How Much Does it Cost to Have a Small Business Website?
- New versus redesigns: it takes much more time to start from a blank slate and build a website. There is a discovery and documentation process that is required to define the online brand, website structure and functionality.
- Interface design: this is the creation of the appearance and functionality of the website. It has to be developed to advance your brand, include the appropriate photos and images and layout the pages to support your objectives. Small businesses should typically budget $1,200 to $3,500.
- Images and graphics: depending on your needs, you could spend $10-20 on a stock image to hundreds of dollars on custom or high-end images. At the very least, you should include $100 for images. You will probably need stock icons and buttons too, so include $50 for them.
- Hosting: hosting problems take two to ten hours initially to address on website projects. Problems account for about ten to twenty hours of support in any given year for clients of professional website builders.
- Content creation: if you want a designer to add content and adjust layouts, budget $100-150.
- Mobile and responsive design: if you want a responsive design (and why wouldn’t you?), the project will cost 20-30% more so you can appear well on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.
- Special features: there are a wide variety of additional features you could incorporate such as shopping carts, landing pages, contact forms and surveys and photo galleries. For more insight on pricing, check out this article from The Executionists.
Cautions About Do-It-Yourself Websites
- No personalized attention: one challenge with do-it-yourself sites is that you will be a small fish in a large pond for the provider. If you miss a payment, forget to renew, forget to update a credit card or skip a myriad of other tasks, your site will go down. The vendor owns the site for your business instead of you.
- Cookie-cutter templates: using templates to build a website means your site will look like many others already online. You want your website to differentiate you from your competition, not help you blend in and be overlooked. These templates are also restrictive as far as the amount of copy, photos and other features you can use so you may end up not adequately representing your brand. Another thing to consider is that you might need to expand the number of pages or links you have and templates frequently will not allow for this.
- Graphic design: typically, you will need some graphic design support to get pictures or images that advance your messaging and represent your products and services. This will cost more on top of the basic fees promoted by the provider.
- No testing or troubleshooting: as I mentioned, there are many details that go into a site and things can easily go wrong. Will you take the time to test the website in different browsers and devices? If so, how will you make fixes if the site does not appear correctly? Most do-it-yourself websites are hosted on slow servers and business owners can sometimes incorporate images that are slow to load, frustrating visitors and turning away potential customers.
- Professional image: if you are not a website professional, you are probably going to be happy if your site works properly. But you should have the more ambitious goal of an attractive, interactive site that impresses your customers so that they buy from you.
- Lack of SEO: providers offer search engine optimization packages but they are usually very basic and you will likely need more focused attention to appear high in search results for terms that are important to your business and customers. Do-it-yourself websites can be hard to find by search engines like Google and Yahoo! because they have bad, inefficient coding, weak title and meta tags and other issues.
Creating or updating a website is not a weekend project. The best advice is to plan effectively, understand your costs and seek the help of experts. This will increase the total expense but will also reduce the risk. What advice do you have for small business owners planning the budget for their websites. Do you have tips to make the process easier?