Building a website can be approached from any number of angles. The key for most business owners and entrepreneurs to controlling costs is developing a thorough plan in advance. When you know what you need your website to do, you can more easily identify the right tools to get you there. This post will help you identify the cost to making a website in 2016.
The Basics of What Your Site Will Need
Most websites have certain basic functions as follows.
- Domain name. This is your online address or URL. It starts with a “www” and ends with a dot plus an extension.
- Email. You will need an email that matches your domain name or a fill-in contact form that visitors can use to get in touch with you.
- Hosting platform. This is where you will store your files and manage the central architecture of your website, making additions, deletions or edits as needed.
- Theme. Your theme controls the layout of your website – everything from colors to fonts to site design and flow.
- Store/e-commerce. Here, if you plan to take orders from your website, you will want to have an online store where you can list products and services and take online payments.
- Blog. Whether you import an existing blog you are running, use the in-house host’s blog software or link out to your existing blog, most websites benefit from increased web traffic by including a blog.
- CMS. CMS stands for “content management system.” Sometimes the CMS is included with and provided by the hosting service and sometimes it is a standalone system you integrate with your hosting service.
Identifying Your Needs and Goals
What your cost to make a website ultimately ends up being also depends on your needs and goals. If you are a solopreneur or small business, you can often get away with a very inexpensive all-inclusive host-CMS provider for at least the first few years.
But if you are a large company anticipating floods of daily web traffic, you will want to retain more control over your content and your site up-time than most online host-CMS providers can offer.
Here, it is critical to both costs and usability to outline your needs and goals, which will be unique to your business size, maturity and online operations.
2016 Cost Estimates to Build a Website
Having prefaced current cost estimates with all of the above information, here are some current cost guidelines you can use as you are planning for your own website build or expansion.
Domain Name Registration
Ranges from free to hundreds of dollars.
- Free. In some cases, you can get a free domain name registration when you opt in for a host-CMS service package.
- $.99 – $15.00. So long as the domain name you want is available, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $15 to register it (claim it for a set period of time, usually 12 months).
- $$$. If the domain name you want has been pre-bought by a domain registrant holder or is currently being held by someone else, you may have to pay through the nose to obtain it (here it is advisable to see if you can find another workable domain name instead).
Hosting-CMS / Drag-and-Drop Website Builder
Here again, your costs range from free to $100 or more per month.
- Free. Sites like WordPress.com allow you to launch a basic functional website totally free of charge.
- $120 – $1,200 per year. If you choose to unlock some of WordPress.com’s higher capabilities or opt for a drag-and-drop website builder (examples include Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, et al) or a WordPress-optimized hosting provider, you will pay monthly or annually for the extra functionality.
- $2,000+. If you determine it makes more sense to hire a programmer to help you map out and customize your site (even if they use a drag-and-drop interface to do it) you will pay extra for the labor plus the site fees. Here, you may either pay by the hour (with $100/hour for a USA-based developer being standard) or by the project (expect $2,000+ depending on your site’s complexity).
Your theme will cost you anywhere from nothing to $50+ if you use a drag-and-drop or online web host interface. It will cost into the hundreds if you have a developer build it for you from scratch using a programmer’s software (examples include Dreamweaver, Joomla, Drupal, et al).
If you opt for a simple fill-in contact form, you won’t typically pay anything. But if you want customized email addresses that match your website URL and you need several of them, you will need to buy a package that includes email.
- Single email address. For a single email address, you will pay anywhere from $2 to $10 per month.
- Multiple email addresses. For multiple addresses, a catch-all address and large file send capability, you may pay $50 per month or more.
The simplest sites still use third-party services like Paypal or Stripe to take payments. Some sites now integrate with tools like Etsy, Amazon, Shopify or others to add on an e-commerce function to an existing website.
But if you want to build a multi-functional e-commerce site from scratch, expect this to be one of the priciest facets of your website budget. It is not uncommon for businesses to spend $5,000 or more just on the e-commerce portion of their site.
If your web budget is limited, you can typically get away with launching a basic site that contains only what you need. But if your budget permits, you can often save yourself later time and funds by building in everything you ultimately need all at once.