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How much does a school website cost?

school website cost
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Your school needs a new, fresh website. One reason you may be putting this off is because you are worried that a website refresh is more than you can afford— how much does a school website cost?

A professional school website plays a huge role in the success of a school. It’s a key part of your overall marketing strategy and can help drive prospective students to you. A professional school website can also help new students learn more about your programs and speak to their interests, ultimately influencing them to apply. While there are many factors that determine what your web design project will cost, we can provide some helpful information to get you started with estimating the costs associated with creating a professional school website for your business.

Why your school needs a professional website

A professional-looking website design is an investment in your school’s image and brand. A professionally-developed website should be easy to update, easy for website visitors to use, and should comply with website best practices. In addition, the more professional your website is, the better it should perform and appear on major search engines.

To get a ballpark figure for a website design, you should start by talking to professional web design companies. Go over the things you want to change from your current website, what functionality you want to include, such as forms and event listings. Share some examples of school websites that appeal to you and your stakeholders. Get an understanding of how the website company works. Do they specialize in professional websites for schools like yours? Remember to ask for recent work and referrals. 

What are some factors that affect the cost of your school web design project?

The cost of a web design project is affected by a number of factors. The size of your project, the complexity of the project, and the amount of time you have to complete the project are a few of the most important factors. The software used can significantly impact the cost of a website project. A proprietary platform, like Finalsite, will be more expensive than a website built with open-source software like WordPress. Some website companies bundle a lot of features you may or may not need into their website proposal, such as content writing, SEO and CPC advertising.

The tools included within or connected to your website will impact the cost. Possible requirements, features and tools for a school website project may include:

  • Social media
  • Google Apps School Branding/Logo Design
  • Classroom Systems
  • Enrollment Systems
  • Teacher Portal
  • Parent Portal
  • Digital Advertising
  • Online Courses
  • Printed Materials
  • Testimonials
  • Event Listings/Management
  • Forms and CRM connections

How much does it cost to launch a new or refereshed school website?

Updating your school website is a worthy investment. Utilizing a professional design service can help your school’s website achieve a professional look and feel.

Depending on the features and size of your school website refresh, the cost can range from $5,000 to $50,000 or more. A professional website should be a key tool in your school marketing toolbox. It is an investment that must take into consideration the role it plays in introducing your school to potential new enrollees, and the lifetime value of a new student at your school.

With that in mind, here is a breakdown of some costs to build a new school website, depending on the platform/software you choose:

Proprietary CMS (Finalsite Pricing)

A proprietary website platform/content management system (CMS) can be a good options for schools because everything can be managed for you, and they have some comprehensive packages. Blackbaud and Finalsite are well-known proprietary platforms for schools.

Finalsite is a top-tier school website company, and their price tag reflects that. They have an all-in-one platform, and schools can hire their designers to create a custom website design. They list all the value-added elements of a website redesign, but they are not transparent about their pricing, which is higher than many small schools can afford.

In addition, Finalsite and other large companies require a lengthy contract commitment to get started. Finalsite’s commitment is a 5 year contract. With that in mind, here are estimated costs for a Finalsite school website for the first year, and over the lifetime of the contract:

Finalsite Website Design/Build – Year One

Basic theme with no support$15,000
Basic theme with no support$25,000+

Finalsite Website Maintenance – Year 2-5

Basic maintenance with no live support ($5,000 per year)$20,000
Premium support ($7,500+ per year)$30,000+

Design TLC Pricing – WordPress

WordPress is a great solution for school websites (see this blog post for 4 reasons why we use WordPress).  One of the top reasons schools should consider WordPress is is that it is among the most affordable website software options. You own your data and your files, so there is no need for a contract or commitment. You can choose a hosting plan that fits your needs and budget, and change hosts easily.

There are hundreds of WordPress website agencies, some of whom also specialize in school websites like we do. Here is our pricing:

Design TLC WordPress Website Design/Build – No Contract Required

Custom theme, live support, 2 design concepts presented with 2 rounds of revisions*$8,000-$16,000
Ongoing Maintenance, per year$6000-$2000
Website Hosting (Often not paid to agency, you should own your hosting)$250/year (approx)
*could be slightly higher if there is a lot of content (more than 100 pages) and lots of custom functionality needed.

DIY Website Builders (Wix)

Some schools on very small budgets choose to create their website themselves using proprietary software like Wix or Squarespace. These can be good options for a basic website and for someone who is fairly tech-savvy. These platforms offer premade templates which can be easy to spin up a website quickly. However, these websites will have limited functionality, and similar to Finalsite, you do not own your data, so you are stuck with what they offer, what they charge and the limitations they set. A professionally-designed website is a better option, as it will look better and include best practices for the web as well as consistent design elements, but if your budget does not allow for a professional design, starting with a DIY website builder might be the best option for you.

Wix – No Contract Required (Squarespace has similar pricing)

Premade Template, DIY – No professional help or custom design$0
Premade Template, DIY – No professional help or custom design$216-$468

Comparing School Website Costs

Total Cost Comparison over 5 years

Finalsite (Base price is DIY Design/Build)$35,000-$55,000 +
WordPress (Design TLC, includes custom design and hosting )$11,650-$24,250 +
Wix (DIY)$1,080-$5,616

Other Costs

Similar to nonprofit website costs that we outline in this blog post, the costs to run a website may also include hosting your domain name, website hosting (depending on the software you use), email hosting and email marketing. Check out this list of other expenses here.

Your school’s website is often the first impression anyone will have of your school. Consider your budget and the return on investment your school achieves with each new enrollee, versus the loss of income and enrollment if your website does not function well or turns prospective families away. A website is a good value if it does a good job of portraying your school’s quality and character and of communicating your unique selling point and value.

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