When you are budgeting a website for your business or personal use don’t overlook details that fall outside of the traditional website design and development costs.
There is a lot to consider when you are marketing your business, especially when you are budgeting a website whether it is a new concept or a redesign. Most small businesses and non-profits only consider the programming and design as key features of the budget. There are additional considerations you need to look into that can have a huge impact on not only the overall website but the development process.
Have you considered your domain name and hosting costs? Maintenance? How about security? These are all questions that are required for a website that will not only be functional but will last a long time.
When you are developing a website, there are a couple of additional costs. In this article, I will discuss the top four considerations for when you are budgeting a website. There may be more for your business. Just do your research or reach out to us directly and we can help you find the perfect fit.
1. Domain Name Registration
Registering a domain should be done as soon as you open your business or create your idea. If not, you risk a domain squatter purchasing it and reselling it to you for 1000%+ profit. Registering a domain is easy and typically affordable at on about $15 / year, however, some domains can be sold for up to $50+ per year. You can go to GoDaddy.com, Register.com, NetworkSolutions.com, Hoever.com or our favorite, A2Hosting.com.
Coming up with a great domain name when budgeting a website is usually easy. Just use your business name…but remember to keep it short and use a .COM unless it is absolutely impossible to use one. They are where everyone will go to first and it would be better for your brand to have a branded domain name. gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) are expanding to include such things as .tv, .car, .game etc, but for the most part, they should ONLY be used with promotional websites…not your main brand.
DO THIS: When you are setting up a domain name:
- Use business or organization name or a simple tagline
- Use .COM over the other gTLDs if possible
- Purchase for several years or set to auto-renew each year so you do not have to worry about it
- Failure to renew your domain name can force you to give it up or pay horrendous prices to get it back
2. Website Hosting
Think of website hosting as a remote computer where your files are stored that display your website and/or where you have your databases located. This is one of the most important parts of budgeting a website as you do not actually have a website without hosting.
Using a reliable hosting company and set up the proper server for your needs is the difference between smooth sailing for years to come and failing hard. Our hosting utilizes SSD to improve speed and optimize uptime. Not all hosting companies have this available but it was a huge part of the decision we chose our hosting company. If you are unsure of what to choose, ask your developer or marketing agency while budgeting for your website. They typically deal with this on a daily basis and know the best and the worst hosting companies to work with.
Hosting can range from a couple hundred per year or a couple hundred per month. The price you need depends on your scalability, usability, and features. If you are budgeting a website that will have a high traffic flow, you need to account for this and have a lot of bandwidth, eCommerce needs an SSL license to make the website secure. So, choose your hosting package carefully. Here are some things to look for:
- Service availability above 95% (our website is online 95% of the time, our hosting in at 99%)
- Usage of FPT or sFTP to upload files
- Storage greater than 5GB for small websites and greater than 20GB for larger websites and eCommerce websites
- Database functionality
- Basic backup and restoration
- SSL (for security since Google gives SSL websites better rankings compared to non-SSL websites)
- Unlimited email accounts
- Unlimited subdomains
- Parked Domains availability
DO THIS: Most hosting companies provide email accounts, databases, domain registration, etc. The more you bundle, the less you have to worry about failing.
Additional Hosting Costs?
SSL or Security Certificate
Google has stated many times that SSL websites are ranked higher than non-SSL websites. This reason alone should be enough to get an SSL when you are budgeting a website, but if it is not here are some more:
- makes it harder for hackers to break your website
- gives your visitors a sense of security
- makes you stand out in search results and in browsers
- prevents unauthorized entry attempts (does not completely block them, but will help with most)
SSLs can cost from $50 per year to $500 per month depending on the level needed. However, for most businesses, you can get them for $50 – $75 per year.
CDN or Content Delivery Network
CDNs are used to reduce your bandwidth and make your website more secure. Basically, it allows you to host your images, videos, etc on a CDN offsite so they load using better servers and do not allow hackers to piggyback on your images an inject malicious content in your server.
CDNs can cost from $10 per month to $500 per month depending on your usage. They typically charge for the amount of GBs you are sending, but some of the smaller ones like MaxCDN and Cloudfront charge a flat rate per month and should definitely be looked into when you are budgeting a website.
One of the first questions we get is “How much does a website cost?”, well, our answer is always the same. “Depends.” This answer typically leads to other questions about what goes into the development of a website. First, there are two key factors that drive your decision when budgeting a website…time and function. So, let’s talk about those.
What is the Time Required and How Can You Reduce It?
- Branding. If you have a well thought out brand, you can make this process go by faster. If you have an AI (Adobe Illustrator) file or a high-resolution, transparent PNG…make sure you give that to your developer. It will make their life easier when they are adding your branding. Gather your content beforehand and have it ready to go. Website developers are not copywriters so the more info you provide the better for your budget. If you do not have content, you may end up having to pay a copywriter in order to get content for your website.
- Photography. If you have images or photos that represent what you do and your brand, provide those to your future agency. If you don’t, we can recommend a good photographer for you. Also, instead of piecemealing your photos, add them to a thumb drive and either hand deliver them or mail them to us or add them to an online storage drive like Google Drive or Dropbox. This will help us keep everything together and organized.
- Time. So, how long does it take for a developer to create an award-winning website? It depends on the size of the site, and the availability of content and images, as well as the functionality of the website. If a business comes with everything we need to get started you could have a month or less of development time. If the website needs are more complex then it could be around 3-6 months. This also depends on your timing and the schedule of current development. Time impacts cost, so the less time you have available means the development cost will increase. We typically as for at least 2 months. We can complete projects ahead of schedule but this usually gives us a good cushion to work with.
DO THIS: If you have a fixed schedule or a time for completion, make sure you inform the developer while you are budgeting a website. If you do not discuss this with the developer, you may have delays in development or it may cost more to ensure you hit your deadline.
Questions to Ask
Features and functions are the most important parts when budgeting a website because it allows your developer to understand your needs better and ensures they know what they need to do. Understanding that adding more functionality will bring additional costs is crucial so everything needs to be laid out first so there are no surprises.
Presenting your list of desired website functions to your developer during the proposal process will give you the most accurate estimate. If you are getting multiple estimates (always a good idea), the predetermined function list will allow you to compare “apples to apples” between the proposals.
DO THIS: Create two lists of functionality. One is a required list, the other is a want list. Get ideas of the total cost for each when you are budgeting a website and compare what you need versus what you want.
Basic questions needed in your lists:
- Are you using a (CMS) content management system? If not, how will your website be edited when you need to change something.
- Are you selling anything? If so, what type of payments do you need to take and how will shipping be used?
- Are you going to manage a blog and how will this interact will comments or social media?
- Do you need special features (point of sale, inventory management, third-party services, etc)?
What Does A Website Cost?
The budget of your website will be decided on the time and function of the website. However, we typically start with a ballpark quote for all of our projects because we know how much time it typically takes to create a website in various forms.
- Basic Website (flat HTML, not CMS): $100/ per month (View our budget website service)
- Website with CMS (content management system), informational: $3,500 to $5,500
- Website with CMS (content management system), third-party integrations, API services, etc: $7,000 – $25,000
- Website with CMS and eCommerce: $5,000 to $8,000
- Custom eCommerce (custom code or Shopify): $8,000 to $20,000
- Custom development: Varies per project, but typically we can have upwards of $100,000 for a single project
4. Ongoing Maintenance When Budgeting a Website
Just because a website is live, does not mean it is never to be touched again. If you are a parent, you can understand the real work beings once the website is born. Unlike your children, it is easy to ignore your website and allow it to become obsolete. This greatly affects your SEO (search engine optimization) and could harm your website long-term. In short, neglecting your website will eventually work against your goals.
Developing a plan for website maintenance should begin during the website development process and while you are budgeting your website. You should be asking yourself or your business a couple of honest questions:
- Are you going to create a “content calendar” to map out important events or updates for your business?
- Are you going to create new content regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly)?
- Are you going to review traffic reports and modify your website to assess the issues addressed?
- Are you going to update your plugins and theme as well as core files?
If you answered NO to ANY of this questions, you need to talk with your marketing agency about routine maintenance.
DO THIS: Maintenance is different than hosting services. Some details may sound the same they are different in scope. Don’t hesitate to ask questions – the what if’s – about the details of a maintenance plan.
What Are the Deliverables?
These questions do not cover other marketing aspects of your website like email marketing, social media, and other online efforts to drive traffic. With everything that goes into website development, what would make up an effective website maintenance plan?
- Software and Plugin Updates. Websites are typically powered by WordPress or another content management system for most businesses. If this is the case, they need to be regularly updated or could come under attack from hackers. Updating your site every week or so is the best case in combating security breaches, site failures and can ensure your website is in top shape for your visitors.
- Uptime Monitoring. Finding out your website is down from a visitor can be very scary and can lose business. With uptime monitoring, you know about downtime as it happens so you can resolve it before anything bad happens to your visitors or customers. There is no such thing as 100% uptime. Website go down, servers go down, upgrades and outages happen. It is the cost of doing business online. With uptime monitoring, you will know about it before anyone else.
- Analytical Reporting. Knowing how your visitors are getting to and using your website is key to understanding how to make your website better. If you understand the why and how you understand how to use this information to better your website and increase traffic. An effective maintenance plan should include a traffic summary and access to a traffic platform such as Google Analytics, Piwik, or Kiss Metrics. Learning how to review and assess these reports can give valuable insight into your online presence.
- Content Updates. Let’s be honest, you are running a business or a non-profit…you don’t always have time to add new content to your website on a regular basis. Most agencies have a reduced cost rate for content creation and can do the updates for you. This can be flexible such as a monthly retainer, a fixed hourly rate or a per word cost. Regardless, getting the updates done in a timely manner is crucial.
What Does A Website Maintenance Plan Cost?
A good website maintenance plan will be customized to fit your needs. Individual plans can range from $100s per month to $1000s per month. Most website maintenance plans require at least a six-month commitment to be viable.
Work out a list of monthly deliverables and learn what you can from your analytics. A good maintenance plan does not just keep your website up-to-date but will deliver customers, leads, and valuable business intelligence. Check out our online cost calculator to see what your maintenance plan may look like.
Want to Learn More About The 4 Costs of Budgeting a Website?
Developing a successful website is a lot of work and does take a significant investment of time and money. So, you need to select a website development partner who can help you with each component of the process in budgeting a website as well as your maintenance options after the project is complete.
At Future Design Group, we strive towards a simple goal: At the conclusion of the website project, our clients know as much about the website as we do. As you approach your next website development project, consider partnering with a creative, award-winning provider that can be with you from the start and stand by you long after the website is live.
If you are interested in learning more about how this topic can help your business, please contact our agency on our contact page or call us at 1-888-964-4991. We publish a new article once or twice per month so make sure to follow us on social media and allow for push notifications if you want to stay in the loop with our agency and digital marketing.
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About the Author
Director of Website Development
With over a decade of experience designing and developing websites, Eric has worked in every position of the agency ladder. He is fluent in multiple backend and front end programming languages and has written multiple international best selling plugins for WordPress. He has been part of or is still part of many startups. He is the Director of Website Development for Future Design Group and one of it's founding partners.