After weeks of designing, waiting, A/B testing and revisions, your website is done! You’ve written your last check to the website design specialist, and now you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, right? Not exactly. Many business owners, when considering the costs of their website, fail to take into account the expenses that accrue after the site is complete. The costs of maintenance must be added into the budget for a website to be successful. Before you start designing the website of your dreams, consider the complete cost of your investment.
To establish a presence on the world wide web, there are a few initial costs. Most of these are annual expenses.
Your domain name is important – it tells people where to find you online. While some established names can be costly (some reaching into the thousands of dollars), most new domains can be acquired for under $10. Particularly with the development of new extensions (.me, .us, etc), the number of available names has made it relatively inexpensive to get a suitable domain. A variety of companies offer domain name services, making it easy to comparison shop and find one that meets your budget needs.
Your domain is you address – it tells people where to to find you on the web. Hosting is the amount you pay to ‘live’ there. Much like housing, there are multiple options that can meet your needs.
Many companies utilize shared servers; a concept that keeps hosting costs down, but leaves you susceptible to viruses and hackers based on the hosting company’s defenses. Frequently, hosting companies offer loss-leaders, giving a low, monthly hosting fee during the initial year, but can go up substantially for subsequent years. These rates can change from $1/monthly to $15/monthly, based on the hosting requirements you may have.
If you require dedicated servers, giving you more control over hosting space and security measures, costs will be more in the $100/monthly range. Private hosting – owning your own server – is considerably more.
Initial construction costs of a site can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, based on the web design specialist you work with. With the development of user-friendly site building tools, many business owners take advantage of DIY programs that allow you to build a simple, template driven website. For some small businesses, this may be an easy, cost effective means of building a website. For businesses who desire a more customized website, or who need additional features the DIY modules don’t provide, the costs can be substantial.
Site build expenses may include purchasing stock images or hiring a photographer to take personalized photos. The development of graphics for logos, header images and other graphic needs can add to the cost of the site as well. E-commerce sites may incur additional costs for payment processing set-up and fees per transaction.
Once the site has launched, many business owners breath a sigh of relief, assuming that there are no additional expenses. The savvy business owner, however, realizes that just like your car, a website must be maintained with regular check-ups and service. There are two website maintenance categories that should be addressed to ensure that your website continues to run smoothly and effectively.
Technology continues to develop, introducing new processes and systems that affect the way programs run. The platform used to develop your website is susceptible to these changes, and can be adversely affected by changes in software and programming. Hackers and others with ill-intent are continuously working to find new ways to breech security measures, forcing programmers to develop new defenses to combat their efforts. These defenses must be implemented to continue to protect your site, and may cause your site to stop working as intended. Additionally, processes such as graphic sliders, links and other features on your site may become broken or defunct over time and should be regularly monitored to maintain the integrity of your site.
Many web design specialist companies offer monthly maintenance contracts to provide verification checks and upgrades. These contracts range in price, based on the level of engagement they provide, from minimal managed monthly plans (averaging $30-50) to full service maintenance ($100+ monthly).
In addition to maintaining the structural integrity of your site, an effective website includes regular content development management. New content can be essential to driving traffic to your site, and can help to improve (and maintain) SEO efforts. Content can include blog postings, opinion pieces, guest bloggings and other elements of written material.
Recently, consumer demand for visual web material has created compelling reasons for websites to add video segments to maintain relevancy to their target audience. While stock videos can be purchased (adding additional costs), many businesses prefer to create their own videos, adding the expense of equipment and development or the hiring of professional videographers.
Content must also include social media material. Again, these pieces typically include visual images (additional costs), creation and management. Some companies handle these items in-house, which may not directly add expense, but takes away employee time for other business-related tasks, so has an in-direct cost. Social media management companies offer these services, based on frequency and scope, typically on a monthly contractual basis.
In today’s technology driven climate, a website is almost a necessity for business. The cost of building and maintaining an effective, viable website is negligible for many when compared to the amount of business they receive from their site. For other business owners, the thought of dealing with the maintenance of their site prevents them from taking the plunge into developing an effective site.
Portside Marketing is equipped with experts in creating and maintaining customized, effective websites that can meet your needs and fit your budget. No matter what stage of development your web presence is at, we can help you. Want to find out more about our award-winning designs?
**cost estimates compiled from www.godaddy.com, www.bluehost.com and www.hostgator.com