What Website Costs Should You Expect?
The Sprocket Report
Even though a website is a must-have for every business, many small business folks are still unclear about what they actually need and what they should be buying. Let’s look at the answers to some frequently asked questions:
What do I need for a new website?
- A domain name
- Pages that reside at that domain name
- Hosting services that make those pages visible to the public
Is a domain name the same as a URL?
The domain is the name of your website while the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address of a specific page. For example the page “mydomain.com/contact” is a different URL from the page “mydomain.com/blog,” although both pages are part of the same domain.
For a fee, the domain name is licensed to you for one year. If you pre-pay for more than one year, the price is usually discounted. Most domain names are under $20/year, but if the name you want is already owned by someone else, it could cost you thousands of dollars.
Are there differences in hosting companies?
Yes, and differences in services between and within hosting companies. Hosting is an ongoing expense, a monthly or annual bill, and costs vary depending on several factors, including what platform your website uses, how much traffic your site generates, and what kind activities take place on your website. As you might imagine, a busy store or online gaming site sees much more traffic than that of a business who simply posts their brochure online.
Part of the cost also includes assistance – or the lack of it. If you do not have the time or the skill to deal with problems that might crop up, it makes sense to pay a bit more to be sure someone is in your corner when you need them.
Do I need an SSL certificate on my website?
No. And yes. Technically, the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protects the data on your website, so if you aren’t collecting data like passwords or credit card numbers, you don’t have anything you need to protect. That said, it looks extremely unprofessional to have your business website labeled “not secure” and your search engine optimization will also take a big hit. The better choice is to get that “https” signifying the security of your site.
What do you mean by website “platform?”
Websites can be built with a number of tools in a wide range of prices. Totally custom-coded, totally templated, using a common programming system, and cobbled-together pieces of them all. Some popular platforms are WordPress, GoDaddy’s website builder, Microsoft-friendly DNN, and there are many others.
When making your decision, here’s what you should consider:
- Know your budget.
- Be sure you can do everything you want to do online.
- Ask about options for growth.
- Check for compatibility with your data, payment and other systems.
- Find out how support is provided and by whom.
What about those free websites I see advertised?
Yes, there are free website design and hosting options. They might be the right choice for you, but do your research to be sure. Here are the questions you need to ask so you know what you are getting with a free site:
- Is this an introductory period? What is the cost afterwards?
- Will your domain name be a sub-domain like www.freewebsite.com/yourURL
- Is there a limit on how many pages you can have?
- Do the ecommerce or other functions you need cost more?
- Will there be advertising on the site and are you okay with that?
Sprocket Websites builds websites on the DNN and WordPress platforms and we also offer a website builder for folks who just want a quick and inexpensive way to get online. If you’re still unsure what the best option is for you, just give us a call!
This is an update to “What Does a Website Cost?” dated 7/8/2013.