Friday, August 6, 2010

How Much Should a Website Cost?

How much should website cost? This is the most frequently asked question of any website developer or designer.

To establish the cost for a website without knowing the clients' basic needs would be like a contractor quoting prices for home renovations without knowing what work needed to be done.

Complexity of website features you require will usually be the determining factor for the actual cost of your website.

When considering the total cost of a website, please keep the following in mind:

Customers most often turn to the internet when they are searching for a product or service, far more often than the yellow pages.

Many people have found the initial cost of a website to be less than the cost to their business NOT making their presence known on the web. The cost of investing in a professional website is comparable to the cost of advertising in periodicals. In fact, many websites can cost less than one display advertisement in a major big city newspaper!

There are 4 main components to any website:

Domain Name

Your first step is to purchase the right to use "" on the web. The is the domain name. Purchasing a domain name ranges from $5 - $35, depending on the type (.com, .org, .net). Your webmaster will have a relationship with a reliable place from which to purchase your domain name and will handle the set up of your domain if necessary. Note: You can have several domain names all pointing to the same location, and this can be an inexpensive way to increase your website traffic and search engine placement. Your domain registration fee is an annual cost.


You pay a website host to keep your website online. This cost can be billed monthly or yearly. They host your graphics and html files on their server, and keep it running 24/7. Your web designer can add code which will log visits to your website, and run software that allows you to know how many people have come to your site, from where, what pages they visited, and so forth.

Hosting can be included as part of your web design package, or can be charged to you separately from your provider. This cost can range from $20 a month on up to hundreds of dollars a year, depending on how much information you're going to have on your site, how many people will come to it, and the other services provided along with the hosting.


Most of the start-up costs are going to be involved with the design and development of your website, both front end and back end. What type of graphics will you have? Are you providing graphics, or will your designer need to create custom graphics for your site? How involved are you doing to be in writing the copy? Do you know how you want the pages set up? Do you need help gathering information and content? What extra features do you want on your site, i.e. blog feeds, calendars, Flash elements, photo galleries, etc? Will your website require a database? A standard small business site could cost as little as $500 from a freelance designer, or as much as $5,000 from a large web agency.


How often will your site need to be updated? Will you offer interactive pages on your site that need to be monitored, such as blogs and forums? Does your business have consistent news and information updates or will your website remain relatively static for long periods of time? This is another area in which costs can be included in your initial design contract. Contracts can be written to include one year of maintenance and updates as part of your start up costs.

Some people choose to update their own site once it's been built. Letting your webmaster know this upfront can help everyone do a better job. A professional can update an entire site in less time than it probably takes the average computer user to figure out how things are set up, where they are, and how to make changes and publish them. If you feel qualified to make your own updates, that will be an additional consideration to be made in the development of your site. Maintenance costs can be included in your contract, or charged separately by your web designer, at hourly costs that range from $35-$150 per hour and higher.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that a professional business website reaches a worldwide audience, and promotes your company, your services or your product 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The cost of a web site can vary greatly, depending upon the site's features, needed marketing services, aesthetic qualities, and the design firm, advertising agency, or freelancer creating the Web design.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How to Hire the Right Web Designer

Websites don't just build themselves. A small business owner will find that there are many choices to make when establishing an online presence.

A few of the critical questions a business owner needs to answer immediately include: "What kind of website do I want for my business?" "Do I need outside help building my site?" "If I need help, how do I go about selecting a website developer?"

Your first step will be answering these three questions:

1.Does my website need to have a one-of-a-kind design? Would a template do, and do I have the skills to edit and alter one for my needs? Am I willing to pay monthly fees to one of the large "hosting/template" companies for a "do it yourself" website? Am I better off hiring a web designer with the skills to alter and customize a template without all the additional time and fees that a "do it yourself" package entail?

2.How complex will my online business be? Is it merely a website to promote my company, serving as a marketing tool for my brick-and-mortar business? Will my website need to have an online store or be integrated with third-party tools such as auctions or blogs?

3.Do I have the technical capability to do any of this? Do I have the time to learn? For most businesses, the answer to No. 3 trumps the preceding questions.

Once the early decisions have been made, there are additional questions to be answered.

1. How many pages will comprise your website?

What kind of functionality do you intend to feature on your website? In addition to an ecommerce store, a business could offer features like email newsletter sign-ups, product demos, blogs, calendars, product photo galleries, etc.

2. At some point, however, you'll have to decide whether you're up to creating this website by yourself.

If you don't have a technophile within your reach, or on your staff, and if your site will be more complex than a couple pages of content, then hiring a web developer is in your future. It is recommended that you begin by setting up a budget upfront for the entire project, considering costs for design and development, hosting, SSL certificates, hosted or licensed shopping cart solutions, blogs and photo royalties.

3. Choosing a designer/developer. Opting to hire the lowest project bidder merely because he/she is the least expensive is possibly the most serious selection faux pas possible. You really get what you pay for, and may be spending additional funds for a second designer/developer to repair the low ball price website.

Presuming you've budgeted for a developer, consider these rules-of-thumb:

•Knowing what functionality you want from your site up front will help you get a more accurate quote from a web designer. The more information you can give a designer, the better qualified they are to give you a quote that reflects your needs.

•You can work with someone who does not live in your town, state or country, but it's important that there is clear, constant communication. This communication can be by email or by phone, but be sure that there is a consistent flow of information in both directions. This can determine project success or failure.

•Look for a long-term partner because it's likely you'll need tweaks to your site or tech support. Once your site is completed, you will need someone to make updates, changes, add features, etc., and if you have hired a designer/developer to create your site, you would be better served keeping that designer/developer available for long term maintenance issues.