Off-the-shelf content management systems and design templates have made building and managing a website easy and affordable for small-business owners with modest needs. Not counting your sweat equity, you can build and maintain a small website for less than $250. But, honestly, do you really want to bank your company's online presence and messaging on a low-cost website? Working with a full-service graphic design and web programming firm is a more savvy business decision.
Using a professional team, you can expect to pay from $1,000 for a very basic site to more than $50,000 for a larger site with custom graphics, programming and other options.
The cost of your website will be based on the size and complexity of the site required to meet your business-related needs. A five- to 10-page site introducing your business and the services you offer will cost considerably less to build than one that processes purchase orders, for example.
When budgeting for web programming and design, draw up an itemized list, including the following:
- Domain registration: Cost: $10 to $35 per year per domain.
- Hosting: Fees vary considerably based on the complexity of your website, estimated traffic and security requirements. Cost: Shared host, $8 to $50 per month; merchant plan, $25 to $250 per month; dedicated server, $125 to $1,000+ per month.
- Graphics: Unless you have existing graphics, including a company logo, you need to use stock art or pay a graphic artist. Cost: Royalty-free stock art, starting at about $10 per image; graphic artist, $50 to $150 per hour.
- Content development: Content development usually starts with you, but professional copywriting services can help. Cost: $50 to $85 per hour.
- Content management system configuration and implementation: CMS makes your site easier to populate, maintain and update. Cost: $50 to $85 per hour.
- Programming and/or third-party application fees: Programming includes online forms, e-commerce and CRM tools, as well as custom components necessary for your site to deliver what your business model calls for. Cost: $85 to $125 per hour and/or flat fees or rates for use of third-party applications. If you insist on building your site in Flash, expect to pay 25 percent to 50 percent more.
- Usability testing: Cost: $35 to $50 per hour (plan for at least half-hour per page).
- Analytics: Google Analytics is free, and it's quick and easy to install. More robust analytics tools vary in price. Cost: $50 to $85 per hour to set up and configure Google Analytics or other programs; $50 to $5,000+ monthly fees for more robust systems.
Adding a blog to your website or separately is an additional cost to consider. Cost: $500 to $2,500 first-time setup including graphic design, programming and configuration.
Because most web programming services are ultimately billed at an hourly rate, the total cost of your website hinges on the site's size and complexity.
Mikal E. Belicove is an author and market positioning and social media consultant. His latest book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Facebook, was published in July. When he is not working or ghosting blog entries for clients, Belicove can be found musing about the world on belicove.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .