I have had a few clients tell me they were concerned with the cost of owning a website. I had to assure them the cost of a website is actually quite affordable when it comes down to it.
Domain – this is the cost that you pay to own the rights to a domain name. There are numerous place you can buy a domain name all at affordable prices. The cost is usually annual or some type of multi-year plan and this is on those items you want to control yourself. Too often, clients will want the developer to purchase the domain name for them, and if this is the path you want to choose make sure you and/or your business is listed as the Registrar of the account and that the billing information is in you or your company’s name. This ensure you will always own your domain name, that it can’t be “held hostage” and it also ensures that your domain name won’t lapse due to the billing information not being current.?? If your developer is someone you trust, and you always should, then by all means have them set up the domain name for you but ensure you have access to the username and password. Your domain name is no different than your physical mailing address and you will want to have control and access to it at all times. Typical cost of a domain name is anywhere from $10 to $15 annually, but that can vary depending on who you purchase from and for how many years. Most companies offer a discount the longer you purchase the domain for. Reputable sites include: www.godaddy.com, www.networksolutions.com, www.directnic.com and there are many others as well.
Hosting– this is what makes your site available for others to see over the internet. This is typically a monthly cost that is charged, monthly, quarterly, or annually. This is something that your web developer can offer or that you can purchase from a third party. The type of hosting you will need depends on the type of website you have. Other factors to include besides cost are items such as data base needs, SSL or secure socket layer needs (typical in e-commerce or other sensitive personal information websites), email, and storage. If you are purchasing this from your web developer ask them what type of support you will have to cover items such as down server/site, email issues, replication and off-site storage. This will allow you to see if you have 24/7 support should you have any issues after hours or on the weekend. Remember your site works for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; so you want to make sure your site will be up with minimal downtime. Some developers offer a reselling service. This means you are paying them to resell you hosting, and while there is nothing wrong with this it is good to know who is hosting your site so you can have a good expectation of quality of service. Hosting accounts cost anywhere from $5 to $15 a month, depending on who you host with, and databases are usually an additional cost that can range from $5 to $15 a month depending on what type of database you have. Make sure you understand what you are paying for. There is really no need to pay $60 a month when you can get the same service for $10 to $20 a month.
Design – this is the initial cost of creating your website. Depending on your site needs this can vary widely. Static sites can cost a couple hundred dollars while other sites such as e-commerce or dynamic data base driven sites can cost in the thousands. Each developer will specialize in their own language and have their own skills so the best thing to remember is to make sure you feel confident in their abilities, view a portfolio and ask questions. Make sure you have documentation such as a contract or other written agreement in place. This provides you with benchmarks to look forward to and to use a timeline from start to finish of the project. It is common practice for developer to take a deposit up front to cover some of the development cost. I would personally recommend that you never pay for the entire site upfront and that you feel comfortable with the time the project should take. Remember, that you will have to provide feedback, item such as content and images, and that you will be part of the process from start to finish. Think of your developer as the expert in their field and you are the expert in yours, together you will build a professional web site that reflects your business, you, and your reputation.
Upkeep – this is the cost that will cover items such as content changes, addition of web site components. This is best to budget out and to use as needed. The type of site you have will determine this cost so talk to your developer and make sure you understand what their hourly rates are, how they charge, how often the invoice, etc. This will help keep communication open and when in the design process this might determine that it is more cost effective to use something like a Content Management System (CMS) and pay more upfront for you site, and save money over the life of your site by adding content as you need it with no additional cost.
This is a basic list that describes the costs you will have with your website. If you have questions or would like additional information please Contact Us for a free consultation.