Chris Schutte

January 2, 2023

Website Design Cost: The Definitive Guide [Updated 2023]

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I know why you are here. You are planning to invest in a website, and you are doing your research. Good for you!

Maybe you already have a quote from someone, or maybe you are yet to get quotes. Either way, you want to be sure that you make an educated buying decision.

In this article we will talk about the direct (obvious) and indirect (not so obvious) factors that affect website design cost.

Table of Contents

People Charge What They Want To Charge

Direct Factors That Affect The Cost of a Website

Indirect Factors That Affect The Cost of a Website

What A Website Costs

You Get What You Pay For

First, Consider Who You Are Hiring

Who you will be hiring to develop your website will determine the cost right out of the gate.

There’s essentially 3 categories of web designers:

  • The Family Friend (or relative)
  • The Freelancer
  • The Agency

Each of these website designers will charge a different price based on things like their overheads, experience and expertise

Second, Understand That People Charge What They Want To Charge

There is no “web designers guild”  that controls fair website prices, or suggests pricing guidelines.

there is no website pricing guide

Truth be told, it’s the wild west out there. Web designers will charge what they want to charge.

You would hope that they use some sort of pricing model to come up with fair pricing. But in reality they too read articles like this one to get an idea of what they should charge.

What I am trying to get to here is that higher prices don’t necessarily mean better quality, and neither do lower prices mean poor quality.

Direct Factors That Affect Website Prices

Ok, let’s get down to business. When building a website (regardless of who is building it) there are 3 main factors that affect the cost:

  • Functionality
  • Design & Content
  • Size

At Launch Digital, this is the order of importance. But other designers might think size is more important than design for example.


What do you want your website to do? Do you need a simple information website, or do you need to sell products safely & securely online?

The more features and functions you want to add, the more you will pay. Here are some example of functionalities that are often charged for additionally:

  • eCommerce (online shops)
  • Event calendars
  • Memberships
  • Custom calculators (pricing, estimates, quotes)
  • Product catalogues
  • 3rd Party Software Integrations (like CRM & Email Softwares)

Developing custom functionalities is costly, and that is why this is the most influential factor when it comes to website prices.

Design & Content

The design and content of your website is very important. We compare it to how you dress and speak.

Would you hire a salesman that speaks poorly or dresses unprofessionally. I would hope not!

To simplify a complex topic in itself, when it comes to website design you have two options.

template vs custom web design affects website cost

Template Website Design

Website templates are pre-styled website designs that are available for purchase for a few dollars (some templates are even free). Other descriptions for this type of website are “off the shelf” or “out of the box”.

Custom Website Designs

A custom website design, as the name suggests is a bespoke design created specifically for your business and brand by a graphic designer or web designer.

It is important that you know which of these options your web designer will be using. Because template websites, compared to custom websites, are much easier and faster to build, therefore you should be getting a cheaper price.

At Launch Digital we prefer to build custom websites. Having a website that stands head and shoulders above your competitors is worth the extra cost.


It goes without saying that the more pages, categories or products you have the more your website will cost. Most web developers will include a certain amount of pages in their base website package, and anything over that pushes the price up.

It’s important that you find out how many pages are included in your web designer’s base package.

At Launch Digital we include up to 20 pages in our base packages.

Indirect Factors That Affect Website Prices

The not-so-obvious things that will affect the cost of your website are:

  • Overheads
  • Experience
  • Expertise

Again, these things vary from website designer to web designer, but they will invariably factor into the price.


I am sorry to break it to you but you aren’t paying for just your website. You are also paying for the “cost” that was involved in building your website.

This includes electricity, internet, phone calls and even cups of coffee! The more overheads, the more the website will cost.


An agency that has been developing professional websites for 20 years will (and should) charge more than freelancers with a year of experience.

An experienced web designer should give you a better product at the end of the day. They can also advise you better than someone who only does web design as a hobby.


Having experience does not make you an expert.

Experience means you have done something a lot. Expertise means you have done something a lot, and you do it well.

website design experience & expertise

Website experts are people who have dedicated themselves to designing and building websites. It’s not just something that they can do.

You will pay top rates for website experts – because they know the value they can offer you is more than just a pretty website. It’s a website that can turn casual browsers into buyers.

What A Website Costs

At this point I just want to reiterate that the website design prices below are not based on any sort of science. They are general pricing guidelines based on our experience developing websites for the past 5 years.

The Family Friend

Friends or relatives are generally the go-to choice for new businesses who want a quick and inexpensive (or often free) website.

Website design is not their speciality, it is most likely a hobby, so any money is good money. And if you are lucky to have good family or friends, they might even do it for free.


None ~ Low


None ~ Low


None ~ Low

Website Cost

 Free ~ R2000

The Freelancer

Freelancers are often former employees of larger agencies that decided they wanted to work from themselves. And generally speaking they will specialise in a certain area like web design or SEO.

With little business sense in terms of pricing models, combined with the fact that they have minimal overheads, they can afford to charge cut-through prices.


Low ~ Moderate


Low ~ Moderate


Low ~ Moderate

Website Cost

R5000 – R15 000

The Agency

“Agency” is a broad term for many different types and sizes of web design companies – from boutique digital agencies, like Launch Digital, to well-established and large advertising agencies like Ogilvy.

What they have in common is that they will have specialised, experienced and dedicated web designers working on your project.

Being an actual company, they will have overheads that need to be covered. The larger the agency, the more overheads. 


Moderate ~ High


Moderate ~ High


Moderate ~ High

Website Cost

R30 000+

You Get What You Pay For

If you wanted to win the Dakar Rally – would you go to Ford and buy a Fiesta? Why not? It’s a car is it not?

website cost in south africa

Because if you wanted to win the Dakar Rally, you need a light-weight, high-performance, 4-wheel-drive vehicle. A Figo is everything, but it’s not that.

We should think about websites in the same way.

You could go with the cheapest website design quote – but will that website add the value you need to grow your business? Probably not.

If you want your website to generate leads and sales for your business (or achieve other objectives) then it has to be purposely designed to do that. This takes experience and expertise.

Investment vs. Expense

A good website, regardless of cost, is an investment.

Think of it this way: If I told you that your website will cost R100k – you would fall off your chair.

But what if this R100k website could generate R1 million worth of business in the next 5 years? Is it worth it then?

This is how you need to start looking at your website – as an asset that will give you a return on investment. Once that is your mindset it will change everything! The entire way you see your website, how you choose a web developer, everything.

Websites are more than just “things” that sit on the web providing people with information. Or at least they should be.

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