What’s the cost of creating a website

website design costs

What's the cost to create a new website?

A question we get regularly.

web design

How much for a new website?
We receive calls and messages daily asking this question. This article attempts to shed light on website pricing, showing how agencies calculate their cost. We reveal how to get a realistic price for your site build by avoiding the pitfalls.

Frappa, Mocha, Decaffa…in the same way we order morning coffee, there are some questions that need to be answered. … bean type, milk type, flavour, size, to go…to stay the list goes on! Ordering a new website has certain questions too. Part of the job of a web designer is to discover exactly what the client needs, which may actually differ from what they think they want. By asking the right questions, we can establish and prioritize the information to focus on and set up the websites and functionality objectives.

Prioritizing the main purpose of your website.


By asking the right questions and learning about your business, we can shortlist key priorities and deliverables.  The Relevant information is then written up into a web build brief. Both parties should agree upon this before the project starts. This way everyone understands what’s needs to be done, who’s responsible for what part of the process. Throughout the website, it’s the designer’s role to explain any technical aspects of the build, challenges, and latest trends in the market.

Comparison table showing key differences between the sustainable and annual (financial) reports.
website design and development

Is webpage content part of the site build?

In the scope of work webpage content such as text, images, the video has an important role. Existing content may need to be created or enhanced. The longevity of content and relevance need to be evaluated every few months, at least 6 months. All webpage content needs optimization. Uploading new content needs to be mapped to targeted keywords.

How long is the life span of a website?

At what point do you start afresh with a new platform?
When should you discard an older website platform and replace it with a new one is a common question.  If a client wants to update his existing website and it’s less than 2 years old, then we recommend refreshing or changing out the content. Rewrite copy and replace images also provides an opportunity to optimize that new content for ranking.
So when do you update your site?
Major changes to functionality that alter the UI and UX by over 20%, require a significant redesign. For this, we recommended a new platform build. CMS frameworks are improving every few months, with new features, theme trends, plugins, and more user-friendly dashboards.

The costs of modern website design

website design costs
website design costs
How much to build a website depends on size and complexity

Search Engine Optimization
SEO services can be outsourced but regardless there’s no point in launching a new website without at least optimizing fresh content.

Platform technology:
Custom coding, Open Source, ‘off-the-shelf’ or a mix of both. Platform choice is part of what a designer will recommend for your build.  In our experience, we have seen site builds using custom coding with ASP. We have created off-the-shelf CMS sites and created hybrid versions.

User Experience UX
Online users expect to find essential information immediately. They don’t have the patience to read and scroll, it must appear quickly and easily. For page content ‘Less is more’. Text laden pages cause reader fatigue and should be broken up with infographics and images. Surplus secondary text can be loaded to a blog page.

Basic Website
At the most basic level, a starter website can have 1-10 pages. Think of it in terms of a simple brochure layout with a few pages.
Our People

Landing Page.
If you are creating a single landing page as part of an advertising campaign, it should be straightforward. If its purpose is to capture data, keep it simple, no more than 2-3 fields (Name, Email, Mobile). Ask for more, and you’ll see the bounce rate go up. Users arriving on a landing page will expect to fill the minimum info. Anyone who tries to capture more like; First Name Family Name. Date of Birth, Occupation… will see users abandon the task.
If your landing page is part of an Ad campaign, make it similar in style. Test page loading speed on different devices and browsers, if there’s over 2-3sec delay they will bounce; and most likely click on a competitor’s URL.

Part of a website’s function is to direct visitors to perform an action or pre-determined function known as a conversion.
A typical example of this can be, click to Buy, click to sign-up, Register here, Subscribe to our newsletter, click and enter your details for a callback.

Bottom line

Website, Data, Storage

Webpage File Storage

Building in Functionality
A website’s complexity will affect build cost. The more complex sites like e-commerce (with payment gateways) will be the most expensive to build. E-commerce will typically have an extensive database of content and filters. A site that has user accounts like shopping carts and personal wish lists needs a database for storage.



How much does a database affect costs?

Backend database
The majority of web builds in our experience have some kind of backend database storage like MySQL which supports archives of files like media galleries, Video files, Images, contact address books.
A good example of 3rd party functions would be the CRM (Customer Relations Management) systems like HubSpot. These systems store sensitive personal information and require additional levels of security to safeguard and protect from malicious data attacks. Security protection requires special coding and Beta testing that adds complexity and affects the costs.

Content Management System


Content Management Systems (CMS)
Most of our clients in the last couple of years have switched to CMS based frameworks in order to manage their content. The CMS feature has become extremely popular now because of enhanced user-friendly editing tools. Some say ‘if you can edit your FB page then you can learn CMS editing‘.
The lasted generation of CMS framework sites from Drupal, Joomla, WordPress to mention a few, offer user-friendly content editing tools suited for the average person to handle.

User-friendly management of content

Sandpaper offers free tutorials with every CMS site build, to encourage clients to handle their online content. It gives people the freedom they need to manage content easily and efficiently themselves avoiding the reliance on 3rd parties. As part of our service at Sandpaper, we can offer starter-tutorials and more technical support if the client requires substantial changes to the site that require ‘hard coding’.

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Budgets for building a new website
A website build is priced by calculating complexity, the number of pages, and the volume of content. In our experience, it doesn’t make any difference to the pricing which business sector your client is in Education, Hospitality, Retail, Oil and Gas, Property, Automotive, aviation, and government.
The site builds we have been responsible for are for vary from client to client. We get briefs from Startups to major multi-national corporates.

Cost Guideline*
We have drafted a guideline for costs of website designs (2019-2021)

Small corporate website with (5 – 10 pages) basic corporate site, budget between AED 15,000 – 30,000 taking less than 2 or 3 weeks.

Medium corporate website (10 – 30 pages) expect to budget between AED 35,000 – 60,000. The average time frame for project completion varies by 4-6 weeks depending on the client’s deadline.

Large corporate website (over 30 pages) with more complex 3rd party integration, and database will start at AED 60,000/- As in consumer goods, the more features and complexity the more pricey.

*Calculated from over 10 website designs we at Sandpaper have completed in the last 24 months.

If you are considering an e-commerce site build we recommend speaking to an expert to figure out exactly what you need. An experienced web designer will help you write a detailed tech brief outlining the scope of work, so you can invite vendors to submit based on the same specifications. We also advise clients to seek stage payments during the project duration. Each time a milestone has been completed a pre-agreed amount is made. Finally factor in time and costs for testing, particularly important if you have used custom hard coding.

Agreeing on a Budget
Ask your chosen (shortlisted) web designer(s) to quote on your specific written brief. Avoid a verbal briefing where details get forgotten. Be upfront and open with your budget, tell them how much you are willing to spend.
An experienced web design company will have a pricing procedure for calculating projects which will show the breakdown of their costs.

Ask for transparency regarding outsourcing part(s) of the job to 3rd parties. In our experience, outsourcing adds time and potential issues. Bits of information can be misinterpreted or lost when dealing with multiple parties. Sometimes the burden of communicating becomes a headache.
Draft your ‘brief’ document to include goals and objectives. Provide reference material where possible, a site map, and a budget range to help your 3 quotes bid on a ‘like-for-like’ basis or ‘Apples for Apples’. This saves everyone’s time in the long run.

Privacy and Security

Privacy and Security 

Privacy and Security 
Before engaging with a web designer, it’s worth having a conversation about sensitive information. Signing a ‘tech orientated NDA’ before handing over access codes. Also, doing some background checks. Seeking references or testimonies from your prospective web design company or individual before engaging them. This is a common procedure which we at Sandpaper expect each time we start a new project.

A bit of keyboard research will serve you well. Visit social media channels to get an idea of what others say about them. Linkedin is a good place to start. Check their previous work, click the links to sites they created to study the design standard. Test out the UX and UI user experience and interface. Then look at the overall design theme. Open the URLs on different devices and browsers to see page loading formats. If it looks good then you can expect the same standard for your website project. This step will minimize getting something substandard.
Once you’ve shortlisted 2-3 website Design company’s or designers explain what you want from your new design and listen to their suggestions and recommendations. Beware of web builders who promise to do everything and anything. A good web design agency or designer should instill confidence and recommend improving your ideas, and expectations.

Last thought
Website builds vary a lot in price, however, as a rough guide, you can count the number of pages. A per-page rate is a common way to cost a book, Brochure, or report design. The sitemap lists all essential webpages. Creating your site map is as easy as making a list of the pages you want to include.

About the Author

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Based in Dubai for over 10years, Peter Caush is the founder of Sandpaperme.com and TheSchoolAgency.com.
A trusted authority on digital marketing Peter is passionate about helping SME’s grow their business in the Gulf region. 
When he’s not in the office Peter enjoys playing squash, often more times than his knees can cope.

About Sandpaper

At Sandpaper we put meaningful creativity at the heart of content creation and digital marketing to help rank our clients. We have been around long enough to realize genuine creativity gets better engagement. Higher engagement builds more loyalty and trust. 
In the 10 years of service, Sandpaper has managed a stay ahead of its competition; by developing and tailoring results-based digital marketing services to clients in the UAE. 

View the latest work Sandpaper has designed and published as interactive.