Michaela Schreiter, October 6, 2016
When creating a website, many people account for the cost of either a website creation platform, or paying someone to build the website for them. But there are a number of additional costs involved in building and maintaining a website that are often overlooked. Some website cost calculators take these costs into consideration, some don't, so make sure to have all the facts before starting your website project.
Don’t get caught with unexpected bills for your site. Prepare for these costs now, and save yourself financial frustration later.
Your website is hosted on a web server. This essentially means that your site is stored, and made viewable to the public, through the server. If your website were an advertisement, the web server is the billboard. And it’s obviously a key component to any website.
While some website creators will include the cost of hosting into their pricing, some don’t. If you paid a developer to build your website, they will either charge you extra for hosting, or ask that you pay the for hosting yourself.
This usually involves going directly to a website hosting service, such as DigitalOcean, and paying them a monthly or annual fee to host your site. When looking at website creators, it’s important to look at whether or not hosting is included. That way if it’s not, you can budget accordingly and begin looking for a website hosting service.
Your domain name is the address used to bring a user to your website (www.example.com). Think of it as a phone number that the browser uses to locate your website for the person searching. And it isn’t free.
Some website creators will let you use a subdomain on their own site (example.pagecloud.com), but having a domain name of your own will cost extra. It’s not always worked into the price of your website creator. You often have to pay for it separately.
This involves using a domain registrar like Hover to register your domain name, and then associating it with your website through the website creator. Again, if you hired someone to build your website, they would likely just add this into their overall costs.
Registering a domain name, much like hosting a website, usually involves an annual fee. They vary, depending on the type of domain you choose and which registrar you go with. Prices start anywhere from $10 - $20 per year on average, but you will find both higher and lower prices.
Depending on the type of website you have, and what you’re using it for, you might require additional security. For example, if you’re selling products and taking credit card information, you want to make sure that your visitors are working in a safe and secure environment.
This means that you will need an SSL certificate. Without getting too complicated, SSL certificates basically ensure secure connections between web servers. It protects the information being passed between the two. So if your site is going to host credit card transactions, data transfer or logins, this is very important.
Your visitors want to know that the site is secure before they give their credit card information. With an SSL certificate, you can assure them that you have taken proper precautions to ensure the safety of their information.
While SSL certificates also come in annual fees, the cost is quite a bit higher than domain names or website hosting. Depending on the amount of information being exchanged on your site, and the company you choose to go with, prices can range from $100/year to over $500/year. It all depends on how much data will be flowing through your site. The more data people are entering, the more expensive it will be to secure it.
Depending on the website hosting service you choose, they may have automatic SSL certificate already included in the price, and built into their server. But in most cases, you will need to pay extra for it, especially if you are planning on a lot of people entering their information (high volume of sales, for example).
It’s common to see businesses and brands with email addresses associated to their name (firstname.lastname@example.org). So you could create a branded email address to go with your website and company name. It creates a professional look for your website, and provides strong brand identity.
But not all website hosting services, or website creators, will include email addresses in their pricing. In most cases, you have to pay extra for the package that includes branded email accounts.
You could save moving up a price point by registering for the email addresses yourself. Google offers branded email addresses for as low as $5/month in some cases. Your email will still run on Google’s servers, which comes in handy if you’re familiar with GMail.
This is particularly important to watch out for if you paid someone to build your website for you. Once you’ve paid the initial fee that covers them building your website (along with hosting, domain names, etc.), what happens when you need to make changes down the road?
Will they give you control over your website once they’ve finished building it? If so, will they teach you how to use whatever platform they used? And if not, how much will you have to pay when you need something changed in the future? How long will it take?
Even worse, what if something goes wrong with your site? How much will a developer cost to fix it if you don’t have a solution?
Future updates and ongoing maintenance of your site will more than likely cost extra down the road. So it’s important to account for this cost in your budget, and not just consider the initial fee for getting it online. Think of it like car maintenance fund. You pay for the initial price of the car, but if things start to break, it helps to have money for repairs and maintenance to keep it on the road.
Not all features and functionality come included in the initial price of a website creator. Some platforms will offer basic website features for a flat rate, and then charge for adding plugins and integrations for extras. This often includes eCommerce or database plugins.
It’s important to know exactly what you need for your website when you begin the research process. That way you’ll know which services are going to cost you more. Are you selling product through your website? Make sure to look at whether or not eCommerce is included in the subscription cost, or budget for the extra amount it will cost you to add that feature into your website.
Sometimes, paying for extra plugins involves going through third-party services. In this case, you’ll be paying another company, outside of your website creator. That’s just something else to consider, in case you would rather not give payment information to too many companies.
Much like they do with plugins, some website creators offer a number of designs for free and then offer premium designs for an extra cost. In the event that you can’t find a design you like, you might have to pay extra for one that suits you more.
This is a case where it might be a good idea to make sure that the website creator you choose lets you customize your design, rather than pay more for a different one. Finding the right design is crucial to making sure you’re happy with the website you create. So don’t settle for a design you’re only ok with, just because it’s free. If you can budget for the extra cost, do so. If not, you’ll know to look for another website creator.
Don’t let unexpected costs hinder your website design process. Know what to expect going in, and you’ll have no problem finding the right solution to create the website you want.