Business owners often cringe while learning about the cost of a website. When exploring options, they discover many variables with more added expenses than a late-night binge of the movies and snacks in your hotel room. Sure, you could avoid all the frills with a Motel Six caliber set up, but you want something more. To keep things simple, this article will focus on solutions for small businesses. We will look at three primary cost areas: design, hosting, and maintenance.

Design:

So you’ve decided you want a website. Great! You’re busy running a business, yet you made a step many business owners still try to avoid. Well done. So then you reach out to ten different web designers, and guess what? You get ten different prices. While it’s great to have options, you’re now taking a crash course about various complexities while receiving quotes anywhere between $1000 to $10,000. So what are the factors contributing to the cost?

  • Method: Is the designer using a template or creating one from scratch? The latter will add significant costs, but it will help you stand out.
  • Content: How much content, products, and services do you have? More content means more pages, which increases cost.
  • Images: Do you require a lot of images and image manipulation? If you’re an eCommerce business, showing all your products yields the best results. Again, more work adds to the overall cost.
  • Apps: Do you need special apps & tools added to your site? A custom tool can be expensive and may require an annual subscription. Be sure to ask about this when receiving a quote; you may find some components of your site not working unless you pay the fee.

Hosting:

There are various types of hosting, so be sure you understand your options before you pay. Shared hosting is the least expensive, and therefore, most popular for small businesses with light traffic. Your site will live on a computer (or set of computers) that hosts other websites in addition to yours. While rare, the downside to shared hosting is a malfunction on someone else’s site could affect your site. But most hosting companies have tools in place to prevent this. Shared hosting typically costs $10-$30 per month.

A dedicated server means your site is hosted on its own computer in a climate-controlled environment. This can cost anywhere from $100 to $2000 per month, and can even climb higher.

Security is a critical feature of your hosting plan. You want to ensure that your hosting company is regularly applying updates and patches to prevent hacking. SSL is another important security feature to consider. It’s a security protocol that encrypts data between your site and the user’s browser. Most people will not purchase something from a site that doesn’t have SSL. Not having SSL negatively affects search engine rankings on Google and may cause a warning with some browsers. Among the myriad of costs you pay, we believe this SSL is one that’s necessary. While many hosting companies charge anything from $60-$100 per year for this, we can recommend one that we trust that offers it for free. Please contact us if we can help.

 

Maintenance:

Many web consultants charge a monthly maintenance fee (usually $20-$200 per month). We believe in providing this support service, too, because unexpected software tool updates can be problematic for your site. But be sure to vet your consultant for this carefully. Find out exactly the level of support you’re receiving for the price. We recommend monthly maintenance checks and would be happy to perform that at a reasonable price.

Bonus tip: Site Ownership:

Now, you’re probably thinking that you own your site, but it’s not always the case. If you don’t get billed annually for your domain name, then your consultant may own it. What that means is that if you get into a disagreement, he or she can hold your website hostage. We’ve had several clients in this situation – one had to pay $7500 to get it back. If you feel like you might be in this situation, please call us at 978-707-9583 or use our contact form. We’d be happy to take a look for you (at no cost).

 

So those are your costs in a nutshell. If you have questions or would like more information, please reach out to us. We don’t charge for an initial consultation.

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