Estimating the cost of a website can be a complicated and time-consuming task. There are so many factors to consider, all of which can affect both your initial development pricing and your yearly maintenance costs. Without knowing the details, it’s difficult to estimate the total costs. Here are some important key factors to keep in mind when budgeting for a new website:
To have more direct control over the cost of a website, it is important to create a web design strategy. By definition, a web design strategy is a long-term plan of action detailing how to design and develop a website in alignment with a company's digital and business strategy. A good web design strategy will help a business define its website goals, target audience, website structure, and customer journey. On average, a web design strategy for a small to medium size business can cost anywhere from $1,000 - $10,000. The range in price can vary based on size and scope of the website, and how the web design strategy is delivered by the agency.
In addition to the web design strategy, the next steps would be securing a domain name, choosing a Content Management System (CMS), and purchasing a web hosting plan.
Securing A Domain Name
Domain names are probably the single most important asset to purchase and maintain when designing and developing a website. A domain name, or better known as a web URL, is what visitors will type into a browser to access a website. Most domains today can cost you anywhere from $10-$20 per year to maintain. Most domain registrars may even offer multi-year subscriptions like 2-5 years, which would be recommended to prevent losing your domain name because of lack of payment.
Choosing A Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS, or content management system, is web software that allows users to develop and maintain a website without having to code or build it from scratch.
Content management systems (CMS) allows users to design or create, modify, manage and quickly publish content in a user-friendly interface. With the use of themes, page templates, plugins and extensions, you can customize the design and functionality of a website using minimal code.
Over 62% of the websites existing today are built using a CMS. Self-hosted CMS such as Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla make up for a large portion of that number, while hosted or proprietary CMS such as Wix, Hubspot, and Shopify are also included in the mix and are continually increasing in market share.
Most self-hosted CMS are free of charge but require a web hosting plan. Hosted or proprietary CMS includes hosting so there is no need to purchase a separate web hosting plan.
Purchasing A Web Hosting Solution
If you decide on using a self-hosted CMS like Wordpress, you will need to purchase a web hosting plan. Most entry level or shared hosting plans can cost you $3 to $10 a month, while most premium or dedicated hosting plans can cost you $100 a month or more depending on the features like storage, bandwidth, and additional web tools being provided.
When choosing a hosted or proprietary CMS like Wix, Hubspot, and Shopify, web hosting is included. These plans can cost you anywhere from $15 to $1,200 a month depending on what additional marketing and ecommerce features are needed to run your business.
Most CMS platforms offer a wide variety of free themes or templates which are ideal for basic layouts and designs, and with the beginner in mind. They offer limited features and functionality, as well as limited updates and support. Although it is possible to expand the features and functionality with the use of plugins and some coding knowledge, it is best to invest in a premium theme.
Premium themes usually come packaged with a variety of layouts, color variations, and integrated features like forms, calendars, sliders and other design capabilities. Premium themes can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 or more depending on the features, functionality, and support they provide.
Not all CMS offer plugin solutions. Although some of them offer a wide range of free plugins to choose from to expand the features and functionality of your website, some design and development demand may require the need for the premium versions. Premium plugins can range in price from $10 a month to $300 plus per year subscriptions. Take a look at this plugin pricing model to get an idea of what cost to expect.
Even with premium themes and plugins, there may be some features and functionality that can not be achieved without professional help. More complex designs or functionality may require hiring a designer or developer to get the job done.
Based on an average 10 -15 page website, most designers and developers today would charge anywhere from $50 - $100 an hour, or $2,000 - $10,000 for the package. Ecommerce solutions based on 100 - 100 products can range from $5,000 - $55,000. Therefore, it would be ideal to maximize your theme’s features and functionality before going this direction.
Estimated design & maintenance cost for various types of websites. (Resource: WebFX)
The most challenging step in creating a website is content writing. Strategic content writing not only helps you gain trust and connect with your target audience, but it also serves as the backbone of future marketing efforts. Content can help educate your audience about your business, giving them more confidence with their purchase or agreement. It can also help create more visibility online and on social media, as well as help boost your SEO, search engine rankings and authority.
Custom content writing can include but not limited to infographics, online guides, blog posts, videos, motion graphics, and gated content. Just like custom design and development, the cost of content writing can vary depending on what is needed. After doing some research, content creation plans can range from $1,800 - $6000 based on the number and type of assets being created.
For hosted CMS, maintenance and security may be part of your subscription costs, meaning there is minimal work and monitoring that has to be done to maintain a website. CMS like Wordpress and Joomla for example may take a bit more assets and efforts to keep them maintained since they are self-hosted. There are multiple levels to maintaining a website.
First, there is the hosting server that has software and a variety of code that has to be kept updated. As mentioned before, this is typically included with hosted CMS subscriptions and requires no effort on the user’s behalf. For self-hosted options, keeping the CMS, themes, and plugins updated may rest on the knowledge of the user and may require additional fees year in and year out to do so. Generally, yearly maintenance costs for a self-hosted website can range from $400-1,200 based on a 10-15 page website.
Security features may also come at a premium depending on what information needs to be protected. Although most hosting packages include a free SSL certificate, typically there is no liability if data is compromised. SSL’s that offer liability can cost anywhere from $8 - $900 a year depending on the data that need to be secured.
Simply put, the cost of designing and maintaining a website can vary based on a business’ wants and needs. No matter the budget, creating a web design strategy prior to designing a website can help eliminate unnecessary bleed throughout the process, and help better prepare for future maintenance costs.
If you need help designing a website, contact DaBrian Marketing Group today so we can discuss possible web design options and create a strategy to help guide the process.