What You Need To Know About Website Costs

How much does it cost to build a professional website? $50, $500, or $5000? Most people have varying ideas about what a website will cost and, in truth, few of these estimates are wrong because there really is no straight answer. Deciding the cost of a website is like deciding the cost of a car. The features and complexity of a website will determine its eventual cost. A more complex website with database and custom applications will cost a lot more than a three-paged website. Depending on your needs, you could end up paying as little as $300 or as much as $300,000.

Factors Affecting Cost

It easier to predict how much a website will cost when you are familiar with the different elements involved. There are different factors that will affect the cost of your website. Knowing what these are will help you manage your expenses a lot better. In summary, the five primary cost that you will encounter during the design of your website include;

  1. Domain Name Cost
  2. Cost of hosting
  3. Cost of designing and developing your website (with a web designer)
  4. Cost of maintenance
  5. Secondary Costs

These cover the basic expenses that you need to get your website online and running. Depending on the function of your site, other costs may emerge. For instance, you may need to consider the cost of a shopping cart and merchant account fees if you plan to sell your services through your website. Nevertheless, in the initial stages of development, these five will affect your primary expenses.

Registering Your Domain Name

One of the benefits of the internet is how simplified many things are. Like registering your domain name. You don’t need to be a programmer or web developer to register your name. All that you need is an active connection to the web and an accepted means of payment. Most of the popular hosting services offer domain name registration and this tends to have an average cost of $15 a year.

It helps to choose a domain name that reflects the scope of your business. Using your company name is not a bad idea, but you can also include a related keyword phrase to increase its visibility. For instance, if you own a flower shop that is called Bella, www.BellaFlowers.com will sell your business image a lot better than www.Bella.com. There are dozens of extensions that you can use for your business address, but most commercial companies prefer to have domain names with either the .com or .net extensions. 

Hosting Your Site 

Once you have decided and paid for your domain name, your next step will be to purchase your hosting space. Hosting space essentially refers to rented server space online. The cost ranges from $100 to $300 per year depending on the hosting package that you decide on. Like most things, the cheapest hosting service is not always the best.

If you have serious business plans for your website, it may be worth the extra $50 to pay for a more expensive host that offers larger bandwidth and superior security options. If you are unfamiliar with the different features being offered, consider asking your web designer to assist you with your decision. Most designers will be able to offer a reliable and affordable hosting service that you can use, and possibly even add a discount.

Designing Your Site 

Unsurprisingly, a significant part of your expenses will involve paying for the design and development of your website. As mentioned earlier, the cost of your site will be affected by your requested features. Some of the factors that are bound to affect the cost include;

  • The size of the site.
  • The back-end software
  • The custom design
  • Content 

Beyond these factors, the experience and skills of the designer is also bound to affect the cost. Inexperienced designers typically have lower rates to compensate for their barren portfolio, while designers with a lot more experience will charge higher rates. Most designers, however, offer package deals with a minimum of $600 for a five-page site and up to a starting price of $5000 plus for a customized website designed for e-commerce. 

Maintaining Your Site 

After the website design is complete and hosted, the cost of maintaining your website is small. For the most part, it involves paying your hosting fees, which can be paid monthly or annually. If your website is built with a content management system (CMS) then you will not need a designer to handle your posts. You may however want to hire someone to monitor and access the performance of your site every month, to see how much traffic you are pulling in, do updates on the content, plugins, and make sure your site is current and secure.

Secondary Factors

+Cost of Installing a Shopping Cart 

If your goal is to sell your products and services online, then your website will need to be integrated with a shopping cart, which will handle the orders and payment. The cost of shopping cart applications ranges from as little as $20 to $100 a month, depending on the service you choose. There are ways of getting more affordable deals. For instance, before you approach an external service, it may be worth the effort to find out if your hosting service offers this option. 

+Paying Merchant Account Fees 

Credit cards are a popular option with e-commerce websites. If you want your website to offer this alternative, it must be fitted with the right Merchant Account application. Merchant cards are crucial for the online processing of credit card information. This gives your visitors an alternative option for payments. The exact cost of a merchant account varies, based on the company you approach. Your expenses will likely involve payments for:

  • Gateway fees (as much as $15 to $25 per month)*
  • Set up fees (up to $300)* 
  • Statement fees (up to $10 per month)*  
  • Discount rate (2.5% to 5% of every sale)*  
  • Transaction fees ($0.10 to $0.45 per transaction)* 

*these varies depending on the merchant

Merchant accounts are not your only credit card option. If you are expecting your site to handle low volume sales in the initial months, then a frugal alternative is to approach third party credit card processing services. These companies work as described, processing your credit card transactions, for a percentage of your sales.

HOW DESIGNERS CHARGE

Like most professionals, web designers charge for their services through any of three different rates:

  • An hourly rate
  • Flat rate
  • Or per item

Designers who offer a flat rate do this for the complete design of your site. These include the layout creation, coding, content creation, and graphic among other options. Designers, who charge hourly, offer you a more flexible approach to your site’s creation. They are a good option if your work is restricted to a minor modification. And then there are the designing firms that offer their services based on the item you require for your site. There will be a basic rate to launch your site and then additional fees for each item you requested added to your site. 

Again, the question of which of these is not easily answered. The best approach is to focus on the professional qualifications of each designer. The designer you choose should have the skills needed to translate your vision into a fully functional site. Once you are satisfied with their qualifications, you can go on to set out the terms of a contract.

PAYMENT SCHEDULES

The payment schedule of a web project will be affected by the scope of the job and the firm that you hire. For projects that cost less than $1000, it is common for firms to request that the full amount is paid before the work begins. For larger project, however, payment is usually made in phases, as agreed in the milestones. Refunds are not very common with website designers, so it is important that you make your decision carefully before proceeding. The most that you can expect is a correction.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR COSTS WITHIN CONTROL

The most effective approach to keeping your cost under control is to create a detailed outline of what you need. If you already have a goal statement and a general idea of your website layout, then its creation process will be a lot easier. 

Before you begin, be sure to discuss, outline, and agree on the milestones of the project. It is also a good idea to ask your designer to build the site online so you have the opportunity to monitor and watch its growth. This way, you will be able to correct any errors before the designer has gone too far.

That said, it is important to point out that making sweeping changes is likely to increase your costs quickly. This is especially true, in situations where the requested changes are vastly divergent from those agreed within the terms of the contract. Adjustments to a website design are not as harmless as some might think. A simple alteration like changing the company name may require the development of new artwork, updated links, and rewritten content. 


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