When you need a website for a company or association, one major consideration is the technical implementation; specifically, which platform you will use for the site. Often when you compare website platforms and content management systems, WordPress is the one that everyone knows – at least by name. WordPress is in a league of its own in terms of recognition: about one-third of all the websites in the world are built on it.
We have been over the pros and cons of WordPress as a content management system in the past. For reference: A guide to choosing a website platform – WordPress or Drupal? (only in Finnish for now, sorry!)
A blog or website platform?
In practice, there are two versions of WordPress:
1) The WordPress.com blog platform, and
2) The WordPress.org content management system.
The first is ideal for bloggers, entrepreneurs, small associations and people who primarily want to build a website themselves (or who need to for reasons of resources). The costs run to a few dozen euros, not counting your own time, so this option will not put a strain on the finances. The platform is relatively limited (being designed for bloggers and portfolios), so WordPress.com cannot be used to make very demanding sites.
The latter option is a more robust and slightly more professional content management system that can be used to build websites of all types, ranging from small sites with a few pages to large-scale implementations using features such as interface integrations, different languages and e-commerce functionality. Normally, whenever we talk about WordPress websites, we are referring to this version.
So how much does a WordPress website cost?
The only correct answer is the one you may not want to hear: it depends. In our view, the complexity of the website is the best indicator of the price tag. Of all the factors involved, the complexity is the one that ultimately determines how much time our team of professionals will need to spend on building your site. When you buy a website, you are paying professionals for their time and expertise. (WordPress is a completely free, open-source platform.)
It all begins with design
The first step is to understand the process of building a website. In simple terms, the work can be divided between design and development. You will probably need someone to design your website first (user pathways, site structure, content hierarchy, visual appearance) and then someone to take care of the technical implementation (installation, development, testing, integration). We recommend selecting a partner that can handle both parts of the project professionally, but it is by no means a cardinal sin to buy design services from one provider and implementation from another. Many customers have a separate branding office or similar body that provides instructions on using the visual appearance. Either party can design the layout, but it is better if the designer is a UI expert.
And don’t forget to plan the content! As part of the design of your site’s structure and content hierarchy, you will also need to consider how the content is built into the core of your site. What do you want to communicate and what tone of voice are you aiming for? Which languages will you offer? Will you create the content yourself or will you use a professional? And what about search engine optimisation? When was the last time you performed keyword research?
These factors account for the lion’s share of the cost of a website. If we allow for some generous rounding, it is reasonable to break down the costs of a typical website as follows: content: 20%, UX & UI design: 30%, technical implementation: 50%. This is by no means set in stone: the proportions may vary. However, it may help you to budget for your project. If the total price of the project is EUR 20,000, it could be divided up as follows: content: EUR 4,000, design: EUR 6,000, implementation: EUR 10,000.
Sounds expensive… What if I only need a simple website?
Naturally, it takes less time to design and develop a simple website than a complicated one. The project will probably not demand such a high standard of technical expertise if it is a simple site, so it may be that a less experienced developer can build your site, and you will not need to pay the same hourly rate as you would for a specialist who has implemented dozens or even hundreds of sites and can address the most demanding requirements.
The simplest one-pager business website or a site built around a few templates can likely be had for much less – perhaps just a few thousand euros. For projects like this, it is also worth considering package solutions or hiring a freelancer, which can offer a very different cost structure.
As soon as you add a few components that up the complexity, such as additional languages, integrations with other systems or e-commerce functionality, an experienced, expert developer is quickly worth the price.
The website price ranges from tens to hundreds of thousands
WordPress websites are made on a truly grand scale: from hobbyist blogs to highly sophisticated, wide-ranging implementations requiring substantial expertise.
If all you plan to do is set up a personal blog or a small site for your business, the website price tag can be a few dozen euros a year if you do it yourself. You can also pay a good-value freelancer to do the same work on your behalf, and it will only cost a few hundred euros or maybe a thousand.
On the other hand, extensive, professionally-made websites may take several months to design, develop and test, and several developers may be required to work part-time or even full-time to maintain them. In such cases, the costs of setting up the site and keeping it running year after year can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of euros.
Web-ostajan opas, a Finnish website providing information on digital communication and business projects, released a review revealing that the average price of large WordPress projects is approximately EUR 70,000 (exc. VAT).
There is an enormous gap in the market between these figures, and this is where the majority of the needs of companies fall, so it may be difficult to find the centre-ground. Caveat emptor: do you know what you are buying?
WordPress websites, Pixels-style
Pixels is a design-driven agency specialising in WordPress websites. We bring years of experience, ambition and great professional pride to bear to build demanding websites.
Most of our customers are SMEs and associations that typically need websites for marketing and sales purposes with an informative and flexible structure. These are what we call basic business sites. However, websites almost always have some functionality or features that require the insight and attention of a skilled and experienced developer.
We take a highly quality-conscious approach to WordPress development. For example, we avoid ready-made themes like the plague, and we carefully select the few plugins that we are comfortable with adding to our websites. In our experience, it is something of a lottery to place your trust in plugins developed and maintained by third parties, so our customers only ever receive the plugins that have made it through our stringent screening process. Take a look at our starter theme, which we have made openly available for the community to use.
The price level for a typical WordPress project for us is usually between EUR 20,000 and EUR 40,000 (excl. VAT), including site design and technical implementation.
The price level for a typical WordPress project for us is usually between EUR 20,000 and EUR 40,000 (excl. VAT), including site design and technical implementation. We have also built more complex WordPress projects worth over EUR 50,000 and much simpler ones around EUR 10 000. The monthly costs of maintenance and further development average a couple of hundred euros.
Which expenses should be taken into consideration when developing with WordPress?
Building a website is always a project that requires a certain investment in hiring an expert team. This means most of the project cost comes from the actual work costs. Alongside the development of the site, there are also certain running costs that should be budgeted.
Plugins and licensing fees
WordPress websites use various plugins to expand the capabilities of the content management system. The best plugins often include some paid support and premium features, and these costs should be taken into consideration.
Digital agencies like Pixels usually have the supplier versions of the key plugins, so customers will not necessarily incur any additional costs for them.
Licensing fees may also begin to stack up if web fonts or stock photos are used. These should be taken into consideration when you design your site. In monetary terms, they could add up to a few dozen or hundred euros per year.
Website hosting services are the server environments where sites physically reside. The term “web hotel” may be more familiar for this reason. Websites consist of various types of data that need to be accessed whenever a browser asks to see the site. These files reside on a server, which will cost you money.
Hosting solutions are available for very low prices, and it may seem tempting to opt for a low-cost solution – how different can they possibly be? Very different. Think of hosting as a type of assurance that your site will continue operating stably during peak times and that information security has been handled professionally. The price is usually a measure of quality in this area as well. The monthly prices of hosting services are often a few dozen euros.
The domain name – the address of your website – tells the browser where to find your site. It is a unique identifier for your site, so make sure you remember to register your desired domain in time while you are designing your site.
Domains can usually be had for a negligible sum (.fi domains are around EUR 15–20 per year), but .com domains with names derived from English words are often already registered, so you may need to pay a high price for your domain.
Maintenance and support services
Maintenance of WordPress sites is a vital part of looking after the site, and the scope of maintenance should be taken into consideration when budgeting for the site.
Depending on the hosting solution, a certain level of automated maintenance may be included in the hosting price. For example, the WP-palvelu.fi solution includes automatic and tested updates, which lighten the burden of manual maintenance.
In any case, keep in mind that websites need to be maintained after they are built. The website platform and any plugins must be updated at certain intervals, and it is highly recommended to continue developing the website based on user statistics and feedback.
Depending on the scope, monthly maintenance can be carried out for a price between a few dozen euros and a few thousand euros. Even the most basic form of maintenance is an investment in ensuring the functionality of the site and extending its life cycle. At best, a good maintenance and support service will ensure that your website provides better service for its target group and enhances your organisation’s operations, as you can outsource some or all of your website maintenance to an expert partner.
Example calculation of the price of a WordPress website
To conclude, let us look at an illustrative example that you can use to budget for your website. The calculations assume an hourly rate of EUR 100 and the length of a working day as 8 hours. The prices are stated without value-added tax to keep the calculation simple. Prices excluding VAT.
A website of this size is presumed to have features such as a tailored visual appearance and theme, several languages, modular templates (which can be manually rearranged), and a few more demanding functions, such as forms integrated into external systems, content that requires a login (extranet) or a smart search function that uses Google Maps.
- Keyword and competitor analysis (SEO): 2 days, EUR 1 600*
- User experience and visual design: 8 days, EUR 6 400
- Technical implementation: 20 days, EUR 16 000
- Project management: 3 days, EUR 3 200
Total: EUR 27 200
*Analysing your industry terminology and gathering data on your competitors is vital if you want to succeed in your website project. We think it’s absolute madness to undertake a project without having a foundation to build upon. But you can choose to leave this part out of the equation if you already have the necessary data.
- Plugins and licensing fees: EUR 100 per year
- Hosting: EUR 30 per month
- Domain: included in the hosting fee
- Maintenance and support services: EUR 200 per month
Total: EUR 2 860 per year
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