How Much Does Website Design Cost in the UK? 2023 Money Saving Guide (with examples)

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Welcome to Creative Tweed’s 2023 Money Saving Guide for website design costs in the UK. Let’s get straight to the point, as experts in the field, we know that building a website can be costly, especially for small businesses. 

The key to saving big with website design is keeping your website goals front of mind from the start. For most businesses, website success is linked to a quantifiable result.

For B2B, that often means lead generation and booked sales meetings.

For D2C ecommerce website, we’re talking about sales.

Knowing this will allow you to separate the nice-to-haves from the absolute musts.

In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the confusing world of website design costs and show you how to save money without sacrificing quality.

We’ll cover everything you need to know about website design costs in the UK, from the cost of a basic business brochure website to the price of advanced web applications. 

We’ll also explore the factors that affect website cost, the types of website designers available, and whether you should consider building your own website. We’ll break down the website development process and provide tips on how to find and hire trusted web designers.

Finally, we’ll share some real-world examples providing guide prices on successful business websites live on the web today.

So, whether you’re starting a new online business or revamping an existing website, let Creative Tweed guide you through the world of website design costs.

Understanding Website Design Costs

An image of a web designer working on a laptop, illustrating the website development process

Web development is a service, not a product

When it comes to website design costs, you need to remember one thing: web development is a service, not a product. That means when you hire a web designer or agency, you’re not just buying a website – you’re buying their expertise, time, and ongoing support.

A good web designer won’t just slap something together and call it a day. They will take the time to understand your business goals, target audience, and desired outcomes before they even think about design. It’s like going to a tailor who actually listens to what you want instead of just giving you whatever’s on the rack.

And this is essential if your goal is to turn website visitors into business-paying customers when the site launches.

The other thing to remember is a website is not a set-it-and-forget-it product. It requires ongoing maintenance and support to keep it running like a well-oiled machine. When you hire a web designer or agency, make sure you ask about any ongoing costs once the initial build is complete. Think of it like keeping a car on the road – it needs regular check-ups and maintenance to keep it running smoothly. The agency should be completely transparent about any ongoing costs.

Factors that affect website cost in the UK

Upfront costs

Upfront costs are a major consideration. These costs refer to the expenses that you will incur before your website is up and running.

The age-old question of “how much does a website cost” is like asking how long is a piece of string. It’s a tough question to answer off the cuff because there are so many variables involved however, we’ve broken them down into five buckets:

Type of Site

The type of site you need can have a huge impact on cost.

For B2B and information-heavy websites, developing in an open-source framework like WordPress is usually sufficient. 

For e-commerce stores, Shopify or WooCommerce are great options, while large enterprise sites often require Magento. 

Developing on these platforms is cost-effective because a lot of the foundations are already in place and there are large libraries of extensions available to handle some of your website’s requirements. 

Bespoke web applications that perform complex tasks really need to be developed from the ground up. This requires significantly more development time, which impacts the project cost.

Number of Required Components/Templates

Good website design should follow a design system. 

For example, buttons should look the same, call-to-action elements should all work in a similar way, and testimonials should be consistent. 

This is good because it means these can be coded once as component parts and reused as many times as required throughout the site. 

You’ll also have entire pages that follow a similar system, such as service or project pages, or e-commerce product detail and category pages. 

If not, your website will look like a dog’s dinner. 

The number of templates/component parts your website design has will affect the cost.

Complexity

The complexity of your website is another factor that affects cost. 

Examples of complex features include booking systems for hotels, events or restaurants, member areas with restricted content, subscriptions, payments gateways for e-commerce, store features such as wholesale view, wishlist, or virtual try-on, learning management systems, and data processing to produce a result (e.g. credit application risk assessment).

Add-ons

Finally, add-ons like integrating with a CRM, pulling in data from third-party APIs, or passing collected data on-site to third-party platforms can all add to the cost.

Javascript animation libraries can provide some exciting user interactions, page transitions and more but can be quite complex to integrate which will affect cost so make sure you are clear on the priorities for your new website.

Maintenance costs (ongoing costs)

These are the costs you need to factor in once your site launches. They include:

Web Hosting

You’ll need to pay for website hosting to keep your website up and running. The cost of website hosting can vary depending on the hosting provider you choose and the level of service you require. Some hosting providers offer cheaper shared hosting plans, while others offer more expensive dedicated hosting plans.

Performance is key consideration here. While the price tag of shared hosting might be appealing, you’re customers may not wait around for the website load time.

Most agencies will provide hosting as part of managed website care package so make sure you ask your chosen partner about the options they provide and the pros and cons of each.

Domain Purchase/Renewal

If you’re starting out you’ll need a domain name. This is the website address your customer will type into a web browser to find your site.

Try and secure this as soon as possible.

The cost of domain renewal can vary depending on the domain registrar you choose and the top-level domain (TLD) you register.

Godaddy, 123-Reg and Google Domains are all domain registrars we can recommend.

Remember, that domain names are rented so you’ll need to factor URL renewal into your annual costs. It’s a good idea to set the domain to auto-renew – if you miss this bill your website goes offline.

Software Updates

Chances are you’ll utilise several bits of software to provide functions on your website.

These will need regular updates to ensure that it remains secure and functioning properly. 

This includes updates to your content management system (CMS), plugins, and any other software your website relies on.

You can take this work on yourself but it’s not advised unless you have some expertise in this area. 

Backups

Regular backups are essential for protecting your website against data loss or corruption.
They also provide peace of mind for the “oh shit!” moments.

Backups can be done manually or using a backup plugin and should be stored off-site for added security.

As with other items in this section, your chosen website partner should provide this service for you as part of a wider website care plan.

Website Security

Website security is an ongoing concern, and you’ll need to invest in security measures to protect your website from hackers and other online threats. This may include installing a security plugin, using a firewall, or investing in a website security service.

The level of security you’re site will need with vary greatly depending on the type of site you require.

Content Updates

Regularly updating your website with fresh content is essential for attracting and retaining visitors. You’ll need to factor in the cost of content creation or updates, whether you plan to do it yourself or outsource it to a professional.

SEO services

A screenshot of a search engine results page, showing various agencies ranking for relevant keywords.

Ongoing search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial for ensuring that your website ranks well in search engine results pages (SERPs). This may include keyword research, content optimisation, link building, and other SEO techniques.

Additional services costs involved

We’ve already covered the main variables that can affect the cost of your website, including the type of site, number of required components/templates, complexity, and add-ons.

But there’s one final element that can make or break your website project: content.

Content

Copywriting is an essential part of any website design project, and it’s not something you should tackle yourself. 

Sure, you might be the subject matter expert, but crafting persuasive copy that converts prospects into customers is a whole different ball game. 

That’s where a professional copywriter comes in. 

These folks are experts in market research, persuasion techniques, and copy that drives profitable action. 

Investing in a professional copywriter is the smart move for any business that wants to make the most of its website.

Photography

When it comes to photography, you can spot a stock photo a mile off. 

Don’t get us wrong, there are some great stock photo sites out there, but nothing beats real photos of your business and customers. 

Using real photos helps to build trust with your audience and gives your website a personal touch that stock photos simply can’t match. 

A professional photographer can help you capture the essence of your business and create photos that will help your website stand out from the crowd.

Videography

Video is a powerful marketing tool and can be used to great effect on websites. 

From explainer videos to client stories, branded content to video sales letters, savvy business owners use video to convert more prospects into customers. 

Investing in a professional video production company can help you create videos that are engaging, informative, and persuasive. 

Video allows you to connect with potential customers and build rapport in a way that words alone cannot.

Plus, video is a great way to show off your products or services and give your website that extra wow factor.

Types of Website Designers

These days, there is a lot of choice when it comes to web designers. 

The trick is to find one who is also an expert marketer and a website conversion specialist.

You want a website partner that can do strategy.

The two main choices are freelance or agency and below we highlight the pros and cons of each.

Freelance developer

A freelance website designer is an independent contractor who works on web development projects for clients on a project-by-project basis. 

Engaging a freelance web developer can be a cost-effective option for smaller projects or businesses with limited budgets. 

Freelancers typically have lower overhead costs than web design agencies, which can result in lower project costs for you. 

With a freelancer, you’ll likely have a more direct and personal relationship with the developer working on your project, which can be beneficial for clear communication and ensuring that your vision is accurately translated into the final product. 

However, there are also some potential downsides to engaging a freelancer for your website design project. 

Freelance developers may have limited resources compared to a web design agency. This can result in longer project timelines, fewer design options, and limited technical expertise. 

With a freelancer, there may also be inconsistency in the quality and style of work, as each individual developer has their own unique style and approach to web design. 

A freelance website designer may also have limited availability, particularly for ongoing support and maintenance, which can be a concern if you need ongoing support for your website after the initial project is complete.

Web design agency

A web design agency is a company that specialises in website design and development, typically with a larger team and more resources than a freelance web developer. 

Engaging a web design agency can provide you with access to a larger team of experts, including designers, developers, copywriters, and marketers. 

This means that you’ll have more resources at your disposal to help you create a website that not only looks great, but also performs well and achieves your business goals. 

Web design agencies are typically able to offer a wider range of services than a freelance developer, including branding, SEO, PPC advertising, and social media marketing so you can work with a single agency to manage all aspects of your online presence, rather than having to work with multiple vendors.

One key benefit of working with a web design agency is their ability to help you with the essential items for website success. 

A good web design agency will take the time to understand your business goals and target audience, and will use this information to position your business as a leader in your niche. 

They can also help you with conversion strategy by putting systems in place on your website to turn visitors into customers, and goal tracking to establish what success looks like and track your progress over time.

Any agency worth its salt should also be able to help you with traffic acquisition by conducting keyword research and content planning to prepare your content and search marketing strategy. 

Of course, there are also some potential downsides to engaging a web design agency for your website design project. Web design agencies may have higher project costs than freelance developers, due to their more extensive resources.

Choosing whether to engage a web design agency or a freelance web developer depends on your specific needs and goals. 

If you have a more complex project and require a wider range of services, a web design agency may be a better choice. 

However, if you have a smaller project or a limited budget, a freelance developer may be a good option. 

As always, it’s important to choose a developer or agency that fits your specific needs and goals.

DIY Website Design Options

Build your own website

If you’re on a tight budget or want to try your hand at website design, building your own website could be a good option. Platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and, if you’re e-commerce, Shopify are user-friendly and offer pre-made templates that you can deploy with the click of a button. These templates are designed to look professional and are customisable to suit your branding and content needs.

Website builder and ecommerce platform costs

Pricing for these platforms starts at around £17 per month for basic business set-up. However, this cost can increase if you want to introduce additional features, such as a custom domain name, email marketing, or more than two website managers. 

It’s worth noting that while these platforms are relatively easy to use, they do have limitations in terms of customisability and functionality. For example, you may not be able to add certain features or integrations that you need for your business.

Shopify is one of the leading ecommerce platforms available today. It’s a popular choice for online stores due to its ease of use and powerful features. Shopify offers a page builder that allows for quick development of page templates and component parts, making it easy for users to create custom pages and layouts without the need for advanced technical skills. There plans start from £25 per month and can reach £1600+ depending on your requirements.

Should I hire a professional or do it myself?

Deciding whether to hire a professional web designer or opt for a DIY approach ultimately depends on your skillset, the complexity of the website you’re looking to create, and the role your website will play in your overall marketing strategy.

If you have a background in design, development, and marketing, you may be more inclined to attempt building your website on your own. However, for those with limited experience, the learning curve can be steep, and the end result may not be as polished or effective as a professionally designed site.

It’s important to consider how your website fits into your overall marketing mix. Will it serve primarily as an online presence, or will it act as a crucial tool for driving business growth and customer acquisition? If your website’s purpose is to generate leads and convert visitors into paying customers from day one, it may be wise to consult with an expert web designer.

Consider whether your business requires a bespoke website tailored to its unique needs or if an off-the-rack solution will suffice.

Cost of Website Design (with examples)

Cost of a basic website

For Creative Tweed, it’s hard for us to take on a website project for under £5,000. There are some exceptions though, if we feel passionate about the project or the organisation’s mission.

Its important to clarify that, for us, when we use the word basic website in this context we are referring to complexity.

All web design projects we undertake undergo several strategic marketing sessions before any design work is produced including keyword research, website messaging and conversion strategy.

Here are a few examples of websites that are simple in function yet powerful marketing tools.

Website example: Film Division a video production company
Fintech company Edge Money website example
Moseley Park and Pool website example

Cost of a bespoke websites

More complex websites that rely on third party integration and provide the user with advanced onsite features can start from £20,000 to upwards of £80,000.

Website redesign costs

5k – 20k

The Website Development Process

Steps involved in the website development process

A well-executed website development process ensures a high-quality end product that effectively meets your business goals. While each web design agency may have its own unique approach, the following steps outline a general process for creating a website:

Discovery

The discovery phase involves a thorough examination of your unique value proposition and the identification of your target audience or buyer personas. Understanding your ideal site visitors, their pain points, challenges, wants, and needs is crucial for creating a website tailored to your audience. This foundation is also essential for future marketing campaigns and website content.

Next, a website conversion strategy is devised to ensure that your online presence achieves your business objectives. This strategy focuses on turning prospects into leads or customers. Additionally, this phase includes keyword research, competitor analysis, and the preparation of an SEO strategy to be used throughout the website design process and after launch.

Design

A visual representation of a wireframe used in the design process.

The design process typically begins with mood boards, which help to explore different looks and aesthetics for the end product. This stage allows for the discovery of visual styles that resonate with your brand and target audience.

Wireframing follows, focusing on the website’s structure and layout to address potential problems and solutions. Think of this step as planning the construction of a house before decorating it.

Next, visual design and prototyping involve the use of imagery, colour, shapes, typography, and form to enhance usability and improve the user experience. The design evolves from static artwork to an interactive mockup, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the functionality, user journey, and flow of your new website.

Development

During the development phase, a local environment is set up, and the actual web build commences. At key milestones, the site is migrated to a secure, live staging environment, where you can access and review your new site via a URL and password.

Testing

Before launching the website, thorough testing and debugging are performed on the development server to ensure a seamless and error-free user experience. By following these steps, you can expect a well-crafted, high-quality website that effectively serves your business objectives and appeals to your target audience.

How long does it take to build a website?

A good agency should be able to launch your website in six to eight weeks. Larger scale jobs may take slightly longer depending on the level of complexity.

How do I find and hire a web designer?

Finding and hiring the right web designer can be a crucial factor in the success of your website project. Follow these tips to make the search process smoother and more effective:

  1. Start with a Google search: As with most things, Google is a great place to begin your search. Web design is a competitive keyword, so any agency ranking for related phrases likely knows its stuff.
  2. Browse through various websites: Explore multiple web design agencies’ websites to get a feel for their style and marketing approach. Do you like the way they present themselves? Does their copy resonate with you?
  3. Examine their portfolio: A strong portfolio is a good indicator of an agency’s capabilities. Look for projects they’ve completed for businesses similar to yours and assess the outcomes. Does their work align with your expectations?
  4. Check for results: Ultimately, it’s all about delivering results. Reputable agencies should have a dedicated section on their site showcasing client feedback and success stories, like the results page on Creative Tweed’s website.

Questions to ask website designers

When you’re ready to reach out to potential web designers, keep these questions in mind:

  • Can you provide examples of websites you’ve designed for businesses similar to mine?
  • What is your design process, and how do you involve clients throughout the project?
  • How do you approach SEO and other digital marketing strategies in your web design projects?
  • What is the estimated timeline for completing a project like mine?
  • Can you provide a breakdown of costs, including any ongoing fees for maintenance and updates?
  • How do you ensure a smooth transition from the old website to the new one?
  • What type of post-launch support do you offer?

Alarm bells should ring if the website designer or agency isn’t responsive to these questions.


Final thoughts

To save money on website design, carefully evaluate the scope of your project, choose the right designer or platform, and be mindful of ongoing costs such as hosting, domain, and maintenance fees. Remember that investing in a well-designed website can yield significant returns for your business in the long run.

Need expert help, give Creative Tweed a call.

The truth is, many web design agencies are more focused on awards and accolades than actual results.

For them, marketing takes a back seat.

That’s where we’re different.

At Creative Tweed, we believe: The primary purpose of your website is to sell.

Does that mean your website can’t look great?

Absolutely not.

But at its core…

Your website should be tied to quantifiable results, which means generating enquiries or making direct sales.

We’re concerned with two things – traffic and conversions.

Simply put, there’s no point in having a website no one knows about.

Likewise, it’s pointless having tons of traffic if you can’t convert that traffic into enquires or purchases.

You need both to be successful.

That’s why we craft your content and search strategy alongside your site’s development, ensuring it’s ready for implementation the moment your site goes live.

Experience the winning formula for turning website visitors into paying customers from day one with Creative Tweed.

The 12 month content planner

Use this framework to map out an entire year’s worth of strategic content and website pages to help drive more traffic, leads and sales for your business.