Ever get into a project that was originally promised not to cost much money, but quickly escalated into something very costly? Websites can be like that. Websites are routinely advertised to be inexpensive or free. So how do they get so darn expensive?

In 2020, there are literally thousands of customization options for every type of website, all of which can be argued to help strengthen your business’ digital presence. Where do you start and what are the cost drivers? 

Every business can benefit from a website, from a small one-person shop to a medium- or large corporation, or a business-to-business site that doesn’t deal with the general public at all. For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that our readers are business people – no matter how small or large their business might be – and not individuals looking for hobby sites.

Creating a website: What you pay for

Business websites can be informational only, they can be e-commerce, they can be an account portal (such as for banks, credit unions, or rewards programs), they can be a gathering place for club or association members to chat via message boards, or they can be a mixture of all of these.

The features or functionalities that are wanted, the number of site visitors expected, the types of content to be hosted on the site – videos take up a lot of room to store and a lot of memory to play, but can help engage prospective customers – all dictate how much a website will cost to build, to run, and to update.

Let’s talk about what’s needed and the budget for each.

Websites: Cost Components

Typically, standard websites usually require three things.

  • a domain
  • a place to host website files
  • software to run the website files

Not each of these components carry a cost as there are numerous ad-supported offerings on the market today. However, the old adage “you get what you pay for’ most definitely applies.

Domain name: Every business site needs its own domain name and its own domain.

Domains are more than just what goes into the URL field at the top of your browser. Domain names help point web traffic to your site’s files and documents. On the technical side, since networked files are assigned an IP address, domain names help identify one or more IP addresses so your browser can serve you the site files you intend. In the non-virtual world, domain names are an important branding exercise as they help people recall your business.

Domain names are purchased from ‘registrar’ companies such as GoDaddy or Bluehost. Brand new domains cost about $8-$15 per year, sometimes less if bundled with other services.

When you purchase a new domain name, you’ll have to settle on a choice in part based on availability. Since there are so many domains already in use, it can be difficult to find the right domain name for your business.

One way to get around this limitation is to check whether your domain is available using other TLDs (Top-Level Domains) such as .net, .co, or .us. Originally, TLDs were created to serve individual countries. That’s why websites based in the United Kingdom end in .uk.

Today, there are over 1,000 TLDs in use and not all indicate geography. A full list of available TLDs can be found here and many are aimed to serve specific business industries.

Are free domain names an option?

There are many website companies out there that will bundle domain name registrations with other services such as file hosting. Business owners need to be wary of these low-cost options.

One frequent example involves obtaining a domain name for little or no cost that then gets “pointed’ to a free web hosting site. However, once visitors arrive at the site, the urls of every single page will have not only your domain name but also the name of the free hosting site in it. In effect, you’re now advertising their company and your visitors will notice.

Hosting a site: What you pay for

Hosting: Once you have obtained a domain name through a registrar service, you’ll need a place to store or ‘host’ your website files. When you buy a hosting plan, you are basically renting space on a hosting company’s server that is mapped to the world wide web. The most basic hosting plans can be available for as little as a few bucks per month. Others scale based on bandwidth or file storage usage.

But when choosing a hosting provider, business owners have to be careful.

The different plan levels for web-hosting vary in cost because of the services that are offered. The more visitors you expect, the more “bandwidth”(Think of this like parking in front of a store, if your customers can’t find a spot, they’re not going to wait around) the site will take. The more features you have, such as for SSL encryption and custom analytics, is also reflected in the price.

A full-featured hosting solution can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars each month. Trust us, there is a lot to consider. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.

Website Security

It is estimated that as much as half of the traffic on the web comes from automated bots. Some like the GoogleBot index the web for business purposes. Some crawl the web for nefarious reasons. If your hosting solution does not include some basic level of protection, you are asking for problems. Its a common occurrence in 2019 for websites to be taken offline or altered by hackers looking for ransom, passwords, or customer data.

It’s best to choose a hosting provider that scans your site files for bad code, malware, and other issues before they become costly problems. If your site goes offline – even for a day or two – Google will notice putting your search ranking at risk. Don’t let this happen to you.

Website Speed and Redundancy

Website and page speed is hugely important. Most web visitors – the humans at least – get really annoyed when they have to wait for a page to load. Who should blame them? If your web host is storing your site files on a slow server, your page speed rankings will suffer. Moreover, many cheap hosts will store hundreds or thousands of websites on a single server. If any of those websites cause issues for the server, a DDOS attack for example, then your website is at risk too.

There are several ways to get around this problem. You could elect to purchase space on a dedicated server or you could configure a content delivery network (CDN) to serve your files from various locations around the world. CDNs create carbon copies of your website and store them on servers located around the world. CDN providers such as Cloudflare are terrific options for redundancy and can do much to decrease site load times, which can benefit your site’s ranking on Google.

Website Site Software

Every website runs on code. Since not everyone knows HTML, there is software aimed to help marketing managers and business owners make changes to their website without editing a line of code. Open-source software options such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are offered free to anyone with the time and patience to learn how to operate it.

When you choose a hosting company, you’ll want to check whether they make available certain CMS tools such as WordPress or Drupal. The larger hosting companies will organize these and other useful tools right into their server interface. Some come included, some are available for an additional charge or available through third-party providers.

At SITESTR, we are big believers in WordPress and have been since 2005. WordPress started in 2003 as an open-source platform aimed to serve the blogger community. In the years since, it has grown to power more than 30% of the website on the Internet, making it the largest content management system in use today.

Website Cost Drivers: Time

WordPress is a terrific option for beginners and professionals alike because of its availability and wide array of customization possibilities. Some of the largest and most well-known websites in the World run on WordPress and it can power e-commerce sites, business websites, and blogs alike. But like anything, WordPress takes some training and practice to learn well and operate efficiently.

When starting out on a website build, it is easy to get sucked into a design project that burns a lot of time, especially if you are unfamiliar.

It’s also important to note that website designers don’t provide the content for the site they build. They build the skeleton, it’s up to you, the client to provide the content that goes onto that skeleton. Many website designers offer content-writing services, if you don’t feel comfortable writing the content yourself.

But for most businesses where time is money, dedicating loads of time and resources into learning how to build websites and write copy is not an option. And considering how much time and money can be saved by hiring an experienced developer, nor should it be. This is where firms like SITESTR come in.

At SITESTR, we make available an affordable digital solutions that combine:

  • a secure, speedy hosting solution
  • with a website building platform
  • phone and chat support

Our team has served businesses for nearly a decade we know how limited time is in today’s ultra-competitive and fast-moving business environment. That’s why we created a solution creates efficiency for today’s small business that doesn’t involve spending a ton of money.

With SITESTR, you no longer have to buy file storage and worry about building a website – we handle all that for you. Here’s what we offer:

SITESTR Plan Details

Starter Plan – For businesses either starting out or maintaining a brochure style website, we can help you develop a full website containing your several static pages such as the About, Contact, and others that rarely change, and a blog – which does change as you add content daily for SEO purposes. Our sites feature a mobile responsive design and come with complete managed server and site hosting, as well as 24/7 staff support.

Professional – our professional plan extends the starter features by offering e-commerce support, as well as a Google Search Console and Google My Business integration, CRM integration, and Analytics tracking to help you understand where and why customers are coming to your site. This can be helpful when you plan advertising to maximize your return.

Advanced – Our advanced plan offers all starter and professional features plus custom API integration, customizable analytics tracking, copywriting and full SEO service.

At SiteSTR, we set ourselves apart by providing several services integral to small businesses at an affordable price.

  • The SITESTR web platform runs on an advanced version of WordPress. We’ve taken the best of the world’s most popular CMS tool and extended it to work for you.
  • Our team of developers build powerful, SEO-Optimized websites right out of the box. With SITESTR, you’ll have a far better ability to compete on Google.
  • Phone Support! When you need help arranging a page layout, or have a question about sizing an image, our team is ready to help.
  • We make problems go away. We take care of all the backend software updates, configurations, and optimization so you can focus on running your business.
  • And when you’re ready to take the next step and start advertising, we can help you there too.

With SITESTR, we worry about the hard stuff so you can focus on running your business. Give us a call today or contact us below. Let’s see how much time and money we can save you.