Short answer: from free to unlimited. Not really useful, right? In order to get an answer you should start with another question: "What do I need it for?"
Your goals will determine your audience and functionality. Try to be as specific as possible. You can always revise or adapt along the way, but having a clear purpose is very important.
Do you need to promote products or services,
get new clients, raise awareness or generate leads?
You’ll probably need an informative website and an inbound strategy. Content - text, photos, videos, infographics - will be the most important asset to generate traffic, along with search engine optimization (SEO) and social media campaigns.
Do you want to start selling online or connect with distributors?
A web app with an online store may fit your needs, or maybe you prefer to integrate with another platform like Amazon or other retailers. Your solution can be plugged with other types of software, like stock management, logistics, invoicing, customer relationship management (CRM), etc.
Need to manage a community and processes for a publisher, intranet or higher education?
A content management solution (CMS) maybe what you need. We mostly use Drupal because of the flexibility and scalability, but there are others like Wordpress and Typo3, only to mention a few.
Structured content and workflows will allow you to customize your user experiences and to automate and manage your organization.
Do you need to create a framework that can run complex algorithms, retrieve and post information using several API’s, integrate with mobile apps and other devices?
There’s almost no limit for what you can do, and there are suitable technological solutions for each challenge. Maybe machine learning will be useful to generate business insights with your data, or maybe you need a distributed network that scales automatically to serve millions of users worldwide.
All of the above?
Your needs might cover several scenarios, but don’t forget to prioritise. When possible, break down the project into several smaller stages. Using an approach like Agile, will allow you to have a usable product sooner and to improve or adapt in shorter cycles.
All well and good, but how much does it cost?
Naturally, it depends on the specifications. Most companies work on a time and materials basis and, in order to provide a clear cost estimate, it will probably require a discovery phase.
This document will allow you to plan and understand what’s ahead or to request comparative quotes. Since the price is based on a custom made specification, it’s usually charged and deducted when the global quote is approved.
The price will be based on the estimated hours and resource types needed to complete the project.
Rates from freelancers and offshore development companies are usually between 10€ to 40€ per hour. Agencies and companies with multidisciplinary teams usually charge between 60€ and 200€, but you may get volume reductions on the rates.
A web project, depending on the complexity, can often take more than 100 hours to complete.
One of the most frequently overlooked and underestimated parts of the budget, is the work you’ll have to do. You’ll be asked to follow the process and to actively participate in the decision making. It will most likely require syncing with your team, gathering content and regular meetings.
What about ‘free’?
You can use a freemium, pre built web service. You will do most of the work yourself, so it’s not really free, but you won’t pay for it, unless you want to extend the basic features of the service.
To sum things up, it’s really important to ask the right questions from the beginning:
1 - What is the goal of your website?
2 - How do you want to manage your website? Do you want to do it yourself or do you prefer to hire someone?
3 - How much are you willing to spend? What is your budget?
4 - What features do you need now? What features do you need later? What features are not really necessary?
Take my advice: finding out what you actually need will give you a better idea of how much your website will cost and, most importantly, help you to build the right kind of website for your business.