By: PaulCC BY 2.0

Websites are essential in this day and age. Not only is it the best and most cost-effective way to get your marketing out there, it also serves to reach that huge section of the population lives, breathes, and marinates in all that is “internet”. Except in rare circumstances, it is a mistake for you not to actively manage your web presence. But you already know this. We’ve talked about this (and different aspects of this) in various blog posts and video series throughout the year. But we haven’t answered one vital question: how much does it cost to actually create one?

The short (and infuriating) answer is “it depends.” No, really. Ask a web designer.

Ask us! We here at One Website Please make your site needs happen with WordPress. Our pricing mode takes into account our aversion to unnecessary overhead and ability to make modular decisions on what we can remove from a process to optimize costs. We do this so that we can create the best website to match your budget, which is why we usually ask what the budget is up front. It helps the business owner think about their project a little more in-depth and helps us determine what we can accomplished within their means.

No matter who you use as your web designer, you need to create a budge. But before you take out your abacus, first take into account these 5 factors that influence the cost of your new website–because doing it “for free” still isn’t free.

Domain names. Imagine you’re building your dream house. Buying a domain name then is like buying a plot of land–you have an address, you see the potential, but without more work, it’s just a whole lot of empty. Buying this name has to factor into your budget. It doesn’t come for free. Fortunately, buying a domain name is cheaper than buying land. Usually. But if you’re lucky, even with the cheapest domain names, you’re still looking at an initial cost of 10-30 dollars, then an annual renewal fee to keep it up. If you’re unlucky, someone already bought your ideal domain name. Then you may have to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars getting them to sell it to you.

Design. This is the blueprint of your house–and by blueprint, we mean specific and concrete expectations about what you want to have on your website. It’s easy to say you want this and that, but if you want to keep costs of your site down, you need your requests detailed, charted out, and written in stone by the time the web designer gets into the nitty gritty of your project. Small changes might not bother your particular web designer, but big changes will end up bothering you with extra costs. If you, in the last week of construction of your dream house, suddenly ask the construction workers to tear down the living room to make room for an avant-garde pool/kitchen, would you be surprised if the cost for your house skyrocketed? No, because you created more work that wasn’t in the initial battle plan. Decide on what you want your website to look like before you make a budget. Then stick to it.

Time. Construction is going, hammers are banging–your website is being created! But even if all other things are paid for, this too has a cost. Even if you’re already rolling up your sleeves and planning to do the heavy lifting yourself, developing a website takes time and time is money. If you’re inexperienced (or your developer is), you may find yourself looking for a expert-level web designer to duct tape together the first botched attempt, which is wasted time on top of more costs. You and your business deserve the site you want, not the site you cobbled together in your free time. Make space in your budget for an experienced web designer.

Features. Just like with houses, you need more than you think on your website. And, on top of that, some of what you need is complicated to code (which requires more pricey expertise) or just plain expensive to buy. Between plugins and premium features, you’re looking at prices of components between $15 and $200 each. And some of them are subject to renewal, just like your domain name. Write down what you want out of your website and consult an experienced web designer to see how much you money you need to budget to meet your needs. Keep in mind that you may need to curb your expectations to match your budget if your budget can’t live up to your expectations!

Hosting. Just like your ideal house, your website doesn’t suddenly exist in a bubble just because it’s up online. You have to look into hosting as well. Hosting is like mortgage, rent, or even property taxes. Like mortgage or rent, you have to keep up the payments monthly or you risk losing what you paid for. Now, hosting costs vary, but they can potentially range between a few dollars to $30 and more a month, and that’s for sites that aren’t expecting much traffic. Heavier traffic means more expensive hosting. Don’t forget to ask your web developer for ideas! They may have some options for you too.

In the end, a website may cost you anything from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars–yikes! Your website will have big initial costs and is going to cost you money from day 1. Of course, your site is a great investment, especially if you’re a small business trying to break into the bustling online market. However, you need to have realistic expectations as far as costs go. Design a budget that allows you to keep your site updated, running, and relevant, and you will have a fantastic tool in your belt for your business. Then take your ideas to the person who can best execute them.

You wouldn’t cut corners on your dream house. Don’t cut them on your website.

To read more factors that pay into the cost of your new website, check out our sources here:

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