In today’s business landscape, an excellent website can be the difference between a business that is barely surviving and one that’s thriving.
Not only does a superb website help you retain customers, but it is also an excellent sales driver and the perfect way to make the first impression on new customers.
So, given the centrality of a website to enterprises in 2021, how much does it cost to develop and run one?
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Many business owners and would-be entrepreneurs ask how much it costs to develop and maintain a good website; a good question, obviously.
And yes, there are many websites online that try to give you dollar figures of that cost. However, those split-second figures will not do justice in explaining the actual cost of this process.
Truth be told, the cost of developing a website is quite intricate and there exists no simple answer to your question.
Why? Consider the following scenario.
If you embarked on a project to build the house of your dreams, you are likely to ask a similar question.
The answer, of course, would depend on an array of factors, including the house type you wish to build, the neighborhood where you’ve bought land, the floor area you want the house to occupy, the number of rooms you’ll include, the exterior and interior finish, the outdoor space and how you want it to look, etc.
When calculating the cost of a website, you also must look into similar factors.
In this piece, we intend to guide you through the process looking into the different factors you need to consider.
We hope that by the end of the article, you’ll have come up with a figure that’s reflective of the business website you want to establish.
As we’ve mentioned, the cost of website creation is highly dependant on your imagined final product; the look, feel, and functionality you want for your website.
For instance, choosing to work with a professional website designer would cost you more than if you built it yourself. However, if you plan to build something a little complicated like a client portal, you will need professional help.
The goal here is to create a plan that weighs the costs of all the elements that you want for your website, including:
Below is a table that estimates the cost of the functionalities listed above:
|Functionality/Feature/Website Item||Cost in USD|
|Domain name||$10 to $50 annually|
|Website hosting||$10 to $500 annually|
|Website design and development||$0 to $10,000 (one-time cost)|
|SSL certificate||$0 to $60 annually|
|eCommerce functionality||$0 to $20,000 (initial cost)|
|Plugins and add-ons||$0 to $200 (initial cost)|
|SEO||$0 to $100 per hour|
|Maintenance fees||$100 to $1500 annually|
As the table clearly shows, the prices have very wide ranges because of the many factors that affect them. To get a clearer picture of what it’ll cost you, it is important to dive deeper into those factors.
In the website development stage, the biggest price point will be determined by:
For fixed projects, you’ll have to agree on the total cost based on an estimate of how many hours it’ll take to complete the project.
The hourly cost of the project team will vary from one team member to the next based on their availability, experience, and skill set. Generally, an experienced website development agency will charge you more per hour.
However, a less-experienced team might require more hours to complete the project.
When hunting for a website development agency, remember to check the team for the particular skills you need, e.g. SEO, illustration, or UX testing.
Don’t shy away from finding out the background of the agency individual developers, the projects they’ve worked on before, and what exactly they did to complete those projects.
Small business owners often think that the cost of a website is limited to the design (front end) and the programming side (back end).
The truth is a little more complex: while these two processes make up the majority of costs and tasks, there are several other considerations you must make that could potentially significantly change the cost of the website development project.
The total number of hours it’ll take to complete your website will be determined by three things:
Let’s take a look at each of these.
Website complexity here refers to the number of unique features and business requirements that you want to be integrated into your website:
simple web projects will require fewer hours of design and development compared to more complex projects.
The variables you’ll need to keep in mind in website complexity include:
Website functionalities here mean the list of unique tasks your site will need to have the capacity to perform.
If your website will be an e-commerce platform or will include customer accounts, then the website development process will be extremely time-consuming.
The variables you’ll need to keep in mind in website functionalities include:
The size of your website will determine how effort-intensive the process of creating the website and its content will be. The variables you’ll need to keep in mind in website size include:
If you have the time and some basic computer skills, you may want to explore the idea of building the website yourself. This would be the cheapest way to get your website up and running.
The best way to do this is by using website builders. Let’s explore several popular website builders you could consider in this endeavor.
WordPress’ basic website building package is free. However, to make the most of it, you’ll need to have a bit of technical know-how.
A few web design skills could help you navigate this tool. The costs could also add up because of the web hosting part of the deal that can cost you as much as $450 a month.
WordPress should only be seen as a short-term solution as you seek out better alternatives. Using it for more than a month would already be pushing up your costs substantially.
Wix is, perhaps, the most popular website builder that requires practically no web design skills. Its editor is extremely powerful and easy to use.
The customization you can do with Wix is endless, making it a perfect option for users that want very unique websites but have no budget to pay a professional website designer.
That said, the customization can be overwhelming and confusing, especially if you’ve never used it before.
What’s more, incorporating SEO functionalities might not be straightforward for the average website builder with zero web design skills.
To create a fully functional website for your business with Wix’s most basic premium plan, it’ll cost you $17 a month.
Squarespace requires users to enroll in their paid subscription that includes a 14-day trial period. The platform has stunning templates and its editor is quite flexible.
While the Squarespace templates are aesthetically pleasing, they are not very customizable without needing professional help.
Once you begin customizing, you may encounter problems optimizing the layout for all device types. It’ll cost you $18 a month for the most basic business plan.
Shopify is primarily designed for e-commerce websites. Small business owners are particularly drawn to the website builder because of the ease with which they can set up their online stores.
If you want to sell and ship items directly to consumers through your website, Shopify might be the place to start. Their plans begin at $29 a month.
Sitebuilder has many high-quality templates and some notable e-commerce features. It has an easy user interface backed by a comprehensive knowledge base.
That said, it might still be hard to navigate how to add certain functionalities, like the e-commerce features. SiteBuilder’s plans start at $13 a month.
Using a website builder is the cheapest way you can build your website. That said, it might take you a long time to get it right and create a fully functional business website.
The most expensive option is hiring a web designer. It might be a bad idea to get a web designer charging less than $5000 because chances are they don’t have the necessary skills and experience to build a good website.
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