What does a website cost?

It Depends...
There are various factors that go into the making and maintaining of a website and it can be confusing trying to figure it all out when researching various suppliers and not being familiar with the terms. Let's break down some of the basic necessities by providing some questions you should ask yourself and take it from there.

Designing and developing

Will you be doing this yourself or will you hire someone to do it for you? Doing it yourself can be a rewarding task if you like troubleshooting and creating something from scratch. There are services online where you can make use of templates and drag and drop your own information around the page. As nice as this is there are limits in the complete control you have over the website. Often the coding that goes into making these template sites is complex, limiting the amount of information you can place on the page whilst also restricting modifications to the layout and design. They are very rigid in what they allow you to do and if you want complete control down to the last pixel this may not be the way to go. Remember as well that programming languages and frameworks are being updated regularly and the person who developed your template might not be able to fix elements they have created using obsolete programming syntax such as method calls or how different variables interact with newer versions. Some developers will charge extra to fix any issues over and above what you are paying for the hosting. If you purchase a template you may want to consider purchasing anything that gives you an extended support plan. You will pay more but at-least you know that should there be an issue you can drop them a mail and the developer should help you resolve the issue. Before you make the purchase check the reviews and get a feel for how active the developer is in terms of the support they promise to provide. If you do go this route it would probably be a better plan to use a platform that has a helpful community.

Hiring a designer to complete the process can give you piece of mind that you are getting what you paid for. It's a good idea to see what other sites that individual or team has produced to get a feel for the quality of their work. Remember to find out about the support offered after the design in case any updates to the programming language cause issues with the code used on your site. Take a look at their reviews online (Google, Facebook and their own site) as well. You should ask what the lead time is for the finished product. With us the total development time depends as we often need information or approval from clients which can take time as various people need to sign off on the write up. It may be a good idea to first off create a write up of what you need and then delegate the overseeing of the website design to one person. This way you get the site up fast and can make minor adjustments as you deem necessary.

Hosting and maintenance

Will the company who designed the site host it for you? Are their design fees separate from the hosting? Will you host the site yourself? How much control do you want? Should you need to make changes will you be comfortable doing it yourself or would you prefer to have someone upload content for you as part of the hosting plan? If you want to do it on your own you will need to be able add/remove files from the back end this involves access to C-panel and decent support from the hosting provider in the event that you, ultimately will, need help. If you are wanting to blog or add articles then being able to access the admin portion of your site through a content management system will be sufficient. Determine how much space you need, its easier to start small and then work your way up. Most providers are fairly flexible in letting you upgrade or downgrade. For an average website you should probably consider anything from one to five GB. How large are the files that you want to put online? Images are the main culprits here. If not resized they can slow your website down and negatively affect your traffic as potential visitors wait for a page to load. Studies have shown that most people will wait for three to four seconds and leave a site if they see no information loaded. If you are planning on having your business emails linked to the domain you will need to keep tabs on the amount and size of the files coming through as this will take up disc space. Determine also how long you need to keep emails and delete anything that does not need to be archived. Is a decent amount of traffic or bandwidth included in the hosting. This is basically the amount of data that is travelling to and from the server where your domain is being held. Some providers offer a capped amount whilst some provide unlimited traffic. Again if faced with the option of large or small it generally is not an issue to expand if needed.

Photo by Marcus Herzberg from Pexels

Some companies charge an extra maintenance fee over and above the hosting. Maintenance can be anything from making sure the site data is being backed up, monitoring the analytics of the site and keeping spam and virus protection up to date. If the team that produced your site is hosting it, make sure that changes in the coding due to ensuring your site is compatible with upgrades will be covered in this clause. Many hosting providers provide for an hour or two a month worth of time to make changes and upload content to the site. This time does not accumulate and is generally allocated for fixing minor changes in details and neatening up old links that may not be working correctly. Who will be responsible for making sure that your analytics is being measured and SEO tactics are monitored? Avoid this at your own peril as most people use search engines to find everything these days. With Google holding the lion's share of search traffic you should focus on them first.

Costs with E-commerce

Due to the sharp increase of e-commerce stores we wanted to run through some thoughts separately. With a revenue generating website there are various goods and services you can offer with multiple methods of payment. You should also keep in mind that payment providers will charge a small fee per transaction and also an admin fee when you withdraw the funds from your account to deposit it in to your bank. Are you wanting to sell products or once off services such as roof inspections? The better your descriptions and information provided the easier you will make it for prospective buyers who are deciding whether they will purchase from you. How many items do you want to include in your inventory? Most developers will accommodate you by setting up your store with a certain number of products when designing your site and then leave the rest to you. Remember to make sure that what you have in stock corresponds with what you have displayed online. The admin portion of an e-commerce site will need to be maintained regularly. Will the company designing your online store provide training? You will need to be able to add and remove items as well as ensure that they correspond with accurate descriptions and pricing to avoid any issues. Who will you be using for your delivery and will you offer an option for clients to collect from your brick and mortar store. Are you wanting to offer a subscription service where by customers can sign up and get debited monthly for making use of your website. This is geared more towards businesses that offer Software as a Service like online accounting services.

Domain names are the name your website has when people visit e.g.: mysuperkiefwebsite.co.za This is often an annual purchase which needs to be renewed. Some providers include the domain registration/ renewal fee in their hosting price and some don't. If separate the price ranges from R80 to R200 depending on the provider.

We cater for clients that are small to medium sized businesses who need help running a website and are to busy to learn how to design and develop their own, set up a hosting facility and do monthly maintenance, without having to sacrifice their free time troubleshooting and keeping abreast of the latest best practices for their site. If that fits your description please give give us a call or request a quote and tell us what you need.

Duane Giliam Online Marketing Manager of Rhox Digital Solutions

Written by Duane Giliam
Online Marketing Manager

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