Your website is the digital representation of your business. It is often the first interaction that people will have with you. So when you build a website, it’s important to create a brand identity that complements every other aspect of your business both online (social media, blog, etc.) and offline (business card, presentation docs, etc).
It may seem daunting and there are a lot of choices — custom-built sites, free website builders — but building an engaging and impactful website for your business is one of the most critical, yet exciting experiences you may have as a business owner.
There are many different cost elements which add up to building and maintaining a successful website, including:
- Upfront Costs: Web design, Development, & Domain registration
- Ongoing Costs: Ecommerce functionality, SEO management, Website maintenance
Often these costs seem quite large, especially in the light of the considerable effort that’s also required. However, when you are building your business website, it is important to remember that you have choices in your approach. If you are just starting out, you don’t have to include all the bells and whistles, nor do you have to pick the most expensive options. You can start small and build as your business grows. In the long run, regardless of the approach you choose, your website will be a valuable growth tool for your business.
Let’s take a look at some of the individual average cost components small business owners must take into consideration when building a website.
1. Domain and web hosting cost
A domain name is the name of your business, online. It provides valuable branding for your site and makes it easy for people to remember your business. Domain names vary in cost according to their type or domain extension. The more popular the domain, the more expensive it will be.
For example, investing in a .com domain extension might be more expensive than a .vet domain. So, if you’re a veterinarian, investing in a .vet domain might be a better option.
A domain name usually costs around $4 to $150/year, depending on the domain extension you decide to opt for.
When you are ready to publish your website, you will need to consider your hosting options. The type of hosting plan you need will depend on the type of website you want to create.
For example, shared hosting is one of the most popular hosting options for those who are building out their first websites. However, once your business expands, and your website starts to grow in popularity, you might have to move on to a more comprehensive hosting plan.
The most basic web hosting plans range from $15-$200/month, depending on the kind of web hosting provider and plan you choose.
2. Web design and development cost
Your website is the face of your business, and a well-designed website leaves a lasting impression. If your website looks good, it makes your business look good. You can hire a professional web designer or a freelancer to build your website, and it will cost you between $200 to $1,500.
However, you don’t have to hire a web designer to create a professional-looking website. You could use any of the free website builder tools available in the market. With our new AI-powered intelligent builder, Constant Contact takes the complexity out of building a website. Whether you need a simple website to showcase your work, a blog to share your voice, or a full e-commerce site to sell products, our drag and drop website builder tool simplifies website design and creation for you for free
3. Ecommerce website cost
If you are planning to have an online store and sell products from your website, then you will need to leverage an ecommerce platform. Typically, an ecommerce platform includes an order management system, delivery tracking functionality, and a live chat facility, along with the standard features included in a small business website.
The cost of ecommerce websites will increase as you increase the number of items you want to sell. Even an entry-level ecommerce website can cost upwards of $350 a year. The price can go higher if you install premium add-ons and a premium theme for your online store.
If you are just starting out and are only selling a couple of products, then you may want to consider the Constant Contact platform. You can set up your online store for free, list up to 3 products and pay a transaction fee only when people purchase. This can dramatically reduce your startup costs.
4. SEO cost
Once you have a website, you need it to get found by your audience. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important ways to get your website to show up higher on Google search results and drive traffic to your site.
Many small businesses don’t give SEO much thought – mostly because they don’t have the time or money to invest. However, research shows that 60 percent of traffic from Google searches go to websites that appear in the first three search results. SEO helps link people to your website when they are actively searching for information related to the products and services you offer.
Initially, most of the SEO work will be related to optimizing your website – using the right languages, HTML tags, coding best practices, and making sure all pages are linked to each other, etc. As your website matures, SEO management will transition to building links on the internet back to your website and will integrate into your content strategy.
There are multiple free online tools that can help you set up SEO for your website. You don’t always need to hire an SEO professional as that cost can be large, with professionals charging a starting rate of $75/hour and up to as much as $300/hour for an SEO agency.
5. Maintenance cost
A website is not static. You must continue to change and update your website as your business grows. Website maintenance is invaluable as it keeps your site current and functional for your visitors.
Most important is to ensure there are no bugs which can cause problems, You must also make sure that your content is up-to-date. Prices and stats quickly become outdated, and staff bios need changing as people come and go. As your content evolves, you might also need to add extra features to your website to deliver a richer user experience, and to ensure that the content fits on your site.
While some small businesses enjoy the challenge of maintaining their own websites, many outsource this task to an agency or a professional. Not having a maintenance contract often means downtime for your website in the event of a fault, and that can lead to loss of business.
.You may end up spending between $60 and $300+ per month, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.
6. SSL certificate cost
Every website must have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. It gives your site an added layer of security and will be presented to users as a “trustworthy” source, without any warning messages. It puts the “s” in “https://” at the start of your web address.
You also need to have an SSL certificate to handle payments if you’re an ecommerce website.
SSL certificates start at approximately $15 per year, depending on the kind of SSL certificate you purchase. The cost is likely to change depending on the assurance level of the certificate.
Putting it all together
Trying to work out the exact cost of a website can be tricky, especially if you have a limited budget. But how much will it cost you not to build one?
According to the United States Ecommerce Country Report, 81 percent of consumers search online before making a purchase. This means that if you don’t have a website, you’re missing out a huge chunk of potential customers. In addition to that, statistics show 72 percent of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within 5 miles of their current location. Local searches also lead 50 percent of mobile searchers to visit stores within a single day. You want to make sure you capture those customers.
You want to create a beautiful, professional website for your business. Before you jump in, consider what you want to accomplish with your site. Look closely at your needs and think strategically about each cost component and remember that you don’t necessarily have to turn to outside agencies.
There are so many great DIY tools available that you don’t have to sacrifice quality even if your budget is tight, and the level of investment in your website can always change as your business grows.
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