07. June 2012 · Comments Off on How Much Does it Cost? · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , ,

Clients are always concerned about the cost of a web site.  Web site production is unfamiliar territory for most people and they don’t know what to expect.  This post helps you understand some of the factors that affect web site cost.  Here I discuss a custom web site designed and built specifically for you.  This post doesn’t cover WordPress web sites, WordPress blogs or commercial templates.

Think of paying for a web site as you would a car.  You can buy anything from a small scooter (simple web site) to a six figure sports car (Flash web site).  In other words, there’s something available for any budget.  Cars have been around for over 100 years and everyone has an idea how much car a certain amount of money will buy.

The difficulty with web sites is that people don’t yet have a good understanding of cost and value.  How do multiple columns, a lot of illustrations, an online store, video, or audio affect cost?  What functions do you need to see a direct pay back in your business and what functions are simply eye candy that won’t provide significant value?

Value and Cost

Value and cost are directly related to:

  • Size and number of pages
  • Pop up windows, order forms, complex page layouts, calendars, multiple level menus
  • Programming skills (PHP, Flash, Javascript) needed to build drop down menus, animations, or slide shows
  • Professional photography and illustration
  • Online store front end and integration with a shopping cart service
  • Interactive functions
  • Database integration
  • Building an interface for updating content (Content Management System (CMS))

For $750 you could get a basic, simple web site.  This means a web site with one or two pages with some text and a few photos, and that’s all.

Once you start adding more pages or any of the other above items, the price goes up.

Additional Costs

Every web site must have two things: a registered domain name and an Internet Service Provider (ISP).  You can get both from one vendor, or separate vendors.  Working with one vendor is more efficient but there are also some advantages to working with separate vendors such as flexibility.

Domain Name

A domain name is the URL of your web site, for example: mybusiness.com or mynonprofit.org.  Expect to pay approximately $10 per year to register your domain name.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

An ISP provides the physical space on a server where your web site files will be parked.  Prices vary but expect to spend around $75 per year.  The price goes up if you want a dedicated IP address (recommended), need a dedicated server, etc.

Note: I advise my clients not to do business with Go Daddy.  It’s cheap, but the service is poor and their errors have caused a lot of problems for people.  If you don’t want your web site hacked or your domain name lost, then stay away from GoDaddy.

Web Site Maintenance

After you’ve paid for your domain name, an ISP, and a great looking web site, what other expenses can you expect?  You’ll need to renew the domain name and ISP service regularly.  Also, you’ll probably want to update information on your web site, add new photos or videos, etc.  You’ll pay a web designer an hourly rate which can vary depending on your area.  For example, I charge $75/hour in 15 minute increments (if an update takes me 15 minutes or less, I don’t think it’s right to charge you for a full hour).

I used to think my clients could be trained to update their web sites themselves, if they were sophisticated computer users.  Experience has taught me that it just leads to problems.  I’m still looking for an inexpensive Content Management System (CMS) that ports easily and delivers professional results.  Leave me a comment, if you know of one.


Inexpensive web site (low four figures) – Professional office (speech therapist)

This simple yet effective web site has a lot of pages, but the layout is repeated on each page.  There are only 3 photos. The client saved money by doing her own writing.  The result is clean and elegant.



More expensive (low four figures) – Non-profit foundation

Page count is low for this web site but costs increased because of the many JQUERY functions such as the accordion list for the Board of Directors, FancyBox pop up windows, and slideshow.

web page


Even More Expensive (mid-range four figures) – Portfolio for a composer/performer

Cost increases dramatically for this web site because the layout on each page is different.  There are many instances of HTML5 native audio and video, animation, and JQUERY functions that drive up the cost.

web page



Analysis by Smart Alice Web Design & Photography, Smart web design for people who want a unique and effective presence on the internet.

Copyright 2012, Alice Gebura, All Rights Reserved.


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