One of the major deterrents from small businesses looking into getting a website is the expenses associated with them. While it’s true that a website can cost a lot of money, it doesn’t have to. With enough research and knowledge about what you need for your own website, the price you expect may come down significantly.
All that said, it’s almost 2020, and a small business can’t afford to not have an online presence. Below we’re going to break down what's associated with a website and show you all of the options so you have a better idea as to what you should expect to pay for your very own.
What does a website consist of?
Many people look at a website and see it as one thing. People tend to confuse the difference between a website and website “experience”, which is comprised of multiple parts working together.
This “experience” is made up of the website itself, a domain, and web hosting:
Website: This is what most people are familiar with, as its the viewable content that arrives when the domain or web address is added to a browser’s URL bar. The website itself is created by a professional website designer using code or is built with a website building platform.
Domain name: Just as you need an address to arrive at someone’s home, you’ll need an address to arrive at someone’s (or your own) website. This web address is called a domain name, for example, janescookies.com. Even if someone finds your website from a link on Google, that link is associated with your domain. It will be in the form of a particular page on your website, like the home or shop page.
Domains always end in a specific “suffix” — whether it’s .com, .net, .gov, .org, or one of the many other options you can choose from today.
Web hosting: Although this is often an overlooked part of the process for the general web surfer, it’s extremely necessary. In order to be accessed on the internet, the website itself needs to be grounded somewhere, hence it needs to be hosted. To give an analogy, imagine if the domain is the address, then hosting would be the home, and the website is the furniture (content) inside. So, a web host is the business that “houses” your website and makes it available to be accessed on the internet.
What should I look out for before purchasing a website?
Now that we’ve broken down the core components of the website experience, it’s time to iron out some details and things to look out for before you immediately pull out your credit card.
Do your research
It should come as no surprise that we’re going to tell you to do research. While doing so, it’s important to know what to look out for. Here are a few points you should specifically investigate about your future website.
You’ll probably see that hosting plans come with a lot of extra “features” available. Not only do hosting plans host your website, but it’s also not uncommon to find storage and bandwidth allotments, along with other additions bundled. Many web hosts offer tiered plans, ranging from very affordable to a bit on the pricey side, each of which comes with additional features and enhancements you can take advantage of. For instance, some plans come with a free domain for a year or two included in one tier, while others don’t.
Hosting your website is usually always going to be the most expensive part of getting it up and running. In the long term, at least. Even if you pay a lot to have a custom website built, hosting is a required monthly or yearly payment that will eventually outlive the cost of the actual website. Be smart about what you choose. It’s important to do your research about the hosting option available. While doing so, think about what’s most important to you, and what fits your budget. Also it’s important to know what you don’t need in a hosting plan, otherwise you could be stuck paying for bells and whistles you have no interest in or you’re not ready for.
Research the website platforms
Even if you think you’ve found your platform of choice, it’s important to take a look to see what the others offer. There may be a dark horse out there you hadn’t even known about that checks all the right boxes for you.
Doing research on web platforms allows you to get a sense of the tools that are available to you. Is there an advanced website builder? Can you add custom code? Is custom code the only way to build the website? These small questions can have a big impact down the road. So it’s good to know your options right now.
Get inspired by other websites
Whether you plan on hiring a web designer to build your website or do it yourself, you’ll need to get an idea of how you want your own to look like. This part of the research is fun, since it allows you to get creative and piece together small parts of different sites into one. Then when you’re ready to build your site or consult with your web designer, you’ll be able to provide tangible ideas of what you're looking for. No designer wants to hear from you, “I want it to look like Amazon” or something more even more obtuse.
Check out website online marketing blogs
A great website looks and feels fresh, and we’re not just talking about a stylish color scheme. Like fashion, web design is filled with its own trends, and it’s something you should read up on when planning out your own website. A modern, well-designed site will attract customers to it. So, do your part in researching what’s “hot” in the web design space and apply what you’ve learned to the site you plan to build yourself or communicate ideas about to your designer.
What are your website needs?
After you’ve done your research of website hosts, platform tools, and design elements, it’s time to put it on paper and figure out exactly what your website needs are. Writing this down will also help you determine whether you want to try building it yourself if it’s simple or hiring a designer for an overly complex site.
First, start with the basics, such as deciding how many pages you think you’ll need for your website? If you’re having trouble nailing down a number, go back to some inspiring websites and take a look at the pages they have. A standard website will more than likely have ‘Home,’ ‘About,’ and ‘Contact’ pages, at the very least.
Will you provide a service or set up an online store? You’ll need to dedicated a page for this on your website. You’ll also need to dig a little deeper to see if your web host requires a specific type of hosting package for accepting payments via your website.
Getting stuck? You can check out our super helpful guide on how to build a website from scratch.
Should you go DIY or hire a designer?
You’ve done your research, drawn your blueprints for the foundation of your website, and now it’s time to get to work. But whose hands will that work fall into? Now’s the time to decide if you want to take a crack at it with a DIY website builder or hire a web designer.
Going the DIY route will most definitely be the cheapest option for you if you’re on a budget, but you’re left with doing all of the heavy lifting, designing, and whatnot. Hiring a designer alleviates the workload from you, but depending on their pay rate and the complexity of the website, you could end up getting charged somewhere in the thousands when all is said and done, though this won’t likely be the case for more simple websites.
Something you probably haven’t thought of yet? Maintenance. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. While it’s nice to have a peace of mind to know someone handles any and all maintenance needed for your website, it can be a bit of a nuisance to call or email someone when you want something small changed on the website.
If you want the best of both worlds, you could always hire a designer like Wix Pro to create your website and then they can hand it off to you for maintenance going forward. Wix’s advanced HTML5 editor is incredibly easy to pick up and make changes on the fly.
So, how much does a website cost?
So, after all of the considerations above, it’s easy to see that the cost of a website can vary wildly. The major factors rely on the platform it’s built on and whether you plan on hiring a designer or not to create your site.
Simple websites: For an informational, straightforward website, you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg. If you built your site yourself, chose a basic hosting plan, and bought your domain, your first year could be around ~$30. After that, you could be paying as little as $10-$15 a month. Pretty cheap, right?
Semi-advanced sites: If your site requires payment features like ticket sales, an online shop, and/or a bookings service, you can expect to see higher prices for hosting plans — somewhere in the ballpark of $25-$50 a month. This also assumes you’ve built your own site.
Custom website built by a designer: If you opt to hire a designer, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20-$75 or more an hour. This may vary due to the complexity of the website itself. Factoring in the number of pages, you could end up paying several hundred to a couple thousand dollars altogether on your website.
Thank you Blake Stimac