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There are many components that go into establishing a website. You must factor in website costs for domains, hosting and design. When building a website, there are three ways to go about it: a website builder, WordPress or hiring a designer. Let’s look at what a website costs so that you can be prepared for the whole endeavor.

There are a number of basic requirements that need to be met when setting up a website. These include registering a domain name, finding a website hosting company, locating a professional designer to build the website or doing it yourself with a website-building platform. You may also need to obtain an SSL certificate if it’s not included with one of these services, in addition to other add-ons you might require, such as an e-commerce portal.

Ultimately, you can get a website up and running for very little, but it may not have all the necessary components to make it a searchable website, one that people stay on or one that exudes security. You want your website to be a place where readers feel good about getting information and buying products or services.

The domain name is the starting point of your website. Securing the right domain name is vital, especially if you’re looking for a .com URL or a prized top-level domain (TLD). Top-level domains can be expensive because they represent a first stop after the root zone, meaning you have the desired domain name followed by .com.

Registering usually entails an annual subscription from a domain registrar, ranging from anywhere between $12 to $60 a year. Keep in mind that some premium domains may cost a lot more depending on how popular the keywords in the domain are. Some domains sell for thousands of dollars. Most business owners find something that works for under $60.

If you’re utilizing a website builder service, they sometimes include this as a free bonus for the first year. With services such as WordPress, it’s an extra fee.

You can’t have a website simply with a domain. You must obtain hosting for the website so that visitors can see what’s on the site. Hosting is a separate fee from the domain but may be included in some plans.

With drag-and-drop website building sites, this is usually included in their annual subscription fee. But if you’re building the pages yourself or using WordPress, you will be required to subscribe to a website hosting service provider.

Once again, these subscription fees vary from around $100 to $500 per year. If you have a lot of web traffic to your website, it’s better to invest in a more robust web hosting plan to ensure that your site doesn’t crash. A high volume of traffic is considered to be more than 100,000 visitors a month. If your hosting plan doesn’t allow for a lot of traffic, you may run into problems as your visitor counts increase. Baseline plans are fine for when you start but be prepared to upgrade as your website gains more traction with visitors.

In fact, at a later stage, you could invest in your own servers and ensure that all the information is kept in-house. This is a high expense that can range from $5,000 to $20,000 per year. Generally, most smaller companies don’t need to go this route.

We’ve mentioned website builders and their inclusive packages. If you are on a tight budget, using these packages to design a site yourself can save you a wad of cash. They usually don’t require any technical skills and utilize drag-and-drop features for your convenience. It may be overwhelming at first, but with a few minutes in the do-it-yourself (DIY) program, most people are able to build their first website to their liking.

These programs may be free or inexpensive to use the basic features. But to access premium features such as unique themes, you will need to pay higher subscription fees. Costs vary depending on the platform you subscribe to and the plan you choose, and they can run anywhere between $100 and $500 a year, but most average around $200 a year.

As a rule of thumb, customization for website builder sites is limited compared to WordPress or building your site from scratch. If you want to tap into that unique design aesthetic, you will need a graphic designer familiar with HTML coding. Most graphic designers will charge you a flat fee or an hourly rate. Expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 an hour to get someone who is also versed in the coding needed for your website.

You might decide that building the website on your own just isn’t your cup of tea. That’s fine as long as you know that it will cost you more to have the site built. Hiring a professional website designer can take a huge burden off your shoulders and provide you with a unique and beautiful website.

Designers can charge per hour or a flat rate for the allotted project. But you’ll want someone who has a strong portfolio, as there will be fewer design reverts, and you’re more likely to get what you envisioned for your website. When working with a designer, it helps to show them the types of websites that you like that would be similar to yours. This gives the designer a starting point. Also, go over color schemes to make sure the site fits your brand and what you want to show your readers.

Costs can vary widely depending on experience and the needs of the project, but it’s not uncommon to get quotes between $30 and $100-plus an hour.

Many small businesses don’t realize how important it is to sign up for a secure sockets layer (SSL) service provider. An SSL certificate is a digital authentication of your website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection for security purposes. It’s also required to accept online payments, so any online store will need an SSL.

SSL certification means that your visitors are protected from unwanted cyberattacks. Some browsers will divert users away from websites without SSL certification with the message, “This site may not be secure.” For most visitors, this is enough to deter them from clicking through to the site. This certificate changes your site from an HTTP to an HTTPS prefix in the web domain, showing web browsers that you have invested in security for the website.

In many instances, you can get an SSL certificate for free through your web hosting provider. However, you can opt to purchase an SSL certificate from a third-party provider as well.

SSL also helps with search engine optimization (SEO) and the flow of data to and from the site. Fees for SSL vary from free to around $249 a year. Some website builders include this certificate at no additional cost, so consider that a valuable perk if you see it offered. Either way, you’ll want your website to have an SSL certificate to gain the confidence of readers from around the web.

As with everything in life, there are always extras to consider before hitting upload on the back end of your website. Here are some of the most common.

Whether you’ve subscribed to a website-building site, using WordPress or are looking to venture into e-commerce, you will likely need add-ons known as plugins. These plugins can enable features such as on-page testimonials, contact forms and newsletter subscriptions, just to name a few.

There are loads of free versions as well as paid plugins. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what features are worth spending money on. Depending on the new function you want, it could be free or an annual subscription fee of $100-plus per year.

Use plugins sparingly. The more plugins you add to your site, the more the site needs to process information prior to loading. This can slow speeds down. That isn’t good for a user experience or SEO. Only add plugins that you feel will enhance your visitors’ experience while on the site. Regularly update plugins to make sure they meet the most current standards and speeds. Delete any plugins that you are no longer using.

If you plan to roll out a large website, you may need to consider hiring a webmaster or content manager. This individual will manage and maintain the website, as well as manage and update site content.

The cost to hire a webmaster or content manager varies by which role best suits your organization’s needs, whether you want to hire an individual full-time, part-time or on a contractual basis. In some instances, it could involve a couple of hours per month, or for a full-time position it could be upwards of $6,500 per month.

Your website needs to rank well on Google. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just happen by chance. It takes work.

If you’re looking at ranking your website on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs), you may need to hire a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist. This may cost anywhere between $500 to $6,000 per month. It depends on how much work you need them to do on content and web pages. The more pages that you need to optimize, the more an SEO expert will cost.

This individual will assist in recommending content and what keywords you want to rank for and providing monthly reports of how the strategy is working. If you’re using WordPress to host your content, you’ll get far more flexibility, but also, WordPress sites generally rank better on Google.

Another benefit of hiring an SEO specialist is that they should inform you whether any of your site’s pages are experiencing issues such as a 404 code (“Page Not Found”). Errors are not good for a user’s experience and thus can harm your SEO rankings if not properly addressed.

Another cost associated with creating a website is the artwork. Whether it’s your company’s corporate image, product shots or lifestyle shots, these assets can add up quickly. While you can tap into royalty-free images for free from stock image sites such as Pexels or Pixabay, they won’t separate your business from the competition.

Royalty-free images, though, are cheaper than having a photoshoot. A royalty-free image can range from free to $100, while a product photoshoot might cost between $25 and $500 an hour for a photographer to capture unique images for your website.

If you’re able, it is always worth your time to hire a photographer to take images of your offerings, hire a graphic designer or subscribe to an extensive stock library such as Shutterstock. As a rule of thumb, make sure that the professionals you hire to assist you with your website know what they are doing. A simple mistake can shut down your website and, in turn, lose you revenue.

Many of the drag-and-drop platforms make designing your own website quick and easy. However, some might prefer to hand over the design elements to another person or company. Here are some industry guides that will help you determine if you want to jump in to design yourself or hire another party to do it:

Your website build may cost a different amount depending on the industry you are in. Certain industries will require certain elements to be integrated, and this may add to the ultimate cost when handing the design elements over. Of course, the number of total pages also affects the cost and work that must be done to get the website up and running.

Keep in mind that these costs are handing over the website completely for another party to design, code and maintain. Many website owners will start with a bootstrapped budget and keep as many things in-house as possible. As the business grows, they will upgrade and hand off some of the management to another party to maintain. It makes sense to save money while you’re new and growing and invest in more elements as you have more revenues.

Most websites will fall into the first category of Small Business Websites. This is an informational website that has some information about the company, its missions, its history and its products or services. It may have a purchase shopping cart or response form to fill out to make it easy for visitors to buy or get more information about its products or services.

Corporate websites are more in-depth and may have studies they cite or independent research added to the pages. Because there are more pages involved, the costs go up.

E-commerce websites are another common website. Many website owners on a budget will use a subscription service such as Shopify for $29 per month to get started. As they grow their business, they may look to get custom solutions that enhance the users’ experience.

The most expensive website is an application. This involves a lot of coding to make things happen. You may develop your own customer relationship management (CRM) to manage content and content providers on the platform. A custom solution will cost more than buying a template and integrating it.

Depending on the project’s scope, whether you require updates and need unique functionality, the costs of a website can vary widely. If you’re willing to invest the time to learn new skills, it is accomplished cheaply and fairly easily with an all-in-one website builder. But if you want professional assistance or lots of extra functionality, the costs can add up quickly. Many new website owners will try to keep things in-house as much as possible until they have the revenues to justify paying another party for upgrades and maintenance.

You can create a website for a personal project for free, if you don’t mind a subdomain and display ads. To make a small business website, you should expect to pay about $200 to $300 as an initial investment, and maintenance will likely range from $5 to $50 per month, depending on whether you have an online store.

Web design is focused on how the website will look and feel to browsers. This means they’ll need to be able to produce work that is easy to understand, eye-catching and unique. Web development involves implementing these designs on the website’s backend and managing the site’s structure. If you recruit an experienced designer, these two roles can potentially both be filled by the same candidate.

In a world that’s progressively using mobile devices to search the web, it is critical to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. It also helps increase your website’s ranking in search engines, such as Google, which can be a tremendous opportunity to build brand awareness and land sales online at no cost.

Before any design can occur, it is always best practice to review a wireframe design for your website. A wireframe gives you an idea of how pages will look, how much space elements will take up and what navigation should be in place. It’s a very basic way to show what a final product will look like before in-depth work begins.

When referring to a carousel, web designers are talking about a slide show on the landing page of your website. Carousels help to reduce clutter on the page and allow you to display multiple messages about different offerings. With regard to a hero image, this is a large image placed on the top of the page, which usually extends the width of the page.

User experience (UX) is the process where the designer focuses on providing users with the best experience. If done correctly, users will find navigating the site easy, enjoyable and relevant to them. Ensuring your site’s UX is top-notch will encourage users to explore more of it.

Kimberlee Leonard has 22 years of experience as a freelance writer. Her work has been featured on US News and World Report, Business.com and Fit Small Business. She brings practical experience as a business owner and insurance agent to her role as a small business writer.

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