The number 1 question I get asked is: How much does a website cost?
Sometimes the people who ask this question have been told by the boss to ring around for the best quote. They have no idea about websites and can't understand why I don't have a one-size-fits-all figure on hand.
I'm really worried about how much I could end up paying for a website!
I often get this question asked by concerned business owners who just don’t want to be taken for a ride. And they’re right to be worried. I’m going to address some of those issues here and show you the best way to come at this - prepared!
You need to make up 2 Lists:
- The first list is about planning what you need for the website itself
- The second list is a simple costing that you could do on the back of a beer mat!
Costings on a Beermat
List 1 - 10 Questions for you to answer about the Website you want
Make your best attempt at these questions, it'll make that phone call to a prospective web firm much easier on you and them, and help you to get a sensible quote that you can understand.
You will need to get all the logins required for the web firm to be able to work off the old site. They'll tell you what they need. If for whatever reason you know you can't get those details, it will probably mean starting afresh.
- What’s the main purpose of the website? Choose only one. This is the cornerstone. You can add more stuff later on.
- I want a website so people can find out about what we do (brochure website)
- I want to build a community around our theme (community/membership website)
- I want to sell stuff online (online store)
The URL is the website address, and it doesn’t need to be related to your business. Also write down the URL of your two strongest competitors (and what you like/don't like about their websites.)
Time and Cost. If you don't have any material ready it'll cost you a lot more to get the web firm to create all this for you. Really it's not their job and when you think about it, what do they know about your business anyway? Another thing is that you can't nick images off the web. If you own them, fine - otherwise you have to pay a licensing cost or risk being sued by the likes of Getty Images. Apart from cost, gathering the material needed for your website takes a lot of time. Have a plan to get this stuff together, it doesn't have to be right away, but you will be expected to deliver your content, required images/logos and any videos on time and in the format required by the web firm.
- How are you planning to update content/images/videos etc on the website in the future, and how often?
- I want the updates done inhouse by me or my staff - there's a good bit of updating to do
- I'd prefer the web firm to do the updating - there's not much to do/I don't have the time or resources
Have you any social media accounts set up and working? eg Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest etc? You don't need them all, but you might want some. Set them up yourself, so you retain control. Don't expect a web firm to run these for you - they're very time consuming and most firms will refuse to do it for you unless they're specialists in the area. The prime directive of Social Media is do it yourself. So be sure you know what you want and why you want it. Facebook Like buttons, Retweet this, Live Twitter feeds - all great things provided you have the time to be active on your chosen Social Media platform(s).
These usually cost more but whether you want them now or in the future, be sure to inform the web firm because it will influence the platform they choose first day. It could cost you a bomb to put something in later on that the platform isn't designed to do. This is not a comprehensive list, it's just the more common ones we get asked for.
- Different languages/regions
- Rating/comments (built in to some platforms)
- Opinion polls/surveys/push marketing
- Live customer chat
- Custom slideshows
- Newsletter sign up
- Members only content
- Recurring billing (not always built in to online store platforms)
- Restricted/secure download area
This is a specialist area - your usual web firm won't provide this functionality for you without a separate quote. What you can ask them to do is to make sure that your website is SEO Ready. That means that SEO title/description tags (read: code) are available for when the time comes to hire someone to come in and do a proper SEO job for you. Real SEO is pretty expensive. Some web firms will do a basic job for you, and some software platforms can be programmed to do some of it automatically - ok, well that's better than nothing, right? If you're serious about SEO you'd be looking to spend several thousands/yr - just to be clear about the difference between big boy SEO and "a little SEO will do you no harm" type SEO. At a minimum you want the website to be SEO ready.
No probs if you don't, but you will have to before it all kicks off.
Domain name and web hosting - insist on registering your own domain name and purchasing your own web hosting account using your own name and your own email address and your own credit card - got that? By all means take the web firm's recommendation for web hosting. Read this short article about domain registration so you don't hurt yourself in the process.
Google account - You will want to monitor your websites statistics at the very least. To do this, register a google account in your own name, with your own email address. Then when the website is nearly done, use that account to register for google analytics and other free products. You can give your web firm access later on. Always register for these products yourself, through your original google account. Read this article on the google account to understand why these issues are important to your ownership and control.
Almost all websites need a Privacy Statement and a declaration of any data gathering technologies (eg cookies) by law. If you're selling online you have even more obligations to provide information to visitors in line with the Distance Selling regulations. It's the law and it's a lot of work. Ask the web firm if they normally help you with this. These are YOUR legal responsibilities (not theirs!). Read more about how to set up a Privacy Statement.
List 2 - The Beermat List (costings)
This is an annual cost. The .ie domain name can be got for as little as €20 per annum, the .com, .net, .org etc around USD$10/y
This is an annual cost. You can get decent irish web hosting for as little as €40/y
This is a once off cost. Just put your own figure down on paper. Don’t be shy. This is what you’re willing to pay. It’s an instinctive mixture of what you think it’s worth, and how many euros you have in your pocket. You might be pleasantly surprised. If this really doesn’t work for you, then ask how long it will take to build what you want and multiply the time taken by the average industrial wage. That should come close.
This is a once off cost if you or your staff plan to update the website. A day's training including manuals is around €600. You might get away with a half day. Also get a price per hour for additional phone support, because you're not a technical genius and the training is never enough.
This is an ongoing cost if you want the website firm to do your updates for you. Plan for about 4 hours updates annually if you're not going to do much updating. Editing costs are in or around €25/h. If you're going to do a lot of updating, then go for the Training option instead it will work out cheaper in the end. (Also - don't confuse editing costs with programming updates like adding new functionality to the site - these are charged out at around €100/h)
This is an ongoing cost. The cheap and cheerful way to do this is to ask the web hosting firm do they take regular backups (ie at least once a day), and what do they charge for providing you with one in case you mess up your site or a giant worm devours it in your sleep. I’ve seen prices at €25 ex VAT per restore. Factor it in, all done.
For a busier site, or a forum, or a member’s area, you might want to organise your own backups to the cloud on a daily/hourly/weekly basis. Consult the web firm, not all of them do it. Some web hosts offer cloud backup also. Prices will start from a couple of hundred a year to a couple of thousand depending on your needs and how valuable your data is to you.
This is an ongoing cost. If your website is developed using the likes of Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, phpForum, OSCommerce etc, they need constant updating to keep the code working and the hackers out. You simply CANNOT put them in and ignore the technical updating requirement. You CANNOT put your head into the sand about this. Ask the web firm how much to keep the system (and its dependencies) up to date. It takes about 30 minutes to do the update (if it goes right), so work on 2-4 updates/yr. About €50 each. You might be able to work out a good deal if you take a backup and maintenance contract together.
This is an annual cost. You will absolutely need a secure certificate if you want to stay in the Google rankings. These days it's a must. A secure certificate provides an encrypted channel so that sensitive data like logins/credit cards cannot be deciphered if they're snooped in transit. Expect to pay anywhere between €40 - €90/y. Shop around. (It also puts the 's' in https://.)
This is the cost of doing business. Some payment gateways charge a monthly fee on top of a rate per transaction, while others cost you only per transaction. Either way, you'll need to do the math.
This is an ongoing cost. Factor in a pack a week for the duration of the build and keep taking them until the training is over. Cost: about €6/pack.