WordPress specialists?
WordPress continues to lead the way in terms of internet market share, and we don’t see this changing any time soon. As WordPress specialists, we would love to talk to you about your future plans.
How much does a WordPress site cost with Vu? Again, that will depend on the type of site you need and what kind of design and features you need.
By combining the flexibility of the WordPress platform with our many years’ experience with small and medium-sized businesses, we are confident we can build a site that meets your goals and fits your budget.
Please visit our dedicated WordPress website service page and reach out to us for an initial chat.
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