Is Your Website Worth It? Understanding Web Costs

Becky Banks

Website Product Manager, Oozle Media


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Understanding Website Costs

My Credentials

Hi all! My name is Becky Banks and I’m the website product manager at Oozle Media.

I’ve been told it would be a shame to not include my cats in my introduction. So, I thought I would share these two, the black and white one is Peaches. The default black cat is Remy (he’s my roommates’s.) This is their favorite place to hang out, and they MOSTLY get along.

Also, this is the most Utah thing, this is at the Tracy Aviary, the amount of joy I had when I got to have a parakeet on me, it’s great. I just thought it would be fun to see how big of a nerd I am, haha.

Moving on to actual presentation stuff, I just want to preface this presentation with the fact that I’m not a developer. I always feel a little weird being like “Oh, I’m on the web team! But actually, I don’t know how to code.”

However, I AM in charge of making sure that our websites actually get the results our clients are looking for (that they get a much bigger return on their investment).

Average Costs of Website Projects

First, how much do websites cost? If you Google “How much does a website cost?”, there are multiple tools, calculators, charts, and tables that all use roughly the same numbers. Here’s an example of one with a project scope that would be roughly the size of a typical beauty school website.

We’re talking:

  • 10-25 pages
  • Simple but responsive design
  • No e-commerce shop (which means you don’t offer products ON your website)
  • Standard CMS (think WordPress)

Based on this website, you could be looking anywhere from a low price of $14,500 or a high cost of $24,750. Another article I read said small businesses will be looking to spend anywhere from under $1,000 to $48,000 to build their website.

Of course, a lot of these numbers are under the assumption that you are hiring an agency, more on that later.

How Much Do Websites Cost?

Realistically, the range for your website is anywhere from $500 to $50,000. Why such a large spending window? Because there are so many options out there.

You can build your website yourself with the help of a visual builder, like Squarespace, Wix, Webflow; you can buy a website template for less than a hundred dollars; or you can even hire a freelancer.

What we know is that there are free or very cheap options you can choose from, but not all websites are created equal.

Before we dive into who should build your website, here’s another piece of the puzzle, your website WILL always have monthly costs.

Monthly Website Costs

Here’s what you can expect to spend, even before you’ve found a developer:

  • Your domain is literally the name of your website. Sites like GoDaddy offer domains for around $10-20 per year.
  • Website hosting can be as cheap as a few dollars a month or closer to $100 per month. While you don’t need to purchase expensive hosting, choosing a good hosting provider can dramatically improve your website’s speed, and decrease unintended downtime.
  • The SSL certificate is a must-have (sometimes your domain or hosting might offer a free SSL, or you may have to pay for it separately.) If you’ve ever heard of sites with http or https, the SSL is the “S” part of https. It verifies with search engines that your site is secure, and without it, it will hurt your rankings.

Side note: If a company ever says they will purchase and manage your domain for you, with THEIR funds, DO NOT do it. While it’s convenient while working with that company, you WILL run into problems whenever you switch companies, and it can cause a whole lot of issues when buying a new website from someone else.

How To Choose Who Will Build Your Website

Now that you have the technical side of your website covered, it’s time to determine who is going to build your website. I’ll be talking about three main options:

  • Doing it yourself (the cheapest option)
  • Hiring a freelancer (The middle option)
  • Choosing an agency (The most expensive option)

The right provider is totally dependent on what’s most important for school. Do you need more students now? Do you want something that looks amazing? Or is it something else?

The Priority Triangle

When working with ANY business, you are limited in speed, quality, and cost. You will never have something fast, high quality, and cheap. Instead, you can get at most two out of three, although sometimes you might only get one out of three.

I found multiple names for this, the iron triangle, quality triangle, unattainable triangle, but it’s all the same.

You can have something:

  • Fast and high quality, which will be expensive
  • Fast and cheap, which will be low quality
  • Cheap and good quality, which will be done slowly

So, let’s walk through the three options we have, DIY, Freelancer, and Agency in relation to this triangle.


If you were to do your website yourself, it’s less about the cost, and more about the time spent making your website.

Depending on the experience of your team, it could take a few hours from start to finish, or it could take a few weeks of hard work. So, you’ll notice that speed of the build is both a pro and a con, depending on how busy you or your team are.

The biggest advantages to DIY options is that you are the one who made it, which means you own it AND you can make any necessary changes, like updating school catalogs, or other compliance documents.

However, you may be limited in certain design elements depending on the purchased theme or software. It also may require a monthly subscription to keep running (I know Wix in particular requires a pro version to remove Wix branding.)

Looking at the triangle, you can for sure get a site cheap, and you may be able to build one fast, but quality is going to be iffy.

Using AI to DIY Your Website

A new option is that you can literally build a website in less than 5 minutes.

This was one tool that I used, but Squarespace has their own AI website builder, where you can plug in your school’s information and choose which sections you want to include, then bam, it’s got a basic outline done for you.

However, keep in mind that AI will always produce generic content and it doesn’t understand your business. You will have to review its output and make major edits to make it match your school’s brand and voice.

My personal philosophy:

  • If it takes you less time to review the AI content than if you were to write it yourself, use AI.
  • If it takes you more time to review the AI output than it would to write or build it yourself, don’t use AI.

Here’s another big red flag with AI builders: Depending on the tool, it might not have the functionality to integrate with crucial tools, like your CRM. So, take companies offering to build a website in 5 minutes with a grain of salt. It most likely will be more trouble than it’s worth.


The next option you have is hiring a freelancer. This could be a friend, or you can also find a potential freelancer on Fiverr, Upwork, any freelancer platforms.

The biggest advantages of choosing a freelancer are exactly the cons of DIYing your website:

  • It saves you time, can be completed fast, and there’s not usually an additional monthly management or maintenance fee.
  • You may be able to find someone who specialized in your industry (although that in itself can be a huge time sink)

The biggest cons are just like you don’t have to pay for maintenance, that also means you might not have regular access to support after your project is finished.

You might not also have the guarantee that YOU can edit the finished product (which again, is VERY important for beauty schools in particular because of all the website updates that need to happen to stay compliant if your school is accredited.)

I did a quick search on Fiverr to see what top freelancers were offering and their prices. As you can see, it looks great on paper. From $200, from $95, etc. But you have to read the fine print.

Most of these freelancers offered less than a week before delivery (that’s great)!

But you’re also looking at:

  • Only 1-4 pages for a website at most for their base price (beauty school websites, even with only one location who offer only a few programs should have around 10 pages)
  • Only offer content uploads (which means they’re not writing your content for you)
  • Freelancers who don’t specialize in beauty school websites without extensive searching


There are a few different types of agencies, which can also change the cost of your website. Some agencies only focus on website design and development, others are a one-stop shop, where they can build your website, offer SEO services, manage social media accounts, and run paid ads for your school.

The biggest advantage of hiring an agency to do your website is that it’s like you’ve hired an entire marketing team for your school.

  • They have a professional team to answer questions and help troubleshoot (I have NO idea why websites are the most volatile digital product, but they always seem to break for NO reason)
  • Some agencies offer support or regular maintenance of your website
  • Most importantly, finding the right agency is the best chance of getting great results (if you find an agency that specializes in your industry means they have the data and understand what works or doesn’t and build a product to help you get the biggest return on your investment (ROI).

However, the biggest cons of agencies are:

  • They are much more expensive (well over 10x as much as a freelancer).
  • Websites may take a few months to over a year to complete

You also have to be just as careful when looking for a partner because some agencies don’t let you own your website, meaning if you ever break ties with that agency, they will take your website down.

Why Is an Agency So Much More Expensive?

Unlike DIY options or Freelancers, where you are paying for just the software or just the developer, at an agency, you receive:

  • An extensive website process to verify what you purchased matches the quality of what you paid for
  • A dedicated team who work on your website project. The project manager who walks you through the process, a web designer, a web developer (yes, these are two VERY different skills), the copywriter, and an SEO expert to verify that your new website is set up for success
  • Access to professional tools that you don’t have to pay yourself. For example, Oozle websites come with the access to our elite license in Gravity forms, which costs $259 per year if you want to be able to connect it to your CRM.

Now, let’s talk about where you can skimp on your website costs, and what you really shouldn’t be saving money on.

Where Can You Skimp? Where Shouldn’t You Skimp?

Here’s the tea: agencies will tout this and that WordPress IS THE BEST, Wix sucks, Squarespace is okay. While there are pros and cons to each platform, all can get the job done if done right.

The real answer is that you should instead be focusing on three key things:

  • Is your website fast?
  • Does your website’s content meet Google’s standards?
  • Can people easily provide you their information by using your website?

Honorable mentions include:

  • Can you easily update the content on your website?
  • Do you own your domain/website/hosting?

If your website doesn’t meet these 5 standards, chances are, you should PROBABLY invest in a new website or find a company to help you improve your current website.

Is Your Website Fast?

Think about when you use a website you aren’t familiar with. If your screen is still blank after 1-2 seconds, your immediate reaction is “Is this site broken?” Then, inevitably, you go back to your search and click the next result.

When you bounce back to your search page, that sends signals to Google that the website you visited isn’t good, and it can hurt your rankings in the long run.

If you want to know how your site measures up to Google’s standards, Google provides a free tool called page speed insights. It provides a score for mobile and desktop you or your website developer can use as a guideline to find ways to improve your site’s speed.

You will never score 100. And that’s fine. Even Google sites themselves don’t rank at 100. We roughly aim for scores around 85, but in my opinion, you just want to have a faster website than your direct competitors.

Here are Google’s three site speed factors:

  • Largest Contentful Paint measures how quickly the largest element on a page loads
  • First Input Delay measures how quickly a page responds to user input
  • Cumulative Layout Shift measures the visual stability of a page’s elements

So, we want SOMETHING to show up within the first second or two when someone visits your website. If the screen stays white or has to show some type of spinning loading element, your site is slow.

We want buttons and website hovers to react quickly. Users should be able to see that your site IS usable (and not feel like it’s frozen or unresponsive).

And then you don’t want your website to change its layout as elements load in. Like, say you’re reading one paragraph and it suddenly moves up because the block underneath it loaded in.

It is OKAY if you don’t understand what these are and how to fix them. What’s more important is that you have a partner who can help meet Google’s standards (or at least help your site be better than your competitors)

Keep in mind, how your website is built isn’t the only factor to sitespeed, your hosting plays a factor in it too. Hopefully, your website provider can also help advise you when a better hosting plan is needed too.

Is the content unique, helpful, and accurate for website visitors?

Create people-first content, not search engine first-content. From Google’s guidelines:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?

The way that I think about this is: Do your site visitors feel like they’ve found the right place?

Do they know who you are, what you offer, why they should choose you over your competitors, and how to take an action on your website?

Going back to whether you should do your own website, hire a freelancer, or find an agency, I have seen TIME AND TIME again that content is an afterthought. Like “We’ll just slap on generic content or not think too hard about what words go on the site.” Or, in the other extreme, that it has to be so full of “beauty school near me” keywords to signal to Google “HEY, I’M A BEAUTY SCHOOL, RANK ME #1”.

Don’t do it. Find a partner who follows Google’s published content guidelines. Google has multiple resources about what they consider “good” content that their algorithm will push to the top.

Is your website optimized for CRO?

I gave a whole presentation on this last year, but here were some fun results for Oozle clients that we could calculate conversion rate from their old website to the new one. We saw increases from a little under 4% to over 9%, and even 3% to 10%.

But while these numbers are great, I wanted to give a little context to what an increase like this could mean for your school.

I know marketing doesn’t occur in a vacuum, you can’t expect the number of site visitors to stay the same per month, and you can’t also expect to double leads and have your admissions team keep up the same enrollment rate.

However, for this example, say that the ONLY thing that increased was conversion rate. If you were enrolling just 6% of your total leads and doubled your conversion rate, that means you would be doubling the number of enrollments too.

That’s why paying attention to your conversion rate is so important.

(Where is this example realistic, you might ask)? One school saw a 38x Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) with an enrollment percentage at 6%! (Those numbers also included spending on paid ads), but still, your website plays a HUGE role in that.

More leads often leads to more enrollments, which means more revenue.

CRO Best Practices

I literally took this slide from last year’s Summit (because CRO best practices have not changed from 2023 to 2024).

So, as a quick recap, here’s what we know about successful beauty school websites:

  • Have a call-to-action above the fold with a color that stands out. (We put a form high enough so people don’t have to scroll, and it’s a game changer)
  • Make sure the navigation is easy-to-follow so people can find what they’re looking for.
  • Focus on the mobile experience. Can they fill out their info on mobile or find what they’re looking for?

In general, make sure your site offers a good experience so people again know who you are, what you offer, and how they can contact you to schedule a tour or enroll.

How Long Should I Expect My New Website To Take?

  • We’ve had clients take over 2 YEARS to launch their new website.
  • We’ve been able to launch a website in exactly 3 months (I believe that’s our current record)

Think of building a website like buying a newly built home, where you are involved from planning to construction. There are a lot of steps!

First, we have to get to know you and your school. What are the goals with the website? What features are must-haves? If it was your home, you might be asking what home layout would work best?

Then, we move into design, the layout and floorplan of your new website. We mock up what your website will look like, make sure the “paint colors” match your vision, the cabinets are in the right place, make sure you have enough bedrooms. Just like with a home, we can’t necessarily change the layout once we’ve moved into the building/development stage of your website.

As part of the development process, we make sure that we choose the paints you chose in the design process, we also start adding furniture (the content) at this point. Just like the construction phase of a house takes the longest, the development phase of the website takes the most time too. It takes a lot of work to build something from start to finish.

Once it’s built, it’s up to the client to sign off and say “yes, the home or website built matches my vision, let’s move in! (or launch!)

We want to get your website right, since we know that your website is a visual representation of your brand and is the means by which potential students tell you they’re interested in enrolling in one of your programs.

This means getting proper sign-off each step of the way, so we don’t have to break down a wall that’s in the wrong spot, or repaint because the initial color chosen didn’t match the rest of the house.

Ways To Speed Up the Website Process

If you want this process to be fast, the biggest factor that affects the speed of the project is communication. Following the house analogy:

  • Communicate regularly with your agency
  • What paint colors do you want to choose? What do you want your house to look like?
  • Avoid out of scope revisions (What is considered “good enough”?)
  • Damaged foundation is a must-fix vs. do you really need lighting under your kitchen cabinets?
  • Choose a dedicated person for website approvals
  • Your website should be a collaboration between your website contractor and the person who has the final approval on your marketing efforts
  • Provide necessary content/imagery when requested
  • You would provide the photos for frames if you hired a decorator, wouldn’t you?
  • Find necessary logins for domain/hosting early in the website process
  • Have you filled out all the paperwork the bank requires? We can’t tell you how many times we’ve been ready to launch a website but didn’t have the necessary logins to actually make the website live.

Websites take a lot more collaboration and time than you might think. But if you’re prepared for that, it can make the whole process from start to finish go much faster!

Need a New Website Fast? Ask Us About Our Newest Proven Layout!

We are working on building a new proven layout with semi-custom content that’s much cheaper than most agency websites and can be done quickly! This proven layout is the perfect option for beauty schools with only one location that have a very limited budget, and either don’t have a website or have a website that currently doesn’t attract ANY new students.

However, it comes with semi-custom content and has very limited customization options, so if you’re particular about how you want your website to look, you may want to ask us about our semi-custom or custom website options instead. We’ll be happy to give you quotes!

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