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How much is a website? It’s a tough question to answer concisely. For a web developer, the process is a lot like building a house, a house you hope millions of people visit every day.


Building a house involves many skillsets and often many professionals. You need land at a given address, an architectural plan, and an actual built structure complete with fixtures. Of course, over time that house will need maintenance if it’s going to hold its value.

Building a website is a similar, if less tangible, process. Keep reading to learn the building blocks of a website and the hidden costs that come with each one.

6 Hidden Costs to Discuss with Your Web Developer

 

1. Domain Name

Typical cost: $1 – $20 per year

Just like your house has a unique address, your website has a domain name or web address. This is the .com, .org, or .justaboutanything that a visitor types into their web browser to find your website. Domain names are commonly purchased from a registrar.

GoDaddy currently corners the market on domains, offering names a cheap as 99 cents for the first year. You can own a domain name without actually have a website. Getting just any old name is cheap and easy. However, every web address is one-of-a-kind so purchasing the best possible domain name, like one that precisely matches your business name or one with a specialty extension, can be more costly.

Ask your web developer:

  • Who will be my domain registrar?
  • Who will own my domain name?
  • Will you help me secure a strong domain name?
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Your domain name is the unique address for your website.

 

2. Hosting Services

Typical cost: $100 – $150 per year

Even a hot shot construction company can’t build you a house without the land to hold it. Likewise, websites need hosting services to hold all of their web content. A hosting company rents out space on their physical servers – yes, physical servers, meaning somewhere a building full of technological nightmares is holding the coded information for this blog post.

How much you pay depends on how much traffic you expect your site to receive. Think of your nephew’s cooking blog versus Amazon. Having the right amount of hosting is important because sites run slowly without sufficient host support.

Ask your web developer:

  • How will my website be hosted?
  • What level of hosting is best for my site?
  • Will I have my own hosting account or will I share with other sites you manage?
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Web hosts sell physical space on servers, much like plots of land.

 

3. Web Design

Typical cost: varies greatly — think $1000s not $100s

Web design is our favorite part of the whole web development process. We think through the appearance, or “front end,” of the site from colors and fonts to locations of buttons and how that will impact the user experience. We draw out blueprints, technically called “wireframes,” for each site we build.

Depending on the complexity of your site and skillset of your team, you may hire a web designer to create fully rendered web design mockups and a separate web developer to build/code/develop the site (see #5 below).

Ask your web developer:

  • Are you designing and developing my website?
  • How thoroughly do you plan out a website before you start coding?
  • Will I be involved in the design process or be able to discuss revisions?
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Links, text, images, etc. should be laid out like blueprints.

 

4. Content Writing

Typical cost: $50 – $200 per page

Content is like the fixtures and appliances that make a house usable. You can put up four walls and roof and call it a house or buy a domain and write some code and call it a website. But a house without lights and faucets isn’t move-in ready, and a website with no content is just an attractive digital shell.

Someone has to write the thousands of words that will appear on your website. If you’re thinking about taking this on yourself, consider how much time it will take to compose every little heading, call to action, navigation item, and description in a way that draws traffic from search engines and engages users. It’s best to collaborate with your web developer on the type of content that should appear on the site and leave the exact wording to the pros.

Ask your web developer:

  • Who will be responsible for writing my web copy?
  • Is the copywriter trained in writing for search engine optimization (SEO)?
  • How can we best communicate about web content and web copy?
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A kitchen needs appliances and a website needs content.

 

5. Web Development

Typical cost: varies greatly — think $1000s not $100s

Web developers are like the construction crew who physically builds your new house. Their training and expertise can vary, just like an electrician and roofer have very different and necessary skills. In many cases, web designers and web developers work side by side or are the same person.

“Back end” development includes everything you can’t see when you visit a web page, basically endless strings of code. These days, web developers can code websites from scratch or use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. It truly depends on what the website needs to do and the most efficient way to make that happen.

Ask your web developer:

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Houses and websites should be built with precision.

 

6. Website Maintenance and Updates

Typical cost: $20 – $100 per month

No one would expect a house to stay in tip-top condition without regular maintenance. Yet, many don’t realize that websites require the same TLC. We often compare web maintenance to the frequent updates your smart phone requires to keep running smoothly. Houses and websites will also have rare emergency situations that need immediate attention. When that happens, you don’t want to be wondering who to call. Web maintenance plans are often sold as a monthly subscription.

Most website owners want to update their web content regularly. You may need to change your hours, add a product, or post a new blog. Talk to your web developer about how changes can be made in the future. It’s important to tell them from the start if you want to be able to update content yourself.

Ask your web developer:

  • Do you provide web maintenance services?
  • How will regular updates be handled?
  • Can I make content changes myself or will I need to work through you?
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Without regular maintenance, your website will look like this.

 

So, how much does a website cost?

Well, how much does a house cost? Will builder grade meet your needs or should you go custom? Like houses, the cost of a website varies greatly based on your needs and wants. Keep these hidden costs in mind when comparing quotes and choosing a web developer. Any quality professional will be happy to answer your questions.

Have you discussed these hidden costs with your web developer? Tell us about it in the comments!

 

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