You have come to the conclusion that your business needs a website. Good! You also think it would be best to hire a professional web development company to build your website. That is another plus. But how much will it cost? You don’t quite know. You ask two or three web developers and they all give you different quotes. Are they playing games with you? Are they taking advantage of your naivete?
Well – the web developers are all right, you can build a website from $500 to $5,000 or more. If you want to buy a car, you can go out and buy one but which one. They all have different prices. Why is that? Because they all have different features, different manufacturers, different levels of quality and perceived longevity. Accordingly they are priced differently.
Many small businesses, when starting out on this quest don’t even know what questions to ask. That is understandable. A sensible web developer will show you various sample websites and their associated cost. You can then discuss with him which features you think you’ll need, which features you want to add at a later date.
Let’s look at the various components of a website and by the end of it you will be at ease with what’s going on.
A key component is design. You can either buy a ready made template or go for custom design. When you go for a template, you can buy a template for $75 to $100 and the developer can then tailor it for you. You save a lot of money but your website will look a little cookie cutter. There is always a trade off.
If you want a custom design, then the web developing company will assign you one of their creative designers who will work with you to put together a design that reflects your vision for your website, looks elegant and professional and most importantly meets the expectations of the type of customers you are trying to attract. During this process they may go back and forth several times to get the design just right. Good design should establish brand identity, credibility, be in line with current trends and technologies, drive your call to action and give you a competitive advantage.
Custom design can cost from as little as $500 to $1,500 and more depending on how many pages you have and how many revisions you make to the design.
Once design is finalized, your web development company will hand it over to their developers to integrate the design into the backend and incorporate all the necessary functionalities. Here again based on how complex your project is, the cost be anything. Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.
Simple Informational / Brochure website:
On such informational websites, most developers will suggest WordPress as the Content Management System (CMS). WordPress makes web development quick and also makes it easy for you the user to manage it on a daily basis. Most WordPress websites can be developed from $500 to $3,000.
If your requirements cannot be met by using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla or Drupal, then most likely your web developers will opt for custom coding using a language like PHP, or C# or Java. Such custom coding delivers superior results but takes time and costs money. Price ranges are $5,000 to $25,000 and more.
Again depending on how complex the ecommerce part is going to be, you can use a CMS plugin like WooCommerce for a simple ecommerce website ranging in price from $750 to $2,000 or a more complex one using OpenCart, Magento, X-Cart, CS-Cart etc and ranging $3,000 to $10,000 and up.
If this is your first website, you may not be aware that you need to budget for ongoing maintenance. You will periodically need someone to apply code updates, security patches and general upkeep. It is better to sign-up with a web developing company for ongoing maintenance. Some charge a monthly fee, some charge an hourly fee on an as-needed basis.
As your comfort level with your website improves and you start getting feedback from customers, you will keep coming up with new ideas on improving your website through intelligent functions and features to help your customers get to more relevant information quickly. Write down what you would like to add to your website and talk to your developers. They will help incorporate the new features with minimal disruption.
Buying a domain name:
You will need a domain name. A domain name is your address on the internet. For example, our domain name is http://bloggerkhan.com . You can buy that through your hosting company or through domain registrars. Generally costs $10 to $15 / year.
Hosting refers to the place on the internet where your design and code resides. It is usually on a server in a data center. You buy a hosting package from a hosting company. Most hosting companies offer entry level hosting at very reasonable rates ranging from $10 to $15 / month. Your web developer will help you through this process. If your needs are more demanding, you can go for VPS or dedicated servers and those cost from $50 to $250/ month.
You must sign up for daily backups with the hosting company or a third party provider. For just a couple of dollars extra, they will backup your whole site daily and if you have a crash or your site gets hacked, you can restore from a previous backup.
By content we mean the text and graphics that you need on your website. When making conventional print marketing brochures and related material, do you write your own copy? If you can write decent copy and provide good pictures, graphs, schematics etc., then you can do this part yourself. Nothing complicated about it. You can always change / improve the copy. But if this is not your cup of tea, hire a copy writer. Again ask your web developer. The larger ones have their own copy writing teams. The smaller ones will refer you to a copy writer.
You can have a basic website built using a template with 4 to 5 pages for about $500. However; if you are not necessarily pinched for pennies, invest in your website. These days your website is the first point of contact for your prospects. You want your website to meet the expectations of the type of people you are trying to attract. If your target market is the high end well heeled populace but your website looks like a discount store, people will click away. If your target market is the budget minded populace but your website looks really high end, you will scare away customers.
One final suggestion – communicate well with your web development company. Ask them to assign you a project manager that you can communicate with on a regular basis. Treat your web development company as an ally. Help them understand your business so they can also come up with ideas on helping you improve your website on an ongoing basis. If an improved website can bring in one extra sale a week, it will keep paying for itself over and over again.