How much should I pay for a Website?
How much does a Website Cost?
How long does it take to build a Website?
These are questions that Web Designers and Developers get asked often. The costs in today's world for a Website can vary greatly, and you will get different mileage depending on what you pay, and what options you want to take, and not really something that can be answered with a definitive cost.
The biggest thing is to make sure you're getting value for money, and that value can be determined whether your Website is giving you a return on your investment. In today's world, it is important that most businesses have some sort of online presence to help bring in customers and earn money. Not having a Website in most cases can hamper your business when competing with others in the same industry. A Website can be the first impression to customers, of your services and products, and most importantly, if your business can be trusted, and determine if that customer wants to deal with you.
Some things you should have in place, or be working on before undertaking to build or having someone build your Website:
Branding, Business Name and Domain Name: These things go hand in hand. Branding of your Business will include things like Colours, Logo, and those will be determined by what your business does and the Services and or Products it provides. And will also include your Logo, which you should have in mind how you want it to look online, and if it's readable easily by customers, as well as memorable. Your Domain Name needs thinking about along with your Business Name, again you want something that's easily remembered, instantly recognisable.
Target Market: By this I mean, research your competitors. What Keywords are they targetting? What Keywords you want to target. How you want to implement your marketing strategy, like how much you want to spend on marketing, what your monthly, yearly limits are. This will also help determine what kind of content, and the frequency of adding content like Blog Articles to your Website. If you decide to include video's, like embedding YouTube Content, consider also adding a Transcript for Visually Impaired visitors, or for those that find it hard to follow verbal content in your videos.
Website: Knowing what you want your Website to do for your business before undertaking the build process will actually help map out what tasks need to be done, whether that's for yourself or your web person. Researching your competitors will help you determine what works for them, and how you should proceed design-wise.
Here are some things you should be asking:
Will my Website be Secure?
Having security in mind is usually the last thing a client should have to think about but is something your Web Designer or Developer should at least discuss with you to create a plan that you can both implement and know what roles each should be taking. Your already busy running your business, you don't have time to fix security issues. A regular backup plan and storage of that backup should be something the Designer or Developer implements as part of negotiating and undertaking to build your Website. This should also include steps to help make your Website secure, including any additional Addons they recommend, and also discuss the update and upgrade plans. That said though, they should not try to convince you that their setup is secure and hacker-proof, there is simply no such thing.
Will my Website be Standards Compliant?
Having a Website that follows W3C's Standards of Compliancy, will go a long way towards helping your Website be crawled by Search Engines, as having the underlying code of your Page easily crawlable by not having out of date techniques that are deprecated (no longer in use), or code that is full of errors. Just think how difficult it is to read a page of text full of errors where you have to try and guess what the text is trying to represent.
Will my Website be Accessibility Compliant?
Having a Website that is easily used by Visually Impaired or other Disabled people is very important. In some countries, there are laws to try and encourage Website owners to make sure their Websites are usable by the Disabled.
Does the Copyright of any of the Content, like Graphic Images, Logo (if created by the designer) and Website Template or Theme belong to me?
This is actually something that I have seen a number of times, where Designer's, as they created the Graphic Content and other Media for a Businesses Website or other Media, have claimed that the Business owner does not own that Content. Most of the time though, once full payment for the work has been made, the Copyright is transferred to the Business Owner.
Who does (you, them, or outsourced) the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for the Website?
SEO is something you can do yourself and doesn't take as much time as you may have been led to believe. However, if you decide not to undertake doing your own SEO, then this is something you can discuss with who you are negotiating your Website with. Most Designers or Developer's don't do the SEO side of things, and you don't have to use who they recommend. There are links at the bottom of the article for resources where to learn to do SEO yourself, or where you can find someone to do it for you.
Who does the Content, and can I easily Edit the Content myself?
This is something that often causes issue's between Clients and Designers/Developers, and should be discussed from the beginning so it's clear who, whether it's you, or them that does the Content and Editing. It used to be, that a client would contact their web person with what they wanted to be changed, and be charged for the web person to make those changes. These days with a lot of Websites being driven by a Content Management System, Client's (You) have a login that allows them to add, change, or remove the content as they see fit. Usually, though, you can't make changes to the Theme of the Website, which still falls to the web person. If the content is up to the client (you), and something you feel you aren't capable of doing yourself, you can hire a Copywriter, and there are some great ones available. There are links at the bottom of the article where you can source a good copywriter or learn to do it yourself.
There are a lot of factors, including, using a custom-designed Website (more costly and takes longer), or a pre-built Website (Quick, Cheaper, but fewer features and less customizability).
Free Websites such as Wix, Weebly, Yola, while great to get you online and get your business, services and products online, do have a severe caveat when it comes to customising the underlining code of your Website, which can make getting your Website Search Engine Friendly (SEO) a nightmare. Things like specialised payment facilities, custom forms, or being able to tailor pages to suit exactly what your business does, can be very difficult to achieve. Free also means using pre-defined Website Templates, that can be very difficult to modify. The biggest hurdle though is SEO and making changes to things like speeding up your website as you are at the mercy of the hosting provider, and how they've built the underlying code of their product, as well as the technology they use to make your Website available online. Another issue can be the copyright of uploaded and edited material. Some Licensing of Free Website options can be worded in such a way to allow them to onsell or even take over the copyright of your content, check the Terms Of Service before undertaking this option.
Paid Hosted Services, such as Squarespace (who have just made improvements to the SEO of their Websites, but time will tell how good that is). Much like the Free explanation above, these services also leave their customers at the mercy of what they provide. While Squarespace has a lot more that can be customised, and it can be a good starting point if all you need is to get your brand out there, there are limitations, esp. when trying to rank against other businesses that have much better custom-built Websites. Squarespace currently charges between $ 12 to $ 40 per month billed annually depending on the plan you require. This can be a good option if you don't want to be bothered with updating the underlying Website system, however, you are at the mercy of the service. If they have a serious security issue, this will not only affect your website, but all the website's on their service, but it is something they will have to fix at their convenience.
Wordpress. I've made this its own section, as a lot of Graphic Designers, or Web Design businesses these days, are simply using Wordpress, with an Addon Theme, and plugins that can be purchased and installed. There are some developers that custom-build a Wordpress Theme, and modify Wordpress to behave how you need for your business, which usually requires a lot of back and forth with the Developer (Designers and Developers are two different categories), but you will end up with something close to your needs. Both can be a quick turn around time to get you up and running. There is a risk, as with anything, most of which are security issues due to plugins, bad updates, or the lack of security plugins being installed to protect the Wordpress Installation. Making changes to the underlying code can also be difficult, esp. if you need to make changes to how content is output and displayed. Costs can vary greatly, from the very cheap to thousands. The most I've seen someone charge for one of these types of Websites is about $ 12,000, and this isn't even including the Domain Name Registration or Hosting. Wordpress, however, is primarily and was originally a Blogging System, that over the years has had addons to force it to behave like a CMS, under the hood though, it's still primarily a Blogging System, and depending on what your requirements are for your business, it can be difficult to have Wordpress fully behave as required without extensive workarounds.
Custom Coded Websites, are the most versatile, customizable option. Though they too have pitfalls, the main being development time, and costs. It costs a lot more to pay a developer to build something from nothing, but the result is that you get exactly what you need. Costs can vary greatly, but you will find the cheaper the developer usually means they are inexperienced as more expensive developers know what their time, knowledge and experience is worth.
Lastly, (and yes this is kind of a plug for the way I build Websites), is a custom-built CMS, and there are quite a lot of Open Source Projects, some being osCommerce (one of the oldest) Shop type system, Drupal, Joomla, or my own project AuroraCMS. As with any CMS, templates/theme or plugins can be installed to extend the functionality. Addons and Plugins in any system can be fraught with security issues. Especially if developers outside of the project create addons, and don't follow security procedures, or it could be that the developer is just not experienced enough to take security into account, one of the biggest issues with Plugins with Wordpress. There is also the issue that malicious code can be purposely inserted into the addon. Costs for these systems, as with Wordpress, can vary depending on the Designer/Developer.
Let me, just for a moment, explain why AuroraCMS is different than other platforms.
Size, it has a smaller footprint compared to other CMS's, esp. considering its features.
AuroraCMS is not only Blog/Article capable, it also has a lot of other built-in features, such as: Pages, Portfolio, Client Proofs, Messaging (Full Email Client built-in) with storage of Contact Page Messages, Inventory, Shopping Cart, Rewards System, Services, Bookings, Full Invoicing System, Content Scheduler, News, Events, Testimonials, Portfolio, Newsletters, SEO including JSON-LD Built right in, Accounts with User Ranks with Permissions Options.
Content can be reverted if other Administration Users change the content.
Content Editing Suggestions. SEO's or other Permission enabled Administrators can suggest edits, that if accepted can simply be changed with an approval button
Comments and Reviews require Approval before they are displayed on the Front End, and are also put through the Spam and Honey Pot Test.
Built-in Security that checks submitted form data for spam, and checks users IP against Project Honey Pots Blacklist and can automatically block IP's with a 30day option to clear blacklisted IP's. Security options can also block IP's if known Wordpress attack attempts are made, to reduce hammering of the Website and to stop brute force attempts.
Front end can use any pre-built CSS Framework, or you can roll your own.
The front end uses simple HTML Style tags to indicate where database content should be used.
Other costs to take into consideration are:
Domain Registration: This is an ongoing cost, just like car registration, and can vary depending on the domain name extension (the .com, .com.au, .design, or any other of the many options now available). We recommend and use VentraIP.
Hosting: This too can vary greatly. We recommend and use VentraIP for Hosting as well.
Outsourced SEO Consultant: This cost can vary greatly as well, we, however, recommend the option of doing it yourself, and one of the best courses we recommend are Kate Toon's.
Outsourced Copywriter: Another variable cost, and as with the others, mileage will vary. Kate Toon also does Copywriting and has a list of people she recommends on her Website, another great Copywriter I recommend is Belinda Weaver of Copywrite Matters, she also runs courses.