How much does web design and backend web development cost in 2022?

We’re delving into one of those big, budgetary questions that it’s surprisingly tricky to find an answer to today: how much do custom web design and backend web development cost in 2022? 

What’s a reasonable amount to expect to pay? 

What should you budget, realistically, for a small website refresh vs a complete build from the ground up? 

These seem like basic questions, and to an extent they are – but it’s still difficult to get a solid answer without getting in touch with freelance developers or third-party development agencies for a direct quote. And, if you’re in the early stages of planning, you don’t necessarily want to jump into those conversations. 

In defense of devs everywhere, that’s not because we’re deliberately opaque about things – it’s because ‘a website’ could mean anything from a few days’ to a few months’ work, and it’s difficult to tell where on the spectrum a project fits without significantly more info. 

Equally, more info upfront is always useful. Having at least a rough estimate would help many people go into the web design process more confident and more informed, avoiding awkward budget shortages further down the line. 

We can’t provide exact figures, but what we can do is offer up a few case studies of different situations that will give you a good ballpark figure for your project. 

How Much Does DIY Web Design Cost? 

Like any business task, you can save significant amounts of money by doing it yourself rather than paying someone else to do it for you. 

The trade off, of course, is that what you save in money you may lose in time spent. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it all depends on what your goals and priorities are at any given time. 

The first thing to bear in mind is that you don’t necessarily need to code your website from scratch. There are several web-building tools and HTML editors that will let you choose from a selection of templates, or else build customized layouts using visual, widget-based editing tools. 

If you’re happy with a very basic setup, intro-level subscriptions to some of these tools are free – though you will have to deal with a modified URL and limited functionality as a result. From there, you have a choice of a range of options, with custom templates and web hosting costing from $100 to around $1,000 depending on scale and provider. 

Who Is This a Good Option For?

By building your own website, you are making significant savings on the next stage up. Even if you go for a relatively high self-build spend of $300, you’re saving at least ten times that by not hiring an individual freelancer. 

And, for small, static websites that’s not a bad trade-off. For basic, small business websites or any of the following, building your website yourself can really pay off, assuming you have the time:  

  • A portfolio site for your freelance work
  • A flat design that shows contact info, menus or other basic information
  • A placeholder site for your startup in its earliest stages  
  • Nothing that needs an extra level of security (e.g. payment gateways, storing visitor account info)

How Much Does a Freelance Web Designer Cost?

If you can’t spare the time to build your website yourself, or website building tools don’t suit your needs, the ‘next option up’ is to hire a freelance web developer. This might be a better option for you if: 

  • You want customized, mobile responsive site and you can’t get exactly what you want 
  • You want full stack development (website building tools offer limited to no options for backend development and customization)
  • You need more complex features than you can build by yourself
  • You have more extensive security needs, for example you want your site to hold customer payment information
  • You have industry-specific regulatory practices your website needs to meet and you’re unsure if a website builder will be sufficient to meet them

Individual freelance web developers can meet these needs for larger, more complex websites. Typically, a freelance web developer will listen to your ideas and come up with a couple of designs based around these, informed by their own knowledge and experience, before continuing to the build stage. 

 Entry-level prices for basic websites can be as low as $2,000-$5,000, though this definitely a starting point, rather than an average. More complex jobs can cost $10,000-$20,000 and sometimes even more, if you want customized tools and features. 

A major advantage of using freelancers is the flexibility they offer. You can bring them onboard for the initial build, and outsource website maintenance to them every now and then. And whilst $20,000 plus extras might sound steep, it’s by far a cheaper option per annum than hiring in-house. 

The downside? Timescales for individual freelancers are often subject to change based on their own workload – and can slide significantly if they run into unexpected issues. They are a one-person operation, and don’t have large networks to fall back on when the work builds up or your requirements turn out to be more complex than initially forecasted.   

How Much Does In-House Web Development Cost?

Is backend web development or web design more generally going to be a major strategic area for you going forward?

There are plenty of advantages to building your own, in-house developer team. First and foremost, the development talent is there, on tap whenever you need it. If you envisage tech as one of your core competencies going forward, with a family of complex websites and apps that require constant upkeep, having an in-house team can really pay off in the long term. 

Early-stage tech startups might be able to survive for a while with one or two full-stack developers, but your team will need to expand with your company. 

Taking average annual salaries on Indeed, here’s what each position could cost you as you expand. Expect to pay a little more for developers with over five years’ experience and a little less for entry level developers. 

Building an in-house development team also means making sure you have enough ‘developer adjacent’ positions for your employees to work effectively. You might need to hire some tech-specific project managers ($74,578 p/a), for example, or product managers ($96,576 p/a) to oversee the long-term development of your tech-based products. 

Whilst in-house teams can be fantastic long-term assets, you might run into the following issues: 

  • There is a shortage of web developers right now, which means you’re probably going to have to compete for talent. This leaves you playing catch up if you can’t afford large salaries and generous benefits packages, or live in an area outside major tech hubs.
  • Finding the right people for your business will always take time when factoring in hiring timescales and onboarding processes. If your project is time sensitive, or you need to beat a competitor to market, building an in-house team from scratch can potentially add months to your projected completion date. 

How Much Does Outsourcing to a Web Development Agency Cost?

Your final option for web development is to outsource to a web development agency. 

Web development agencies maintain teams of specialist designers, developers, data engineers and other tech professionals that they can scale immediately for client projects. 

Obviously, the main issue here for many will be the upfront cost. Agency web development prices tend to start at $15,000 at a minimum. Whilst many projects can be completed for around $30,000, prices can go north of $70,000 if you want something super specialist. 

It is worth, however, considering what you get for this money (which is still less than you’d pay for a single, in-house full stack developer with experience): 

  • Access to a global network of development talent – agencies often draw in the best of the best thanks to the variety of projects and salaries they can offer
  • Fully scaled teams with individual specialists, rather than generalists
  • Rapid development timescales where needed thanks to ability to scale teams quickly

In contrast to individual freelancers, agencies can also dedicate more time to the strategic aspects of building your website. This is because an agency provides access to a range of experts alongside developers, and can offer a broader knowledge base as a result. 

So rather than simply designing and building a basic backend and user interface, an agency team can: 

  • Consult on sitemap architecture, incorporating insights from historical data and user research
  • Build a content base for your website and advise on future strategy going forward
  • Provide effective Agile project management for web development to decrease lead times
  • Offer outsourced product management in the long term
  • Design and build the data structures around your website for complex custom integration and analytics

When you hire an agency the price includes every service you need to complete your project based on stated user needs, rather than a single, finite resource that could be overstretched. That’s the major advantage agencies offer, and why they remain the preferred option for many despite relatively steep upfront costs. 

Find the Right Development Agency For You

Another thing to bear in mind about onboarding a web development agency: finding the right outsourcing partner can transform a good ROI into a truly exceptional one. 

At Tivix, we have over ten years’ experience in full stack web development projects. Front end, back end, site mapping and architecture, associated services like project management…we know our way around each and every aspect of web development. Whether your project needs xx or yy, we have you covered. 

If you’re looking for external assistance for a web development project, drop us a message today. We’d love to see how we could help.