The killer question of "how much?" is one that is undoubtedly on the lips of every client looking for any product or service, especially for a website. It's one that I hear all the time as a freelance website designer. Unlike retail however, there is very little to govern the cost of a website, especially because you're really paying for a service rather than a product - although you do get something at the end of it - therefore it's very difficult to put an exact number on how much a website costs. Also, website functionality varies massively, so the price for a very simple, single page brochure site is going to be vastly different to an all-singing e-commerce site with 200 products and heaps of additional pages.
That being said, there are some clear factors to consider when working out how much your website should cost. Hopefully this article will help to put a realistic ballpark figure in your head of what your site should cost, and why!
The main factor for working out a website cost is the person doing the work. Especially if you work with a freelancer, prices will vary from person to person (sometimes quite drastically). Generally, you do get what you pay for, but any good freelancer should be able to justify their pricing over their competitors. Because you're paying for a service, you need to consider what service the freelancer is offering, what experience they have and exactly what they're offering you. A freelancer with a lot of experience working for major brands will likely be charging more than a student who's just started out. Equally, the experienced freelancer should be able to draw on his experience to offer a better service and finished product. (There's always an exception to the rule, of course!)
Simply knowing you want a website will not help in getting an accurate price point in your head. You need to sit down and carefully determine what you are actually looking for. Are you simply looking for a single-page brochure website to create a sales funnel to your product or service, or are you looking for a full e-commerce solution that allows you to manage 100's of products and sell directly on your site? Once you've worked that out, you need to also consider whether you're looking for just a designer, a front-end developer, or a backend developer. Each will have their own skills and abilities, and each part of the project will have a price. Usually, you'll find some overlap between a designer and a front-end developer, but it's very rare to find a really good designer who also can code really well too. Normally they'll specialise in one of the two areas.
Quite often, the little extras are forgotten, but they definitely need to be considered. Some extras, such as logo design work, aren't essential, but may be important to make sure your designs look great and your brand feels right. Logo design work usually starts at around £250 (~$300), but will vary depending on the amount of concepts you want.
Other extras that are 'essential' is the registering of a domain name (around £20 p/year or ~$25 p/year) and web hosting (anywhere from £4 to £400+ p/month or ~$5 to ~$500 p/month). The price variation on web hosting comes from the quality and speed of the server you need. If you expect a lot of traffic to your site, and your site is functionally 'heavy' (lots of transactions/backend coding work) the you should expect to be paying more for a faster or even dedicated server.
On top of that, you need to consider SEO marketing. Your site won't magically appear at the top of google, you need to pay dedicated (and quite expensive!) teams to market your site properly, build backlinks and increase your domain authority if you are to get anywhere in the Search Engine world. Prices for SEO depends massively on how much work you want put in (the more work, the quicker the ranking) and also what keywords you want to target (high-competition keywords are much harder to rank, so require more money!). You should expect to be paying around £400 to £2000 (~$500 to ~ $2500) per month for SEO work, and should be budgeting around 6 months to a years worth of work before you see any real results.
It's very difficult to put exact costs to different services. Not only do projects vary, but so do the freelancers - both in ability, speed and rate.
In general, you should be expecting to pay around £400 (~$500) to £600 (~$750) per page design (Photoshop layered files), although that price will drop if you have a lot of pages that are very similar. Normally you can get away with designing a few key pages and use them to set the style of the other pages.
Coding into HTML/CSS is again around £400 (~$500) to £600 (~$750) per page, although this also will vary depending on the complexity of the page and the similarity between pages. If you have 6 pages but 4 of them are almost identical, the cost will be a fair bit reduced. A page with a lot of CSS animations, transitions and parallax effects will take longer (and therefore cost more) than a very simple flat page also.
Backend coding can be anywhere from £2000 (~$2500) to £20,000+ ($25,000+). This is because the 'heart' of the site is the backend coding. A simple site with little or no Content Management System is obviously a lot quicker to code than an all-out eCommerce site with payment gateways and order management. We are, of course, talking about custom coding work here. If you were to opt for a pre-built CMS solution like Wordpress, you definitely can expect to be looking closer to the lower end of that ballpark.
Overall, a website with a custom logo, custom design and then coding into a pre-built CMS like Wordpress should be in the region of £4000 to £8000 (~$5000 to ~$9500), however this is most definitely only a guideline. You do get what you pay for, so make sure you pick the right freelance web designer! Ultimately each and every project is unique, and so the only way to really know what you should be paying for a website is to ask!