As a website firm we get asked this question a lot: How much does it cost to get a website?
The answer is that there's a website for every budget, including free.
There's two main ways to go about getting a website:
The Fully Hosted option closely resembles a leasehold model where you pay a fixed amount/month or year and get the use of the provider's software to create and host your website. Tickets at the gate are cheap. Getting in is easy. Getting out is usually expensive and difficult.
The Fully Independent option means that you own/control your website code, web hosting and domain name. Tickets at the gate are more expensive, but you are free to switch providers as your needs dictate. webmentor.ie uses the Fully Independent option.
Fully Hosted Options
The fully hosted option is the budget option of choice for many. Well known providers in this space include Wordpress, Wix and Shopify. There are many more.
wordpress.com/free is the only provider on this list that supplies a truly free for life option. If you upgrade to their $4/mo plan, you can have your own domain name instead of your site ending with .wordpress.com. This is a good option for blogging websites just starting out. They are also the only provider on this list that has a full and detailed migration path away should you choose to leave them.
wix.com and shopify.com
Wix has recently introduced an ecommerce option, putting it into competition with Shopify which is an all round ecommerce platform. The obvious allure with both is the initial pricing and the fact that your costs are all in.
The most popular Wix plan is currently €10/mo, and the most popular Shopify plan is €32/mo.
Entry price can Inflate
However, that low initial entry price can get pretty inflated when you need to add extra functionality to your website. You get this extra functionality by purchasing apps from their store (or hiring a developer to do same). A common example would be website forms since the native (free) offerings are fairly basic. The extra functionality you might need - for example integration with a newsletter, or allowing file uploads - typically cost between $5 - $80 per month depending on how busy your site is. Factor in live chat, sales, social media integration, and it all adds up.
Although creating websites is made easy by choosing a template and then using drag and drop editors to order your content, there's a whole lot more to performant websites than just good looks. While lack of knowledge won't hinder you from creating a website on these platforms, it might not help when it comes to optimising the website for SEO, ensuring it runs well on mobile devices and has a thought out user interface driving traffic where you need it to go. This is where the DIY approach can hit a wall.
You can't just pack up your Website and leave
Also bear in mind that if you outgrow either of these fully hosted options and decide to go with an independent setup, your website will likely need to be rebuilt from scratch because the underlying architecture is proprietary - it's not open source. Here's an extract from an article in Wix that deals with moving your site away from them:
The reason you can't use another host for your Wix site is that the SaaS architecture does not support external hosting since it uses Wix’s proprietary technology and relies on Wix’s services to operate. (Wix Support)
Shopify will allow you to export csv files (lists of products, customers, orders, gift/discount codes), but not the database files that you actually need to rebuild it. So just like Wix there is no meaningful migration path away.
Fully hosted commercial options like Wix and Shopify aim to tie you into their systems at a very attractive price point.
But there's a massive drawback - you need to learn how to do it yourself, and you need to learn how to do it right. That takes time and experience.
- No maintenance requirement
- Make a website with little/no technical knowledge
- Time spent on learning curve
- Lack of technical knowledge can lead to performance hit
- Optimisation requires app purchase/hiring developer
- Advanced functionality requires app purchase/hiring developer
- Email is not provided - you need to get it elsewhere
- Ecommerce options are generally too basic and will require app purchase/hiring developer
- Shopify charges an additional 1% fee per transaction if you don't use their inhouse payment solution
- Customer/Product etc databases cannot be exported in a database compatible manner
- Server speed is an issue with some providers - DYOR (do your own research), trustpilot is your friend
- Lack of migration path away
Fully Independent Option
The Fully Independent option is more expensive than the fully hosted option. You are paying for expert knowledge and advice, which leaves you free to run your business because someone else is looking after the technical details - and they are accountable to you. On top of that you're free to take your business and website elsewhere because:
- You are the legal entity and account holder for your domain name
- Webhost's contract is with you as account holder and bill payer
- You're using non-proprietarial software which is easy to pack up and go
And don't forget that any cost associated with your business website is fully tax deductible
We can't speak for other independent companies, but the list below is what webmentor.ie offers. Always DYOR. You can take a look at our website pricing here.
- Website (code/interface) tailored to your exact needs
- Customisable as your needs change
- Optimised for speed and hosted on fast servers
- No swiping your profits
- Phone support during office hours
- Advice, thoughtfulness and planning with your business in mind
- Full migration path (before you sign up with an independent, just make sure that you own your website, webhosting and domain name. You should because you're paying for them all anyway. Make sure it's YOU with the login to each of these providers.)
- Price - you're paying for the website build, domain name and webhosting
- Maintenance - you're also paying for code/server maintenance, security and backups
The Bottom Line
If you're looking at the long term and growing your website in line with your business needs, then look at an independent like webmentor.ie. We're in it, with you, for the long haul.
You might be interested in reading: 10 Questions before getting a Website Quotation