How to budget for an e-commerce website

There are an endless series of factors which can affect how much an website will cost when it comes to selling online. An article like this can't possibly do the subject justice.

But there are a few basic principles which you should address in your budgeting regardless of your functional requirements.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the functional requirements of your online shop are likely to have a greater impact on the cost than the design requirements are.

Whether your e-commerce website has a twitter feed or not, or whether you have an image slider/fader on the homepage, or if you have dropdown menus instead of fixed menus, should have either a negligible difference on the cost, or realistically, no effect on the cost at all.

If your web designer is charging extra for these sorts of design concepts, that's a good sign that you've found a cowboy that doesn't really know what they're doing.

The one design principle that should have a significant effect on the cost is whether you have a completely bespoke design created for you, or if you have an off-the-shelf design template. Obviously, an off-the-shelf template should be considerably cheaper.

Frequently however, cowboy web designers will use an off-the-shelf design template and claim, or insinuate, that it is a bespoke design. It is difficult for a layman to tell the difference.

If you need to save costs getting your e-commerce website up and running, use an off-the-shelf template. Find a web designer/developer with the honesty to offer this. Once your site is paying for itself, let it pay for a bespoke design with its profit.

Your functional requirements are much more difficult to mitigate.

But you can save yourself potentially thousands of pounds by using a web developer that recognises that there is no one size fits all e-commerce software package. Different content management systems have different pros and cons. Avoid any web designer that says that they always use such and such software because it's the best.

It's not the best, it's just the first one they could figure out.

Don't let anyone shoehorn your requirements into their "solution". A true professional will match the solution to your requirements.

If you have the wrong system, it will cost you a lot of money to add the functionality the need. And quite a lot of the marketing techniques which are specifically designed for online shops require specific functionality in your website. So you don't just need to consider your current requirements, but also your potential future requirements.

And now the most important part of your budget.


If you thought your website *was* marketing, or if you thought it was going to market itself, you are very much mistaken. With billions of websites all vying for the same search engine rankings, no website can market itself.

There are no hard and fast rules about how much to spend on online marketing. But once you've got the budget for your website construction established, you should budget at least the same again for your first year's marketing. Even better, 2-3 times more!

This is a critical factor. If you can't budget for your first your first year’s marketing at least as much as you're spending on the site build, then don't start. You will be wasting your money.

Speak to us now if you're looking for a brutally honest approach to selling online successfully.